Foggy Bottom

Most of the Bay area was sunny and blue, but a swath of fog washed in from the Pacific and buried the Golden Gate. From beneath the bridge pilings on the Fort Point battlements the view up of the Golden Gate Bridge seemed ancient and mysterious—subject matter that clearly beckoned for treatment as monochromatic HDR (High Dynamic Range) with its contrasts between the bright fog and the dark details of the bridge girders.

Underneath the Golden Gate by Harold Davis

Underneath the Golden Gate © Harold Davis

With my camera on my tripod pointing straight up, and a wide angle focal length (12mm), I made nine exposures. Each exposure was at f/8 and ISO 200. I manually bracketed between 1/50 of second (lightest) and 1/2500 of a second (darkest).

Putting the bracketed exposures together in the digital darkroom was a bit time consuming. My primary tool was Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, but I also used some hand-layering in Photoshop. I used the color conversion process to increase contrast and to continue to increase dynamic range—so when the time came to convert color values to black and white it wasn’t hard to create an interesting monochromatic image. My primary black and white conversion tool was Nik Silver Efex 2. I also used a Photoshop’s B&W Adjustment layer, choosing the Red Filter preset.

For more about my monochromatic HDR techniques you might want to take a look at my books Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography and Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques. Also note an upcoming HDR Bootcamp workshop and a digital Black & White Masterclass.

Here’s the color version of the image (before the black and white conversion):

Underneath the Bridge © Harold Davis

© Harold Davis

And, just for fun, here’s a monochromatic inversion, created mostly by inverting the luminosity information in the monochromatic image, kind of like what one would have looking at a film negative as opposed to the positive print that could be made from the negative:

Luminosity Inversion © Harold Davis

Luminosity Inversion © Harold Davis



This entry was posted in HDR, Monochrome.

One Comment

  1. EdB September 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    This is one I’d vote for the color version over the BW. The colors are so unusual: definitely the bridge’s International Orange, but somehow different, ghostly, and the greenish tint of the towers and roadbed adding a perfect contrast.

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