In the burbs around Boston I occasionally came across a “Thickly Settled” street sign. It struck me as rather funny and while I expected that it had something to do with it being a more crowded residential area, it really was meaningless. After all, I could see with my own eyes that I was in a residential neighborhood.
I looked it up and found all sorts of humorous comments about this and other street signs. “Slow Children” elicited a comment along the lines of “When I see a Slow Children sign I always wonder how all the slow children all ended up living in one neighborhood.” The best I can gather (I did not bother to dig into the MA government sites to verify this) is that the Thickly Settled sign is an indication to observe a speed limit of 30 mph even if it is not posted. I’m not entirely sure why they don’t just post the speed limit itself if they’re going to bother with putting up a sign at all. Maybe I’m wrong about all this…
On a semi-random note, I’ll give a shout out to Enterprise Car Rental since you can (barely) see the hood of my rental in the picture above. I typically rent from Hertz through my company. I have Hertz #1 Gold which allows me to bypass the rental car checkin. Having #1 Gold means I just show up in the Hertz garage, find my name and parking spot on the display, and the car is waiting in that parking spot with the keys and paperwork in it, ready to go. Pretty convenient. This time my admin set me up with Enterprise which was only $17 per day for an “intermediate” car. I arrived at the Enterprise counter in Boston sometime around midnight and after checking in asked if I had any choices regarding cars. The agent asked what I drive at home — a 4×4 crew cab pickup truck. Upon hearing that she said that since it was midnight I could pick anything in the lot at the $17 price, but mentioned that the sweet, black 2012 Chevy Tahoe might be best suited to my tastes. True enough…nice! Especially nice because I had added some personal time to my trip and was paying some of the days out of my pocket. I’ll pay $17 a day for a new Tahoe anytime.
This sign just cracked me up. Driving in Redmond, Washington almost two months ago I came across this doctored sign and without the iPhone camera handy I wouldn’t have been able to share it with you. I’m not a big fan of iPhone photography necessarily. It’s a fine camera but I’m not enamored with it to the point some seem to be and it’s frankly a pain not to have control of the various settings most of the time. That said, in a pinch it’s very handy to have around. The only edit was a crop done in one of my iPhone photo apps (don’t remember which).
Returning from a recent visit to Big Bend National Park I decided I had to have a shot of an 80 mph speed limit sign. It’s awesome to be able to legally drive that speed on a long trip. I pulled over — being very careful to avoid parking over long, dry grass which might ignite due to hot exhaust pipes. An aperture of f/22 was chosen (bright daylight, wanted full DOF), I waited for traffic to clear, then took the shot. When I was going through pictures at home my son said, “Why didn’t you take the shot while some truck was screaming by at 85 mph to include motion blur to illustrate the speed?”. My first thought was, “Why didn’t you suggest that when we stopped along the highway…?”.
Of course, he was absolutely correct. I missed the best shot — one that would have been very simple to get. In fact I purposely *avoided* that shot for some silly reason. Another example of why we should slow down and think about what we want to portray in a shot.
This is another post in response to the questions I got on flickr regarding these images of graffiti in the Seaholm Power Plant. What I’m about to describe is certainly not the way I process all images — especially portraiture and the like — but it is typically the way I start with images like this one. The image I’ll use as an example here is another one I never intended to post but again, it works well as a quick example of part of my processing. There are lots of things which make this a lousy image but hopefully you can get past those for this illustration.
Here’s the original image with no edits:
I began by adding a slight s-curve in a curves adjustment layer (result is shown after the layers/curves snapshots). Note that I masked out the red sign so that this curve didn’t affect it. The blend mode is “normal” which results in additional saturation in the image. The result is shown below the curve diagram.
Next I added a curve to adjust what the red sign (and a bit of the dark corners) looked like. This curve was in “luminosity” blend mode to avoid changing the saturation. Note the odd curve — since I was masking out most of the image I used a curve which only effects the part of the histogram related to the sign. That curve would really wack out the image without the masking of course. The end result is that the lettering stands out much more than in the previous image.
My final curves adjustment layer is what really gives the image a bit of pop. The sign is masked out and I partially masked the dark corner to reduce the effect there. The blend mode is “hard light”. How did I pick that? Trial and error — tried modes and curve shapes until I got an effect that I liked. The final image is shown at the top of the post. It was processed only with three curves layers — no sharpening, no saturation or vibrance adjustments, no Topaz Adjust, etc. I call this kind of processing “a la Chromasia” (go check out his work and his tutorials — great stuff).
That’s a typical start for me when I process an image like this. Curves adjustments constitute 80%+ of my processing in general. I certainly do play with saturation, vibrance, levels, sharpening, etc. but not until I’ve gotten most of the way to the final result using curves and masks.
If you subscribe to David Nightingale’s (chromasia) tutorials you’ll be able to go through some great teaching on how to approach the creative process. He works his way through images and describes what he sees, how/why he wants to alter parts of the frame, etc. My simple example in this post touches on maybe the first 0.5% of that…check out the tutorials.