I must confess that no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t quite capture this scene how I envisioned it in my mind. A few years ago the Hastings in our town closed down, most likely due to mounting competition from online retailers and the Best Buy that opened up a few miles down the road, and ever since the building at the corner of Hall of Fame and Main Street has remained vacant despite being what I would assume is a fairly nice piece of commercial real estate. Not much has happened there in the time since, but this fall a pop-up flower-and-pumpkin outfit just sort of showed up one day and whenever I bike past it on my way to or from work it’s nice to see all the colors of the season that bring so much life to what’s really nothing more than an old parking lot. On my way home recently I saw that a pumpkin-man had been constructed at the edge of the property and I knew right away that it would be a really cool photo opportunity.

A few days later I returned to the scene on my way to work as the sun was just starting to peek out on the horizon, and armed with my D750 and 50mm lens I was determined to get a picture that would capture the essence of the scene. Unfortunately nothing I did really sealed the deal for me, and no matter what angle of view I shot from I just couldn’t find a compelling way to show the pumpkin creature set against the backdrop of flowers and tables beneath the yellow canopy. This is the best I was able to come up with and believe me I tried, having shot the scene while sitting, standing, and crouching low from various different vantage points in the general area. If I got much closer you couldn’t see enough of the background, but much farther and the subject wasn’t clear. I shot from straight on but it just wan’t all that interesting, and on and on. In the end I kind of resigned myself to the shot I was able to get and I might revisit the scene (I mean, I go past it every day) in the coming days to see if I’m missing something. As it stands I’m using this image here on Weekly Fifty despite its shortcomings as a reminder that sometimes things just don’t work out, but the point is to keep trying and continue learning so you have a greater chance of getting the shot next time :)


  1. Albert Erickson says

    Simon, as always a great image. Love your work and dedication to the craft of photography.

  2. Simon,

    I like the setting and I see what attracted you to the scene. Sometimes no matter what I do, I cannot get the shot that I want to get from a scene. There is a scene that I have tried to capture several times of a rock formation that looks like a rocking horse up a canyon nearby. No matter what I do, it just never works out the way I want it. I haven’t yet given up on it though, and some day I will get it. Thanks for the encouragement to keep on trying.

    • What you described with the rock formation sounds exactly like my thought process here, Dennis. There are some photos that I just can’t seem to get right no matter what I do! I like that you haven’t given up though, and I’ll try to keep that attitude in mind too :)

  3. This is a nice image but I’m glad I’m not the only person that is confronted by a feeling that I’m not meeting my own expectations. I am starting to believe that when this happens to me it is not because the scene or subject is not a good picture but more that it doesn’t fit with my standard settings, focal length, angles, or post-processing. I can’t help but notice that there is a bunch of light and color on the background of this image. I wonder if you embrace all that detail with a narrow aperture, if it would work more for the scene.

    • Oh definitely Bill, I constantly feel like I’m not living up to my own expectations! I don’t even know how many times I’ve loaded up some photos in Lightroom only to wonder what I was thinking, and why I didn’t choose different exposure settings! I like your idea to embrace the background detail in this scene, by the way. I didn’t even think of using a smaller aperture but it could have really helped create a more interesting image by, as you said, embracing all the background detail instead of trying to blur it. Thanks for the idea, man :)

  4. I’m with you 100%. The unique pumpkin man and the beautiful fall flowers demand a photo be taken. Your shot does a good job fulfilling it. I think the background is the problem. I’m old in years but new to your photography/email I know you you stick with a 50. Do you crop what you share? Closer on a ladder or crop sky and the building. I’ve held me 7100 over my head and hoped. Once in a while I was successful. I enjoy your weekly photo/column.

    • Thanks for the comment, Mr. Mac! I do crop images sometimes but I don’t think I did much on this one, though perhaps cropping in closer on the pumpkin-man would help. Hmm. Interesting idea. I like the idea of shooting from a ladder too, and the next time I find a scene like this I’ll see about finding different ways of exploring alternative vantage points :)

  5. Simon, I know I’m late in the viewing, but I love the image. I’m a novice to photography…I’ve been taking pics since I was a kid. But I never really thought about composition until the last year or so. I’m also not great yet with all the photoshop stuff, but I’m learning. The only question I wanted to ask is; would this photo be obtained using a tripod and taking it at different depths of field and layering them in photoshop. I’ve never tried it, but have read about it as a technique for getting the whole image in focusd layers. Like I said, I’m a novice and just wonder if that is a technique I could use with trying to capture a scene like that…have you used that layering in photoshop and did it get what you wanted?

    • You certainly could do that Jackie, but it’s not something I would do on a regular basis. When I was new to digital photography I used Photoshop all the time to edit and tweak my images, but now I find it more enjoyable to focus on lighting, composition, and looking for interesting subjects as opposed to taking the time to do things like manual focus stacking. Or, in your case, layering different images of the same composition but taken at varying apertures in order to get different depths of field. So I guess the short answer to your question is “Definitely, you could do that!” but for me personally I don’t think I would have the patience anymore :)

  6. Thank you!
    As I said I’m a newbie to photoshop and have been focusing on composition. I also love to challenge myself with moving subjects, I live in an area that is a crossroads for a variety of hawks, ospreys and eagles…

    • You’re wise to focus on composition, Jackie! An area like that with lots of wildlife sounds like it would give you plenty of opportunity to practice your photography!

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