Changing Moods

Monochrome on the Brain

I’ve had monochrome on my mind lately. Not really sure why, I suppose it’s like anything else that floats through your muse’s consciousness for consideration.

I’ll be honest and say that I did shoot this auto bracketed, imagining it might end up as a color HDR image. I shot a whole series this day to great success that way. But I was struggling with it, since I didn’t like the way the colors looked, the textures responded… it was kind of strange, actually. And annoying, since I couldn’t seem to get fresh eyes on the situation. I loved the image, just not where it was going.

Then, since I just posted yesterday about playing with monochrome, I decided to find my fresh eyes with a black and white conversion. I was completely surprised by the result! In particular, I loved what the light did.


The (Kind of Embarrassing) Before

OK, so I wasn’t going to show this part, because I think this version of the photo is so nasty it’s kind of embarrassing. In fact, in my processing I was just about to go back to my Raw images and try another approach: blending the best parts of 2 or 3 of them and see if I liked that better. Cause this version wasn’t cutting it AT ALL:

See what I mean? UGH!!
I was going to toss it. But then I thought maybe it would be useful to know that we all have our throwaway attempts. I’d actually given up on this approach and was about to go back to my original RAW images to find the best and blend the best bits together when I thought of trying the monochrome approach.

The 2 Biggest Surprises

The 2 things that surprised me the most were:
1. How I didn’t miss the last pop of sunset I’d been so enamored with (lesson #354: Release Expectations!) and
2. How completely transformed the image was! It went from literal to a wonderful, mystical from another era in one fell swoop! I loved how the light flowed and just touches the rocks, how it kind of glows in the middle and how I feel like I’m looking out into a whole new world for the very first time. I got NONE of that from my previous approach.

The How

As for how I did it… I used the NIK Collection’s Silver Efex Pro 2 and chose the “Pinhole” effect. I did a bunch of fine tuning there, adjusting where the light fell, the amount of darkness around the edge, opening it up just a bit.

Once back in Photoshop, I went through the image again, a section at a time to fine tune the light more, using NIK’s Viveza 2. I make very small corrections, because I wanted it to feel delicate… like a single breath could disturb everything.

Finally, enhanced the glow in the middle with just a touch of OnOne Software’s Angel Glow effect, placed just where I saw some glow happening naturally.

That’s it. It’s so NOT the vision I had when I took the photo… but I sure do love the new one!

6 thoughts on “Changing Moods

  1. Hey KH!! Thank you for taking the time to reply, it is not often that people take the time to reply which is why I often lurk and keep to my introverted self 🙂

    With my own images I don’t often get to conversate about that them, but when I do I love hearing what others see and feel when viewing them. Sometimes it aligns with what I see and feel and other times it does not – in those times I really LOVE hearing what they feel.

    So glad that you enjoyed my interpretation and what I saw in it. The image is really quite powerful and lovely. Can’s wait to see your next release!

    I will leave you with a Chrisism (fancy way to say quote…something I wrote…my humor really works better in person ;-))

    A Chris quote: Artist often live in a wonderfully vibrant world that illuminates as we see…yet everything always seems to be black and white…once this settles in we arrive closer to completeness.

    Chris out.

    1. Great quote, Chris! And sorry for the late reply (DOH!)… I missed a few comments along the way. No excuses! I appreciate that you took the time to write… that’s always awesome and appreciated. 😀

  2. Karen –

    I think the color image could have had that magical presence that we see often from your photos. I just think you were not “feeling it” that day…having said that BOY AM U GLAD YOU WERE NOT!!! I LOVE the MonoChrome you produced here. I feel three things here if you don’t mind me sharing –

    1. Foreground (rocks )
    2. Mid (Land protruding from left mid frame)
    3. Destination (the mountains melting to the lake in the distance)

    Couple this with the “pinhole” vignette that used and I feel as if I am navigating a point on to reach the goal. I think that the story that this tells to me (I realize that everyone is different) is one of challenge, one of intent and one of drive.

    The hidden nothing that I see is again with the Mid-Frame rocks and what is it that lurks out there to the left beyond that? Is it enough to make me stop and ponder or better yet to explore that unknown and change direction from the original path to the mountains?

    Now that I have over shared 🙂

    Well done – what an excellent choice and conversion!


    1. Hey Chris,

      Thanks for “over sharing”. Hehheh! I LOVE what you felt about this image… it so works! Challenge… intent… drive. I hadn’t thought of it in just that way, but I totally see it through your eyes. VERY cool. I feel like you landed on several impressions all in one fell swoop! Nice. I also love the “hidden nothing” you describe. Quite ‘something’!

      I do love the conversation this piece has generated… I’ve had some outside of this blog about it too.

      As for being able to produce my own magical presence from the color image… man, it was like slugging through mud. So unusual! I really did try (or was just ‘trying’. heh)… but it really lost a lot in the translation as you could see, which told me to pack it in with the color version. I guess it all came out in black and white.

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