WORKING IN MONOCHROME
Last summer I drove into the mountains to photograph the sunrise at Silverwood Lake. If you’re interested in seeing a few of those shots taken very early in my photographic journey, you can click here.
After the sun had completed its ascent, my wife and I decided to drive over to Wrightwood, CA. Wrightwood is a small mountain community where you can find a tremendous breakfast at the Evergreen Cafe – a real “Diners, Drive-Inns, and Dives” kind of place! Whenever a Wrightwood visit is on our calendar, we always plan to stop here for breakfast. Because of our early photo shoot however, we had actually arrived before they had opened. Not to worry, the coffee was brewing and we were welcomed inside to enjoy some while they completed their pre-opening tasks. In fact when the owner noticed we were waiting in our car, she came out personally to bring us inside.
On the way home, my wife noticed a brush area that had experienced a devastating fire, most likely last fall. It presented an interesting landscape, which compelled me to stop for a few shots. But when I downloaded the shots, they just didn’t seem that appealing to me. Because of that, they were set aside with the thousands of shots that never make it to this blog.
Going through some of my old photographs, I came across them once again and decided to experiment with some monochrome techniques. In my re-examination, I began to imagine how they might look if I could extract the color and heighten the detail.
This first shot is the original photograph. You can easily see why I was not impressed with this presentation. While it shows the devastation of the fire, it really has little interest other than that.
Since it had very little color aspects to begin with, I decided to experiment a bit with a monochrome presentation. First, I extracted the small amount of color that was present. Then I lightened the shadows and at the same time I darkened the highlights. Because of this initial process, when I adjusted the mid-tone contrast it just seemed to make the detail pop! Everything that was hidden in the original shot, seemed to spring to life in this modified version. Next, I added a hint of noise which seemed to even further enhance the effect. Finally, I slightly sharpened the entire image to bring out even more detail. And, this is the final product.
This is interesting: When I added the noise, it created a really nice effect in the original shot and in the smaller shot I posted here. But if you enlarge this shot in WordPress, it seems overdone. When I go back and look at the original in Photoshop, it doesn’t look that way at all. I’m not sure how to explain that. Maybe the noise was too much. That’s where you come in.
I’m really hoping many of you will comment as to your sense of this presentation. I haven’t worked with black and white at all, but I know many of you have and are very good at it. Chris Tisdale does a lot of work in monochrome. You should check out his blog. I know you stop by often, Chris – I hope you’ll offer a comment.
Thanks for your evaluation. And as always, I hope you’ll feel free to leave a comment – even if it has nothing to do with the technical aspects of the post processing. Maybe you just like or don’t like the shot – either way, let me know.
Thanks for stopping by today!