Professional Assignment

Seattle Skyline Improvement Project:

Original photos and retouching by Richard L. Gilmore.

This photo was a promotional piece for Electroimpact Inc. of Mukilteo Washington. The central goal for this image is to link Seattle, Aerospace industry, and Electroimpact. I took the opportunity of equipment being shipped from Mukilteo to Renton for the basic image. This image was shot on a Mamiya medium format film camera. Subsequently, the negative was scanned and a digital file of 90 megabytes was produced. The Space Needle in the background clearly identifies the location. Two images are visually striking in the original image, the Space Needle and the smoke stack. The challenge was to bring the equipment on the truck up to a level that would successfully compete for attention.

First I removed the smoke stack. This image was too large and too ugly to leave in the photo. I scouted several locations for the photo, but this provided the best backdrop. I knew that I would have to deal with the smoke stack later. The smoke stack was skinny enough that it was mostly a matter of cloning the immediate area over the stack.

Next I removed other traffic from the freeway. This was particularly challenging because the one vehicle is touching the lift and has the freeway guardrail as a background. This required pixel level manipulation in some areas to get a clean break from the car.

Focus was a bit of a problem. The Mamiya’s fastest shutter speed is 1/500th of a second. With the truck traveling at 50mph, that means the truck moved 1 ¾ inches while the shutter was open. To compensate, I both brightened and sharpened the major structural components of the lift. I worried about doing too much enhancing as I didn’t want to make the image look retouched.

Several small "distracting" visual elements were also removed or altered. For example, I took out a red sign on the top of a building and removed a freeway light post from the background.

Finally, to complete the aerospace story, I added a departing 737 jet. This photo was taken at Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. I removed the Alaska Airline logo and struggled with the size and placement. I wanted it noticeable, but not prominent.

Once the retouching was done, the modified file was taken back to the photo lab where a negative was produced and a 30" by 20" print was made. This photo subsequently won an award from the Society for Technical Communications.

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last modified: Saturday, November 29, 2003