There seems to be little hope for my old ambition to rival Adams or Weston in the annals of photographic greatness. Their reputations are most unlikely to be perturbed by Smith’s efforts here in the wintry depths of Cornwall, and one of the reasons for this is my unwavering ability to make a total hash of things when there is, for once, a good subject in front my lens. Looking back through last year’s frames, I find that there is an uncanny correlation between the shots I like best from an artistic viewpoint, and the fact that most of them are also wrongly exposed, poorly focused, suffer from mirror-slap, or contain some other horrible technical fault. Whereas my perfect, sharp, technically wonderful shots are very often the most forgettable. The cruel unfairness of the human condition bears down upon us all, I suppose (background violins here).
This one is a case in point. I downloaded the image onto my trusty PC and found to my horror that I had really pushed my luck with the old 60mm rather too far. It has a very apologetic lens hood and not much in the way of coating, and I had shot far too tight into the sun. Consequently, and inevitably, the top part of the sky was covered in nasty pentagons, and the rest of the shot was flared out with pretty much zero contrast. Instead of instantly binning it, which I probably should have done, I decided to try to rescue something from the wreckage. The pentagoned sky obviously had to go, so a heavy crop resulted in more of a panoramic frame than originally intended. Then there was rather a lot of work in LR restoring some contrast, and locally burning-in bits like the fence-posts. The unedited version had virtually no sky detail at all, but miraculously some highlight recovery and a heavy top grad filter restored the clouds – don’t ask for any more, though, ‘cos it really isn’t there. We still have some problems, but funnily enough this picture somehow sums up the mood of the afternoon for me. See what you think – was it worth a rescue Job?