Surprisingly Popular

Laura PetersChicago

I often post photos that I love dearly on my personal social accounts. I spent hours thinking about which perspective I like best and how the editing helps tell whatever story is present. Sometimes it’s just an interesting composition that I’ve never used before.

I find that these photos are…rarely, if ever, enjoyed by more than a few people.

Then there are days where I haphazardly take a shot, spend half the time editing, and throw it out on social media on a whim. Invariably, these photos seem to be most popular. It takes me by surprise and sometimes makes me question my decisions!

This long exposure photo of traffic on the Kennedy Expressway spoke more to my friends than it did to me. I almost didn’t post it at all! When I saw the response, I did something I haven’t really done in the past. I decided to upload it to USA Today’s new photo app/site “Your Take.” Amateurs and semi-pros alike seem to be sharing their work here and I have added a few photos just to see how they have structured it.

Then I was shocked when Your Take shared this photo on their Facebook Page, telling fans, “We want to see what life looks like in your state!” Traffic is life, I guess?


I’m amazed by the response and still feel I need to share more than just the image. So let’s talk a little about editing, shall we? Here is a before/after view on this scene.


You can see that I haven’t relied on my camera for white balance and I’ve allowed for very bright whites. This is a personal preference – I don’t believe the camera has great enough “thinking” power to be making white balance decisions as it saves. The raw file has all the information necessary. A balance comparison shot isn’t a bad idea if you aren’t comfortable making that decision in post.

I have many variations on this particular perspective and I wound up preferring a shot where a car could be clearly seen changing lanes. What I didn’t wait around for though (and will when I return) is a car exiting to the right. That would have made the shot for me and is part of the reason I wasn’t in a rush to share.

But, that’s how it goes and sometimes the best shot of the day may not feel great (until other people seem to enjoy it). Ultimately, I love when my friends enjoy what I share. It’s okay if only a handful like my odd compositions – those few must be just as crazy as me!