These images were taken in route to Baltimore at some point last year and I had all but forgotten about them until I had a look in my Aperture library on the hunt for some new wallpapers to post. I wonder what the allure of old neon signage is. Perhaps just a reminder of days gone by or simply a kick of nostalgia for those like myself that feel drawn to this kind of beautiful old craftsmanship. It was a grey, quiet day while driving and lead to photos equally as drab so I decided to have a bit of fun with the post processing. The original image was a flat sort of grey so I increased contrast with a subtle S in curves and added an orange/purple tint to the shadows to aid to the old feel of the image a little bit.
The biggest step out onto the post processing plank that I decided to take this time is something I wanted to mention. It is in regard to the first image above. If you look at it you may realize that its perspective is impossible. To shoot the sign straight on I would have needed a scissor lift or tall ladder to get high enough in the air. You may notice that you are able to see the underside edge of the letters yet the lines are straight as if I was directly in front of the sign. This perspective shift is what bellows and tilt shift lenses do best but I have no such lens to shoot with so, with the aid of YoungDoo I took her advice and straightened the lines in an effort to clean up the image using a lens correction filter to “correct” the lower perspective I had to take while shooting.
I don’t normally do such things but thought why not give it a try, it seemed like a subtle enough image to try this with and I feel the result ended up with a cleaner image overall. I wanted to mention this process because I know that I can seem pretty stubborn about using post processing here sometimes but wanted to make it clear that I am not wholly against it. I simply like to encourage photographers to fully understand the tools and techniques to get great images straight off of the camera rather than rely on messy destructive post technique to fix images.
To give everyone an idea of what kind of difference this effect made on the image I have included a wallpaper version in the zip that shows the original perspective with the lines having more of a natural slope to them. Some of you may prefer the more natural perspective So I thought it would be nice to include in the download.
I see this type of advice more and more on photo sites across the web and it is a welcome sight to see. In the coming year I hope to continue to write articles and suggestions about this and I have a couple of projects and ideas brewing to make this fun and interesting.
On another note, the first image above is not available as an iPad or iPhone wallpaper. The only way I could have managed to make this happen would have been heavy photoshopping and cloning which I am not much in the mood to sort out. The roof above the letters was just too close to the word for me to get the shot and allow for enough space above the word to frame it well for that kind of crop. Especially for the tricky iPad rotating desktop square crop. Hope you understand why I decided to leave this off this time around. The second image, however, does have crops for the other devices.