One Photo in how many ways?

We were on Mission Peninsula that juts into Grand Traverse Bay north of Traverse City in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Wow – a lot of words to say that were spending a few days camping “up north” – by Lake Michigan. But when I write my posts my audience is scattered around the world and “up north” may not mean much. When I am talking with friends here in southern Michigan, it goes like this: “Where did you go last week?” “Oh, up north.” “Did you go to the U.P.?” “Only for a day trip; we stayed by Traverse City.” “We love it up there – did you go to…?” Everyone in Michigan has perfect images in their memories of “up north” and all that is need is a bit of clarification as to where exactly up north is – then the listener fills in the rest.

The images I am using of up north for Tina’s Lens-Artist Challenge – One Photo, Two Ways were taken at a boat launch and small public marina down a side road on the Mission Peninsula. I stood on the dock with my camera, looking for interesting pieces of the land/waterscape. What caught my attention was a leaf floating in the water, carried along by a fairly strong current. I had to shoot quickly because the leaf was moving and twisting quickly away from me. The photo above is one that I like a lot because it captures the movement that was taking place. This one is as it was when I downloaded it to my computer – but what you get on my blog is never one photo one way. I love post processing so I always have one photo in two, three, or maybe even four ways.

The second way involved cropping the photo to decrease the amount of water portraying the light and shadows of the rocky bottom so that the leaf is the main attraction and the light and shadows support the main subject by providing the context of movement. I also changed the angle of the photo to better illustrate the rolling nature of the leaf’s movement. I think the angle is more pleasing to the eye than the vertical. I also used the spot remover to decrease (but not remove) the black line off the tip of the leaf and the line to the middle, left of the leaf by decreasing the opacity just a little.

I wondered how this version would present in black & white so that became the third way – and I think the water becomes more of the focus as the lack of color creates less contrast between water and light and with a greater sense of movement. This would be good if I wanted to present an image with more tension. An orange filter gave it an amount of contrast that I really liked.

I generally prefer color to b&w but sometimes I find it fun to desaturate the color. For the next option I both decreased the vibrance and increased the saturation a little bit leaving a suggestion of color.

As the leaf tumbled and moved on the current, it became flat. This would be good if I wanted the shape and coloring of the leaf to be the primary subject. The only change I made from the original was to crop it. The bottom of the lake is also different, the water deeper and different rocks reflecting light.

The next photo was taken just 4 seconds later but it made a great difference especially in the variations of light, dark and color. There are also some ripples on the surface at the lower left quadrant, and they create lines that increase the sense of movement of the water and also move the eye to the main subject. I increased the exposure for this image and used the Tone highlight to brighten the leaf.

This exercise taught me that sometimes I don’t choose which version of a photograph that I like the best, but which one serves the purpose I have. This series of photos would be ones I would use to illustrate a concept or life experience I want to write about. Depending on the mood of my written subject, any one could work.

14 thoughts on “One Photo in how many ways?

    • How interesting. Being on a dock, looking at how the sun reflects off surface and lake bottom remind me of spending time on a small, inland lake when I was a child. I was just reading one of Michael Freeman’s photography books where he writes about how our choices of images to photograph are primarily based on top-down mental processes – that we have a repertoire of preferred images stored in our brain (ones formed in childhood?) that guide how we see the world.

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    • That made me chuckle because I love editing but lag behind in posting them. For the past few months writing has been difficult so I’ve lost my balance of finding writing and photography to be mutually exciting. And maybe this, too, shall pass.


  1. Very interesting thought and editing process Pat – I love how you explained each edit, why and how. We have good friends just outside of Traverse City and have visited with them many times, typically around July 4th actually. It’s very beautiful up there and in the past has always been a very cool getaway from the southern heat. From what I read this year may be an exception!

    Liked by 1 person

    • When we were there it was cool – especially at night. We had to turn the furnace on before we got the courage to get up and shower. 🙂


  2. I like playing with an image to get the mood I’ m after in the poem…ah but sometimes I like to use the photo to distract from my last lines…but it’s all good. 🙂


  3. Hi, Pat. We vowed to go back up north when we were living in Grand Rapids, but we never did! It’s beautiful up there. I really like your experiment here. For me, the last shot is my favorite. I like the prominence of the leaf and all its details. Have a good week in MI!


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