While driving to Duluth to visit my grandson (forget about visiting his parents) I passed these buildings often and was quite taken with the unusual way they were painted. On a grey day last November, I stopped to take some pictures, and when I got home and looked at them I was disappointed. Once again, my vision did not match up with what the camera captured. This winter I went back to the photo to see if it could be transformed to what I envisioned. What was done went from this
How it was done
The first thing was to simplify the forms with Topaz Labs’ Simplify plugin, then much of the highway was cropped out. The remaining highway was cloned over as well as a few other distractions. This took the most time. I knew that the sky could use a little help but that bank of clouds was impossible to overcome. That area of the sky was selected with the Lasso tool and filled with content-aware fill, taking care of that problem. The next step was to brighten the buildings and this was done with a Curves adjustment layer. After pulling the curve up, I created a mask and filled it with black Then with a white brush at varying opacities the effect was brushed in on select areas, revealing the brightening effect. Next a Color Fill layer was added using a deep red color. The blending mode for this layer is Soft Light, and the opacity was reduced to 67%. It left the sky a bit purple, but that was okay. A nice dramatic cloud photo was put on a layer at the top of the stack. The blend mode for that was Overlay at 100% opacity. The clouds were quickly masked away from the buildings and foreground. I liked how the cloud streaks on the left created leading lines into the building, so I selected the cloud layer and warped it to approximate the same thing on the right. Then came a couple of adjustment layers that were clipped to the clouds. One was to increase the contrast of the clouds with a Curves adjustment, then a Hue/Saturation adjustment to modify the color of the clouds. A free texture from Shadowhouse Creations went on the top of the stack. The texture was resized so that the dark edges went out of the frame. The blend mode was set to Soft Light with an opacity of 100%. I liked the way the texture diffused the clouds.The cropping of so much of the bottom of the image to remove the highway gave this the look of a panorama, which I didn’t want. The layered image was duplicated. then flattened. With a free transform,the right side was pulled towards the center to bring this back to more of a 4 x 6 aspect ratio. The final touch was an Exposure adjustment to brighten the overall image.