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Okay, here's the deal. I thought I'd take a picture of my shooting buddy, Kathleen, as she carried her tripod, camera and camera bag up the stairs. It was totally unplanned, and I asked her to stop for a moment. I thought it might be a good portrait. It wasn't.
I shot five pictures for a possible HDR, but botched the exposure (too dark). I looked at it at the time and figured it wasn't anything to write home about, so I moved on.
I've been doing a lot of post-processing from older images lately, and looked at this one again. Then the ghost idea occurred to me. However, for that to work, I'd also need an image of the scene without Kathleen, so I could mask one and combine them. But I didn't have one. So, yesterday, I bit the bullet and decided to do it all manually.
I did the HDR processing on the five images I had with Photomatix, then made a duplicate image layer and set about removing her from it. I cloned some things in and painted a lot more in until she was gone. Then I reduced the opacity so she'd look more like a ghost, performed some more magic (like another round of HDR toning in Photoshop), and wound up with this image, which I'll probably continue to tweak for a while longer.
All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with the result so far.
When I first looked at it, I thought the image was outside the window, as her lower half kind of disappeared - I only saw the entire picture after reading how it was accomplished. Well done!
As Marianna says, I would be happy to work a shot like that - if I did, though, I would have put her in a long dress while I was at it, as if her top was extended into a loose shift kinda thing ... the jeans don't really do it for me as far as the shot is concerned.
Ginny, I like your comments, however, since the rest of the photo set deals with an old abandoned mental hospital where mistreatment and abuse occurred every day, I wanted the 'ghost' to suggest its former patients, who probably didn't wear white gowns. A couple of the shots were taken in the morgue, so I keep coming back to the idea of retitling this one 'Stairway to Heaven" after the Led Zeppelin song.
Dan, I found the two areas I think you were referring to. Just forgot to paint in a couple of mullions.
I've now changed the title (was "Asylum Spirit") and made a few tweaks, like adding the light bulb. The image link in my first post is now broken, so here's the image as it looks today.
An interesting fact is that I captured this image shortly after leaving the hospital's morgue. She must have walked right past me! Wouldn't it be interesting if, when we depart this life, rather than going into a pristine white light, we have to climb a stairway like this?
Here's something to listen to. It's a really nice tribute: