Marsh Grasses and Trees, Yesler Swamp

It was getting dark when I shot this, and I was thinking dark, mysterious, and in color. When I tried that in Lightroom, however, it didn’t work. The tones just aren’t right. I’ve had this problem before – in dim light, things that look mysterious and intriguing to my eye don’t tend to photograph that way. There seems to be something about the dim-light look that requires actual dim lighting to experience. A photo taken then is later viewed in the same light as any other photo, so it loses whatever magic spell dim lighting casts on the brain. I’m guessing the only way to re-create a dim light experience through a photo is to somehow trick the brain with a particularly fortunate set of tones.

Anyway, this photo doesn’t have that, or at least I haven’t figured out the secret formula. So, just for grins, I hit the Black & White button, and what d’ya know, I really like it. It’s nothing like what I had in mind at the time. I particularly like the tension between seeing the photo as a flat texture while simultaneously remaining aware of the spatial depth between the grasses and the trees.

And for completeness, here’s the color version.

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2 responses

  1. Chris

    I had a real problem with how to make night shot look like night shots. If you are taking pictures of street lights, then it works fine, but what about when you are taking pictures of grass? Do you simply underexpose? Print it really dark? Simply printing it in B&W apparently doesn’t work (at least for this example). Do our rods translate colors the same way that black and white negative film does (did)?

    August 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    • It’s hard, isn’t it? As you say, it’s easier when there’s a harsh light source, so you can print it dark and high contrast. With soft light, I guess you still have to print dark to give that “details emerging from the gloom” look.

      August 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm

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