Rusty Union Pacific Caboose, Grapevine Vintage Railroad

Posted by on Sep 12, 2012 in Blog, Newsletter | 2 comments

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Union Pacific Caboose, Grapevine Vintage Railroad, Grapevine, Texas

Union Pacific Caboose, Grapevine Vintage Railroad, Grapevine

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

This rusty Union Pacific Caboose at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad  had seen better days.  With the rust and decay showing through the original yellow paintwork, the only treatment for this image had to be just short of over-the-top urbex based enhancement of all the details.

As you can see from the shadows in this image, the photograph was made during the harsh light of the mid-day hours.  I had a plane to catch so there was no flexibility in regard to timing.  This, however, did not stop me from creating a worthwhile image.  It just took a little bit longer in post-processing, nearly all of which was achieved using my standard technique of separate layers for the filters in OnOne Software’s Perfecteffects  with appropriate masking applied in Photoshop.

There is a wonderfully natural color pallet to this rusty caboose.  The yellow of the Union Pacific paintwork with its red detailing on the railing and ladder perfectly combines with the orange of the rust.  It was this combination of colors which needed to be the focus of the final image.  To help focus attention on the caboose itself, I needed to change the hues of the surrounding elements to provide a contrast.

Firstly, the ground was treated to the Arkham filter which removed the warm tones and added a nice darkened gritty feel.  Next came the corrugated shed wall.  This needed a complex mask which was achieved in Photoshop by using the Select Color Range as a starting point.  Using this technique enabled me to keep the filter effects off of red railings and brake wheel with their intricate shapes, which would be very time consuming to mask otherwise.  Once the mask was finished it was used to limit the effect of the Omaha Beach filter applied at about 60% to the shed walls.

I then concentrated on the coupling and running gear.  A combination of the Thermopylae and Moulin Rouge filters in Perfecteffects were used for this.  The blend mode for both was set to Screen to keep the details and prevent everything from becoming too dark.  Both effects were applied at between 40 & 50%.

Now we come to the actual caboose.  Photoeffects has the ability to apply tonal effects to color ranges which was what was needed here.  Separately in Photoeffects, but as a single layer in Photoshop, I applied an increase in saturation to the orange tones and a decrease in saturation to each of the yellow and red tones separately.  No masking was needed for this layer due to the changes only effecting the color tones specified. This combination of color tone adjustments still needed something to finally separate the rust from the rest of the caboose.  This was achieved by a vibrance layer in Photoshop with the vibrance slider set to +60 and the Saturation to +8.  A black mask was then applied to hide everything with the effect slowly brushed in where needed using a white brush with an opacity of about 20%.

The final adjustment was to reduce the luminance of the sky which removed the almost bleached out top of the frame which would have quickly drawn the eye way from the caboose.


  1. Lovely image Mark! The colours of the train just leap out at you. You are right about the processing, only one way to go!

    I like to read different photographers methods in regard to processing so thanks for including the details.
    Tim Pursall recently posted..The Bakery.My Profile

  2. train photos are always popular with me, and this is a fine example of why – nice work Mark!
    Jim Nix recently posted..Walking the streets of BrusselsMy Profile

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