This photo was taken on the quaint little streets of Neuchatel, Switzerland. I went out for a little evening photo-stroll after work during a business trip. This scooter caught my eye because it was so nicely framed against a garage door with brick walls. The fact that there was a little graffiti on the door was just icing on the cake. It was getting dark out, so I had to shoot this one at ISO400 and a wide open aperture. Overall I’m pretty happy with the composition and lighting, but I’m now considering whether I should darken the left brick wall to match a little better with the right wall.

Graffiti Scooter

I didn’t do a ton of post processing, but the change from start to finish was pretty drastic. The JPEG image out of the camera (not shown) turned out decent, but I knew I’d want to really punch it up in color and contrast. When I did the RAW conversion (1), I actually toned down the color and contrast to make it a bit more drab than it really was — I did this because I knew I’d be doing the next step in my process. I used a hard mix layer blend (2) at 51% opacity and 47% fill to really bring out the colors and contrast. I started with a dull photo because this layer blend can be very harsh when used with a contrasty photo, and I find that it gives an interesting look when done in the fashion I’ve used here. I then proceeded to apply a levels adjustment layer (3) by bringing the white point down to 224, which brought up the overall brightness and contrast of the photo. Then on to a curves adjustment layer (4) to bring up the highlights and midtones a little more. I wanted more darkness in the shadows, so I applied another curves adjustment layer (5) to bring the shadows and midtones down a bit. The last step was a bit of sharpening (6) with the unsharp mask.

Graffiti Scooter

Photo by Brian Auer
03/05/07 Neuchatel, Switzerland
The Graffiti Scooter
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200
135mm equiv * f/5.6 * 1/45s * ISO400

9 responses

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Nicely seen and processed. I wouldn’t have thought to photograph this. The saturation and color really bring the image to life.

June 19, 2007 10:48 pm

Nice shot. I have the exact same scooter.

June 20, 2007 2:40 am

Its a nice shot. Personally I’d have made the darks less ‘blocked out’ as I think it tends to lose way too much detail for my liking (a lot of my post processing ends up with CMYK printing which does not reproduce blocked out shadows all that well), but I guess this works just fine for RGB.

June 20, 2007 6:22 am

Part of me wants to believe you, while the other part of me thinks you’re full of it… you don’t come off as being a scooter kind of guy.

June 20, 2007 2:42 am

You’re right, the darks are pretty blocked out on the scooter and along the bottom of the image. These areas did have detail in them, but I liked the outcome when I pushed them to full black. I think it makes the highlights on the scooter stand out a little better by simplifying the area. If you look, you can see several places that have blue/gray sweeping lines — like on the plastics and the rims. I haven’t printed this one yet, so I don’t know how it will look on paper. Good point about printers having a hard time with pure blacks though.

June 20, 2007 11:55 am

The way this post-processing technique leaves just slick curves of blue barely visible on the scooter reminds me a lot of promotional photography.

Like Susheel said, the scooter is a bit dark, but overall I like this.

June 20, 2007 2:06 pm

I stand corrected folks — Origin DOES have a scooter very similar (if not identical) to the one in the photo. He even sent me a picture to prove it. This just goes to show how terrible I am at guessing things about people. Seriously, I usually even misjudge the sex of most writers and photographers unless I know their name or I’ve seen a picture of them. That’s how good I am at this kind of stuff.

June 20, 2007 9:31 pm

I really like this photo. The scooter seems to look as if it came into a place it shouldn’t be and is posing for the camera.

April 25, 2008 1:57 am

a bit dark, but nice picture. No the scooter is the real way to ride in Switzerland

August 30, 2008 10:02 pm

Comment now!