The Photo That Almost Made my Website

September 20, 2014

There is one location which I visit every time I'm in Louisiana: a small, out-of-use church built in the middle of my grandfather's suburban neighborhood.  Supposedly, it belonged to the family who owned the neighborhood's land a century ago.  It's beautiful, welcoming, and charmingly old.  I go there every time I visit Louisiana for one reason: to take this photo again:

 

church, sunrise, LouisianaChurch in LouisianaAn old chapel in Baton Rouge.

(Click to see on black)

 

Truthfully, I love this photo.  It's peaceful, and I think the oak branches in the background are magnificent and well-lit.  So why isn't this in my website's galleries?  Because the technical quality of the photo is awful.

 

I have learned a lot about camera settings since the time I took this photo, but my settings were relatively good for a handhold photo (1/30 second, f/5, ISO 400) and certainly not reason to remove the photo from my site.  I focused the photo properly, and my lens's vibration reduction meant that my shutter speed was fast enough as well.  However, the corners of this photo are mush.

 

(Click to see on black)

 

I took this photo with the Nikon 18-55mm VR kit lens, but that's not the reason for the blur.  No, it's not the world's sharpest lens, but it's surprisingly good for a kit lens, and I do have two photos from the 18-55 which are sharp enough for the site: one photo of Cannon Beach, and one of Mount Hood.  At f/5 (and truthfully at any aperture), the 18-55 is sharp enough that a photo could make it onto my site without issue.  

 

In fact, the massively blurry corners of this photo were caused by the filter on the lens.  I took this photo before I had learned that camera filters, even the most expensive ones, only hurt the image quality in a photo.  And this was not an expensive filter, either; it was an unbranded clear filter from a twenty year-old camera that my grandfather had, and I kept it on my lens because I was excited that it happened to fit.  This was the only day I ever used the filter, because I realized almost immediately that it was ruining the quality of my photos.  Unfortunately, I realized that after I had already taken this photo.

 

Now, I have a well-composed, well-lit photo of an interesting scene, but I cannot let myself put it in a gallery because it would never be sharp in a print.  Every time that I visit my grandfather, I go back to that church in hopes that the conditions of the first day will repeat themselves.  Unfortunately, I have yet to see the church in such beautiful light again, and I have no choice but to wait.  Some day, hopefully, I'll put a high-quality photo of this church in my gallery.  Until then, though, I have no choice but to be content with what I have.

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