Every Fall I have the goal of making at least one photo that REALLY makes me happy. I had crossed over this bridge often and knew there was a nice view looking up river.

CT River Looking North
CT River Looking North from the French King Bridge

I recently learned that there was a road that ran along the river and so I set out today to see what views that would provide. There is a lovely little camp/cabin that is open to the public, deserted when I was there today that provides some lovely views. I took 20-30 photos and wasn’t happy with the light, or the angle. So I stopped, made two videos for the blog(coming soon) and then took a few more photos before packing up and heading back to the car. That is when I noticed that the light had become much more even – earlier attempts saw the right side blown out (bright) and the left side very dark. I set the camera on the railing, put the polarizing filter back on, exposed for the sky and set a longer shutter speed that I hoped would soften the water(by motion blur). I took several shots but the framing of this one I liked best, it was getting dark and to be honest I wasn’t completely watching my exposure and ended up a good bit underexposed.


Roll your mouse over the image to see the before. I made changes in Lightroom (exposure, clarity, shadows, whites, contrast etc) and Photoshop (removed the power-line, the lights on the bridge, and blurred the water just a bit more)

And this is why I shoot RAW!

Leave a comment, I’d love to know if you consider this “cheating”? If you do – where do you draw the line?


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  1. Great shot, Toby.

    I would agree that it is not a ‘purest’ approach to photography, but I personally feel that you should make the most of every shot you take, whether that means a lot of tweaks in post or not. I certainly strive to be the best photographer (amatuer) that I can be and I get a great sense of accomplishment if I get my camera settings just right for that perfect shot which requires no post processing. But just because I get it wrong on the camera doesn’t necessarily mean I took a bad shot. Technology is just available now that lets us correct some of the settings we had wrong while we took the shot, and let’s face it, for those of us who are new to DSLRs, sometimes it feels like there are thousands of settings.

    I feel pretty much the same about removing the power line. Often times I see what I believe to be the perfect vantage point for a photo other than it being ruined by telephone poles and power lines, often too many to bother and spend the time to fix. Much like i said above though, it is definitely more rewarding to get a great view naturally, but when you are almost perfect, I can’t blame you for cleaning it up. If you left that power line in above, your photo is just ok, but by removing that distraction, your photo looks great.

    I actually did some erasing myself this weekend. I got the family out for a little adventure on Sunday. I was taking some photos of the city skyline and didn’t notice a helicopter in view. Well it distracted from the composition I was looking for so I took it out with the spot remover tool in Lightroom.

    Is it cheating? Perhaps if I was a professional photographer I would frown upon it, but for those of us who have a day job and photography is just a hobby, it is not.

  2. I do consider it cheating. I do it too though, especially with fall shots. I just like the rich, vibrant colors of the leaves. Last year I had to fix the blah color of the leaves and the lifeless sky on all my shots. I also like to brighten up people’s pictures and remove blemishes and replace eyes, and heads, etc… Maybe it’s just taking a nice shot and making it perfect.

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