I am a Gamecock. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it on these pages before, but I graduated from USC in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with emphasis on Photography. I still live in the middle of Gamecock Country, in the beautiful city of Columbia, SC. We are lucky to have such a beautiful campus for our students and alumni to enjoy, and I can’t believe I haven’t been back through campus since I graduated. It remains mostly the same as I remember, but boy did it feel great to go back and explore the places I used to frequent. I have also honed my photographic eye quite a bit since those days, and I’m really happy with the photos I took on this outing. I shot these photos late last fall, before all of the cold and snow arrived this winter.
The USC campus is quite beautiful during the fall, and it’s just a short walk from where I currently live, so we made an afternoon of walking around the school. As an alumni, I vividly remember walking these paths to get to class, taking breaks on the benches to eat lunch and rest, and chatting with friends that I passed along the way. I haven’t walked through campus since I graduated several years ago, so it was nice to go back and look at the campus in a different perspective than as a student. I decided to focus more on the natural areas of campus rather than the buildings for this blog post, to highlight the serene beauty that is found in the middle of our busy city. I’ll do a follow up with the buildings soon, but for now enjoy the natural scenery!
I love my alma mater, and she is beautiful. Forever to thee.
All of these images were shot on a Nikon D7000 with a Sigma 20mm f/1.8 or Nikkor 50 f/1.8D. These are not tonemapped HDR, they were all created from a single exposure in Lightroom 5. They were then very gently toned in Perfect Photo Suite 8 to add a finishing touch, but most of the processing was done in Lightroom. If you have questions about this technique, feel free to email me and I’ll share what I can. Here’s a “before” of the first photo, this is what the image looked like when I imported it in Lightroom.
Pretty big difference, huh? Lightroom is such a powerful program, and I hope I have demonstrated just how much can be done with a single image. The technique I used works best with a slightly (~1 stop) underexposed image to preserve most of the highlight details. Just about any modern digital camera can pull up incredible detail from the shadows in a RAW file. This is why we shoot RAW, folks. Take care and happy shooting!