Sunny Delight

imageWoodbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

I had to turn the car around for this one. I’ve written before about being moved to take a photograph for reasons that aren’t readily apparent; here’s an example. When I saw this white, curving fence with the row of trees planted so carefully, and the afternoon sun casting dappled shadows, I just felt I needed to photograph it, never mind that I had no idea why.

At home, with the file imported in to my iPad, I began letting the image guide my way. Looking at it in color it was clear to me that the color was not only unnecessary, but distracting; there is already so much happening. In Nik Snapseed® I used the saturation slider to remove the color, but the default black and white didn’t have the feeling of warmth I felt the scene needed so I used the warmth slider to correct that. Next I used the crop tool to remove some usless foreground and then applied the sharpen tool. I applied the outer darken slider next to pull the eye into the center of the image then moved the image into Stackables® where a filter was applied and the gama slider to restore some density to the shadows. I saved the image to camera roll and Google Drive, and that was that.

The whole time I was letting the image take me where it seemed it wanted to go. I know it sounds a bit odd, but that’s how it felt. I grew up with the notion of the “pre-visualized” (a redundant term I’ve never much liked, and a term Ansel himself never used) image pushing me. But I had been weened on the Zone System and I always felt like I had to have everything worked out in my head in advance, and often that’s still how it works. But sometimes, and it’s happening more frequently, I just give in to the impulse and let the image lead.

In the end, I like this image. I think it must refer in some way to the warm sunny days when I was a kid, riding my bike through the neighborhood, past fences and trees, the sun, stroboscopic, flashing through the leaves. If it isn’t a real memory, it doesn’t matter, it’s an honest one; I’ll take it anyway.

A post script: I almost didn’t turn around and park to take this photograph, and a couple of years ago I probably wouldn’t have; I wouldn’t have seen the logic in it. I thank this blog and the responses I’ve gotten, and the new tools, Snapseed and Stackables I’ve learned to use for a new freedom in my photography. Thanks go to you for that.

Pentax K5IIs with kit zoom.


2 comments on “Sunny Delight

  1. I liked the photo, and liked it even more after I read the post! It’s hard to break those old habits, but sometimes we HAVE to break them (or bend them, anyway) in order to advance artistically.

    I think it’s great that you were able to capture a scene that is evocative of something you recall from childhood – and that you did it by letting the image tell you what you wanted it to be. I hope you will find more opportunities to work this way in the future, and I look forward to seeing the results!


  2. Thank you Melinda. It’s amazing to me that after sixty years in photography I have have found the tools that finally let me work in an intuitive manner that seems to suit me. I won’t stop using Photoshop for some images, but I’ve found another path for others and I think that’s pretty remarkable.


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