I was recently feeling nostalgic over my days shooting abandoned structures back in the Northeast US, so I hit up some choice folders from 2010, during my first visits to the Belchertown State School. A wonderful place fit for anyone who loves this sort of grunge scenery. It’s ripe to cut your teeth on bracketing, tone-mapping, and all sorts of crazy customized stylization.
One of my favorite steps here is the editing. As I study this image, I turn it into its own little movie. There is a starting point, an ending point and [hopefully] a story to tie both ends together. These come in the form of composition, lighting, and leading lines. They help the eye start at one place and logically roam around to another intended place. This engages the viewer and his/her respective imagination and emotion.
There are also different elements here that play their own roles. Some are top billed, while others are small walk-on parts – cameos, if you will. Take the concrete, tile slabs, and brick. Each of those elements played their own respective roles and received their own individualized processing. Sure, masking was a pain and took some time but the end result was clearly worth it. I have never really been a fan of slapping on effects globally – it just doesn’t ever seem to do the image justice and you usually end up with a hodgepodge of unrelated styles.
And it’s very fun to experiment with selective dodging and burning using masking brushes to create luminous paths for the eye to follow – trust me, if you create a luminous path, the eye will follow it.
So next time you sit down to edit that next image, make your own internal casting call. See what shows up and how you can build a role around that.
In terms of processing
As mentioned, the concrete, brick, and tiles were treated separately. I applied Cyberpunk to the concrete for its dirty/cool qualities and went the complete opposite direction by selectively applying Thermopylae to the tiles. This gave me the color and temperature contrast that I was going for.
I applied a combination of Blue Dawn Leonidas and Moulin Rouge to the brick wall in the background and then did custom edits to the ground and rear hallways using the Just Enough Darkness effect. All done in PhotoTools 2.6, the predecessor to Perfect Effects 3 by.
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