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Take Two: Signs of Life Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

31 August 2021

The idea that a single exposure is good for just one photograph is a conceit of the kind of photographer who eschews editing as cheating. A photograph, like any scene, may have many images within it.

Certainly our image yesterday lends itself to more than one interpretation.

Even then there was the question of whether to render the image in color or black-and-white. We opted for black-and-white to emphasize the deterioration of the building as well as to echo Dust Bowl WPA photographs.

But there's another picture in that scene.

A photograph, like any scene, may have many images within it.

The detail shown above was rendered in mostly muted hues that let just the barest hint of color through a black-and-white layer mask that has been painted to expose the indoor plants in full color.

We did the crop first, showing just the addition to the building as it sinks away with its plywood door and dilapidated wooden steps.

Then we dropped the black-and-white layer mask on it and recovered the color of the plants growing upstairs.

To finish it off, we changed the opacity of the layer to let just a touch of the hues back in, carefully monitoring the Danger sign's red so it didn't compete with the green of the plants in the window.

The point of the picture, the marvel of it, is plants are growing in that place, not the obvious danger. In spite of that danger, there are signs of life.

And in that sense, it spoke to us as a metaphor for the times. Amid the danger, there are still signs that life will triumph.

Which is not at all what yesterday's image conveys.

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