Processing Tires for Temperature and Texture

Hilz_120518_7599

I found these tires in Dogwood Harbor on Tilghman Island in Maryland. They tires were hanging off the side of a fishing boat, being used as bumpers. Good use for old tires!

Processing your photos - that is, making adjustments to them in software - is about creating a look for the image. It may be subtle or dramatic, but it is happening. You're molding and shaping the image through adjustments to color, tone and texture. Let's look at my processing choices for this photo. The important aspects of this image are texture and temperature. The tires, as well as the wood and metal behind them, all have strong textures that I wanted to bring out through processing. I was also looking to maintain an overall cooler feel to the image. A warm cast (see below) gave the tires a neutral, boring black appearance. By reducing the color temperature the tires shift to slightly blue-black. As a result I was able to work with my favorite combo of warm and cool colors. Even with the photo cooled off, the rust stains and other warm tones across the top still stand out in contrast to the cooler tires. However, I didn't want to cool off the tires and warm up everything else. Notice how much of the white paint areas still have a cooler cast. Overall the image is more cool than warm, but it has just enough warmth to create the visual contrast. Now that I've mentioned some of the adjustments, let's look at this photo in a couple earlier stages.

Hilz_120518_7599 (2)
After standard Raw adjustments. Biggest change here is the reducing the White Balance temperature to cool off the image. Other adjustments applied were contrast, saturation, vibrance and a little darkening of the highlights. Plus a little crop.
After standard Raw adjustments. Biggest change here is the reducing the White Balance temperature to cool off the image. Other adjustments applied were contrast, saturation, vibrance and a little darkening of the highlights. Plus a little crop.

At this point the image was coming into form but texture-wise it still fell flat. For texture enhancement I turned to Nik's Color Efex Pro. The main remedy was the Tonal Contrast filter, setting the Midtones and Shadows sliders to 15%. I used additional filters to fine-tune selected portions of the image. For example I worked on the white in the top left corner using Brilliance/Warmth (to add warmth) and Levels & Curves (to darken). There are a few features in Color Efex Pro 4 that make it easy to do extensive work and complex work. First, you can apply multiple filters without leaving the plug-in (and revisit the settings for each filter). Second, the Control Points feature allows you to selectively apply a filter's effect. Third, you can use the same filter multiple times. For instance, I would apply a filter globally, then add it again with different settings and use it selectively. Well that kinda turned into a pitch for Color Efex Pro. Not my intent, but as I was thinking about the processing, those were the features (not just the filters themselves) that made it possible to easily process the image to my liking.

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