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How the magic is done - A trip back in time

Today Jeanette Oerlemans will take us back to the age of Charles Dicken's England. In her photo "Back to the past" she has skillfully recreated a victorian trainstation. This is how she made it.

NIKON D300, Tokina 12-24 mm lens, ISO 200, 1/200 secs Exposure, Aperture f/4.5 


Sometimes I get my ideas spontaneously (as with this one). At other times, I start from a well designed concept. Here, I started with the idea of the mourning woman sitting at a train station. Later I added the other figures (all taken during a Charles Dickens festival in the Netherlands) to make a more complete story. A grey sky creates a winter setting, fitting the clothing of the figures.

For the trains a NIKON D300 was used with a Tokina 12-24 mm lens (ISO 200, 1/200 secs Exposure and Aperture f/4.5). The people at the festival were photographed with a NIKON D 300 and a Nikon 70-300 mm lens (ISO 200, 1/125 secs Exposure and Aperture f/5.6). I always work in manual mode.

My goal was to render the time and atmosphere of the Dickens time in England. The dull colors and the light should add to this feeling. The many positive reactions I have receieved, make me feel that I succeeded.


Windows XP was used with Photoshop CS3, Nik Color Efex and Topaz Adjust as plug- ins. This photomontage consists of 5 different layers. The selection of the different figures (and other parts) were made with a Wacom Intuos tablet, using the pen tool (I cannot do without!). The edges of the selections are feathered to get a beautifull blending with the background.

The tone levels of the different layers are then optimized between each other to get a 'realistic' feeling. With Dodge and Burn, I did further optimize the light setting on the figures. Trough Transform and Scale I created the right perspective of the different elements in the composition. Figures in the background are made slightly unsharp as part of the right perspective.

Necessary shadows are created with a soft pencil. Important: I always add a mask to the layers to be able to make final corrections and to undo mistakes in an easy way. A final touch was done in Nik Color Efex - Darken/Lighter setting to create the an appropriate vignetting.


For this type of photomontages, make sure that the light conditions of the different parts fit together. To get the right perspective between the different elements, make sure that the white balance of all elements fit together so you get a realistic feeling.


Jeanette Oerlemans works at the TNT Post in the Netherlands. Photography has for many years been her major hobby and passion.

A beautiful picture and a nice step by step explanation of your thought process.