October 5, 2009

Under the Bridge--The Grunge Look

Downtown Lynchburg, Virginia

    So on Saturday, we went downtown to scout out a couple "iconic" Lynchburg shots, you know, the ones looking across the river with the sun and clouds just right. Well, we didn't get any of those. But I did get this interesting shot of the underside of the bridge coming into town over the James. Due to all the dirt and graffiti, I felt inclined to make this shot a "grunge" style shot. This was my result. I have mixed feelings about it. Didn't really get exactly the look I was going for, though I do like the high contrast and desaturated tone. I think if, when I had shot it, I had gotten a little more detail in the right side where the sun is coming in, I would have been more pleased. They can't all be good right? Below is the final result from Photoshop compared to the original RAW file. I also explain how the effect was reached in Photoshop.

After                             Before

    As you can see, I applied a pretty healthy serving of contrast to bring out some of the dirt in the walls (this was done with a curves adjustment layer). Then I did a little dodging and burning to bring out more contrast than what the Curves layer was giving me (to all you non-Photoshop people, the "Curve" refers to the lights and darks of the image and when you make the lights lighter and the darks darker it makes an S-shaped curve. The bigger the 'S' the more contrast there is.) The next step was to apply selective desaturation throughout the image (except for the greens, I felt they framed the image well and added some taste). This was done through a gradient map with a mask on it to keep some of the color of the leaves. I decided against a regular desaturation layer because the gradient map gets you just a little bit more contrast (by the way- at first when you apply a gradient map layer it will look odd. Make sure you invert the values). As you can see in the second image, it gives you a little more 'pop' and makes a pretty boring picture more interesting.

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