Playing with Sepia Toning of Highlights in Monochrome Images

Moody #2 - San Francisco - 2014

I recently got reacquainted with the beautiful monochrome work of Michael Kenna. His images have a number of striking qualities – mostly long exposure, his use of grain, and the square (and small 8×8 inch) print size. But for me it’s the light in his images that grab me.

Doing a bit of reading of interviews of Kenna, he has spoken about his he uses a light sepia toning in the highlights of his images – and how, by doing so, the mind’s eye sees the highlights as a bit forward in space while the shadows are pushed back – adding a sense of dimensionality to an image.

This is an image of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge shot from San Francisco’s Embarcadero with my Fujifilm X-E2 on a particularly moody February morning. I used it as an example for applying this kind of technique – sepia toning of the highlights. To do so, it’s an easy process in Photoshop CC. Select the RGB channel to create a selection, then add a gradient map adjustment layer – the selection will automatically be loaded into the adjustment layer’s layer mask. Then select the photographic toning Sepia 1 tone – and you’re done with the highlights.

I took it a bit further, duplicating that process but inverting the layer mask to add a Selenium 2 tone to the shadows – pushing them further back in the mind’s eye.

Below is the original monochrome version of this image – you can see the difference. Click on either to see a larger version.

Moody - San Francisco - 2014

Over 1,000,000 Views on Flickr

Working - Village Pub - 2014

For the last several years, I’ve been working in the kitchen – in the kitchen of taking photos and, more importantly, making images. Photography has become a real source of joy for me over the last few years – a craft that keeps me learning.

Today was a milestone of sorts. I happened to notice that my images on Flickr have now been viewed over 1,000,000 times. I really appreciate how Flickr has served as my sort of master archive – and enjoy the feedback I get from everyone who follows my photostream there.

I put together an album of the top 10 images as measured by Flickr based on “interestingness” – you might enjoy seeing them here.

Creating Photo Books to Journal My Recent Photo Adventures

Over the last year or two, I’ve developed the habit of putting together a photo book following each photo adventure I take. Creating a photo book is a great to bundle together those photo experiences into a convenient format for sharing with friends or just to keep on your coffee table to help you keep your own memories.

I just finished putting together the one for the Mystic Forest Workshop with Michael Frye.

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 5.15.40 PM

A few weeks ago I did one for the Jay Maisel Workshop.

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 5.20.15 PM

I’ve been using iPhoto ’11 for these books and enjoy the editing process of putting them together. For my photo books, I’ve been using iPhoto ’11′s Picture Book theme – in softcover and the medium size option (8×6 inches). I find this format is just right for these adventure-specific books. I use Lightroom as my primary photo management application. To create a new photo book, I first find the images (“selects”) I want to use in Lightroom and export them as full size JPEGs to a folder. I then fire up iPhoto ’11 and create a new library (important!) – putting it and the selects in a new, separate folder in my Photo Books folder. It’s important to just do one photo book per iPhoto library – keeps things simpler and better organized. I think import the selects into iPhoto and start creating the new photo book.

I also do an annual portfolio photo book of my “best” images from the year – something I start in November and like to have finishing in time to have portfolio books to use as gifts with family. For my annual portfolio books, I use the same Picture Book theme also in softcover but the larger version. It’s more expensive but provides a more substantial book of great images.

On Friday, Apple announced that it would be moving to a new Photos application beginning in Mac OS X Yosemite – and no longer enhancing either iPhoto or Aperture. I’ve really come to appreciate the quality of the iPhoto books – and I hope that Apple continues to provide great photo book printing options in the new Photos app going forward!

Black and White Toning – An Example from Havana

Ready - Havana - 2013

I’m a fan of black and white – especially black and white with subtle toning. My favorite uses the platinum toning in PhotoShop CC.

Here’s an example – an image from January 2013 in Havana. I loved the light on the bicycle – and the toning adds a bit of interesting depth. This image was shot with my Nikon D600.

Silent at Damnation Trail

Silent - Damnation Creek - 2014

When you walk among the redwoods on a foggy morning, life slows down.

You start to see things you might otherwise just walk by. It’s a beautiful switch – your mind goes from busy, busy left brain into the much more creative right brain. Your eyes see new things. You hear the sounds of the forest. You hear your own breathing.

And life slows down…

One for JPC – Sunrise at the Klamath River Overlook

One for JPC - Klamath River Overlook - 2014

As I was reviewing my images from last week’s workshop up in the far northern coast of California, this image caught my eye. Led by Michael Frye, we were up early and headed from our B&B to the Klamath River Overlook which put us above the valley fog that particular morning. No marine fog – it was all valley fog flowing out to the ocean above the Klamath.

This image brought to mind many of the beautiful – and more abstract – images that John Paul Caponigro creates. Thus the title “One for JPC”.

Shot with my Fujifilm X-T1 and post-processed in Lightroom 5.

Morning Mist along the Klamath River at Requa

The Klamath - Requa - 2014

For four days last week, I participated in one of Michael Frye’s Mystic Forest photography workshops held way up along the coast in northern California. We stayed at a delightful B&B – The Historic Requa Inn – which is situated just across from this wonderful bend in the Klamath River about a half mile from where the river meets the Pacific Ocean.

One morning we headed up to the Overlook to shoot images above the fog. We spent about an hour up there watching the sunlight shift and play with the valley fog flowing out onto the ocean. When we came back by the Requa Inn, we discovered this beautiful light shining through the fog above with a light mist on the river itself. This image was captured with my Fujifilm X-T1.

We had a wonderful time at this workshop – thanks to Michael and his wife Claudia Welsh. For some more background, see this post I wrote for InMenlo.com which includes another view from along the Klamath on that same morning last week.

Unmasked in New York City

Unmasked - New York - 2014

When you shoot almost 2,000 images during a five day workshop, it’s amazing how many you initially overlook as you review them. This is one example – a very friendly construction worker with a great smile. For some reason, this image hadn’t caught my eye until just yesterday when I was looking back through my New York street photography images. It’s another example of capturing gesture.

Shot with my Fujifilm X-T1 and post-processed in Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC.