Monday, April 11, 2011

WhenThe Opportunity Arises...

Every once in a while an opportunity comes along where you can't miss.  Such was the case this past weekend.  A group of friends took a little ride (7 hours) down to Roanoke Virginia to take part in a set railroad shoot.  Peter Lerro has a production company under the name (oddly enough) Lerro Productions and organizes both railroad and lighthouse.  If you get a chance to attend one of Peter's "Photo Charters", grab it.  It was an excellent experience and worth every penny spent.  It was a two evening shoot and you could go for either or both nights.  The four in our group went for both sessions.  One of the keys to the best shots was smoke.  Without the smoke the shots were good, but with the smoke the shots had a whole different level of interest.  It gave the stationary engines a sense of excitement that the non-smoke shots lacked.  Today's image comes from the shoot.  Everything was taken care of.  Actors were hired (at least they were there - not sure if they were paid or volunteers from the museum), lights were set up, smoke popped, and the "sets" were up for about thirty minutes each.  A total of about nine sets per night.  A couple were similar, but different enough to get unique shots each night.  All in all a great experience.  To find out more about how today's image was finished, hit the "read more".
There were a couple "hot spots" in the shot, so they had to be taken care of first. The lantern and the big plate of the wheel were the major offenders. The lantern was fixed by duplicating the layer, changing the Blend Mode to Multiple and putting a Black Layer Mask (Alt plus the Add Layer Mask icon). A big (for the size of the lantern), soft, white Brush (B) was used to reveal the darker version. There's still a hot spot (hellooo, it's a lantern. There's fire there.) at the center, but now it makes the lantern an accent rather than a distraction. The other piece that had to be toned down is just behind the mechanic's head. The large crescent shape of the wheel. The hot area was selected using the Magic Wand Tool (W). A tool that's used (by me) on very rare occasions. The Selection was Expanded (Select/Modify/Expand) by about five pixels and Saved (right click in the selection and pick Save Selection). A new Layer (Add Layer icon) was put above the current working Layer and Filled with the Foreground Color. The Saved Selection was loaded and a Layer Mask applied using the Selection. The color was sampled from the upper part of the wheel. The Opacity of the Layer was reduced to the point where the blend between added Layer and the already set color matched.

One last, small area needed a little toning down. That was his left forearm. Going back to the same Layer as the lantern made short work of bringing down the tone using a White Brush (B) to paint on the Black Mask. No problem.

The image was then Sharpened (using the High Pass filter method), and a vignette applied. The only additional step, that's not typically used was to bring the image back to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 and any noise removed (in the Develop Module noise reduction is found in the Detail Panel).

That's it. Not much was needed to bring the image from As Shot to finished.