Peelings, Nothing More Than Peelings…   11 comments

A closeup shot of rust, patina, and paint off an old Ford truck, Belews Creek, North Carolina

With apologies to Morris Albert for the riff on his song title.

More properly, my apologies to anyone who reads the title and then goes through the day thinking, “Wo-o-o peelings, again in my arms.” It wasn’t my intention to give anyone ‘brain worm’ with that song… you know, where once the tune gets in your head, it just won’t leave. Feel free to post your day’s experiences in the comment section. 8)

Many times when we’re faced with a fascinating subject such as a rusty old truck, the tendency is to frame the entire subject, sometimes at the risk of the image being a bit trite. Trite be damned, when the subject is good, we can’t help but want to show the entire thing.

After taking that ‘overall’ shot, moving in with your feet is always a good strategy. Focus in on parts that are not immediately recognizable, but possess their own interesting qualities.  There is usually beauty in the details.

Such is the case with this frame, taken along the back of the cab of an old rusted out Ford. In fact, it’s the same Ford featured in Found On Road Dead… Literally. The right side of the picture shows just as the cab rounds the corner to the side of the truck, and you can make out a broken rear window in the upper left.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, at 26mm f/11, eleven exposures fired with Promote Control.


Having processed a few rust, “rurbex” images, I’ve come up with some tips for bringing out the details in a rusty surface.

Using either HDR Express from Unified Color, or Photomatix Pro from HDRsoft (or sometimes both), I create several tonemapped images using the Shadowmapping technique. This technique boosts contrast and detail very nicely, and I can combine the best outputs together before determining which is my favorite. Once I decide on which makes the best ‘base’ image to work from, my next step is to use the ‘Neutralize Whites’ filter available in Nik Color Efex Pro. Shooting a rusty surface almost always introduces a yellow-ocher color cast, especially if you don’t set a custom white balance on site, so this filter can remove that subtle but distracting tone shift. In order to really pop the detail on the rust, I then turn to the ‘Tonal Contrast’ filter in Color Efex Pro. It’s easy to overdo this one by making the shot look overly sharp, but judicious use brings up a tremendous amount of detail. Those are my two primary tools. I’ll usually do some other adjustments for hue and saturation, along with some cropping, but the two Nik filters are often enough. Once I’m satisfied with the overall result, I often apply Nik’s ‘Darken/Lighten Center’ to draw the eye, and doing a sharpening pass on a new, merged layer using the LAB sharpening technique can render just a bit more detail.

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11 responses to “Peelings, Nothing More Than Peelings…

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  1. Ooo, this would make a great texture map! Really love the colors, textures, and grunginess of this shot!

  2. Cool — makes me want to peel off a piece!

  3. Wow, haven’t heard, or even thought od that song in ages. and actually don’t mind too terribly that it’s going to be stuck in my head. Nice balance here of adding the detail without having gone too far.

  4. You know I love you and your work Rob, but if you ever put a tune like that in my head again whereby the only remedy I can possibly find is to get blindingly drunk here at the office, I will stick an icepick in my neck! LOL What a GREAT blog entry today my friend, and the image is just texture-licious!

  5. respect!

  6. This has some great texture. I can almost feel it!

  7. Great texture, Rob! Well done!

  8. The amber and blue compliments are gorgeous! Rust, peeling paint and broken glass; my kind of trilogy!

  9. What Toad Hollow said, lol, love those textures Rob

  10. Sweet shot Rob, well done and I’ll be singing that s**t all night! AAArrrgghhh…. Jim

  11. Pingback: “Inner Beauty” – An HDR Collaboration Project « Rob Hanson Photography Blog

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