Alaska Revisited, Part 8

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Welcome back to my series on some second edits to many of my images from a 2008 trip to Alaska.  This has turned into a fun journey through some old pictures and it has given me the ability to breathe new life into them.  Most of what I have shared so far has been brand new images that you haven’t seen in my gallery here before, but some have been reworks of familiar images.  This is one of the latter and is a new take on an existing image that has been in this gallery since it was created at the end of 2018, ten years after the image was created.  It has been one of my favorites just because the landscape is so different in Alaska and I really loved how the light played across the mountain.

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

As with the previous seven images that I have shared, I shot this one during the day cruise at what I am pretty sure was the Aialik Glacier where we stopped and spent some time just watching the glacier calving and listening to the sounds that it makes.  During that time, I was very active at shooting different scenes all around the boat.  I was at a slight disadvantage without my tripod, but it wouldn’t have helped here as it wold have transmitted the vibrations of the boat up to the camera all too easily.  I was hand holding my camera with a 70-200mm lens on it which was all that I had brought with me figuring that what I would be shooting would be some distance away from the boat.  As it turned out, this was the second time that I really could have used my wider 24-70mm lens.  We were almost touching the glacier at this point and it was too close to get with the long lens.  That was why I spent my time looking for isolations in the mountains at a distance.

It might have been the middle of the day when the sun was at the highest, but in Alaska, that still keeps the sun quite low in comparison to NC.  I took advantage of that fact as I looked for shadows to create the textures and designs of the images I was shooting.  This particular one was over to the left side, or port for those who have sea legs.  I was really interested in how the light was playing along the ridges of the mountain with the snow.  I shot a few different compositions of this scene if memory serves but liked this image the best of them all.  I managed to capture the wind blowing the snow from the tops which added to the drama and took my mind off of the fact that there were no clouds in the sky to speak of.

When I got the image home and started to edit it, I really liked how it all came together and it ended up being added to my gallery.  Over time, I started to have second thoughts about it.  It was far too blue and just was a little overboard on the cool end of the spectrum.  It was a little boring so I eventually let it drop off from the gallery.  It actually made a repeat appearance in 2018 when this current gallery was getting built.  Nick, the mastermind behind this website was wanting images for the different rooms and that gave me an opportunity to get some new ones added to update it from when I was running my website through Blogger.  Arctic Winds had a second chance.  Looking through the collection of images, I saw that this one spoke to me once again and I pulled it out of mothballs and got it sized for the website.  I still wasn’t jumping up and down over it, but it was better than I had given it credit for when I took it down years ago.  It was still missing something though.

As with a few other of my images, they just lacked personality with the overall blue tones that were present.  The lack of clouds that day really impacted the images and made them rather boring both in the lack of texture in the sky and for the blue shadows everywhere on the snow.  As I have mentioned before, my black and white skills were not good at this stage in my photographic journey.  In fact, it was safe to say that they were lousy.  I didn’t really consider any conversions during the first round of edits so I was left with a lot of images that were basically blue and white monochrome.  Now that I had my RAW files back in hand, I was looking at them in a completely different way as I imported them into Lightroom.  This one was one that I really wanted to see go a different way than it did originally.  The plan was for this one to become a black and white image as it should have been from the very beginning.

Low Sun, High Winds“, Canon 40D, 70-200mm f/4L, Converted to B&W in Lightroom

If you can see nothing else here, you can see the powerful difference in presentations between the two methods.  All of a sudden, there is a lot of drama to the image and it has a completely different personality now.  Gone are the overall blue tones and they are absolutely not needed.  You can see that there is snow in this picture, you can tell that it is cold.  The color was a waste in this one.  The shadows have more depth to them, and that causes the snow to have more of a vivid quality to it.  This was not just about messing with the contrasts either.  In fact, the contrast adjustments were very subtle for the most part.  The biggest difference is how the sky was treated here.  I used the conversion as a chance to mimic the effect of a polarizer to a point to add a little drama by darkening the sky.  By doing that, I was able to add a highlight to the blowing snow from the peaks and really close in the top of the image.

This one turned out so well as a black and white I can’t believe that I hadn’t tried it sooner.  There is just something about a snowy mountain once you lose the color that can’t be denied.  I could get lost in the textures of this image and now the ridge seems to curve around to the knife edge of a peak to the upper left.  This really captured the rugged nature of Alaska and it is images like this that keep me dreaming about going back again.

Stay tuned, there is more to come!