Abandoned Gas Station photo shoot

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TracyF's picture
Last seen: 6 days 7 hours ago
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2501
Abandoned Gas Station photo shoot

So, as I mentioned in the "Snapshot of the Day (11//24)" thread, I did a photo shoot yesterday at this old gas station. I was totally unprepared for how difficult it was to find any good light there. My beginner's mistake, apparently. I'd shot there before, with Micah, but it was early morning and I remember looking at the position of the sun and thinking about how the afternoon golden hour would be perfect. Somehow that was not the case. The low position of the sun behind the trees did not allow the light to filter through as I expected, and I couldn't even get any good bounced light with the reflector. It was so perplexing to know how to handle it. The whole session was a struggle.

I edited the photos with some urban processing to help add to the 'mood' of the location, hoping that'd help matters a little. I like the urban-processed ones more, but I really don't like ANY of them. Anyway, I'm posting some to share both types of processing and any other editing help you can give me to salvage the situation. Sad If I don't indicate which type of processing is used, it's the 'urban' (some gradients, cool tones, etc. added):

1. Oldest son, regular and then urban:


3. Youngest son, regular and then urban:




7. Regular and then urban:

8. Regular, then urban:

sadieruth's picture
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: 06/09/05
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Tracey- I think you are being too hard on yourself. These are truly great. I like the urban process on all of these.

1&3- I think your focus on the guys is great, and you have great expressions. My only nit-picky thing is the red bar in the middle of the gas pump kind of (not too bad, but just enough) draws my attention. It's not as prominent in #5.
#2 is great. I think you have good light in his eyes.
#4- I really like this one too. Great use of your surroundings. I would like to see this one with a normal edit with some color pop maybe. Not so much of an urban process. Does that make sense?
#5- I like the stance of the older one, but the younger one just doesn't look as comfortable. I realize that can't be fixed now, but since this is a more urban style setting (and he looks the part too- So cool!) I would have had him set a bit more relaxed and just not so tense.
#6- LOVE
#7- I actually like the normal process here. I really like the positioning, but that red bar behind them is catching my eye.
#8- I would like to see some color pop on this one too with that red window!

Such a cool place Tracey! I love these! Don't kick yourself b/c you did really amazing!

TracyF's picture
Last seen: 6 days 7 hours ago
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2501

Thanks, Sadie. Really helpful feedback. Fresh eyes make a difference!! I didn't even notice the red bar in #1 and #3, for example. It's part of the window behind. I can clone it out if it's really bothersome.

Re: #4, here is a regular edit, didn't do much to add any extra pop, though. I can look at that.

#5, yeah... OH MY, these boys were hard to make look natural!! I kept asking the oldest to lean into the corner, or against the pump, cross his feet over or this or that, he was so stiff! And then I think I got so focused on his stiffness that I forgot about the younger one in this shot. Sad

#6 I would love too, except for the fact that there is zero light in their eyes. Sad

#8, isn't that window great?! But it's hilarious, this gas station is on the same property as an abandoned house, and this is part of the house, but we were a bit scared to go too close in case there were squatters in there or something... didn't want to be too intrusive, you know? But we peeked around and didn't see anyone, so we did a couple of shots here quickly.

Last seen: 1 day 17 hours ago
Joined: 10/26/01
Posts: 3559

Tracy - you really are too hard on yourself! You got some nice looks here!

1. I prefer the urban processing on this one. I think I'd like to see a bit of a desaturated look to this one (& all of them, I think). For that look, I usually will do a normal edit, then duplicate the layer and do a b&w process on the top layer. Then put the b&w layer to 80-90% opacity. I think that might help to minimize the impact of that red bar running through the open gas tank top.

2. LOVE! Great light in his eyes, Love the composition. I wonder what adding a texture (grunge?) would do to this as well? Might be worth a try.

3. I think I like the regular processing better here. Have you thought about trying to clone out that red bar? This guy has the cool urban look down pat!

4. I like the processing and the use of the building here. Big brother's eyes look a bit squinty, but that can't be helped.

5. I really love this one. Both guys look more relaxed and natural here. Great use of the environment here! If these were my boys, I'd want a nice big one of this shot. Biggrin

6. LOVE! Mom and dad look great here and the framing is just AWESOME! Love the little bit of red on each side!

7. I can't pick a favorite process here - they are both super, imho. Check your blacks in the regular processing pic - the look a bit clipped (but remember, I'm at work on my terrible monitor).

8. I like the processing in both, but I prefer the tighter crop in the urban processed one. Mom and Dad are really cute together.

I think this location would be a super fun place to do a couple/engagement shoot. I love how you hae used the location and paired that with the processing.

Despite the challenging light, you did well. I guess early morning might be better than afternoon due to the trees. Unfortunately that is a live and learn thing. Maybe when you get your OCF up and running that could be used to augment the natural light the next time you shoot there.

TFS, Tracy! You're doing great!