I Went for a Walk: Derelict Amusement Park

They say you won’t die until your work on earth is finished. I am so behind now, I may live forever.

I have so many projects going on. The time consuming one is finding negatives and slides to “scan” to convert them from analog to digital. I have several hundred, maybe a thousand slides, mostly Kodachrome with just a few Ektachrome.

If you are not familiar with either, Kodachrome was THE standard in color film for decades. Believe it or not, the Kodachrome you have in Technicolor movies and photographs was invented in the early 1930’s by two professional musicians,  Leopold Godowsky Jr. and Leopold Mannes. Imagine that and think about trying to do something similar today. You’d have teams of people, millions of dollars in R&D and marketing. Yet these two guys did it just sort of fiddling around. (Pun. There was a pun.)

Anyway, so I have a ton of slides and I am copying them. I ran across photos I took of a derelict amusement park, located somewhere on the Carolina Beach Road between Wilmington and Kure Beach, NC. The property and the abandoned rides are long gone. I said derelict and not abandoned at first because there was water being pumped from somewhere into one of the kiddie pools.

The place fascinated me, and I took several shots just to record it. To me, it symbolized the kind of decay our amusements enjoy over time. They become old, battered, and worn out. We hold onto them too long when it would be better to abandon them. Ooh. Deep thoughts.

I thought I might return to explore it more, but for whatever reason, I did not.

Instead, you get to view these digital copies of the Kodachrome slides, and I want to show you some digital artifacts that occurred when I photographed the slides with my trusty Nikon D7500, with an advanced APS-C sensor, yielding about a 20 mb file full of information, and then processed the files in Photoshop Elements RAW processor.

Here is the gallery. Click on the images to enlarge them.

First take a look at the first image of the water slide. My comment. Eastman Kodak had a monopoly on processing Kodachrome film until about 1954, I believe. Before then, you purchased the film and processing together. So after you shot a roll, you mailed it off to Kodak, and a week later or so, you got your processed slides returned. That is correct, it took a week or longer by mail. I happen to live on the East Coast, so my film went to New York. Those closer to the West Coast had their film processed in Los Angeles. Go ahead and laugh.

Well Kodak lost a court case, and competition to process the film came about. Kodak was hurting. Then there were the E6 labs all over the place (think Ektachrome). Agfa, Ilford, Fuji, and others were eating Kodak’s lunch. Eventually this great film was discontinued after 74 years in production. Imagine any technology today lasting more than a couple years. It is still considered an archival standard for color photographs. Of course jpeg and tiff have a handle on digital images.

With the downturn of the product and the changes in photography, processing just was not up to the old Kodak standard. Slides were many times covered in trash from the chemistry. I guess it was cost cutting. Here is an example from the first photograph, a section of the sky in the upper left of the image. Notice the black blotches. Those are on the slide, folks. It came from processor like that. Yuk. Try to sell that to a customer.

In Photoshop you have two handy tools to clean up this junk. One is the Clone Stamp tool, and the other is the Healing Brush tool. They do similar things.

You set the Clone Stamp tool over an area of the image to copy. You select the area by doing an alt+left click. Then you place the tool over the trashy spot and click again, and the spot disappears. You can adjust the pixel dimensions of the tool with a slider to cover larger or smaller areas.

The Healing Brush is similar. Instead you just select the pixel size of the tool, maybe a little wider than the Clone Stamp. You then place it over the area to fix, and click. Photoshop interpolates what you want to happen and does it. It is very handy for sky, clouds, and water. You can fix blemishes in portraits too. If you are not satisfied, then try the Clone Stamp.

Here is about the same area of sky and clouds after I applied the clone and healing brush. It’s not perfect, and I may return to smooth it all out.

I thought I might sell some of my slides as stock images, but sadly, there is just too much trash like the specks and grunge.

If you are going to sell stock photos you better have technically superb photographs. This is my rookie season. Never sold stock before. Right now I am batting about 750. I think that may be pretty good. I am learning what they want. I am learning what sells. At least, I sure hope I am learning what sells.

Micro-stock agencies like Shutterstock do not want to see an image in a 1 mb file. Neither do their customers. They do not want to see digital artifacts like color compression, posterization, and grain. Posterization is common especially with jpegs, in oversaturated areas of color. It helps to shoot your original image in RAW and adjust your exposures, contrast, saturation, etc. before converting the image to its final jpeg format. Make sure your flower petal has detail and is more than just a big blob of color.

Even if my original photos of the park were near perfect, even if the grunge was not present, and the skies were clear blue and smooth, there is something else that disqualifies the images above. Take a look at the elephant holding the golf ball with its trunk. Click to enlarge it. What do you see?

Below is an enlarged section of the image showing the elephant trunk. What do you notice outlining the trunk, top and bottom? See that reddish outline on top and the blue outline on the bottom? It is called fringing. You may not even notice it in a casual view, but I guarantee the eagle eyes at the stock agencies will. It is not good enough to sell.

It was most likely introduced by my zoom lens that I use in macro mode to make the copies. Or it could be the processor in the D7500 itself. Don’t get all touchy. I am not saying bad things about Nikon. I love Nikon. But digital is digital. You ought to have seen this kind of thing when digital was a brand new technology.

Anyway, I have not figured out a way to easily remove it. For grins I converted the image to monochrome. Take a look below. There is still a fringe, less noticeable, but still present in the gray tones. These photographs were all about color. I do not think I want black and white here. I’ll have to consider it.

My best advice is make sure this kind of garbage is not in the original. Maybe I ought to spend more on the lens. Yeah. All I need is a new lens. Or maybe Adobe Lightroom has tools specifically created to de-fringe. I have seen a couple YouTube videos I may try. If they work, I will let you know.

Correcting these kinds of digital problems are tediously time consuming, and they drive me crazy. The return on my time invested is too small, and I need to move past this to other images.

Thank God for rejection notices. They really do help you improve. Seriously. No, I mean they really do. Really.


UPDATE: Yay! Found that there is a lens aberration tool both in Photoshop and Lightroom. Sadly, not out of the box in Photoshop Elements. BUT, there is and independent plugin. Here is video #1. And here is video #2. They show how to get rid of the fringe using the lens aberration tool. As I said, Elements does not have the tool available. This is where Elements + comes in. I am reviewing it now.

Good luck.

~ by Bill on September 4, 2019.

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