Frothing Away

This was shot at Great Falls earlier this year. Was a warm day so I took a hike out there. The title is a bit sketchy but it popped into my head. Sometimes these things are easy to name and sometimes they are not.

Sometimes an image just needs a monochrome conversion to bring out the details. There wasn’t a lot of color to begin with so I wanted it to be about the texture of the rocks and water. The trick with a good monochrome image is the tonal shifts and details. I see a lot of stuff, in particular street photography that is converted to monochrome just because. If the image doesn’t work that way there is no point in doing it. Some people just stick with it just because they feel the need to fit a certain genre. I do it because I think it enhances the image not just because.

When it came time to edit this I did the conversion in Lightroom. I just played with the sliders until I got it to where I wanted it. When you do a conversion manually it helps to remember what color channels the image had originally.

Once I was happy then into Photoshop for the curves adjustment for tonality and contrast. Then a lot of local work on the rocks, trees and water. Once that was done I wasn’t 100% happy. So I loaded it into Intensify CK and picked some preset. I then did a very light mask to bring out the details a bit more and called it done.


Great Falls

Capitol Dome

I will admit that I was tempted to title this one something a little different. Something that Obi-Wan once said, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” I just went with the building name instead.

Why I was at Capitol Hill will remain unpublished for a bit but I had a few things I needed to test. Sometime in the distant past I purchased a Sigma 50mm macro for my Sony. I recently aquired a Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 for video work and needed to test it. I also purchased a Sony A7ii for said video work and never shot with it. So I had a destination in mind. The US Capitol just happens to be there. Nice enough building for photographs. The one issue with it now is its barricaded off from the backside so you can’t get close. Also, its under construction so if you are going to shoot the building you might want to think twice.

I knew when I took this image it was going to be a 16×9 crop and in monochrome. The sky went grey on me while I was at my primary objective. I knew with the clouds and some dehaze and clarity I could recover them. It would contrast with the dome nicely. So while it was shot in color it was never going to end up that way.

When I went to edit I applied my camera settings and then proceeded to do my usual corrections. Brought it into Photoshop and added a curves adjustment to put contrast back into the image. Then into Tonality CK to do the monochrome conversion. I just manually do these. Using the sliders to get my desired result. Once I’m happy back into Photoshop for any cleanup that may have been needed if something clipped to black and then a quick sharpening and done.


Capitol Dome


Forlorn On The Floodplains

I took this photo recently along the C&O Canal. I stopped at a lock gate that I used to drive past everyday when I drove to work. The day was grey and nasty but I had my hiking boots on and my Sony RX10 with me so I figured why not take a quick hike and see what there is to see.

I wandered down off the path and hit the back trails where the the more adventurous hikers and trail bikers go. I eventually ended up at the Potomac River. There was some rain recently so the river was higher than normal. I jumped around on little islands until I found this vantage point. I am not sure if I shot this handheld or on my tripod but I was happy with the image.

There was very little color in this image. It was going to be in monochrome no matter what. The cool things about these is when you do a conversion you get way more detail because you are no longer looking looking at color. It’s all about tones and textures at the point.

Ran my usual camera profile fixes and then put a curves adjustment in. I did some dodging and burning to bring out the reflections. Then it was into Tonality CK to do the conversion. I just played with sliders until I was happy with the effect. Then back into Photoshop for another quick dodge and burn and done.


Forlorn on the Floodplains

Tower Above Casco Viejo

This is one of the never before published images from Panama City, Panama when I was there last year.

The tower which is the most prominent feature in the image is the Iglesia San Francisco De Asis. If you are Spanished challenged it’s the Church of Saint Francis of Asis. Who it should be pointed out was never a priest or monk. Just for historical reference.

I liked how the tower stands above everything else in the image. Still there is a lot visually going on. It’s a layered image with the water, the boat, causeway (road), then the smaller buildings then the tower above it all.

When I was editing this image there just wasn’t a lot of color. The buildings are yellow and the roof tiles are red. The sky was grey and with very little details in it. So I did a monochrome conversion using Tonality CK. I just kept playing with sliders until everything felt right. I tried to keep things tonally as separated as I could. The goal being to keep each area distinct as possible. Now looking at it the water is a bit too much but still the overall image is decent.


Tower Above Casco Viejo

The Distant Lighthouse

It seems that with me moving my photo library to it’s new drive I found more images to edit. In fact, I shockingly did a series for later this week. Plus it’s now cold and I miss Thailand where all these images are from.

I shot this from the Bali Hai pier using my Canon S100. I have shot the lighthouse before but much closer not from this angle. I was just standing there and I thought it looked cool with the empty boat slips leading towards the lighthouse in the distance.

When I went to edit this the image was mostly blue. The light was shot because of the storm clouds and it just didn’t look good in color. I manually did the conversion to monochrome and then adjusted sliders. I discovered that it looked better in high key so I used a tone curve adjustment. I added some contrast but the rest was done through dodging and burning. I really had to do a lot of work on the lighthouse to get it to stand out. The only masking I did was in the sky to get the grain out from the small sensor on the S100.


Bali Hai Lighthouse

Resistance Is Futile

This is one of the new images I shot over the last few weeks. I went hiking in Great Falls on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.

I had my hiking boots on but I had no idea how much rock climbing I was going to end up doing. There are many side trails off the main tow path trail of the C&O Canal. So when I ventured off I was crawling over tall granite rocks while balancing my tripod and my Nikon D810 which was attached to it. Not the easiest thing in the world to do.

I got down close to the river’s edge right near the rapids. As I hiked along I got tons of shots that I would have never gotten without going off the safe trail.

I went monochrome with this image because it was so bright. Even with my polarizing filter I was still dealing with the light reflection off the rocks. I could have used a neutral density but just wanted to keep it simple with the polarizer.

All the editing was done in Lightroom with me only adding tone curves adjustments in Photoshop along with dodging and burning.


Rapids and Rocks

Industrial Noir

Something a bit different than my normal landscape stuff I have been shooting. It’s a wee bit darker and not just because it’s in monochrome.

The first two images are the second level of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. I liked how the light played off the steel beams and the rivets. Both images show what’s on the other side. It gives the perception of claustrophobia with all these steel around you but you can see an open space in the distance.

The final image is of the street on the Chicago River level. There is a whole warren of streets that are “under” Chicago. I didn’t really grasp this until I was in an Uber and the guy was weaving through to get me back to the hotel and I realized that one of the streets we were on was the one in the third photograph.

Editing wise these are fairly basic. I did the black and white conversion in Lightroom. To keep the look consistent I just used the same settings for all three images. Once I had that I just put in a tone curve adjustment to make the images darker than they really were. Then it was a lot of dodging and burning to get the local adjustments done. I didn’t want everything going straight to black. So I would dodge to bring out details that were lost on the tone curve.

Don’t worry. Happy landscape stuff returns tomorrow.


Michigan Ave Bridge

Steel Beams of Michigan Ave. Bridge

Roads under Chicago

Martian Shores

This isn’t really Mars since there is no water on Mars and I don’t know of anyone yet who has managed to go there. Instead this is from Panama City, Panama shot off the fort side of Casco Viejo.

When I went to edit this it felt better in monochrome. So I went to move it into Tonality CK and the conversion left the red rocks looking just dark so to remedy that I went into the hut/saturation slider. I slid it and got the color still in monochrome to look better but switched it over to saturation and slid it right.

I am not a fan of selective color as a rule. However, I think it works as it just adds drama to the image that I think makes it work. Once I was content with what I had bit of a dodge and burn and called it a day.



The Bridge To Nowhere

This is another from my trip to West Virginia. It’s called Capon Bridge and I honestly forget the name of the little town it’s near. It’s off Route 259 if you are inclined to visit. You really can’t miss the bridge. My advice would be turn off on the real working bridge and park in the little lot near there. You may be joined by a few locals out fishing.

When I shot this the weather had really started to go downhill rapidly. There was thunder in the distance and the storm clouds were moving in rapidly. I barely got the shots off and back in the car before the heavens opened up and I spent the next 90 minutes driving in pissing down rain.

The image is in monochrome and I did that based on the light and a real lack of color. The sky was just a flat grey and the bridge is a pea green and the trees were green so it just didn’t have a lot of pop to it. So I ran it through Tonality CK to do the conversion and then played around to where I was happy. Then I started the local dodge and burn process to tame down some areas and enhance others. The image is all about textures which it has a lot of and the reflections in the river.


Capon Bridge

Safe In The Harbor

I started last week off with a similar image from Panama City, Panama so I might as well start this week off again with a return to Panama. The other image primarily focused on the buildings on the right. This time I pointed the camera towards the harbor.

I knew this image was going to be monochrome. It just worked better as there was very little color to begin with. I think the monochrome conversion also helped to bring out the sky a bit more than leaving it in color would have.

I did the conversion using Nik’s Silver Efex which I haven’t used in a long time. Just to change it up. Once I had the conversion done it was time to make local adjustments with dodge and burn. Then ran the image through Noiseless Pro to remove some of the noise from the sky and masked that in. When I was happy I called it done.


PS – Need to thank Tool (the band) for being the music for this week’s edits. Going to see Maynard James Keenan in November when he’s doing his book tour.

Safe in The Harbor