Images & Observations

Ghost Caboose; Layer Masking Exercise

Nikon D80 10-24mm @ 24mm ISO 200 3-bkts f/22 Lr3 HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro; PS5

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.

6 responses

  1. wowww!!!

    March 3, 2011 at 7:57 AM

  2. Thanks, Ivan. My image is no where near the skill and artistry you bring to your own images.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:59 AM

  3. Ken Bello

    Nice rendering, Wayne. It looks like a lot of thought went into it. I’ve been giving some thought to the Wacom, but I use the mouse for now.

    March 3, 2011 at 1:23 PM

  4. Thanks, Ken. The Wacom does require getting used to, but I think in the long run using the pen and tablet will help me become more expressive with my images.

    March 3, 2011 at 1:29 PM

  5. Very nice, Wayne! I like what you’ve done with this image. Layers and masking are tricky indeed! I’ve considered getting a tablet, but I had never heard from anyone else that actually used one. Keep us posted on how you like yours!

    March 3, 2011 at 10:19 PM

  6. Thanks, Zann. I think if we conducted a poll we would find that many photographers and graphic artists would never consider using Photo Shop without a tablet and pen. Every demo of Photo Shop I have viewed the presenter is using a pen instead of a mouse.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:26 PM

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