On the Streets: Bait Shop and Lightroom

The rain and dark skies have returned to Seattle. I ducked into Capitol Hill’s Bait Shop the other day for some veggie tacos. I sat at the bar, idly surfing news on my phone. Most everyone else was doing the same thing. It’s hard to remember what it was like sitting at a bar before smartphones. I had a book with me, but Bait Shop is too dark for me to read. Garth, a musician friend of mine, always reads at Bait Shop. Thrillers and crime novels, classics from the genre. I don’t know how he does it.

A gentleman took the seat next to me. He started to look at his phone, glanced up, and commented on how phones have changed the neighborhood bar experience. I laughed, put my phone away, and had an actual conversation. It was nice. Much better than reading one outraged tweet after another. I pretty much have to have a twitter presence, but I’m happiest when I keep it at a safe distance. There be monsters there.

When I walked outside one of the owners of Bait Shop was talking to a friend. They both had their dogs with them. One is a giant Great Dane called Walter (I think), the other is some sort of hound. How’s that for capturing the details? They’re both very cool dogs. I’m always amazed how friendly Great Danes seem to be. Walter is the size of a small pony.

I wanted to get a picture of the dogs but missed the opportunity. I decided to try for something involving Bait Shop’s awesome neon sign and the rainy streets. I was just north of Bait Shop, so the side of the sign with “Food” on it was in view.

I liked a few of the shots. I’ve been trying to capture a look I see in photos by Federico, an Italian photographer I follow on Instagram. He gets these incredible black and white images on the cobblestoned streets of Genoa. In the distance, there are usually a few silhouetted, almost ghostly images of people walking. The photos look straight out of film noir, imagery reminiscent of The Third Man.

I didn’t come close to matching Federico’s shots, but I think I have a better understanding of his approach to them. I selected one of the photos for Instagram, and then I decided to experiment a little with post-processing in Lightroom. I don’t love post-processing. I don’t hate it, either, but it’s not my favorite part of photography. I can understand, though, how for some photographers it’s the best part of the process, akin to being in the darkroom.

I jumped online and looked for a few downloadable Lightroom presets to get a sense for how other photographers were working with their images. I settled on some presets from Nate Photographic. I liked his sense of humor and his clear, professional approach. I’ve included a few different versions of the same image below. A couple have different crops, but they’re the same image. (Note: If you don’t like any of the versions, please don’t attribute it to Nate’s presets. He makes it very clear that not every preset works with every image. I was more interested in trying out applied presets than in making sure the preset worked well with the image.)

I find it difficult to spot the differences. The two black and whites look identical to me, to the extent that I wonder if I might have exported the same image twice with different names.

Bait Shop as shot (1 of 1)
Bait Shop, Capitol Hill, Seattle, December 2017. As shot.
Bait Shop NATE Cam Preset (1 of 1)
Bait Shop, Capitol Hill, Seattle, December 2017, with Nate Photographic preset.
Bait Shop NATE Cam Preset adjusted highlights (1 of 1)
Bait Shop, Capitol Hill, Seattle, December 2017, Nate Photographic preset with some modifications.
Bait Shop Capitol Hill Seattle
Bait Shop, Capitol Hill, Seattle, December 2017, some hasty edits.

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