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!