We were in New Orleans recently for a few days of vacation – one of the day trips we took was a short drive out to the historic and very famous Oak Alley plantation. The historic home, and in particular the ‘Oak Alley’ throughway that lines the main walkway to the house from the road, has been featured in a number of TV shows such as Interview with the Vampire, Primary Colors, Ghost Hunter, etc…. We went with a tour group and when we left New Orleans it was sunny but with some storm clouds on the horizon – however, nothing seemed imminent from a storm perspective. Even when we arrived at the plantation home the weather seemed to be pristine – the sun was shining and I was excited to walk down the pathway and shoot the historic home through the trees. We hustled out there and I set up my camera – a few other folks had similar ideas and were mulling down the path doing there own thing – so I patiently waited for my chance to get a clear shot with limited people in the way. After a few minutes I just decided a ‘clear’ shot wasn’t going to happen because of the traffic so I was going to do a trick learned in one of Scott Kelby’s training classes which is to essentially take a handful of pictures focusing on different quadrants of the frame and just make sure that particular area is clear. Once you have a clear shot of, say the left 1/5 of the photo, that area move directly to the right and just work your way across the frame like that. After you have a number of shots that you think will work just take them all into Photoshop and blend the images together to give a ‘clear’ shot of the building with limited interruption from any human element.
Oak Alley in the Rain – New Orleans, LA
After waiting for about five minutes for the path to clear I was still struggling to get that middle section people free…it was at that point that the sky above us opened up (without warning – no thunder, I don’t remember the sun really shrinking away) and hard, heavy, large rain drops started to fall on our heads. I asked my wife to grab my rain jacket and the two umbrellas that we brought ‘just in case’ so that I could keep everything (camera gear, myself and my wife) dry. Unfortunately, as she dug through her purse we came to the realization that we only had one umbrella and left everything else in my backpack at the hotel…so we had to make a choice – keep the camera gear dry or ourselves? Begrudgingly we decided to keep the gear dry – so while we sat there getting mostly soaked I took another couple photos since the walkway was FINALLY clear as everyone else ran back to the house.
I absolutely HATE rain and I was pretty miserable being soaked the rest of the day (my wife was a trooper!) but I do think the picture turned out well. The wet pavement leading up to the house combined with the mist/fog in the trees adds an element to the photo that didn’t exist in the other ones and also isn’t in most of the other photos found of the plantation home online. It gives it a feeling of being a special moment even though I’m sure it storms there every day in the summer most people aren’t idiots like me standing out there pressing the shutter still while rain drenches them.