Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Going Poster

I visited the Graegle area of Plumas County in Northern California this weekend. The excuse for this adventure was the great weather, an opportunity to photograph fall color, and mainly an assignment to photograph a fly fisherman for a possible cover of the 2012 edition of the Plumas County Visitor's Guide. I've had some great adventures doing covers for previous years issues.

After the morning shoot I stopped by at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola. Besides being fun for anyone who gets excited about trains (and who doesn't), there is lots to photograph. There is color, texture and pattern to exercise the photographic vision, and it is so wild that one is tempted to let go and simply have fun with it all. Which is what I did, both while photographing, then afterwards at the computer

What's more fun than a colorful caboose? The photo below is pretty much right out of the camera. Well, it is a stitched panorama. Since I was too lazy to change to my super wide lens I took a photo of the top half and merged it in Photoshop with the bottom half photo.  
Not a bad image, and with a fair amount of impact. But wait, there's more . . .
The fun begins with some over-the-top High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing. This was possible because I had taken three images at one-stop exposure intervals, keeping the aperture constant and varying the shutter speed. My camera, a Nikon D300, shoots bursts at about 6 frames a second, allowing this to be done handheld maintaining the images in good enough alignment that the software can merge them.

 I have two options for HDR processing. An old standard is Photomatix Pro. It has lots of control options, which if applied carelessly can lead to an exaggerated, I.e., unreal look. Kind of like a Thomas Kinkade painting, light reaches deep into shadows while still magically revealing texture detail. The other option is the HDR tool in Photoshop, where a more acceptably photographic look results from the default options. I went the Photomatix Kinkade route.

Then back into Lightroom for more fun, where the Vibrance and Clarity sliders got cranked all the way up to "11" - and beyond. Lastly into Photoshop CS5, for a strong dose of Filter>Artistic>Poster Edges.
You'll find more of the results of my railyard and post-processing adventure (including the reputed world's largest diesel locomotive, The Centennial, on my web site, Tony's Vision

Not satiated with color at the railroad museum, I headed north into the pines, aspens, oaks, and big leaf maples along the Beckworth-Genesee Road. You'll find some fall foliage shots in the Awesome Autumn section of the Plumas County web site.