Sunday, January 15, 2012

Something Old

In my last post, I went through a process of creating an HDR like image, and it was very subtle.  This time I'm going to "grunge" things up a bit.

This image of an old truck is from my last visit to the ghost town of Bodie.  Bodie is located about 13 miles off of Highway 395, near Bridgeport California.  Bodie is a real ghost town, and is kept in a state of arrested decay.  The are all sorts of wonderful old buildings, cars, and other items laying around to explore and photograph.  While wandering around, I came across this wonderful old truck.  Using my Sony NEX3, I took a couple of shots.  This is the one I liked the most, probably because of the unusual angle of the truck, and the puffy clouds in the background.  Since the original image is in RAW format it needed to be opened with a program that could read it, so I used Adobe RAW.  Here's what it looked like:
Although there are quite a few adjustments I could have made, I chose instead to open the image and do my tweaking in Photoshop.

This is what my screen looked like with the truck image opened in Photoshop:
I think there is a lot of potential for this shot.  The truck is an excellent subject for "adjustments".  I want to try to bring out the textures of the metal with is flaking paint, scratches, and rust.  So, here we go.

In this screenshot, you can see the truck image is beginning to take shape.  The texture I'm looking for is starting to show in the grass, and the metal of the truck.  Even the clouds are showing a little more personality.

Here's the truck again, with more adjustment.  Things are really starting to pop now!  Notice how there's more detail in the shadows compared to the original.  You can almost feel the scratchy, bumpy surface of the trucks fender.  The colors also seem more rich and saturated.

More adjustments have created an even more textured, sharp, and saturated image.  Unfortunately this is starting to take on a fantasy look.  For me, this is a little more grungy than I would like.

So, how exactly did I get my normal truck image to look like the one in the screen shot above?  I used my Photoshop plug-in, Nik Color Efex Pro.  The specific filter I used is Tonal Contrast.  In fact, I used it 3 times.  Each time I used it, it created an additional layer in Photoshop.  It was the last layer that I used to do some clean up work.  I used a mask, and a soft brush to take the clouds and a little of the truck back to the previous layer, softening some of the grunge.  To get the final image, I also cropped in tighter around the truck.  There were some people in the background on the left side, and a distracting building on the right side.  I also had to clone out a telephone pole over the left fender, and a piece of the building still poking into right side behind the bed of the truck.  I also ran a filter to remove noise since there seemed to be quite a bit of it in the sky.   Here's the final image:

I'm very pleased with the final image.  There is no doubt that the truck is the main subject of the image, and appears larger than life.  The color is vivid, and there is a wonderful sense of texture.  I also like the unusual angle of this shot, it gives it a unique point of view and adds some interest.  In fact, I like this shot so much I printed it at 16 x 20, and put it in a very rough frame.  It looks great!

I hope this all made sense and that it helped give you a couple of ideas.  Don't be afraid to experiment, and if you'd like, leave a comment on how you "adjust" your images.

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