Swings and Ferris Wheel “hand-colored”
The original images from the San Diego County fair were pretty flat so I had to look at it a new way with strong color being my favorite. So I tried a painted black and white look on the swings. This is based on the hand-colored black and white images photographers used before printing papers were readily available with dyes for true color. Photoshop can recreate the look – of course! While I like the resulting image, it was too soft and painterly for this subject. The fair was a loud, crowded and pretty raucous place to visit, especially on the midway, so it seemed to need a more intense approach. I increased the color saturation until the color popped and added dense grain. This created a slightly gritty vintage look that suited the subject matter and I was happy with it.
Ferris Wheel and rides to purple
The next image I worked on was the ferris wheel. Interesting shape and I liked the American flag, but it was flat with the grey sky. At this point, I just started playing to find something different. I intended initially to just color the sky, but I accidentally masked the background instead of the foreground. I can never remember which is masked for some reason, which is easy to fix by just inverting the selection. This put color over the subject which I really liked! It muted the flag, but it is such a strong subject that still shines through the color. So I combined my happy accident with the original bright color background for this electric color image. I really liked the almost pop-art flatness and the sort of disco over-the-top-color.
Swings to pink
The next experiment in county fair color was the swings. It had strong lines, but the color was flat and the random bits behind the swings didn’t contribute to the composition. Removing them was an option so I started to mask everything but the swing itself. I didn’t remove the background items after laying color over them, liking the layered effect. The lines really come through and as a bonus, it emphasized the interactions of the people on the swings.
Gondola ride to pink
After the success of the swings, I used a similar approach for the gondola ride passing a large inflatable (not entirely sure what that thing was…). I used split toning and layer blending for the different parts of the image. By treating them differently, it made the foreground different than the mid-ground. The color over the background created further separation. I also liked the slight fringing in the people’s hair that made an interesting purplish halo. And the banding of light to shadow on the inflatable made it look substantial, like a small mountain.
Green leaves on swing ride with flags
The next two images had less-clearly defined subjects so I couldn’t take the same approach. I considered abandoning these two, especially since these were more difficult to mask. The flags and chains had a very complex outline. Stubbornly, I continue to play with different approaches. I used various blend modes on different portions with a variety of grain and texture additions for the leafy ride with the flags. This created a more subtle sense of depth with enough inherent crazy county fair color to hold its own against the saturated background.
The Daytona ride also didn’t have enough sky to be separated from the background. I thought about leaving the sky unedited, as there was enough color in the subject. The out-of-focus background created a blurry edge which was quite tricky to mask. I tried coloring the sky though and it was better. I had to continue… To separate the foreground from the mid-ground, I used different textures and blend modes. The end result has been growing on me.
The last experiment almost didn’t happen. I loved the image but, again, not the sky and just started playing with it. Unfortunately, the deep depth of field meant a variety of focus levels. So the sharper portions were easier to mask, the more out-of-focus quite a bit harder. I almost gave up. I ended up using overlays when I couldn’t get the masks as good as I wanted. But I wanted to add the layers in the image and keep the exaggerated, augmented color. So this image brought out my perfectionism and took a huge time investment. I’m just glad I could finish it.