Sometimes, I find it hard to tell if I my photographic creativity is progressing. When I go out and take 100 photographs only to end up liking three or four of them, I begin to have doubts about my abilities, specifically my creative abilities, as a photographer. But, then, I’ll take a picture that makes me believe that I may be improving more than I realize. For me, this image is one of those pictures because it is the kind of shot I would never have even seen a year ago, much less photographed. I first noticed this shadow a couple of months ago when I had gone for an early morning run. I was captivated by the strong definition of the shadow caused by the streetlight that was directly behind the tree casting the shadow.
Exposure was relatively straightforward, but I did face one hurdle. In order to ensure complete depth of field, I would normally use the smallest aperture on my lens. However, because of the darkness, this aperture resulted in a shutter speed that exceeded the 30-second maximum on my camera. I had a couple of options. First, I could raise the ISO until I got the settings I needed, but that would increase the digital noise to an unacceptable level. Second, I could use a lower shutter speed, but that would underexpose the picture and would again increase the noise when I increased the exposure in Lightroom. Or third, I could use a wider aperture that might not allow for complete sharpness throughout the image. I chose a combination of the first and third options by raising the ISO to 400 (I normally use 100 or 200) and opening the aperture by one stop from f/22 to f/16. My reasoning was that raising the ISO to 400 would increase the digital noise by a very small amount that I could easily eliminate in Lightroom and opening the aperture would not dramatically lessen image sharpness since I was using a wide-angle lens, and wide-angle lenses are usually a little more “forgiving” when it comes to depth of field.
When I made the first picture, I noticed on the screen that the lighting had become bright orange rather than the soft white that I saw with my eyes. The reason for this was the light was produced by a streetlight which generally has a much cooler color temperature than the daylight white balance I use, and it was something I had not anticipated. After making several color temperature adjustments in Lightroom, I found that I liked the original effect because it really made the shadows stand out.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 35mm, 30 sec, f/16