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I love playing with a picture that I’m sure is a throwaway and ending up with an image that makes me smile.  Such was the case with a shot I took in rural southwestern Indiana of what was probably a vibrant fixture in the town of Alfordsville, the gas station/general store.

Alfordsville GS_original

I stumbled upon this building as my sister and I were wandering the backroads on afternoon.  I got out of the car to take photos and a gentleman walked over to chat with us.  I forget what he told us but it was clear that he remembered the place in its better days.

I knew the original image had potential, so the first thing I did was straighten it up, brighten it up, and remove some of the garbage, like the telephone/power lines, trash can, the pole coming out of the roof, and some garbage in the yard on the left.  I left the red barn on the far left because to me it showed that it was a little store in a rural community.

alfordsville GS_garbag removed

Then I played with it a while and really wasn’t happy with what I was coming up with.  A friend suggested I remove the tree behind the building, which would draw more emphasis on the roof line so prominent in buildings of this era.  I kind of liked the tree so kept it as I continued to play with colors and programs.  I added some HDR effect with Rad Lab, my first go-to photo editing program,  and Nik Collection Color Efex Pro.

alfordsville gas station_hdr

But I still wasn’t getting what I wanted.  After hours of playing I decided to take my friend’s advice and remove the tree and then add a different sky with Landscape Pro, a great program that I’ve used in the past.  But what I ended up with was a sky more dramatic than the building.  It was too much.

alfordsville gas station_new sky_color.jpg

Then I made the major decision to turn the whole thing into a black-and-white photo, using a combination of Rad Lab and Nik Collection Color Efex Pro.  Wow, that created a dramatic black-and-white sky that seemed to jump out from behind the building.  I was so glad I removed the tree!

But I didn’t want to leave this as a black-and-white photo that looked like it was an original photo taken in the ’50s.  I wanted to add some touch to make it more current.  So I added a layer mask and removed the black-and-white effect from the gas pumps, the For Sale sign, the RC Cola machine, and the teal chairs.  To me this was adding a little bit of the new with the old.

This is what I ended up with.  It only took me many, many hours over a weekend, but I had lots of fun and am happy with the final product.

alfordsville gas station_BW