Before & After - How I Process an Image

What do you think about the difference between the original and edited shots of Mount Abrams near Ouray, Colorado? Does the difference surprise you?


I'm often asked about what goes into making my images, especially since I only exhibit and sell black and white. In a nutshell, I do basic editing for exposure, convert to black and white, darken the image, add contrast by increasing the exposure of just highlights, and then dodge and burn selected areas. The dodging and burning is where I spend the most time, trying to get highlights in a pattern that leads the eye through the image.

Recently I've explored luminosity masking, which is a technique to dodge and burn not just select areas of an image, but select tones as well. This is hard to do and time consuming, but adds a ton of flexibility and granularity with respect to creating the tonality I'm after.

More important, however, is creativity and vision. My images work best when I know what I'm after, and can effectively translate the mood, experience, and emotions through the editing.

I'll share more thoughts on the creative process another time. Until then, be well!