A Quandary… Again

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Advancing Fog — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

Advancing Fog — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

On a foggy morning at nearby Jordan Lake a few weeks ago, I was standing in front of this scene, but without the boat and fishermen, and took several frames. There was nothing I disliked about any of the images, but they seemed to lack a singular focal point. So when a boat began to drift into the frame, I thought it might help in that regard, but it stopped behind the trees. I was able to change my position to place it in the opening on the very left side of the frame, just to the left of its current location, (not where you see it here). But that position created an imbalance that was a bit disturbing. Moving even further to better place the boat wasn’t possible since close by trees interfered with the clear view. Then the boat slowly spun around making it appear more like a smudge rather than the previous side view that had created a separation between the three men in the boat. Faced with the option to wait and hope that the boat drifted into a more desirable position within the frame, or move on to other possibilities, the choice was made for me when the boat headed off for parts unknown! So the only photo with the boat helped somewhat, but created the imbalance and, it was actually kind of distracting being so far toward the edge of the frame.

At home, during the processing, there were two options as well: leave it to the far left where it created that distracting imbalance, or move it to where it would provide better balance and not be such a distraction.

It was easy to use the cloning tool in Photoshop, taking a sample of the boat and “drawing” it in at the desired location, and then “erase” where it was originally. But was it acceptable to change the reality of the scene as it was, just for photographic balance? That was the quandary. It was the same situation as the recent discussion of another foggy photo from that day involving a line of ducks that paddled into a scene I had just photographed. In that one (below; to go to that post, click here ) the side view of the boat, along with the fog worked well, but the birds hadn’t arrived in the frame yet. When they finally did, the boat had drifted in front of the small island and was almost lost in the tangle of underbrush and fog. So the same technique was used as above, except the birds were “sampled” from a completely different frame taken less than a minute after the one without them, and the rest of the frame discarded.

Fishermen in Fog — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

Fishermen in Fog — Jordan Lake, NC © jj raia

I suppose, in each instance, I have opted to be more pragmatic and create the best image possible from the data gathered, rather than being a purest, only allowing for what was actually seen during those few fleeting moments in time.

I would love to hear some thoughts on your preferred approach to “creating” a desired final photo, and the reasoning behind it, if you care to share them.

4 thoughts on “A Quandary… Again

    1. Thanks for the help in seeing that shot in a better way. I’m getting to like the Zoom thing. Having the images on the screen and being able to make Lightroom changes in real time with all of us may make the critiques even more productive! Something to consider even after the lockdown…

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  1. My opinion is that it’s totally acceptable to move the boat. You’re a photographic artist – (an excellent one) not a documentarian. There are no restrictions on what you choose to do. If it’s important to you, be comfortable knowing that your final image is a true representation of that morning on that lake. Moreover, it’s beautiful enough for viewers to recall/imagine mornings of their own, on their lake. All that being said, if you chose to clone in an antique schooner crewed by a pack of Labrador retrievers, I’m sure I’d love that too!

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  2. Thanks for the comment Barbara. I never had these quandries in film. The film itself was the final arbiter. There were many times back then when I would go out early to shoot a sunrise, and being in densely populated NJ, a streetlight or two would still be on, ruin the view, and not take the shot. Same thing along the coast, as invariably some fishing boats would cruise in front of me with bright lights and I’d have to wait frustrated for them to pass out of the frame while the light was changing!! Now it’s no problem to remove the offense in Photoshop. It was a good day at the lake though, bumping into foto friends.

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