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Evolution of a picture

July 19, 2007 by Herald Leader  
Filed under Behind the Photo

Photos can be moving, inspirational, amusing, touching and heartwarming.

When you’re the photographer, they can also be dangerous as all get-out.

You don’t have to be in a war zone or a major metropolitan disaster area to put it on the line for that one really good shot that makes it worth it all. It can just be the beautiful fury of Mother Nature flying overhead.

Yesterday I was on my way back to Lexington from an assignment in Shelbyville when I ran into a monstrous thunderstorm just inside the Fayette County line. I actually beat the storm back to Lexington and wanted to photograph lightning along the downtown skyline.

We all know lightning is dangerous and I really wasn’t looking to get myself fried, but I figured that the storm would be far enough north that I would be reasonably safe. What I didn’t know was that another storm had popped up directly west and was barrelling right for me. I didn’t get anything from the first storm and ended up retreating into one of the lower levels of Parking Structure #5 on the University of Kentucky’s campus, whose roof is my favorite spot for shooting thunderstorms in Lexington.

Once the storm had passed, lightning was flying fast and furious, but there was too much light for an exposure with a longer time length and I didn’t have a tripod. Instead, I opted to just shoot a whole slew of frames and pray that lightning would strike in one of them.

After about 150 or so frames, it did. Here’s the original picture (click for the whole thing):


This photo really doesn’t look like what ran in the paper, though. That’s where editing and the imaging technicians come in.

The job of the folks on the imaging desk is to take a picture and make sure it’s properly toned. This largely applies to making sure the color settings are correct for the print edition of the paper. For online, it can also mean correcting for the camera’s natural color deficiencies and white balance problems. They can also crop the photo for maximum effect.

The end result?

Voila. Well worth the danger.


Technical details: This photo was shot with a Nikon D100 at ISO 200, F20, 1/60th of a second and at 35mm.

— Dariush Shafa |

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