Dark Skies

This is one of my more interesting black & white photos. I took this while visiting the Princeton Campus, which I live about 15 miles from. My parents were visiting from back home in Idaho, so my Dad and I went out to scope the campus and take some photos. It was actually a pretty nice day with just a little bit of an overcast in the sky. This is one of the buildings on campus, but I couldn’t tell you which one. I shot this handheld, but at 1/750 seconds. Plenty fast for the focal length I was using.

Dark Skies

I had actually ignored this photo for several months because the original just didn’t look usable (as you can see). But then I got on one of my black & white trips and I started playing around with this one. The first thing I did was crop it square. It was shot landscape, but there was just extra nothing on either side of the building, so I cut it out to frame the building a little better. After that, I converted to black & white using the Photoshop CS2 Channel Mixer (didn’t have CS3 at the time) with 25% green and 75% blue. Then I did a levels adjustment by bringing the white point down to about 168 in order to brighten the building up a bit. I also created a layer mask at this point that separated the sky from the rest of the image so I could work on each one separately. So the first levels adjustment was just applied to the building. Then I used the same layer mask to apply a curves adjustment to the building. I adjusted the curve to a very harsh “S” curve to really bring out the contrast in the brickwork. Then I inverted the layer mask and applied it to a levels adjustment for the sky. Since there wasn’t much contrast in the sky to begin with, I had to bring the black point up to 170 and the white point down to 222. Then I applied a curves adjustment to the sky with another strong “S” curve to boost the contrast. Since the sky didn’t have a lot of contrast to begin with, my adjustments forced a lot of noise to become apparent in the sky. I considered trying to fix it, but I think it adds to the mood so I left it alone. The last thing I did was add vignette to the photo to darken the corners and boost the mood. And of course, a bit of sharpening at the end — though this photo didn’t need much because of the already high contrast.

Dark Skies

Photo by Brian Auer
11/07/06 Princeton, NJ
Dark Skies
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200
52mm equiv * f/5.6 * 1/750s * ISO100

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About Brian Auer

a photography enthusiast from North Idaho. He's also the guy behind the Epic Edits Weblog. As a hobbyist photographer since 2003, his passion has been to constantly improve his photography skill set, to share his own knowledge with others, and to become an integral part of the photographic community.

2 thoughts on “Dark Skies

  1. inspirationbit

    The building itself is magnificent. And your photo manipulations are simply outstanding. The last picture looks like a scene from an old b&w horror movie with a haunted castle.

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