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Thread: Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

    I'm interested in hearing reactions to this shot, and the subject treatment. Be bold, be brutal, but mostly, be honest. Thanks in advance.

    Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

    I love subject material such as this. It just calls out for the sort of image-making that you have applied to it - Wonderful rich tones right across the frame. Big blacks and whites. Nothing like my low contrast mid-grey sort of stuff. This need to 'punch' and this one does.

    What I felt myself wanting to do however, was make that central feature (is it a big oil can?) stand out even more from the background. I felt it all blended in a bit too much and that there was nothing really leaping out as the central focal point of the image. There are lots of things competing for equal attention. I don't know if brightening up that can a little (maybe by dodging on the midtones) would achieve that. Or maybe because it is in the centre of the frame, that would in fact have a detrimental effect on the overall balance of the image.

    These are, of course, only one person's views. I hope others will express an opinion

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    Re: Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

    Hi. Al

    I felt the need to wash my hands as soon as I saw your image. I think you picked the perfect processing for your subject matter: harsh, contrasty, wet and grungy with high structure lets us "feel" the grease and industrial quality. Must have been challenging to avoid overblown highlights with the high contrast and reflective surfaces. I agree that a more prominent dominant element might be helpful (though I have no great suggestions for that), but overall, the image is very emotive and very much works for my tastes. Well done

    Kevin

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    WJT's Avatar
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    Re: Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

    Al, I cant find anything to offer this picture except that I wish I took it. Excellent tones and subject, composition wonderful. It takes talent to see a picture like this in the first place.

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    Re: Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

    Very nice shot al. I really like the processing, tones, and colors of this image. I also agree with donald , the oil can needs a little more punch. I'm thinking along the lines of color and contrast to make it pop a little more. Only do it by hand.

    Add a saturation layer and hand paint a few of the colorful areas of the can (this will add color contrast). Then make a contrast layer or use dodge and burn, to brighten the highlights and darken the shadows to create contrast.(not the whole can, just bits and pieces. Like the edges of the handle or the dented areas, stuff like that) Next i would make a dup. layer......with the lasso tool, circle the can.......click on quick mask......gaussian blur at about 75.....click off quick mask....add layer mask / reveal selection.....set blend mode to multiply.....change opacity of layer to around 15 to 25 (what ever looks good to you)......this will add a very mild vignette. Then finish it off with a little more sharpening on the can only.

    Great eye for spotting this image, most would walk right past it.

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    Re: Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

    This is a fascinating, challenging image that is so good that it is worth the extra effort to take it to the next level. I wonder if darkening the circular handle on the left and the long vertical thing on the right is all that is needed to bring out the big oil can. Whatever can be done to emphasize the big oil can will be well worth it.

    I would love to learn what the scene is. Is it a train engine by any chance?

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

    Thanks for the response everyone. My biggest concern about the shot was the long spout on the oilcan, which sort of cuts the frame in half vertically, but no one complained about that. I suppose the spout does lead the eye down to the can, so it would help to brighten the can and bring out some of the other items on the shelf. I'll have a go at it, and see what I can do, but the trick here is to draw attention and bring out detail without losing the dark tonality and texture.

    @Mike: You are correct, this is a locomotive steam engine. Specifically, Southern Pacific Locomotive #1673, which operated from 1900-1955, and had a prominent role in the movie "Oklahoma".

    @Kevin: Thanks for the comment. When a shot like this really works, you should be able to smell the oil. I do like the texture of that big iron plate... this engine logged over a million miles, and I wanted those miles to show.

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    Re: Well-oiled Machinery: Opinions invited

    Quote Originally Posted by Snarkbyte View Post
    My biggest concern about the shot was the long spout on the oilcan, which sort of cuts the frame in half vertically
    If the spout had divided the image into two equal halves, I imagine it would have made the image appear too static. Instead, you placed the spout well to the left of center, which is one of the image's strongest features in my mind.

    I would love to see this image in black-and-white, though I fear getting oil and grease on my monitor.

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