As I was hiking the desert this last winter, I spotted an area where rain had collected and created this pattern. What I thought was very interesting was how the mud was totally wet and then following the cracks, totally dry. It made for a nice composition was my feeling and I shot it with an iPhone.
But you can see by this pre-processed image below, the photo would not work without some good processing since it was totally flat looking.
Years ago, I taught a workshop in Grand Staircase Escalante NM and when we were done I headed north on Hwy 24 over Boulder Mountain. It was fall and the Dixie NF has some great fall color all over the mountains here.
I was doing the ‘pedal to the metal’ after the workshop as I had places to get to, but when I saw this my first thought was WOW! As I drove past I thought I should stop ASAP even though I wasn’t really expecting to do any shooting. That thought passed in about 4 seconds and I spun the car around at my first opportunity.
I was teaching at the Black Hills Photo Shootout a few years ago and had half a day to kill so I went on a marathon shooting visit to Badlands NP. I have been there many times and like many places you visit over the years, returning can be like you have never been there before with fresh eyes and new perspectives.
The light was not that great when I got there but I shot anyway and it was fall, so there was a tiny bit of color. I like the idea of B&W with some color remaining because it really emphasizes the color when you do this and directs the eye where you want it to go.
Here’s the Photoshop screen showing the B&W and a mask to brush back the color area which keeps the bush in its original color. I also added contrast with a Curves adjustment and also used High Pass Filter.
This is one of the most amazing places I have ever shot! It’s part of Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Utah.
The soft light is very flat lighting: no whites and no blacks, just light grays and dark grays, so you have to create the black and white. But do you need them?
Honestly, I struggled to find my ‘look.’ The original file has a blue cast from the blue sky above, so I worked that a bit: added blue/took away blue, saturated, added contrast, then took it all away. Today, I decided to do B&W and high contrast. Tomorrow, who knows.
This was an amazing location: Canyon X in Arizona. This location is on provate property and requires a giude and a group of us hired one.
I think this slot canyon is deeper than Antelope Canyon, but I am not sure. It seemed much darker and that could be due to different geological formations, but again, I am not sure.
I have been experimenting when time allows with variations of B&W images. I like HDR although admit that the days of super grunge are over for me. All the color globs and noise….been there, processed that!
HDR has come a long way and now I use it more for creating natural looking images with lower contrast like some architectural assignments I get for time to time.
I have photographed some objects over time where i went crazy with grungy HDR but now I prefer to process more normal and then maybe with a hint of grunge…then converting to B&W.
Here is a piece of equipment at an old mine in Arizona that I processed in HDR and as color then converted to B&W and pushed around a few of the tones with a B&W Adjustment Layer. The HDR does a good job of adding edge to textures and then those are converted to tones in B&W. This next image
This past spring I was enjoying quite a bit of time wandering and photographing the Arizona deserts and mountains. While down in the desert I was stunned when I came across this old miner in the desert with his donkey.
We started talking and I asked what he was doing down here in the middle of nowhere. He told me he was the Lost Dutchman Miner of the infamous Lost Dutchman mine. He continued by telling me that he was truly lost in his attempt to relocate his mine.
I replied that he was a long way from the Superstition Mountains, where history suggests the mine is located. He did not comment obviously fearing if he said anything I might start searching for the mine myself. This got me thinking that the mine might not be in the Superstitions after all.
He asked if I had anything to eat as all he had to eat for sometime was beans and hardtack. I happened to be carrying in my camera bag a crab salad sandwich from Subway and one of my favorite beers: McTarnahan’s from Portland Brewing, and it was still ice cold.
I told him I would give him the sandwich and beer if he posed for a picture and so he did not move as I grabbed this shot. I did use flash fill because the sun was high noon and created the shadows in the eyes.
He scarfed down the sandwich and guzzled the beer (I don’t think he liked it. Never had a beer like that) then without saying a word, headed off into the sunset so to speak, in search of the Mother Lode. I grabbed my gear and went looking for the mine.
I was just hiking around Sajuaro NP really hoping to find blooming cactus, but it is to early still. They will be blooming in the next few weeks, but I am an impatient traveler choosing to move to new locals and scenery. I did however grab a lot of other images including this detail of a barrel cactus which I then converted to B&W using Topaz B&W Effects. It seemed more interesting than color image.
I was teaching a workshop last weekend: The Business of Outdoor Photography at the Cascade Center of Photography and then had a chance to run up to Sparks Lake in Oregon and do some shooting. There is a beautiful mountain there hidden by the clouds and as you can see, and the light is horrible.
So I bracketed for HDR which once processed makes the white clouds have lots of detail. Since the color was poor as well, then a B&W made for a more interesting image.
In Photoshop I punched up the blacks a little more and then lightened the center of the image a little bit more to draw the eye.