Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nostalgia means different things to different people. Some think back to their childhood. Some think even further back, to a time that’s been romanticized in movies or stories from relatives handing down the history of the family. I might have like to meet my maternal great grandfather. I did some genealogy a while back and learned he was a railroad crossing attendant in the early part of the last century. I went to the newspaper in the town serving the area he worked in and found his obituary. It was a glowing account of how he served the community both on the job and as a citizen. One thing that caught my eye was a passage relating how thoughtful he was in doing his work. It went something like: ‘each winter, when the streets had been plowed and the tracks cleared, Mr. McGuiness would shovel snow back onto the tracks’. When I read that, it struck me as being a little bizarre. I thought, perhaps “olde great granddad” might have benefited from a wee bit of mental health assistance. After mulling it over in my mind it dawned on me that I was thinking in a late twentieth, early twenty first century place a time. Reverting back to early last century the “picture” became much clearer. Cars were rare and horse drawn sleighs and trucks with runners would have be the norm. The steel runners, sliding across the steel rails would have generated heat and possibly “cold welded” the runner to the track, creating a hazard if a train were coming barreling through town. By shoveling snow back onto the track he was providing a slippery surface for the traffic. As the newspaper had said, it was a benefit to the travelers of the day. Today’s image is not the station my great grandfather worked at, but the one in the town we now live. The “new station” is down the track about a quarter mile. The move came because the main road would have to be gated whenever a train stopped to discharge and take on passengers. To find out about the “hand coloring” of today’s image, hit the “read more”.

The first step was to convert the image to B&W using a Black & White Adjustment Layer. Then a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer was added to boost the contrast of the scene. The sky was masked to retain some detail in the clouds and add a more “realistic” look to the image.

The individual colors, red, green, blue, brown, and yellow come from individual layers. One for each color. An appropriate color was chosen from the Swatches Panel and the Blend Mode changed to Color. Each color was painted in and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer applied to each layer. Using the H/S Adjustment Layer allowed for the increase or decrease in intensity.

The last step (other than the typical sharpening and vignetting) was to set all modifications above the change to B&W to a group (Select all Layers using click and Shift Click and then CTRL G) and reduce the Opacity slightly to give just a hint of the underlying remaining colors.

It ends up with an “old time” postcard feel.


Levonne said...

I like the picture of the railroad track. I like the way my eyes run down the tracks and back to the structure above the vehicles. I like your note about your grandfather. Thanks.