Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

More From The Old Truck Graveyard

This is another photo from my series taken in an "Old Truck Graveyard" in the Palouse last summer. People, on occasion, have asked how I process an image and so I thought that this year I might occasionally talk about that. I know that I have found it useful when others have described what they have done, so I thought I would do the same.  Hopefully it will be useful information to some readers.


Old GMC truck in a truck graveyard in the Palouse

© Howard Grill


This image was made with a 50mm focal length lens.  Even though the focal length was relatively short, I was not able to get the entire truck (including the GMC logo, the hood, and the windshield) in focus at once because of how close I was to the logo.  I could tell that adequate depth of field was going to be a problem by using the depth of field preview button and by looking at the image on the LCD.  I therefore took 6 separate images.  The first focused on the logo, and with each subsequent image the point of focus was moved slowly back until I was focusing on the windshield.  After making a few basic exposure adjustments to the RAW files in Lightroom (the same changes to each of the six files), the six images were combined into one using focus stacking, yielding an image that was sharp from front to back.  It isn't nearly as hard as it sounds (I used Helicon Focus software to do the job, but there are others that will do it just as well).

I then took the final image into Photoshop where I applied mid-tone contrast using Topaz Clarity and further enhanced contrast using the Nik Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast filter. 

To give it a bit of a vintage look (which is certainly what the entire truck graveyard exuded), I converted the image to black and white using a black and white adjustment layer in Photoshop and then changed the blend mode of that layer to 'soft light' (which returns the image to color, but blended with the black and white layer) and adjusted the opacity of the layer to taste.

Just for comparison, below is the image as it came out of Lightroom and went into Photoshop (after exposure adjustments and focus stacking but before any of the adjustments described above).


Photo prior to Photoshop adjustments described above

© Howard Grill


I completed the image with two finishing touches.  You could see a wooden wall in the background through the windshield at the right edge of the image, which was a subtle distraction.  I made a selection of the right windshield and used the transform command to slightly expand the windshield on that side and cover the wood, making it invisible.....a very minimal change.  Finally, the white on the hood was paint that was smooth.  But it just looked too smooth and non-vintage appearing when the image was large.  So using the Photoshop Noise filter I added just a bit of Gaussian noise and confined it to the white by using the 'Blend If' sliders on the layer and lowering the layer opacity to taste.  To be honest, that last step is totally invisible on the small blog image, but if seen large adds to the vintage feel.

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