Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Happens When A Ghost Shows Up In Your Image?

Actually, I’m not kidding.  Take a look at the original of today’s image (click on it to expand).  On the far left you can see a guy walking into the frame.  I was there, along a road in West Virginia, when I saw this old gas station and thought it might make an interesting image.  We stopped the car, backed up to a more advantageous spot, got out and started shooting.  For all the time I was there, no one came by.  This was such a remote oasis that, for the twenty minutes or so that I was shooting, not one car came down the road.  No one walked by, no one went up to the store, no one was anywhere near while we were happily snapping away.  Yet, there’s a man walking into the shot on one image.  Only one.  Nothing was said, no one nodded or waved or smiled, nada, zip and yet he’s there.  I have no idea how to explain it, but it does make a great case for geotagging shots.  This was taken prior to getting the GPS unit for the camera, so I don’t think I’d be able to find this place again in a hundred trips through WV.  If I did know where it was I’d be tempted to take a ride down to WV just to investigate who this fellow is.  It sounds like one of those stories where the traveler picks up a hitchhiker, drops him/her off at the destination, discovers something left behind and goes to return it only to find out the hitchhiker has been dead for X number of years.  Pretty weird, but nothing to do with today’s image.  To find out about today’s image, hit the “read more”.

First, we were without power yesterday due to a tree falling across some electrical wires next door. That’s why this is a day later than the typical Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting on the blog.

Now the image. This was actually made a couple years ago, before HDR got to be the rage. It’s done with more of a posterization technique than anything HDR. It was also done with Adobe Photoshop CS4, so I didn’t have the advantage of Content Aware Fill. You can see that I cropped out “the ghost”, but there’s several other things that had to be removed to make the image what it is. The most obvious is the removal of the orange cone sitting in front of the car. Not quite as apparent is the paper sign on the front of the pump. It’s been replaced with what looks like the normal gallons and dollars windows that would be found on a gas pump of that era. If you look at the original image you’ll see that the other pump was of no help. The wording and little windows to show the numbers was made from scratch.

There is one thing that hasn’t been removed. Let’s play “where’s Waldo” and see if you can spot my Nikon Speedlite in the images. The overhang area was brightened up a little by adding a little pop of light to the area.

From there it was a matter of throwing the colors into a state of shock. The ice cream in the cone went almost neon, the window sills brightened up beyond what might be expected and a couple of bills in the window to the left of the door brought up from grey to white. The whole thing was given a filter to make it look more like it came out of the newspaper and then parts of the filter removed.

It was a fun exercise and a great demonstration of why camera manufacturers should make GPS information a built-in part of a camera’s software and firmware. Just my opinion.