Image 1: Half Dome Light and Yosemite High Country, Yosemite National Park. Final image after reprocessing to add contrast and punch.
Hi everyone and welcome to today’s post. Today I am going to revisit the black and white version of Half Dome Light and the Yosemite High Country. Before I get into this I would like to thank all of you who visited the blog and commented and voted on your preference for color versus black and white. I started this blog ostensibly to get some visibility to my website and make connections to other photographers and folks who love landscape photography. To that end, a year down the road, more people are visiting my website and I have made some great connections. But something more powerful is happening. Recently I have been getting more critical commentary and dialogue about my photos as well as discussions on techniques and places to visit. A sense of community is beginning to develop which transcends everything that I thought would happen. When you put your work out in the public forum you open a door that invites the viewer into your world. It can be scary. The ”what if”s begin to surface. What if someone does not like my work? What if I receive negative comments? What if I am wrong about a technique? What if, what if, what if. We should not buy into this fear based position. Though I have been shooting for almost 35 years I think of myself as both a teacher and a student. It seems every day I learn something new. As a student I find the “what if’s” powerful and exciting. What if’s are teaching moments that help you along the journey of photography.
Today’s post comes under the heading of “what if”. I process a lot of images and there are instances when I am unsure about the photographs direction. I call this “getting stuck in the curves”. I never really think an image is finished. In fact I revisit them often in an effort to tweak out more detail, better sharpening, better color, etc. But sometimes I just won’t go far enough. When I converted the color version of today’s “revisit image” I stayed with the same curve sets and only applied a PS Black and White Layer. I did a few other minor manipulations but after staring at the image for several hours my eyes became accustomed to the result. When I posted the image I thought it looked pretty good. But as it turns out I did not go as a far as I could.
In a comment about the post, photographer Michael Trupiano, recommended some constructive suggestions on how he thought the image could be better. So here are Michael’s “What if’s”: What if the mid-tone contrast was increased. He thought the image looked a little muddy. What if the sunlight striking Half Dome and the snow on the far peaks was brighter. And what if the sky could pop a little more. Now the main problem here is that what looks good on my monitor may look different on others. I take care to calibrate my monitor and ensure that I am preparing good jpg files for display. Additionally I still believe the print is the final word. If it looks good in print then that is the final word. But still, after thinking about Michael’s comments and looking closely at the file, I think he had some good points. In order to achieve a better result I had to add several new adjustment layers and tweak a few others. So lets take a look again at the original image, (Image 2, below) I posted at: http://roberthclarkphotographyblog.com/2011/01/02/half-dome-light-and-yosemite-high-country-yosemite-national-park/
Image 2: Half Dome Light and Yosemite High Country. Original Black and White Conversion in Photoshop.
Now let’s take a look at the areas that I worked on in the image, (Image 3, below). Area 1: Increase contrast and drama in the sky with two new curve adjustments to increase darkness in the 3/4 tones and punch the 1/4 tones and highlights. Area 2: Darken this area to provide better separation. This was done through a Dodge and Burn Layer. Area 3: This was the real critical zone Michael commented about. This needed a real contrast boast that required a new curve layer to darken the 3/4 tones and lighten the 1/4 tones and highlights. In addition some additional dodging and burning was performed. And finally Area 4: Here just a little dodging and burning to lighten Half Dome. In addition to these adjustmentss a small amount of manipulation to the 3/4 tones on the “Darks” Luminosity Mask helped the contrast in the area below and behind Half Dome.
Image 3: Areas reworked to increase image contrast and punch.
So here is the final image with adjustments, (Image 4, below). I think you will agree that the overall increase in contrast in the mid tones and 3/4 tones and punching the highlights has made a dramatic improvement to the image.
Image 4: Half Dome Light and Yosemite High Country, Yosemite National Park, Final Image.
I want to thank Michael for his insightful critique. I really appreciate him taking time to visit the blog, being part of the community, and providing his comments. The result is truly a better image.
Thanks for stopping by today.