I didn’t really have anything in mind while shooting the landscape, but came across this late night porridge place somewhere in Tiong Bahru. It was located in a more residential area which meant that it was the only establishment open at that hour, making for a nice dark background.
My workflow mainly consisted of cleaning up the unnecessary bits on the fringes of the image that I felt were distracting from the focal point. This was done though a combination of dodging/burning, spot healing and clone stamping.
Lighting decisions were made around the premise that I wanted the inorganic lights of the establishment to stand out more. I found that working with hue/saturation and isolating the red in the image gave the neon signs an ethereal, oversaturated glow and gave it a suitable *vibe*
The mood I wanted to capture was that strange feeling one feels in the early hours of the morning when everything seems at once both hyperrealistic and also super unreal. I imagine this landscape to exist in one of Murakami’s strange, mildly dystopian universes that he constructs in his novels.
link to original PSD file here
After Bryan’s suggestions from the critique, I figured that I really did like the surreal, underworldly glow created by boosting the saturation and adding a layer of gaussian blur. I recreated this on my own, adding selective colour filters specifically for cyan and yellow to make the lights brighter. It’s a touch more vibrant than my first version, but I still wanted to push the colours to become even brighter and more garish.
As such, I went back to the selective colour layers and duplicated them to intensify the neon glow. Further messing around on the sliders completely changed the colours to a tacky red/green combo that I actually quite enjoyed.
Looking at the outcome, I think that just changing up the hue of the lights already lent the image much more of a surreal quality. Adding the out-of-focus blur makes it feel more like a half-forgotten dreamscape loosely based on reality. I don’t really have a version that I definitely prefer over the other tho, I like both HAHA but if I really had to choose I’d go with the blur, just because I haven’t encountered many deliberately out of focus images so I guess that’s more interesting.
link to final PSD file here