Photographing an Autobianchi Bianchina

On a sunny summer day the Italian car clubs in Colorado gather at an annual show called Automezzi. Lots of exotic, interesting, and beautiful cars are on display including Ferrari’s, Lamborghinis, Lancias, Panteras, Maseratis, Alfa Romeos and Fiats.

I’ve had a love affair with Italian cars since the early ’70s and this little red car captured my imagination but there was always a crowd gathered around it. When leaving the show, I took one last look and there was this kid—dressed all in black—standing in front of the car and I made the shot using a Leica Digilux II. Exposure was 1/500 sec at f/7.1 and ISO 200. After I made the photograph I looked back again and the kid had left so I made a second exposure. At the moment of the second exposure I knew two things: I was going to combine both images on different layers in Adobe Photoshop and I was going to change the opacity on the “kid” layer so he showed through the car in a ghostly way.

I started the process by opening the photograph of the car without the kid, and saved it as a PSD file. Next, I created a duplicate layer (Layer>Duplicate Layer) so I had two identical images on top of one another and was ready for the next step. Since the background was so busy I applied Color Efex Pro’s Old Photo filter to it. I thought the effect was perfect because it makes it look like a diorama, which many people believe it is rather than a real  outdoor car show.

Next, I used Photoshop’s Eraser tool and erased holes in the duplicate layer where the car was located. When I do this, I usually turn off the other layers so I can only see the one that I’m erasing. Next, I dragged the file with the kid atop the PSD file, automatically creating another layer and made sure that the kid layer was the topmost layer. Using the Eraser tool, I erased everything but the kid from that new layer. Since I wanted the kid to be “ghostly,” I set the Layers palette’s Opacity control to 70% in the kid’s Layer’s palette.

Even though the car is really an Autobianchi Bianchina it has a Fiat engine, so I call this image “Dreaming of Fiats,” and feel that unlike most of my car photos that are just pretty pictures, this one tells a story. I know what my story for this photograph is? What’s yours?

My out-of-print book Creative Digital Monochrome Effects is still available and (I think anyway) is a fun read. It’s available from Amazon for less than six bucks or as a used book for the bargain price of $2.50.

Author: Joe Farace

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