Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Color Me Red

Arch, Valley of Fire SP, NV (Color Version)

Arch, Valley of Fire SP, NV (Color Version)

My good friend Steve Weeks – who accompanied me on this particular trip to VOF – has suggested that it might be a good idea to post the original color image of this arch (from which the black and white version was created).  So here it is.

As I said in the previous post, it’s the color that draws your attention in this place.  Except for a minor contrast adjustment, what you see here is pretty much the way it looked.  I made no color adjustments to the RAW file – no vibrance adjustments, no saturation adjustments, no luminance adjustments.  There was a polarizer on the lens, but since the late afternoon sun was almost directly behind me, it had little, if any, effect.  Yes, the sky was actually that blue.  At least that’s how I remember the scene.  Steve can correct me if I’m wrong.

Did I see the detail and texture in the rock when I took the picture?  I was aware of it, certainly.  Anyone who walks through this place and gets up close to these formations can’t help but see it.  It’s one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited.  But again, the whole area literally screams COLOR.  The red rocks of Zion and Bryce have nothing on this place.  If you ever get to Las Vegas, put VOF on your list of  “must – see” destinations.  Just don’t go there in the summer months (unless you enjoy walking around in the desert in 105 to 110 degree temperatures).

So is this a stronger image in color or in black and white?  My feeling (at this point in time, anyway) is that it’s more effective as a black and white image simply because it projects the extraordinary tonal range and texture better than the color version does.  The red rock and the deep blue sky in the color version tend to be overwhelming, I think.  It’s hard to get past the “omigod, look at the color of that arch” reaction.

It is, of course, a personal choice.  There is no right or wrong answer here.  Perhaps in 6 months I’ll change my mind again.  Anyway, who said that photographers can’t be “flip – floppers”?

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One Response to “Color Me Red”

  1. Steve Weeks

    No issues here on the rich color of the sky, pretty much what it looks like most of the time. Clean clear air out that way and I have often thought that the red of the rock may make the sky look a darker blue to the eye. The camera picks it up much the same way and we all know they don’t lie 🙂 If anything I have been known to de-saturated my images a bit to make them look believable for those who have not experienced the area.

    You have summed up the issue of color vs monochrome very well, so need on my part to belabor it. The one thing I did notice was the formation low center, behind the arch seemed to a bit muddy in the B&W, but seem to fit better in color.

    Now if you really want to get into some ‘really’ red sandstone, we need to get up to areas around St. George, UT. Makes VOF looks a bit pale in the comparison.

    My best.

    Reply

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