This is part of the rolling stock of the Fillmore & Western Railway, alongside the Fillmore Depot, ready to roll on another short excursion. A special hat tip goes out to Dave Wilson for his tip on reducing halos that result in the skies of HDR images. I had come across the same tip in a tutorial I was viewing recently, and after Dave reminded me of it, I tried it out, on this past Monday’s image and this one. Thank you Dave, for coaching me forward one more step in the development of my HDR skills.
As the sun was getting low over Fillmore City Hall the shadows grew longer and the moon began rising in the eastern sky when I captured the brackets for this image.. The scene might suggest that the seat of government in Fillmore has stood the test of time, that would, however, be an incorrect conclusion. Fillmore was first settled around the time that the city’s grid was first laid out in 1887, incorporation occurred in 1914. While the appearance of this photograph would suggest that the Fillmore City Hall may have been erected at about the time of incorporation, in reality, this is the sixth incarnation of the Fillmore City Hall and it was built in 1997.
To arrive at this final image I combined and tone mapped three bracketed exposures using HDR Efex Pro. I used a combination of Viveza and Photoshop to adjust exposure and tone, and an adjustment layer in Photoshop to replace the halo’ed sky that resulted after the HDR process. The original color tones were too garish to my taste and inaccurate to boot, I used the Color Efex Pro Duplex filter to alter the color tones and the Color Efex Pro Vignette Blur filter to soften the focus on the edges of the image. Lightroom was used for final sharpening.
This was another image that I had worked over quite a bit, and only over time was I able to control my urges to produce a “punchy” image, and arrive at a more subtle interpretation and final vision. I really think that it does help to put aside my images after first processing them, and resist the urge to publish them immediately, so that over time I will find my way back to the images, and a different, and hopefully, better perspective. Deliberation is the key to producing memorable images.
The old Santa Fe caboose sits on a siding adjacent to City Hall and Central Park in Fillmore, California. It might be a part of rolling stock of the nearby Fillmore & Western Railroad, although since the windows are boarded up, it may just be a stationary artifact today.
I worked this image over quite a few times before I was finally satisfied. I captured the brackets late in the afternoon when the light was warming up; I emphasized the orange tones of the caboose and went for a grunge look for the texture when working with HDR Efex Pro. I was not happy with the background elements, the caboose seemed to get lost in front of them so I went the de-saturation route on almost everything except the caboose. Still not happy (the dark black tones were too overpowering to me), I used the Lightroom Virtual Copy command and then processed the copy with Color Efex Pro and used the Fog filter to give the entire image a diffuse, foggy look.
Then I tried my hand at layer masking in Photo Shop for the first time. From Bridge I opened the two versions of the image as a single layered image in Photo Shop, then in Photo Shop I masked out the caboose on the Fog filter layer so that its full color saturation would display through the Fog mask. I recently acquired a Wacom Bamboo tablet and stylus, so alternated using the stylus and tablet, or my finger and the touch pad on the Macbook Pro for executing my brush strokes. As long as you take your time, and magnify the image on your monitor and set your brush size appropriately, brushing in the masking “pigments” (black and white) is easy and accurate. I have not decided if I prefer using my finger and touch pad, or the stylus yet, but the stylus does feel “natural” to me, in the sense that I am using a painting/drawing tool. Once I had the overall image where I wanted it, I saved it as a .PSD file, and then extracted my .JPG’s from it. Good thing I saved as .PSD, because I had to go back more than once to fix flaws in my masking.
I like the final “ethereal” image, the caboose like an orange toned ghost materializing out of the fog of the ether.
After capturing some images in Piru, Judy and I headed down the road to Fillmore, California and spent some time wandering around the area surrounding Central and Main. Fillmore is roughly 50 miles northwest from Los Angeles and at least 30 years behind the greater Los Angeles area in terms of population density and land development; a significant amount of developed land in the Fillmore area is still given over to agriculture. As evoked by this image, the pace of life, personal priorities and values are reminiscent of an earlier, some might say, simpler time in our history.
As I stated in my “Storm Over City Hall” posting one of the subjects I want to explore with my photography is of images that convey a sense of life in an earlier time in our history and when we strolled around Fillmore this was one of the images that was presented to me. So rather than a dramatic visual image expressing artistry that dazzles the eye, I give you a much more subtle, documentary image, that might convey your mind back to Another Time, which is the latest category I have added to the blog’s image inventory.
I initially rendered this image in sepia toned black and white, but the lettering in the shop windows got lost in that image, so the final image was rendered with a mono-toned color palette, with a bit of emphasis on the warm color tones. The goal was to capture a contemporary image and make it look like it was captured long before today.