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First major edit, among others

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Old 11-27-2004, 06:58 PM
mrobertson mrobertson is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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First major edit, among others

Hello all;

This is my first effort at serious manipulation, so I thought it would be appropriate for my first post. I'm not new to critiques, though, so don't be gentle. I have just recently started using PSE 3.0, and am blown away by what it can do. I've modified this image based on help I've received elsewhere, but now I'm looking for specific comments based on a retoucher's eye. My aim is to get an 11x17" print out of a 12mb tiff.

thanks all.
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Old 11-27-2004, 08:45 PM
byRo's Avatar
byRo byRo is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Goianésia, Brazil
Posts: 1,609
Hi there mrobertson, welcome in!!

When you say "serious manipulation" do you mean that originally the train wasn't there, or that you desaturated the surroundings?

If the first answer, then I'd say it's really good.
However, it seems that you are trying to strike a contrast between the train and the forest. But although color / desaturated is one way to go - if that is all you've got then the difference needs to be more pronounced. As we're not going to have a new bright-red locomotive then I'd say that we need some more help.

The train gets a bit lost in the background because:
- they both have a similar texture,
- they are both clean sharp images, and
- they are both at roughly the same luminosity.

IMHO the easiest, and most natural-looking way to differenciate them would be to slightly blur the background trees.

IMHO too. When we color only one item in the photo, it is to make it stand out but also gives the idea that the subject is warmer, more alive (as in a red rose, or a pretty face) - here you want the opposite. Something abandoned in the middle of a living forest. Maybe a slight green tone for the living parts would work more.

Also, now getting philosophical - something bugs me about the coal wagon (well, I think it's a coal wagon) extending through the right side of the photo. Gives a hint of a continuation which defeats the "abandoned" message.

Hope this helps!!
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Old 11-27-2004, 09:55 PM
mrobertson mrobertson is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Originally Posted by byRo
Hi there mrobertson, welcome in!!

When you say "serious manipulation" do you mean that originally the train wasn't there, or that you desaturated the surroundings?
Well, it's the latter option, but thanks for the assumption. It's the first time I've altered a photo in a way that a layperson would notice, which is what I'll call 'serious'. Other than the desaturation, though, the picture is true to reality.

The truth of the matter is that this was shot out of a slow-moving train, and the sharpness wasn't what I hoped for. The full-colour original was aggressively mediocre. Desaturating the original left me with a mediocre B&W print with the engine lost in the background. The rust was what originally drew me to the scene, so I kept that and like the result.

Thanks for the suggestion on the blur - I will absolutely try that. It doesn't show very strongly, but the B&W layer is reduced to 90% opacity to let some of the greenery come through. (And the colour of the base layer has been desaturated 10% to tone the orange rust down.) If I do change it, I've been considering ways to increase the suggestion of greenery without weakening the overall quality of the monochrome. Slightly contradictory, I know. I can't decide between local touches of translucency, or a graduated increase in colour toward the engine.

The tenders to a steam engine are usually permanently attached (I could be wrong, and I don't know the specifics of this one) so I'm not eager to remove it. I was thinking about leaving it in B&W to help it 'go away' visually, but I'm afraid that would make the colour of the engine look even more artificial.

thanks for the feedback.
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Old 12-12-2004, 09:34 AM
mrobertson mrobertson is offline
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It's taken longer than I had expected, but I've gone back to the original file and completely re-done the edit. I've changed the way the image was converted to B&W, using the levels+saturation adjustment layers in PSE, to bring out a little more texture in the foreground flowers and background trees. I've done a light blur to the background (suitable for printing, it's very subtle in the resized version), reduced the opacity of the desaturated greenery (more colour shows through) and left the ladder on the tender mostly B&W. I have also left the image full-frame.

Here's the new file:

And the original edit:

Let me know if I'm on the right track...
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Old 12-29-2004, 09:29 AM
mcmurma mcmurma is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 8
Hiya Mrob,

I like your desaturated train, and of course, I had to play around with it.

What I liked: Its a train. Trains are cool. Its partially desaturated, and it suits the pic and sets a nice mood for such an old and rusting train. The softness in the very front of the photo also gave the image an old 'hand-colored' feel to me.

What I didn't like: There really wasn't enough "environmental contrast" (thats my own term, btw. So please, no one look it up ) between the foreground, subject, and background, even with the desat, to properly set the train off.

What I tried to do: I tried to play up the desat and hand colored feel by adding a lot of the color back to the foreground. The rich greens and the spotted purples make a nice welcome mat for the train, I think. Also, added quite a bit of blur around the edges of the image to soften the trees in the background more, and accentuate the "old-tyme" lens get softer in the corners feel. Finally, I adjusted the levels to boost the contrast and give it more punch. (I did sharpen a teensy bit (200 @ 0.2) after resizing.)

Fun image, thanks for posting.

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