Normally my clients buy prints from existing photographs. In this case, an original commission was needed
After ten years as a fine art photographer, I received my first hired commission. In every other case, clients have purchased prints from existing photographs. But in this case, although I have been to Wormsloe Plantation a few times before, and I have plenty of images of the tree-lined driveway, none of those photos would work because the final reproduction size will be 13 feet wide.
The solution was to return to the avenue of the oaks at Wormsloe and shoot a series of photographs to be stitched into a large composite later.
Problems I didn’t anticipate
My trip to Savannah happened just as a few US states were beginning to close down due to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. I felt urgency to get to Savannah, get the photographs made, and get back home before the shut-down orders made it south.
Traffic: The park was busy
My plan was to position my tripod in the middle of the long driveway at Wormsloe, and shoot a series of images that can be later aligned and stitched in Photoshop to make a large original file for the enlargement to 13 feet wide. I expected the park to be deserted because of social distancing orders. Rather, it was extremely busy — probably as busy as my previous visits. This made it difficult to set-up in the road long enough to capture the full groupings of images I needed for stitching the entire scene. I had to abort in the middle of a series repeatedly to get out of the road.
Impossible to rate images without first making a composite
While the idea to make a large composite was a good one, something I didn’t anticipate is that I couldn’t judge the best shots until I had painstakingly pieced together nearly 30 composites. The driveway is 1.5 miles long and I shot 30 different locations along that distance. Even just making rough composites to judge each scene was very time consuming.
Small fence in all the shots
Wormsloe staff planted a small fence along the road to prevent drivers from pulling off the road to make photos. That small fence became my nemesis as I edited image composite-after-composite to show the client. I removed it from nearly a dozen composites.
History of the Avenue of the Oaks at Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah
The first time I visited Wormsloe, a former plantation site, I assumed that the 1.5 long drive-way lined with 400 giant oak trees had been planted by slave labor. Only later did I learn that the trees were planted in the 1890s, well after the abolishment of slavery.
Behind-the-scenes phone photographs
Below are a few extra bonus images from the day of the shoot.
Bonus video: Breeze in the Spanish moss
Thanks for reading.