Alaska Revisited, Part 6

· Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome back as we continue with my updated edits of some of my Alaska images from 2008.  I have introduced five brand new images to the gallery here already in the series and it is time to introduce my first one that will actually replace a current image here.  It is actually surprising to me how many images that I just didn’t bother to move over to this gallery for one reason or another as once upon a time I really loved all of the images.  This is one that I felt deserved a place here when I was setting up the gallery originally a couple of years ago, but looking back on it, it is a little bland.  There is no pop to it, and quite frankly, I don’t think that it deserved to be included in the gallery.

Arctic Paradise“, Canon 40D, 70-200mm f/4, No filters

The one redeeming quality of this image is the contrast of the pine trees in the lower right that blend in so nicely with the water.  I liked the rugged nature of the mountain, but the sky was flat and lifeless.  You could see a portion of the glacier to the left, but it really didn’t stand out as much as I would have liked.  It is a forgettable picture and I’m sure it was included mainly as a space filler in this gallery.  However, going through the RAW images it again struck a chord with me because of the strong triangle elements and diagonals that were included.  Without recognizing it as one that was currently in the gallery, I set about the task of editing it once again.

One of the aspects of this image that I really didn’t care much for was the overall blue tones.  yeah, it made for a very cold looking image, but the snow gave enough clues for that aspect.  The featureless sky just seemed to dictate too much with this image since the snow was reflecting that light.  I tried to warm the image which helped it, but the sky stuck out too much after that little adjustment.  My best option was to convert this to a monochrome image so that I could really take control of the different tones and contrasts within the scene.  My goal for this image was to really set a mood for it and to bring out details to make it more interesting to look at.  The minute I made the conversion, I knew I was onto something with black and white.

Mountain Gradeur“, Canon 40D, 70-200mm f/4L, No filters, Converted to B&W in Lightroom

Once the basic conversion was done, I started to work on two different areas that I felt would really make this image pop. The first was that sky.  I needed to darken it quite a bit.  Since I wasn’t shooting with a polarizer, the blues of the sky weren’t all that deep.  I had skipped the filter that morning because it would reduce the light coming into the camera and I was more interested in having a fast shutter speed.  Also, had I used the filter, I wouldn’t have been able to use the lens hood.  That was the bigger problem because of the spray that I was dealing with as the boat slid across the water.  I had no polarizer and I was going to have to deal with that.  Fortunately, some aspects of this filter can be mimicked in post processing.  That is especially true in monochrome images like this one.  It was very easy to deepen the sky which really made the snow pop.  I could also see the snow blowing in the wind much easier this way.

My second hurdle was the trees at the base of the mountain.  These trees had provided some great contrast in the original image and probably were the reason that I liked the image in the first place.  I wanted to give them some love and I now knew how to do that through Lightroom.  I was able to bring out the details of the trees with relative ease.  In fact, I was really surprised at how much exposure latitude that 40D actually progressed.  I chose well in 2007 when I decided to go with that camera.  I hated that it died a premature death at Hanging Rock in 2010, due to a fall.

With the sky and trees looking good, I was able to soften the water just a little bit and add to the micro contrasts of the main subject.  In the end, the composition might not be the strongest, but there is enough detail here to keep your eyes busy looking at the image.  The monochrome was the right way to go here.  If you are wondering why I didn’t opt for that in the first place during the original edit, it is because I really didn’t know what I was doing with B&W conversions.  There is so much more to it than just converting an image to B&W.  These are not just grayscale conversions, or desaturated images.  These are purpose driven edits with the strengths of monochrome images highlighted as much as I can.

There will be some more B&W images to come in this revisit of my most epic photographic trip to date.  Do stay tuned…