The Bliss of Ignorance
This past Friday afternoon, I glanced across the room at my trusty old Ovation guitar, just sitting all pretty in the golden glow of sunset. I admired how the strong light really made the surface cracks in the old finish pop and remarked to myself of the weathered beauty.
This old pot bellied bitch of an instrument was actually my first guitar, given as a gift from my parents on graduation day some 18 years ago… and it was old then! It was a bear to learn on, always wanting to slide off my lap when I went to check a chord fingering, but it taught me well. I hadn’t touched it in about 10 years until recently, but I’ve been using it as a stand-in while my main guitar (a Guild DC-5E something-or-other) was awaiting it’s bridge repair.
On Saturday, I finally got a chance to get the Guild off to Noll Guitars in Cranston, RI. As I’ve mentioned previously, I received a stern talking to about the importance of proper humidification with a fine acoustic instrument and was told in no uncertain terms that I had permanently ruined the guitar. They would be able to reset the bridge, but the high end tone and wood strength would ever fully return. I was dismayed… well, until I remembered that I still love how it sounds! They also pointed out how in extreme cases, when the wood expands or contracts faster than the finish, pronounced cracks will appear. Knowing that the Ovation was probably stuck in an attic for years before I got it, and that I’ve left it in a closet with a hot water pipe chase for many years more, it was no mystery what I had been looking at in the glow of that sunset.
I took about a dozen photos with the guitar on a chair or laying on the floor in slightly diffused sunlight. I was shooting handheld with a fairly shallow depth of field, so focus was a bit of an issue. Half of the original dozen were cut due to focus right off the bat. About half of the shots I tried focused on the bridge, whole the other half featured the soundhole. I was liking how the brightness of the orange glow and the blackness of the interior were contrasting, so I went towards the second set of shots. This one is actually the only one I took in portrait orientation, and it was no question that it was the best of the bunch.
To get this shot, I had my trusty Olympus E-600 fitted with the 14-42mm, F3.5-5.6 kit lens. The camera was set in aperture priority mode with the aperture set at f.8. I believe the ISO was set to auto, and the camera chose ISO800. Shutter speed was selected at 1/80th of a second. I had the lens zoomed in to the maximum 42mm, which gives a 35mm equivalent of around 80mm.
I went through my normal tweaking ritual in Lightroom. Certain defaults I used to take for granted before the hard drive fail have yet to be restored, so I was especially careful to remember to set up my copyright profile this time! I find that the E-600 tends to overexpose ever so slightly, so I’ve been getting used to knocking the exposure back just a bit in LR, but I actually bumped it up here to brighten the overall photo. There is a small measure of cropping here, a bit of added clarity and vibrance there, some noise reduction and, of course, my ever present need for vignette (I must remember to write a post on vignetting soon). When I only use Lightroom for editing, I tend not to go too crazy.
I was really trying to replicate some of the shallow depth of field guitar shots that I’ve done in the past (here & here)by shooting at the minimum aperture, but it wasn’t working out. The previous times I’ve done this I was using my tripod and a magnification filter, and I just didn’t have the time left with the light to round those things up. In the end, I think opening things up and letting the sunlight be the star was the right thing to do.