Exploring Provence – Texture in the alleys of Arles, France

Tweaked, textured, and tortured in the digital darkroom……and here we are. Capture, process, and refinement…..all part of the journey!

It started put as a single image captured as I explored the many alleys and cobblestone streets that make up the town of Arles in the Provincial region of France. The result here has a little bit of that old world Cuba feel to it, but I’ve never been to Cuba and this is France, so I’m shooting from the hip again…..

It was one of those casual late afternoons. The tripod was back at the room as I was out on this little scouting mission of sorts. Most of the town seemed to be in that “siesta” kinda of mode. The lighting wasn’t great this time of day, but I know that there were a few cool scenes in this little town to explore. Sometimes the mission for me is to capture “foundational images”, ones that I can later use as the building blocks for something more creative in the digital darkroom. Photoshop is one of those programs that can have a person on a perpetual journey of learning and creative exploration. Continually sdding to my library of images to “play with” continues to be one of the driving forces for the trips I like to take. So, more about this little piece….

As you can see below, more or less right out of the camera….the details are flat, the contrast is not there, the colors are muted, and the lighting has no interest. What did attrack me to the scene was it’s imperfection. I have always appreciated the beauty of decay as seen in these little European villages. The cobblestone walk, the protruding TV antenna, the cool blue washed color, ……. all part of this wonderful French scene. Of course, the cacophony of sounds such as the children playing an alley or two away to the pots and pans clanging as dinner was being prepared just to my right to the dog barking around the corner helped complete the scene. Its absolutely wonderful how all of those sound, sites, and smells create a cinematic experience when you allow them to!

So anyway, I knew there was an image there ……I was sure of it…..just not one that would be created with a simple click…..

Enter the world of the digital darkroom….

First off, the version below is one I posted on my flickr site last night. At that point I thought I was done….not too bad……that was, until I looked at it again tonight.  The over sharp details and somewhat over processed look of the wall just on the left had me trying a few other techniques to give it a somewhat smoother look. In fact the color in the tree at the end of the alley bothers me, but it’s time to move on.

The whole process started in Lightroom as I played with a few of the basic setting in Lightroms develop module. My thought was to bring a bit more contrast into the image as well as vibrance and detail. I then took the result into Photoshop CS5 to “Paint in” a few textures. Like I said, not to bad….but I much prefer the final result (the first image in the post). Perhaps more of a painterly look, but a much more realistic impression of what I felt when I was there 🙂

The screen capture below is a little peak into part of the process I took the image thru. When I decide to add a little texture to an image, I quite often add a few in at a time….as individual layers. I then resize them so they are the same size as the origional image. As I turn on and off of them and expreiment with adjusting the blend modes, and then decide which ones will give me a desired effect. The final step is to then layer mask in the desired result of each layer all while adjusting and tweaking the opacity of that layer. Sounds a little complicated, (in fact I think I just confused myself!) but a lot easier to do than perhaps I am explaining……

As always, thanks for stopping by. More to come!

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