Black and White conversion to the image “Island” (3) – Technique from wet darkroom

In my last blog, each parts of the image were looked after and vignetting was applied. It is getting close to what I imagined. But I felt the island, the woods at the center, was somewhat still weak as a main subject. So I need to spice up a little bit. I used “Curve” layers to modify contrast and brightness. But it did not give delicate control over the intricate patterns of the woods. So I used a different technique.

Before showing the process, please allow me to talk about a little bit about conventional dark room process. In darkroom processing, can contrast be adjusted LOCALLY, like I did in my previous post? Originally, contrast was determined by a GRADE of the paper (#1 to 5, #1 is lowest contrast and #5 is highest) so the contrast can’t be adjusted locally. Then Multigrade paper was developed. With the MG paper, contrast was determined by different density of filters, placed between enlarging lens and the paper. The darker filter, the more contrast. By applying different density of the filter to particular part of the image, contrast can be adjusted locally. This is same as I have done in my previous post. As a more advanced technique, different densities of filters are applied to the SAME part. The principle of enlargement is same as shooting with a camera. It requires certain exposure time; it is just longer than shooting. Now please imagine you need 30sec to get proper exposure to a particular part of the image. With a moderate contrast filter, you get a result with lack of punch. Now, you need more contrast but you don’t want to lose gradation of the tone. So what you can do is divide the exposure time (30 sec) to different filters. E.g, High contrast filter for 8sec, medium one for 15 sec and low contrast one for 7 sec to preserve the gradation. I use this technique for the wood part in digital processing.

Step 1. Create a mask on the woods as precise as possible.

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 Step 2. Create a Curve layer for high contrast. Please take a look a curve and the image below.

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Step 3.  Create a Curve layer for low contrast.    

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Step 4. Change opacity of the each curve layer. The high contrast curve adds edges of lines but it will sacrifice tonal gradation. The low contrast will recover the tonal gradation. I find this technique is effective to clouds or hair.

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It is done. I saw bluish toning would suit this image so I added selenium toning by Nik SilverEfex. This is finally competed image.

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