A Simple Subject


A simple subject. Nothing remarkable.

An abandoned car dealership. Dirty window panes and rust. A standard case of urban decay.

Condensed water, streaking the glass, obeying gravity in its downward travels. A pattern of droplets, refracting the light.

Reflections of a building and the blue winter sky. White brick, its pattern repeating.

Seeing through to the brightly lit windows opposite, their shining glow.

A simple subject.

And yet. Layer upon layer, digging deeper and deeper.

If we are simply willing to see.

Texture Tuesday Processing

  • In Adobe Camera Raw, set the Contrast, Shadows and Clarity sliders to +100; set the Highlights slider to -100 for a high-contrast, gritty look
  • Bringing the image into Photoshop, process my mid-tone contrast action to further enhance the textures
  • Add the Grey Day texture, blend mode = color burn and opacity = 61%

Below is the original RAW version of the image along with the Photoshop layers palette:

Before Image Layers-Palette

Linking with Texture Tuesday, hosted by Kim Klassen


Posted on January 22, 2013, in Photoshop and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. A great subject indeed. I like the rusty bits on the frame-who would use metal, if in fact there were dividers like that, today? I like knowing your processing steps. I need to just “play” more. Somehow it seems so scary to push a slider ALL the way to 100%. I see it’s not so scary.

    • Susan – had to smile – and confess that I didn’t come up with those “100%” sliders by myself. I read about it in a Scott Kelby book on Lightroom. While I don’t have Lightroom, the Adobe Camera Raw engine is the same as the Develop Module so similar settings apply. But you know – that’s how it happens – we pass along what we learn and the knowledge works its way out there, benefiting us all. I created a “preset” with those settings – so now its easy to see if the “gritty” look works for a particular image. Can’t wait to see what you do with it. Go ahead – push those sliders!

  2. This looks like a painting, Brenda — beautiful! It goes with the blur theme this month too. Thanks for giving me permission to go to
    100% — I also am reluctant to push those sliders all the way.

    • Gina – I guess I need to sponsor a “push-those-sliders” party! 🙂 It is so easy to be scared of taking things too far. But we have to remember that setting those sliders can always be undone – that’s the beauty of Lightroom and Camera Raw. So find an image and push to the limit. Let me know how that feels.

  3. I really like this image! It has a wonderful abstract quality- like a Mondrian. You have a great eye! And the processing complements it perfectly.

    • Melinda – I am always very happy to have my work compared to none other than Mondrian 🙂 Thank you for that. I do have a thing about geometric grids – there is something powerful about sectioning the world into neat rectangles and squares that appeals to me.

  4. Very cool abstract reflection shot and I always love the processing explanations you provide.

    • Chris – I learn so much when others provide the “how” and “why” for their shots – I am gratified that providing my steps is valuable to others.

  5. I like how your processing (thanks for sharing the steps) brought out the gritty textures and added depth to the simple image.
    Do you have an idea of what you want the finished image to look like when you take the photo? Or, when you see it on the monitor? Or, is it an evolution, a trial and error process?

    • Anita – I wish I could say that my process is so clear-cut – that I forsee what the final product will look like at the time I snap the shutter. But that isn’t the case at all. I shoot what attracts me – it could be the geometry, the lines, the shadows, the light, the shapes. But it isn’t until I am processing the images that I discover where the image wants to go in terms of look and feel. For me, the image is the raw material – I run it through my presets and actions to find what works. I crop and straighten. It is definitely lots of trial and error with plenty of surprises. That is the fun part for me – taking that raw image and enhancing its bare bones into something more.

  6. Love what you’ve done here. I’m always fascinated to see your process – I’m another one reluctant to commitment to the 100% one way or another so it’s great to see it done to such great effect.

    • Becs – well, you are invited to our “push the sliders” party, too! 🙂 It’s funny how we need permission to do something so basic and simple. I certainly include myself in this – as I wouldn’t have tried this either without reading the recipe in a book. So go ahead – take it to 100%.

  7. Brenda, I love your edit on this. Yes, simple but so much depth!

    • Kiim – for me, the editing is such an important part of the creative process. It is where I realize my vision for my images. I was so pleased with the “simple complexity” of this image – thanks for commenting.

  8. I love this! I have this thing about thru-the-window, thru-the-door shots. They really trigger my imagination. Your processing is so creative, the final product is Art.

    • Dotti – oh, I so agree with you. Windows and doors – two of my favorite subjects. They open the door to imagination, inviting us in, welcoming us to see more. I hope you will stop by again.

  9. Wonderful image! I like the original, but your edit is amazing!

    • Anne – For me, snapping the shutter is but the beginning – post-processing is a huge part of my creative process. Thank you so much for your kind comment and for stopping by my little corner of the web. I do hope you will come by again.

  10. Brenda, this is beautiful. A work of art. What your eye sees, what your vision creates..beautiful, original, extraordinary.

    • Well, I still would like to be in Toronto again – and then we could meet up and you could take me to your “big sky” beach and in to your beautiful city. But for now, I will see what I can continue to find, here in my hometown.

    • Oh, Brenda, How I would love to have you here in Toronto! A photo walk, the big sky, the city seen through your eyes. What a wonderful time we would have! 🙂 Some day, my friend. For now, I remain so inspired by you and your work…it’s just, sadly, from afar!

  11. Beautiful image and wonderful textures! I love the rust and colors on the frame!

    • Cathy – yes, who could resist that lovely rusted frame? There is something so beautiful about the decay of rust. It adds that patina of age that is irresistable.

  12. This is an amazing texture…but first you had to work through all of your steps, what a fine job you did…then to apply the texture is the gray icing on top. Gray is the new “black.” smiles: sharon

    • Sharon – yes, the texture did add that final bit of “oomph” to this image. For me, post-processing is such an important part of the creative process.

  13. Love how you’ve transformed this ‘simple’ subject into something more and other. Well done!

  14. Urban decay in the hands of Brenda – what could be better?

  15. You’re right. There are so many layers here. I love it — beautiful!

    • Lisa – I am fond of these multi-layer shots – the ones that seem to have hidden depths. Where you aren’t quite sure what is what – something slightly mysterious. (As always, thanks for the Twitter love!)

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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