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.
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.
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.
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.
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.