This image was shot for Fortis Alberta through ZGM. It is a multi layer composite. The truck was shot in the yard at Fortis and all the other elements were shot locally and added in. The weather effects were added in post. This is one of four images for the campaign. Three more to come.
So Calgary has two new CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) buses which apparently, are all the rage around the world but pretty new here in Western Canada. I was commissioned to create an image of a tree wrapping itself around the busses on both sides. The project involved 3D for visualization and creation of the leaves, because after all, it’s still considered winter here in Cow Town and there isn’t a single leaf to be seen. It also involved practical photography of trees and various bits and parts for texturing and building the main trunk and branches. The tree grew from a sapling on the back of the bus and grew over three more stages to the last stage you see now. A sky plate was added to the top of the bus to help create the illusion. It was unveiled on April 22…Earth Day.
Click for larger image
Click for larger image
Here is the final image. I placed the train into the composite and added texture to each component as the model was simply to clean. It needed to look like it had seen some miles. I desaturated the cars as they were very red and looked very plastic which is what you would expect from a scale display model. Steam was built in PS using custom brushes and a Wacom Tablet. The light at the front of the locomotive adds to the realism and nicely plays off the dark rock face above the trestle. I decided that the perspective that the model was shot at didn’t quite match the build to that point and a better fix was, other than chopping a bunch of the mountain away, was to simply create a tunnel. As you can see, the cliff has had extensive relighting and colouring from the original source material. This helped achieve the overall mood I was looking for.
A lot of work which paid off buy winning a place in Applied Arts Photography Annual.
Concept and Initial Lighting Direction
It started with an idea and an initial pencil sketch (which went missing) of a train chugging up a mountain side about to go over a trestle bridge. I thought it would be a great exercise to combine traditional photography of practical elements and 3D in a composite that would push my comfort zone as it were. So after visualizing what I wanted it to look like, I created a very rough model and landscape/terrain in my 3D software to see where the best realistic lighting would be (image below). I didn’t want the train to be in full sun because I wanted the lights and steam to be visible. So I placed the “sun” peeking over the other side of the valley so it’s shadow would cast just above the train.
Gathering the Elements
Next was gathering the elements to make the landscape that the train would be running up. Several trips out to shoot various cliffs, trees, and skies to add to the library and ultimately to the final image.
The train was a scale model I rented from a local model train shop. I shot it in studio in several sections since the Depth of Field was unable to hold through the length of the model. I took each image into PS to create one seamless train in perfect focus from front to back.
The next element to create was the trestle in 3D and using the virtual camera, find the correct camera angle to match the position of the train and to blend it into the created mountainside. The rendered trestle looked like this…
And then what it looked like dropped into the evolving composite…
Next up (tomorrow) will be the final touches. Add the train and all the effects such as steam etc. Finesse other compositional elements and fine tune.
One of the first composite images I ever did combining practical photography, 3D software, and Photoshop. The 3D aspect is the buoy. The rest is practical photography except for the guy lines and some extra elements to “marry” the booth to the buoy. Shading and lightning, local color relationships careful placement of elements all add to the illusion.