This is my anniversary, so I knew exactly what photo to use today. Two years ago we took an anniversary trip to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area in Tennessee. We go to Cades Cove every time we’re there, so my husband questioned whether we needed to see it again. Actually, I had an agenda for Cades’ Cove, and so I explained to him why we needed to go on that 11-mile loop.

I purchased my first DSLR in March of 2008 and we took a family vacation to Pigeon Forge in June. In a house in the back of the Cades Cove, a mountain community where time stands still, I photographed a window with filmy, old curtains blowing in the breeze. Although I imagined the final shot I, my knowledge of photography and my camera weren’t adequate to achieve it.

Returning two years later, I believed I could take the shot and said something like: “Yes, we need to go because there’s this house in the back of the loop and there’s a room with a window and I need to take a picture in that room.”

However nonsensical it sounded my husband agreed, because he supports me like that.

Unfortunately, the room or the curtains or something was different than I remembered and I didn’t get the shot; it just wasn’t there. At this point I was more than a little depressed.

Then I walked into a room in the back of the house—I room that I didn’t remember—and there sat this gloriously decrepit handmade barrel next to a window with the last of the late afternoon sun embracing it . . .

I can’t completely put it into words, but this may be my favorite shot. Ever. This room and these objects have history, tales to tell.

Walls, house, barrel, curtains: formed by the hands of the people who used them, who lived here. There’s no one to put those stories into words now, but I read lines of it within the image.

Hardship. Satisfaction. Struggle. Simplicity. Hard work. Family. Home. Peace.

Day 18 - Before

Day 18 - After

What do you see?

The Edits

  1. I applied a Lightroom preset called Noir Film, which I think I downloaded here. This is a preset for Lightroom 2 or 3, but can be used in LR4 using the directions from Day 3.
  2. Make the blacks blacker, using the Blacks slider in Lightroom.
  3. Increase exposure to bring out the shadows.
  4. Last, I went into the Tone Curve dialogue and set the Point Curve to Strong Contrast.
Sometimes my edits meander off onto rabbit trails, since I don’t always know exactly how I want the final image to look when I start.

We’re talking photo editing and before and after shots in October. Find Day 1 and links to the whole series here. Sign up here to receive new posts in your inbox (click the link in the confirmation email from FeedBurner to complete your subscription).

[Click here to read my other 31 Days series, 31 Days of Encouragement and 31 Days of Real Life.]

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4

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