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On the Road Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

22 August 2019

We've taken this shot a number of times over the years. It's the roadway on the west side of Twin Peaks, now two-way with the eastern circuit closed to vehicle traffic.

On the Road. Captured at f8, 1/320 second and ISO 200 with the Olympus 12-100mm f4 Pro at 14mm using a circular polarizer on an Olympus E-PL1 and processed in Adobe Camera Raw.

We like the curve, the undulations and the hills. To render all that in the frame, we step in front of enormous tour buses, SUVs packed with tourists, those little motorcycles you can rent that give you a guided tour of the sights and various birds of prey.

You need a wide angle focal length to bring the roadway to your feet. Here, we backed off to 14mm (a 28mm equivalent). And we flipped up the EVF on the camera so it was waist high.

We thought we were level. We always do.

But when we tried to level the horizon as we worked on this image in Photoshop last week, we didn't like the change. The image became something else. A surveyor's tool. An asphalt sample. A traffic graphics guide.

So we left the rakish angle on the theory it adds some drama to the shot. Drama is always a useful explanation.

That, in fact, is also the reason we converted the image to black-and-white. We found the color version distracting for some reason. It detracts from, instead of adds to, the drama. You can see what we mean below:

Color. Same shot before our Black & White adjustment layer.

We thought about letting a little (well, a lot of) yellow show through the black-and-white rendering. To emphasize the double yellow line.

But when we fiddled with the monochrome adjustment layer, all we had to do was perk up the yellows and the double yellow line made its statement loud and clear. Without color.

Choices. It's all about choices.

You have plenty of them between today's sophisticated gear and image editing software. If you shoot Raw, as we do, you don't have an image until you process the data in image editing software. So there's no argument about being faithful to the capture.

And the more you know about converting that data into an image, the more tempting it is to try what you know (or just learned) on the image staring back at you.

But one of the most powerful choices you always have is to reject an approach. In this project, we rejected leveling the image and combining it with color. Choices that improved the image.

And that, in the end, is why you go down this road.

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