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Lessons Re-learned

Over the French Broad River

CATEGORY: SINGLE EXPOSURE - Black and White Conversion

SOCIAL - IG: @FotoDono FB: @FotoDono

STORY: My friend and I had been out all morning driving around the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We had just finished coming back along the road called the Rattler. I lost count of how many switchbacks we drove through. My friend and I were staying at a cabin in Tennessee near the French Broad River. We were leaving the next day and I wanted to get a photograph from a bridge we had driven over at least five times. Always busy whizzing on by for either beers or a drive through the park.

So around 5:00 PM, we finally decided to stop. The sun was very bright, hanging low in the afternoon sky. There was so much light bouncing around I was having a hard time looking through the viewfinder. It had been a long day, and my mind was falling into that trap. The trap photographers fall into when they "know" the exposure is going to be horrible, so why bother.

But something in me took over and said there is something here. Looking through a bright viewfinder, I set the composition as best as I could. I decided to bracket the exposure, creating one image leading towards the blacks, one leading to the highlights, and the rest toward the middle tones. I was shooting blind because the glare off my screen was terrible. I had to trust what the light meter was showing me in the viewfinder.

I also hoped this could be a fantastic black and white. I enjoy color landscapes, but black and white scenes always seem to be more real to me. The only thing I removed from the picture was the power lines.

I thought I had done a pretty good job with it. In the end, I sold two prints of the final edit. There are two lessons I seem to never tire of learning. Lesson #1 - It's never the tool; it's always the tool user. Lesson #2 - When in doubt, take the shot.

The French Broad River
Over the French Broad River

EXIF: I set each exposure at f/16 and ISO 100. I bracketed the exposure with shutter speed - 1/50, 1/100, and 1/200 — focal length 45mm with & Tamron 24-70mm G2 on a Nikon D610. Files shot in RAW with Adobe RGB color space. Edits - Primary photo edits in Lightroom Classic and Aurora HDR 2019 with the final black and white conversion in Luminar 3.

The French Broad River
After the HDR merge in color

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