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Tin City - "What A Lovely Day!"

Scroll to view.  Processing notes at the end.

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Tin City - "What A Lovely Day!"

Scroll to view.  Processing notes at the end.

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I really, really loved this years Mad Max: Fury Road.  For a post-apocolyptic film it had so much vibrant colour, yes there was also a ton of great action sequences, explosions etc but I walked out blown away by the visual style and colour palette.  It was a look I desperately wanted to try out, but what subject could it work with?

It's this which brought me to Tin City, a place featured at times in the original 1979 Mad Max film.  Hidden amongst the immense sand dunes of Stockton Beach just outside of Newcastle, NSW, you might find a shanty town built from sheets of corrugated iron, rising out of the shifting sands.  It's stood there since just after WWII, a fishing village entirely off the grid and home to barely a dozen residents who live in and maintain but aren't allowed to rebuild or sell their shacks.

Tin City looked like a location straight out of the video game series: Fallout... I was like an emerging vault dweller stumbling on the first inhabitants of a ruined civilisation.  I'm just glad I didn't encounter any radscorpions!  After the considerable effort required to get to this place (on foot, we had no 4 Wheel Drive and beach access was closed to vehicles at the time anyway) I was thoroughly pleased with the images captured.  From what little I'd read about this place it didn't describe how awesome it would look in person but I guess thats why we travel to and explore new places.

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Click to enlarge images below

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Before and after in Lightroom CC 2015.  Click to enlarge.

Some notes on the processing in this set

Mad Max: Fury Road reference image

Mad Max: Fury Road reference image

Like most images that come out of my Sigma DP3 Merrill, these were initially captured and rendered with loads of detail and sharpness but quite a flat and neutral colour palette.  True to the history of the Foveon sensor, this "True Colour" capture might be an accurate recording of the scene on the day but for my tastes and the artistic intention behind the shoot, it's a little dull.

From the original image above it's plainly obvious that we're on a beach, the sand is just too pale.  I used the reference image from Fury Road as a rough visual guide and Lightroom CC for all the heavy colour lifting.  Sigma's Foveon RAWs don't read directly into Lightroom (or most other standard RAW converters) and their own software leaves a lot to be desired so for the last year and a bit I've turned to an independant RAW converter called Iridient Developer to quickly batch process the Merrill files into .tif's.  Iridient has also proved valuable in extracting additional detail and clarity from Fuji X-Trans RAWs, I can't recommend this software highly enough for users of either system.

Within Lightroom the process took on a bit of a trial and error approach.  The key ended up being the little "picker" icon in the HSL/Color/B&W panel.  In the image above you can see it looks like a little round button underneath the word "Hue".  When you hover over this little guy it says "Adjust hue by dragging in the photo".  By doing this you can click in a random patch of blue sky and drag up or down to directly influence the hue of those blue tones, its even clever enough to realise the sky contains a mix of both aqua and blue tones and adjusts the hue of both in proportion to avoid colour banding.  When the hue looked close I moved to the saturation and luminance panels with the same technique: get the colour picker, click and drag in the image to adjust by eye and compare with the reference image.  I did the same thing with the sand tones adding plenty of red/orange and general contrast to create a master preset called "Fury Road".  This preset got most of my images close to where I wanted but each required a little extra adjustment to look consistent throughout the set.