Here's a small photo project that came to me when I spied a small toy locomotive in a supermarket. "I'll have that!", I thought, and began formulating a plan on how to use it in conjunction with one or more of my Railroad Grade pocket watches. I'd had a vague idea in the back on my mind for some time to attempt to simulate smoke coming out of the stack of a loco in such a picture, and now was the time to try it.
To begin, I placed two railroad watches, a Hamilton Grade 992, and a Hampden Wm. McKinley on a plain white paper background. The watches were supported in the upright position by large lumps of blu-tack putty behind them. The white background was curved up behind the watches to create a seamless background. I chose white as I wanted a very light coloured background to contrast with what would come later. The little toy loco was placed strategically in front of the watches, and the shot was ready to shoot. Lighting was from an overhead fluorescent tube filtered through diffusion material, with a white reflector to left of frame to bounce light back into the shadows. Here is the result.
Next I needed to create the smoke. In a new picture I used the Airbrush tool to build up a smoke cloud in the shape I needed, adding different colours as desired. I added some red to the smoke to tie it in with the red loco. I then used the Motion Blur, and Wave filters to make it look more like real smoke, and this is what resulted.
The smoke was then pasted into the original image in the correct location as a transparent selection. By using the Eraser tool at varying sizes and opacities I worked around and over the smoke image, gradually removing enough of it to reveal the original image below. Here you can see the operation in progress, with a fair bit of the original image revealed.
To enhance the impression that the loco is moving I applied the Motion Blur filter to appropriate bits of the loco, including the wheels. Here is the finished composite image.
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Copyright 2005 Paul Delury