Killing time in an auto dealership waiting area the other day, I decided to take a photo of, well, it’s sort of an objet d’art, I guess: an antique Shell Oil Company gasoline pump. These beauties were still around when I was a little boy, but you don’t seem ’em much any more. Here is the photo I took, pretty much the way I saw it:


It’s an okay photo, of an interesting object. But after processing the image above slightly, I thought I’d try a different treatment. A treatment is a different approach to processing the photo. The most common treatment that I do is black and white conversion. So I started with that.

Obviously, this loses the yellow that is so striking in the first shot (and in reality). But the black and white conversion has its own strength. Black and white has a tendency to look timeless, not to say old. I think I prefer the black and white treatment.

But black and white isn’t the only way to go, not by a long shot. Here’s a third treatment—a third, because even the first version is a “treatment” or interpretation of the raw capture—that is based on a preset in my processing software, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.

This treatment is a bit more complicated. In addition to goosing the contrast and saturation, this version of photo also uses Lightroom’s duotone feature, to tint the highlights and shadows slightly. The result is a photo that looks like an old photo.

Here they all are side by side.

One’s not right and the others wrong, although I personally prefer the black and white treatment. I could take the photo in a number of other ways, but I personally never like to stray too far from the photo. I don’t regard the photo as raw material for the creation of something new, but only as a photograph requiring some degree of interpretation, some treatment.

Photo info: Panasonic Lumix LX3, f/2 @ 1/100th sec, ISO 80. Focal length = 5.1mm (24mm equivalent).


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