In the words of one of my personal heroes, don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? I’d been planning to go and have a look at the Duke Of Lancaster for ages as I had an image in my mind. And it was exactly like the one at the top of the post that you’ve just seen. It’s very rare that I do this, as more often than not when I’m out exploring or taking railway photographs, I tend to be spontaneous and react to what I see. However, I’d spent quite a bit of time beforehand looking at photos of the ship on Flickr, so compositions were forming in my head. However, the finished image needed to be high contrast with an ominous sky, as is my style.
Meanwhile, back on the beach, I took lots of different photos from different perspectives, at different distances and with different focal lengths. I don’t normally machine gun a subject, but I wanted to give myself plenty of options when I was selecting an image for processing.
My black and white workflow involves Nik Silver Efex to convert to monochrome, and in this I also use the ‘Wet Rocks’ Effect, and add a Tri-X filter to up the contrast. But any effects added in this are applied to the whole image (I can’t get on with the control points in Silver Efex), so In Photoshop, I selected the sky and tinkered with the levels then changed the blending mode to ‘Multiply’, then did the same with the foreground, albeit changing the blending mode to ‘Color Dodge’. There’s no rationale behind the blending mode choices, they just looked good. I then selected the ship and tweaked the contrast slightly as by now it was looking a bit flat in comparison.
The net result was this, something which exactly matched the image in my head. It’s something I’ve never managed to pull off before, and probably won’t ever do again due to the somewhat dynamic way in which I photograph, but it’s good to get an insight into how proper landscape photographers work.