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

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 Just for historical reference.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.



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

Drops On The Water

I was planning on doing sets this week but my body reminded me I am old and staying up late to attend a concert means I’m rather useless the next day so no editing. Good thing I worked a bit ahead!

I took this when I did the storm photo. Where the Sony A7R had the filter on the lens, I just used my phone to take the picture. I have mentioned before I like the Nexus 6P as a decent photo tool when I need it and I think the image came out very nice here. Plus I had a DNG to work with so I had some latitude to play with.

I did the conversion to monochrome in Lightroom. I did add some gradients to bring out the water a bit more through dehaze and clarity. Once I was happy brought it into Photoshop very slight curves adjustment and that was about it. I did spend some quality time removing the water drops that were on the phone that showed up in the photo. Double bonus points if you find them. If I missed any it was intentional!


Drops On The Water

Whither the Storm

While I don’t always do it Sunday is the weirder stuff I will have shot and edited. I’m not sure how this image will go over because its rather bleak but I did like it. I shot this off a pier on the Caloosahatchee River with a 10 stop neutral density filter on the camera. It was the first time I was using square glass filters versus a circular one.

The storm had come in unexpectedly (not really in Florida) so I was just waiting it out in the enclosed little area on the pier. I was bored so I was taking pictures in between wiping water off the filter that blew in. What I discovered when I returned from that shoot and dumped the images was I didn’t have the camera locked in tight enough on the tripod so all my images had blur from camera shake from the shutter. Trust me, if you never used a A7R the sound like tanks even without a mirror and it sends some serious vibrations through the camera. In addition I found that if I didn’t mount the filter right I was getting weird light streaks in the images as well. So it was good I did a test.

This image was one of the few that turned out form that set. Not sure if I had my hand on the tripod or whatever. When I edited it I knew it was going to be bleak looking. While I did play with the image the visibility wasn’t great because the storm rolled in and the rain was pissing down and the wind was whipping. So I wanted to convey that and I think the monochrome fits the mood. The conversion was done in Lightroom and then I just burned bits to get some separation.




I am always a sucker for escalators coming up from Metro systems and I just happened to be in a place where I could take a shot. I took the Metro into Washington, DC to meet someone for brunch and I had my Nikon D810. So when I was riding up the Dupont Station escalator I reached into my bag and took the shot. The Sigma 24-105 has been temporarily welded to that camera so I knew I could easily get a shot that would look cool in monochrome.

Not much going on here. I did the monochrome conversion in Lightroom instead of using some third party tool. I just wanted to keep it simple and let the image speak for itself. Once I had the image where I wanted it I brought it into Photoshop and did the curves adjustment and then dodged and burned what I wanted in it. Simple and elegant for the image.