Uploaded this photograph on Flickr. This was during client work at an industrial photography engagement at a rice factory / mill located on the outskirts of Delhi. It’s quite unlike me that I enjoy industrial photography but I’ve come to realize that the main draw for me is to be able to make a picture out of all the hard edges and dirt and metal. I like being able to do that. Sometimes there are glimpses of something beautiful that I see, that has further potential, after being processed, to turn into something quite unexpected. The photograph you see below is the final product.

This is a loosely documented process of how I got to it. Would be impossible for me to give exact values of tweaks that were made in Photoshop and Photomatix Pro. It is an HDR image & I usually tweak till I like what I see. Sometimes I go back multiple times to fix the image some more – in this case, I stuck with the first product of the processing.

Three exposures while shooting +1 0 and -1 : I don’t remember if I used a tripod for this one.

PhotomatixPro put the three exposures together to create an HDR, which I then tonemapped to something I liked – there’s a lot of microcontrast going on in this image. My Photoshop file still has the layers so I have the HDR product from PhotomatixPro below. You can see it doesn’t look much different from the originals. It does look a tad more ‘dreamy’.

Then I Photoshopped. Unsharp Mask and Noise Removal. If I ever decided to get this printed, I would prefer to see a more ‘smooth’ image, and a little more sharpening doesn’t hurt anyway. Using the Transform perspective and skew tools, I aligned the image to an angle that I liked a little more than the one I had shot.

Duplicate the layer and overlay at a 100% – I like doing this to HDR images – it increases the contrast and removes the pasty look – unless you want the pasty look. I prefer more ‘pop’. Skewed the angles some more.

For this particular photograph, I thought it might look better with a double overlay so I duplicated and did another 100% overlay and I liked it better. Not only does the contrast pop, it also accentuates details – makes it more grungy – so there’s an overall noise-removal smoothness but a grungy look.

I use NIK Software’s Color Efex filters and applied a cross processing using Y06. Once.

And twice.

Using the Darken/Lighten Center filter, I made a slight change to the lighting – to subconsciously allow the viewers’ eyes to focus on the main pipe – not too much otherwise it kills the effect.

I also use NIK’s Silver Efex, which primarily helps tweak black and white images. One feature that I absolutely love is the ability to increase the ‘structure’ of an image – small details jump out. So I applied the filter – there are too many choices but I used one to increase contrast a little and maxed the structure. And overlay at 50% on the color image from before.

Followed by a final ‘Burn Corner’ tweak using the Automate filter of Pixelgenius’ Photokit.

Imagine. I haven’t even bothered to play with curves, levels, alpha channels etc. that live within Photoshop. There really is no limit to what all can be done. This is how I do it and instead of following this to the ‘T’, it’s better to figure out what you like seeing & then do that. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still nowhere near finding my ‘style’ of photography. It probably depends on something as flippant as my mood! And if you’re wondering if you’re going to get photography assignments based on how well you can process – at least in India – the answer, in short, is no.

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