The Silver Bullet

By |2013-01-16T17:44:42+00:00Dec 20th, 2012|

Do you ever let the weather play a role in how you process and stylize your images? I certainly do and it’s something that I’ve come to embrace. The key is pairing up the right image to the mood you’re in. For example, this is an image of an Amtrak train as it was departing the Portland station likely heading to Salem or Seattle. As you can see, the weather was morose, gloomy and very wet – very similar to today.

The way I see it, I’m able to marry the mood of the scene when this image was taken to the mood outside as I processed it. It seems like a nice completed cycle. It’s something to consider for certain.

In terms of processing

This is an eight exposure tone-mapped HDR image. I used the ghost reduction utility of Photomatix Pro to map the train onto the scene. Basically, I took a series of exposures as the train zipped by, intending to get one filling the frame in motion and then I took seven exposures of this exact scene without moving my tripod after the train passed by. The combination of these eight exposures gave me a solid tone-mapped image.

For stylization, I used Perfect Effects 4 by onOne Software. I combined a bit of Blue Dawn and Grunge Goddess. I also masked a lot of Tonal Contrast onto the train.

I also added a touch of soft focus in the background using FocalPoint 2. I felt that it helped draw the eye through the frame.

Final touches were applied in Lightroom 4.3.

[map w=”745″ h=”185″ lat=”45.51793″ lon=”-122.66458″ marker=”yes” z=”17″ maptype=”SATELLITE” 852 /]


  1. Oliver Asis December 20, 2012 at 9:26 am - Reply

    Wow!!!  Great shot!  I really like the action and drama in this picture.  Well done +Brian Matiash!

  2. Bryan Conner December 20, 2012 at 9:28 am - Reply

    This has a real futuristic, sci-fi feel to it.  Great job.

  3. Joe Wilson December 20, 2012 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Nice image and processing!

  4. Cheryl Cooper December 20, 2012 at 9:30 am - Reply

    OH MERCY! +Gene Bowker have you seen this yet! wow!

  5. Edwin Gustafson December 20, 2012 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Wow what an idea for a superb image!

  6. Steve Hale December 20, 2012 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I love this – well done.

  7. Jaro Maršalek December 20, 2012 at 9:33 am - Reply


  8. Steve Boyko December 20, 2012 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Nicely done, Brian! Certainly I adapt my shooting to the weather, especially when shooting trains :) A bright blue-sky day has a lot more possibilities than a dark grey day, and you adapt accordingly… on the dark days maybe do a pan shot or a LE shot like this.

  9. Joseph Fanvu December 20, 2012 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Nice post and image! Loved reading this.

  10. Branko Nuss December 20, 2012 at 9:42 am - Reply

    I frequently leave the house with my camera in hand either right before or right after a rain storm during the summer.  The clouds and wet pavement usually lend themselves nicely to the post-apocalyptic look I like to apply to my landscape photos.

  11. Michael Muraz December 20, 2012 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Fantastic lines +Brian Matiash. Love the mood you created there.

  12. bryan Korb December 20, 2012 at 10:11 am - Reply

    Nice one +Brian Matiash

  13. Branko Nuss December 20, 2012 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Is anyone else going to try and answer the question?

  14. Brian Matiash December 20, 2012 at 10:14 am - Reply

    +Branko Nuss Exactly – that's why I am so in love with the rain here in Portland. It adds so much dimension to the shot with all of the subtle reflections on pavement.

  15. Branko Nuss December 20, 2012 at 10:17 am - Reply

    I was just out in Phoenix this past week and was blessed with several days and nights of rainstorms.  While most other people from the midwest would be upset about it, I loved the photos I was able to get before and after the storms.  There is something magical about big fluffy clouds in the desert.  Maybe because it's so rare.

  16. Barry Cochran December 20, 2012 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Before I moved here, people told me the weather was always cloudy and rainy. I arrived in July, when they couldn't really say that, so they said November to June was always cloudy and rainy. Now, it's November to June and, yes, it's often cloudy and rainy, but it also can change in the blink of an eye.  The weather in Portland is mercurial and I'd think that would be the most exciting and challenging aspect of photographing PDX. Nice shot, by the way.

  17. Branko Nuss December 20, 2012 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Alright!  It looks like +Barry Cochran read the whole post, too!

  18. Pete Collins December 20, 2012 at 10:23 am - Reply

    too lazy to comment, so I just plus one'd it… then decided I liked the photo enough to actually type. :D Nice one.

  19. Mikko Tyllinen December 20, 2012 at 10:31 am - Reply


  20. Michael Murphy December 20, 2012 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Oh yes. Lovely motion and lines here Brian, nice work.

  21. Juan Gonzalez December 20, 2012 at 10:43 am - Reply

    This is incredible. Love it +Brian Matiash

  22. Javier Esvall December 20, 2012 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Great image and processing!

  23. Dominique Dubied December 20, 2012 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Great effect +Brian Matiash ! Good explanations about the shot.

  24. Jay Patel December 20, 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Very cool…

  25. Alfredo Mora December 20, 2012 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Great movement in this shot! Awesome work Brian.

  26. Bryn Forbes December 20, 2012 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Great image! excellent processing and shooting for what you had in your mind's eye. Next time you are near the station you stop by corner of 11th and nw marshall and say hi. We have a mutual friend in +Randy Kepple  I believe.

  27. Branko Nuss December 20, 2012 at 11:42 am - Reply

    It sounds like a setup!  Don't do it!

  28. Brian Matiash December 20, 2012 at 11:44 am - Reply

    +Bryn Forbes I definitely will! I've had conversations with +Randy Kepple before!

  29. Branko Nuss December 20, 2012 at 11:45 am - Reply

    It's a trap!!!!

  30. Joseph Eckert December 20, 2012 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Gorgeous work, great use of the sky

  31. Randy Kepple December 20, 2012 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Brian, I think I owe you a long, long overdue pint or two of Portland's finest! Bryn is a tremendous and talented photographer and artist. I always am inspired when I shoot with him. Actually heading to the 'Couve Amtrak station this afternoon to pick up my daughter! Nice capture Brian!

  32. Charles Benedict December 20, 2012 at 11:48 am - Reply

    What a fantastic idea to combine images of train plus separate images that include the background as an HDR photo. Am I correct that this only has one of the tone mapped images that includes the train?

  33. Damien Jemison December 20, 2012 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Rocky Mountain Fresh.

  34. Shelly Gunderson December 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    That turned out really well!  Love it and thanks once again for explaining how it was made.

  35. Wojciech Kaczmarek December 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    Great photo!

  36. Ursula Schier December 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    großartig, da möchte ich drinnen sein

  37. Kurt Laidlaw December 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Beautiful image, Brian. I'm guessing that is the Coastlight Express on it's way to San Francisco and not the Cascades by the color band. I love the feeling of movement.

  38. Tom Mowery December 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Looking at this image, I have to hang onto my chair to keep from falling on the floor.

  39. Jyotirmoy Banerjee December 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Excellent photography

  40. Ted Bratton December 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    I really like this image and the processing.

  41. Rich Carstensen December 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    This is awesome.  Great advice!

  42. Oscar Blázquez. December 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Me encanta esta foto es chulisima.

  43. Boris Manic December 22, 2012 at 4:01 am - Reply


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