You just took a photo. Later in the day or maybe in the week, or maybe a few weeks out, you’ll look at the photo in your image management system of choice and work on it. Maybe you’ll boost the contrast, brightness, and color saturation. Maybe you’ll go more extreme and add a texture overlay. Perhaps some tone-mapping?
You’ll flag the image as done and export it out to a folder containing other done images that are ready to share on the social media universe for public consumption. It may garner comments, +1s, likes, retweets, and whatever other form of digital sentiments that the public can share.
But what about the memory of the moment itself that you worked so hard to capture? Do you remember why you even took the shot, other than because it was pretty or compelling or cool?
We tirelessly work to preserve moments with our images but how much do we actually preserve the memories that accompany them? It’s not a criticism by any means – rather, it’s a reminder that what makes our photos truly our own has to do with the memories that we form while taking them.
Take this shot of the frozen Umbagog Lake, for example. I have so many tiny, fond memories of taking this very exposure. We had just finished an exhausting day-long trek through the forest on dog sled and had just made camp for the evening. The sun was setting behind me and to the right a bit. Despite the frigid temperature from the air, I remember feeling extremely comfortable standing on the frozen lake covered in a foot of snow with my snowshoes on. I remember how ludicrously quiet the entire area was up until the entire pack of 30+ huskies simultaneously burst into a beautiful, synchronized, and harrowing howl (that was my favorite memory).
I also remember handholding the camera here, for fear that my tripod’s spiked feet would break through the frozen ice. I remember metering off of the mountains in the background and composing my shot so that the little island of trees was placed slightly to the right of center. I remember being relieved that, despite the relatively low light, I was able to get a quick shutter speed even at f/9 and ISO 200. I also remember being very thankful for having a lens that has image stabilization.
I remember the exposure being taken and looking down to the LCD. I remember being happy that I nailed the shot but also being wary of having just one exposure, so I took four more… just in case.
All of these things that I remember make this shot mine. Sure, the actual composition and stylization choices may have my stamp on them but what makes up the soul of this shot are the memories that surround it.
So next time you’re out and about, take a few moments to capture the memories first. The image capture will surely follow.
In terms of processing
This was a very simple image to process. I didn’t want to do much to it as I felt that the beauty of the scene did more than enough to make it compelling. I did add a slight amount of Blue Dawn Leonidas from PhotoTools 2.6 by . I also selectively added a tiny amount of Golden Hour Enhancerto the sky to add some warmth. Other than that, I applied finishing touches in Lightroom 3.
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