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Cloud Songs, Hudson RiverCanon 1Ds Mk III, 65 sec @ f/14, ISO 100, 21mm, 10 stop ND filter

Though I was satisfied with the color version of this image, the black and white version feels much better to me for some reason. When deciding if an image works better in black and white, many suggest you ask if color adds anything to the image. Sometimes I prefer to ask if it takes something away. Perhaps two sides of the same coin, but in this case I felt it definitely did remove some of the mood the river had that morning . The shapes and forms are so strong here, that color distracts and complicates this composition, as you can see below.

Simplicity is one of the key elements I try to achieve in any image, and personally it can often be difficult given my attraction to detail and preference for wide angle lenses. Here I just wanted to soften the overall contrast in the scene by using a long exposure to create blurred cloud patterns as they moved across the sky – much like a flowing melody. I think this helps to balance the image from foreground to sky and convey some passage of time, as well as add a sense of calm and serenity. (On a technical note, I shot this in bulb mode and forgot to bring my remote shutter release, so having a very sturdy tripod and ball head payed off since I had to hold the shutter button down for 65 seconds and try not to shake the camera – not easy while you stand on slippery rocks in 20 degree temps!)

From a post-processing standpoint, I did the initial conversion in Lightroom, then used NIK Silver Efex Pro to make some minor tweaks and add some toning.

Original RAW capture

Final color version

In the end, I just went with how it felt at the time, and how best to describe that through my interpretation. I may think otherwise in the future, but that is what makes this journey so exciting for me. What do you think?

RR Jr

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This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Very nice images Robert-I have to give you credit for being able to hold the shutter for 65 seconds, especially when your hand is still touching the camera. The final color version is good and your B/W conversion works well also.

    1. Thanks as always for your feedback – it’s always very much appreciated. Yes it was tough, but I just went into meditation mode and it worked out ok. Any longer and I would not have succeeded in getting the shot. All in a days work…

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