Photography While Driving

I know, it’s not safe do most anything while driving. But, this time it was a spontaneous inspiration that hit me. While driving to Florida for a little R&R and to attend a wedding, I came upon this scene. We pass through the Macon, GA area on the way. It just so happens that I recently had reconnected with a long time friend, Schuyler Grace. As I passed a mileage sign that mentioned Gray, GA, I flashed on memories of Schuyler, and the fact that he grew up there.

This is how inspiration hits me. The thought came to create a photo for Schuyler? Photography has been in my blood since my early teens. It seems ironic that during the time we knew each other in college, photography never came up. Now, after reconnecting with him, I find out he is a photographer/sculptor.

Original
Original iPhone image without any adjustments.

My iPhone is always with me, so I grabbed it and fired up Camera+. While resting the camera on the wheel, I waited for the exit sign.

There were going to be only two opportunities to get the shot. On the first exit sign, I got the shot off early, completely missing the sign. The second was right on target.

The normal iPhone aspect ratio(4:3) is OK for most things, but this image just wanted to be square(1:1). The raw shot has some distracting elements, especially on the upper right corner. I decided to go for a cleaner image, and loaded up the image in FX Photo Studio for cropping and other adjustments.

Crop

The crop tool allows for adjustments to the size and position of the crop window. After a few tries, I got the crop exactly where I wanted it. The idea was to position the sign near the upper right “Rule-Of-Thirds” intersection.

Square Crop
Square crop using FX Photo Studio 

Clarify

The next adjustment that I always try is clarify. Photoshop has a similarly named function in ACR(Adobe Camera Raw) that attempts to perform edge sharpening to enhance the image. The Photo Studio clarify function seems to set the black and white points of an image, while pulling up the shadows, and recovering some of the blown highlights. In most cases it is a definite improvement for iPhone images.

Clarify
Clarify function of FX Photo Studio

HDR

FX Photo Studio has an HDR(High Dynamic Range) simulation that works fairly well. I applied it and tried several strengths until I found one that looked good. I know this is a very subjective thing. True HDR images are a little more involved, but can product incredible images with loads of dynamic range.

HDR
HDR function of FX Photo Studio

Final Image

Final Image

Next Steps…

After working with this image for a while, I decided that it would be cool to colorize it. In this case I want to convert the basic image to B&W and restore the color to just the sign. But, this will have to wait for a future posting. Stay tuned…

 

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4 thoughts on “Photography While Driving

  1. I know, the crop was not perfect. Remember, this was done using my iPhone… ;-)

  2. Wonderful article, Scott! (And I’m not just saying that because you gave a shout-out to me.) You made the whole process of snatching an image out of thin air and making it into something beautiful look so easy. And I suppose it actually is easy the way you explained the process. Good work!

    BTW, I find it fascinating how our photographic paths have diverged. We both started out, I assume, with "Instamatic" cameras and graduated to 35mm film. But today we couldn't be at more opposite ends of the photographic spectrum–you with your do-everything phone and state-of-the-art digital equipment, and me with my 20-pound assemblages of wood, leather, and brass and sheets of film. In the end, though, we are both working toward the same goal: Bringing our artistic visions to life to share with others.

    Despite my love of antiques–and my rapidly becoming one, myself–I believe digital cameras and the software other peripherals that support them are true wonders and equalizers of our day. Now, anyone can easily capture bits (perhaps, pun intended) of their universe and express him/herself artistically. If you think about it, we live in a world of images, thanks in large part to digital photography. And by sharing this quick and easy technique, you may have inspired the next digital Weston or Lange or Man Ray. Thanks, man!

    • Thanks for the comment Schuyler…

      I started with 35mm in Highschool around 1975, working on the annual staff, mostly in the darkroom. When I got to Ga Tech, I guess the stress of trying just to get buy in school made me set photography aside.

      I picked it up again in the early 1990’s while hiking across North Georgia. I was actually the President of the Lockheed Camera Club for a while. I built a home darkroom and was lugging around my Pentax 6×7 for a few years. I even did an exhibition in Italy in 1994. So, you just kept moving to the bigger guns.

      Ever use PMK? That was my favorite developer at the end of my analog days…

      • Ahhh…Pyro! Yes, I have done some work with it and want to revisit it because some of the negatives were really stunning. Mostly, I use D-76 or T-MAX today. I shoot T-MAX 400 film in both 8″x10″ and 7″x17″ formats. I was using T-MAX 100 until Kodak started putting a UV barrier coating on it, which doesn’t work well with my UV-based printing process. But with film sheets this big, 100 vs. 400 isn’t a huge difference.

        My “darkroom” setup consists of a JOBO CPP-2 daylight tank developing system for the film and Amergraph plate burner to make prints. I can do nearly everything–developing film and coating, exposing, and developing printing paper–in low to normal room light. Of course, I have to handle undeveloped film in a large film changing tent.

        BTW, I do platinum/palladium and gum bichromate printing, both of which are contact printing processes. Platinum gives simply stunning results–detailed and rich and depth not found in standard silver prints. Gum bichromate gives more “painterly” results and even uses watercolor pigments to form the image. I’m planning on getting back into Polaroid, too, now that the film stock is available, again.

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