October 27, 2010

Pacific Mill Machine Shop: Certificate of Merit


In yesterday’s post, I suggested that I might post some of my original shots along with new ones for comparison. Much to my dismay, several people urged me on. So here we are.

Since my first week in the shop, over a year ago, the place had been cleaned a bit. A lot of the clutter had been removed. But this shelf remained unchanged. I just had to reshoot it.

The above image is the reshoot. The thumbnail on the right (click on it for a bigger version) is the original. I should note that I didn’t consult the original image until after I processed the new image. And I was stunned by the difference.

The first thing that hit me was how the scene hadn’t changed. While much of the shop had been cleared of clutter, these artifacts from decades ago remained untouched. I didn’t compose this image then, nor did I do anything to recreate it this time around.

So, the lessons:

Composition. My original composition was too tight (maybe a subjective point).

This time around I gravitated to a wider view of the scene. Negative space now frames the certificate, and the certificate helps complete a classic triangular composition. It allowed me to bring additional context into the scene. The small wooden rack on the right side of the frame is ‘hinted at’ in the original. By showing more of it, and the plaster dust gathering on the top of it, it brings a sense of age to the image.

Processing 1. I was originally trying to be a purist in my HDR processing (oxymoronic, as that sounds). By that, I mean, I thought the idea was to “get it right” in Photomatix. I did almost no post processing.

Processing 2. I thought it was all about color and detail. Yes, the room was a bit brighter during the initial shoot, but it was not a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Remember that you are in control of the final image. Consider the subject, consider your own vision. My workflow today incorporates a variety of tools to help reduce noise, bring back lost detail and enhance the image. In the re-shoot, my goal is to capture the mood of a place that has long been forgotten. It’s a dark, greasy and old room with a lot of character. This is no time to push the saturation slider to 11.

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  1. Well, you sure got it right this time. I have neither the time nor the money to take up HDR photography but the results continue to amaze me. Love the old labels in the box on the left.

  2. Love the new image. Great texture and tone. This comparison is a very useful resource for someone (Me) still trying to get a handle on the Post Processing. WOuld like to know what else you used in Post.

  3. Huge improvement over last year. My god – how good will you be next year? Your saturation slider goes to ELEVEN? Slider envy here.