The traffic in Atlanta is no joke. It seems the cars never stop moving throughout the entire city. I actively plan trips to and through Atlanta to avoid 6 – 10 am and 3 – 7 pm because of how bad the traffic is. While visiting Atlanta over dinner in Little Five Points I decided I would try to capture a view of the city along with its infamous traffic. I start using google to find a few options on where I might be able to capture both and the famous Jackson Street Bridge seemed to be the consensus favorite location, which was not that far away.
We left the diner and headed to bridge, only for Apple Maps to take us under the bridge and tell me that we had arrived. I felt my opportunity slipping away from me, knowing that the following day we were busy and it was supposed to rain all day long with the left overs from hurricane Nate (Oct 2017). Just after 6 PM I notice a break in the rain and decide, this may be my only chance to get the picture I want. I grab the keys drive to this special bridge, my goal is to paint light into the camera.
Setting up the shot
I set up the camera on a few different locations on the bridge, not knowing which angle I will like best. First I try in the center of the bridge, but the light poles are distracting and just do not look good. I am glad I looked at this photo before I packed up my gear.
Then I try the south side of the bridge and I collect 8 – 10 shots at 30 seconds each, ISO 100 32mm f/10. I then processed these using Lightroom to adjust the levels and to put an HDR preset on them, then I move into Photoshop and use Smart Objects to get the median value of the head and tail lights from the traffic to smooth out the randomness of cars changing lanes. Here is the result from the south side.
I move to the north side of the bridge and take another 8 – 10 shots at 20 seconds each, ISO 100 42mm f/9. These were also processed using Lightroom and Photoshop to get the same effect as the shot above.
Reviewing the shots
I am very pleased with how the end product turned out from both the north and south sides. The selections you make in composition and angles really makes a huge difference. The shots from the middle of the bridge just do not have the same impact at the other two. These shots highlight my most vivid memories of the city itself. Not the attractions, but the views from around the amazing city that really is the capital of the South.
If you want to learn more about Smart Objects and how to use them in Photoshop feel free to watch this tutorial.