Making Magic Despite My Mistakes!

The City of Atlanta at night with a starry-sky background

The City of Atlanta - "A Night on 17th Street"

Atlanta's Night Sky

I love getting cityscape photos in and around Atlanta. 

Tall buildings and freeways make for some spectacular shots when you're patient.

I don't know what it is about those light-trails, but ooooooh, I can't wait as the shots load into Lightroom.

Maybe it's because the light is different in every single shot, and I love light in all its many forms (although sometimes I hate light depending on the situation!).

If you hang around any city, you know the night sky isn't great for stargazing. There's too much light pollution. 

I could lay on my back and watch the stars for hours, and I'd like to get more night-sky stars and Milky Way shots. It's just a tall order since I have to drive a couple of hours to get those shots, and the best time is usually late at night or super early morning.

The few times I've done it, I've been with my friend, Lauren, and I'm so glad. She didn't have a hard time staying awake driving home, and I kept nodding off.

The good news is, I do have some Milky Way shots, and I've learned a ton in Photoshop so I can get creative when it comes to editing my photos. 

You guys, I'm a bit of a nerd. I spend a lot of time watching photo-editing tutorials. I've been working in Lightroom and Photoshop for almost six years now, and I still feel like a newbie. 

Photoshop is the most robust software program I've ever worked in. It's amazing. It's also hella hard and super frustrating and often overwhelming.

I've come a long way, though, and at least now I can make some pretty tough selections (when you select out pieces of the photo so you can change, delete, or add something) and have a decent grasp of how Photoshop works. But, it's always surprising me! 

I've heard people argue that it's not photography if you're editing the files. Maybe that's a purist's point of view but it makes no sense to me.

Creating is creating. Art is art.

Pick the medium you love working in and you do you.  Do whatever you want to get the finished piece out of your brain and onto the computer/canvas/print or whatever. 

I love creating whimsical, mystical, and other-worldly scenes on the foundation of my own photographs. It's fun and challenging. 

The piece above started with a 3-second exposure at f/9, ISO 200. The sky was a rich, saturated blue, but boring as far as skies go.

I wanted something more magical.

I added the sky in later and played with the light and color. 

Mistakes Aren't Always Bad

I could have gotten some better effects when editing, but I made a huge mistake. I shot in JPEG instead of RAW. Ugh.

That's the second time I've done that in the last year and a half, and both times have been on a night when I've gotten a lot of great shots that I wish were in RAW. 

RAW photos capture tons of information so I've got lots to work with when it comes to editing. 

JPEG is a compressed file format that doesn't capture as much info, so it limits the changes I can make. 

I'm definitely going back to this bridge soon to get some RAW shots.

The weird thing is, I don't know how I got into JPEG mode.

Last time I made that mistake it made sense. I had been shooting in JPEG for something where I didn't need the full file info, and I forgot to change it back. 

I haven't shot anything in JPEG in ages, so I'm not sure what happened.

All I can think is that I accidentally hit some sort of short-cut key on my camera when I was switching into LIVE mode. Live mode is this:

A photo of my camera setup when I was shooting some photos of the City of Atlanta 

Shooting in LIVE mode on my Nikon

Because of where my camera was set up, I couldn't reach to see through my viewfinder, so LIVE mode enables me to see it on the back of the screen instead.

I couldn't see the buttons well at all, but I know where most of them are by feel, so it doesn't usually matter. But, I think that's what got me into "trouble."

I must have hit some button while turning the shutter or aperture dial on the camera and it switched me out of RAW into JPEG. 

The mysteries of life. 

I still got some good photos, and I was able to get some nice results, but I would have been happier if I had the RAW files. I would have been happier if I had done it "perfectly."

Letting go of perfectionism is a constant journey for me, and I'm still going back to get my RAW photos!

I hope you can let go of your perfectionism too. It only holds you back. 

I'm waiting on some prints to come so I can do a FB Live event and show you some of the different mediums I sell on my website

Have a great week, and see you between the raindrops!


PS - If you want your own copy of the above photo A Night on 17th Street, you can find it here.