In Bologna, the city centre with its narrow cobblestone street the bicycle seems to be the most popular and efficient form of transportation. The bikes are parked and chained up everywhere. This image started when I snapped the first image of a bike parked by a curb, and the cyclist was riding by. It felt like a Henri Cartier Bresson moment. I liked the first image, but after closer examination I realized I had framed the image wrong, and cut the from tire off, so I decided to start again.
I am in Bologna Italy, and I have plenty of time to sit on the curb and watch the crowd, and it seemed that there had been a bike by every few minutes! It was getting late in the afternoon, and the light was falling quickly, so I decided to set up my tripod, using a slow shutter speed would insure a sharp bicycle by the curb, and a blurred one with a rider over by the building – all I had to do now was wait.
Waited I did, I waited about 20 minutes or so, but no other bike rider came by. While waiting for the a bike rider to pass I did take a couple of frames of the bicycle parked by the curb, but it did lack a something, it seemed to be missing the story, it lacked the balance that the rider and cyclist provided.
It was now close to 7 pm, and the natural light disappeared, and I was done for the night! Time to try a different approach; I had two image, that did not quite work, one with the bike and rider, and one with the parked bike. Time to take the images to Photoshop.
My first step was to tone both images so the white balance, and natural light appeared close to the same. After that, I cut and copied the bike and rider from the first image and pasted it into the 2nd image. I used the transform tool to slightly alter the bike and rider to fit properly. When you cut and paste from one image to another Photoshop puts the addition onto a separate layer, this allowed me to alter the bike and rider without changing the whole image, I then changed the blend mode on the layer to darker. I am not sure why, but this gave the bike rider a slightly transparent look and allowed some of the background show through making a more natural image.
I could have stopped there, but it felt a little warm for an evening photo, so I decided to take the image into Nik Analog Pro 2, testing several different approaches I settled with using the classic camera #6 as a basis with some minor alterations, in tone, vignette, frame etc, I finally had the image I had originally visualized, the one you see at the beginning of the post.
It sounded like a lot of work, but since I knew precisely the image I was working towards it was relatively easy to achieve. My husband says that these posts are like a magician giving away his/her secrets, but I have learned a lot from different photographers, and reading blogs like Stacy Fisher’s Virtual Venturing. She puts together a After-Before Friday Forum; where a number of photographers share their after-before images and explain how it was done. I think of it less like a magician giving away the secrets as a painter teaching a painting class. The techniques can be copied step by step, but each image will be as different an as unique as the photographer who created them. Head on over to After-Before Forum at Virtual Venturing and see the other great work.