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On Highway 68 at Embudo between Espanola and Taos in New Mexico can be found the Classical Gas Museum. This museum, owned and curated by Johnnie Meier, is dedicated to the great American filling station. To say the least it is a wonderland for HDR photographers. Although there is no admission fee, Meier earns cash to support the museum from the state’s burgeoning film industry. There is also a donation box for you to make a contribution which Meier passes on to the local animal shelter. There are no specific hours for the museum. As Meier puts it: if the gate’s open, come on in. “It’s like a big open house here,” he says. “I’m here seven days a week from morning until the stars come out. However, if I have to go to the hardware store or the lumber yard, I close the gate and go.”
Seen in this image is one of the old cars at the museum together with a few of the old gas pumps which line the front part of the two acre site. It is an old racing roadster, which like most of the vehicles in the museum, has seen better days – but all the better for HDR photography.
Throughout my time at the museum I used my Sigma 10-20mm EX zoom, giving me the nice distorted perspective seen in this image. It is a 5 set bracket processed using my now favored software – HDR Merge in Photoshop. The resulting 32-bit file was then re-imported to Lightroom as a TIF file. The file was then passed to Perfect Effects where the three main colors – Red, Orange and Yellow – were each enhanced separately using the color specific Color Enhancer. A gentle application of one of the HDR Presets brought out more of the details. I then applied the Moulin Rouge and Grunge Goddess presets to the roaster and the gas pumps. One of my favorite presets, Dirty Money, was then applied to the ground and the stone wall. Using the Perfect Brush in Perfect Effects to mask these areas was so simple. All of these changes only took a few minutes to apply and by varying the opacity of each layer within Perfect Effects allowed the effects to be very subtly applied. At this point the image was returned to Lightroom.
Once back in lightroom some adjustments to the brightness were needed. Using the Adjustment Brush I darkened the foreground and brightened up the engine compartment, the drivers seat and the front wheels. I finally cropped the image to an 8×10 to remove some excess foreground which I found to be distracting.
As my regular visitors will know by now, I highly recommend OnOne Software’s Perfect Effects. The results you can obtain from this software are infinitesimal and with the presets so easy to create. For anyone interested in trying Perfect Effects they have a free trial download. If you like the product and would like to purchase it please use the code MSIMAGES for a 15% discount. This discount coupon will expire on March 3rd, 2013.
Although published back in June 2011, I still think this is the best and most comprehensive guide to HDR post-processing around and the reference I return to more often than anything else, including much more modern books and web publications.