Making of “Blue Friday”

My photo “Blue Friday” became picture of the day at the Heise Foto Gallery. I like uploading photos there because the overall style of the photos uploaded by other users aligns with my own and because it’s not as crowded as other places. Anyway, I thought I’d write a little “Making Of” Post with a look behind the scenes of the photo.

I took the photo on a Friday, the last day after a brief two and a half day stopover in Hamburg this August. I had already dropped my bag off in a locker at the central station and would take a train home later that day. I also didn’t want to carry around my tripod all day, so I left that in my bag. The camera setup was very simple: Pentax K-5 II with the Pentax DA* 16-50mm lens at 17mm, f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/25th of a second handheld. What came out of the camera looked like this:

Blue Friday - Original

I shoot all my photos in Raw which means that the camera records all the information it receives from the sensor. The downside of this is that I cannot immediately view the photos on many devices or upload them to most websites. I still do it because it provides me a lot more options for post-processing the photos. I almost always change the color saturation and the contrast on my photos to make them look more interesting and a bit more dramatic. The software I use for this is called RawTherapee and it’s free. The “developed” photo looks like this:

Blue Friday - Developed

This version already looked pretty good, but I still had some time and wanted it to be more symmetrical. So I decided to remove the train, the guy on the platform and the escalator on the bottom left. Because the picture was already very symmetrical, this wasn’t that hard. Using GIMP (another free program), I placed a mirrored version of the image in a separate layer, on top of the original image. The tricky part now was to combine parts of the original and the mirrored image into the final picture. Here you can see the parts of the mirrored image that cover up the original image:

Blue Friday - Mask

What I did there was “paint” a layer mask. Basically marking the parts of the top image I wanted to become transparent – by clicking and dragging with the mouse. Yes, this is a fair amount of work, but if it was easy, everyone would do it. The final result is a combination of the two images above, and you may have already seen it in the last post, on 500px or on heise.de:

Blue Friday

I hope you enjoyed taking a look under the covers of that photo. I definitely enjoyed writing it and might write more posts like this in the future.

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