Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

A Room with a View

View Hotel, Monument Valley

I’ve been working on this image for a while now.  As soon as I saw it on the computer, I knew that I wanted to convert it to black and white.  It’s not bad in color (lots of early morning orange), but in my mind the color distracts from the shadows that are present.  And I took the picture because of the shadows.  Well, the shadows and the angular geometry of the building.  It just seemed like black and white was the best option.

But I couldn’t get it to look quite right.  I’d wind up with too little or too much contrast, too much brightness or not enough, or with a tone that just didn’t seem to work.  Oh, and I was using Silver Efex Pro II, a piece of software that I really like.  But after multiple attempts, nothing.

So, back to square one.  I decided over the weekend to try it in Lightroom only.  No Silver Efex.  Just your basic Lightroom Develop module.

And for whatever reason, I liked how it came out.  What I really like is the tone that I wound up with.  In my mind, it’s kind of a warm sepia tone (if there is such an animal).  Of course, I just might be the only one who does like it.  But that’s OK.  I can live with that.  Oh, and it printed very well, too.  Something to remind me of a really nice place with a pretty good view.


13 Responses to “A Room with a View”

  1. ken bello

    You nailed this, Paul. It’s beautifully processed, in addition to being an outstanding photo in itself.
    Before I purchased Lightroom, I did a lot of conversions in Adobe Camera Raw, which is almost exactly the same as the Develop module in LR3. When I used a certain combinations of adjustments that looked well, I saved them as presets so they can be used to achieve the same effect again easily. I still do the same in LR3. They really become just ballpark presets because every photo is different and needs to be fine-tuned, but it could save some time later on.
    I’ve always looked at sepia as being warm in because of the yellow/brown/red tones. The cold tones tend to be in bluish.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Ken. I do the same thing with respect to the “presets”. As you say, though, they usually end up as just starting points on a different image. You’re right, of course, about sepia being a warm tone (as opposed to cyanotype or something). But this isn’t really a sepia tone. I’m not sure if “creamier” is the right word, but it’s the one that comes to mind.

      • ken bello

        I use the term “sepia” to mean any brown tone or any derivative from a brown tone since the original sepia toner for photographs was brown. It could range from an intense dark chocolate color in the shadows to a light beige depending on the factors of the original print (paper and development mostly) and the toner itself (temperature, length of time submerged, age, number of prints put through etc.). I agree with you that sepia accurately describes the tone on this shot.

  2. colingriffiths

    It’s an interesting image. My immediate reaction, after noticing the location was “it looks as if it must be an incongruous object in the landscape, how did it get planning permission?”, but I guess I don’t know what else there is around it. I think the people and their shadows also add another really good dimension.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Colin. Monument Valley (and this hotel) is owned and run by the Navajo Indians. Before they built this structure, visitors had to stay a few miles away at a place called Goulding’s Trading Post. The hotel is built right on the edge of the valley, so the views – especially at sunrise – are remarkable.

      Yes, the shadow of the man’s head on the inner wall was what caught my attention. He was in the lobby using one of their computers. And to think that John Wayne used to stand pretty much in that same spot admiring the view………..

  3. themiddlegeneration

    That’s interesting you said it was run my Navajo Indians becasue my first impression was that it was an imitation of ancient cliff dwellings. I guess the zoning fit in because, as your picture shows, it is in the shadow of the cliff. And as for the shadows, I thought it was really neat how you could see the shadow of the person inside the building. I’m sure that would have been hard to pick up in color.

    • Paul Maxim

      That’s an interesting observation. It does look like it was patterned after some of the old cliff dwellings that you find in this area. I don’t know if that was intentional or not. I do know that the hotel is very “green”. All kinds of environmentally friendly features.

      You can see the man’s shadow in color, but it’s much more obvious in black and white.

  4. Andreas Manessinger

    Well, you’re definitely not the only one 🙂

    Interesting building. Could be on Mars, I guess. It reminds me of Doom or maybe Total Recall. That’s another advantage of B&W: it allows me to imagine an orange sky 😀

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Andreas. Actually, the building is orangeish as well. It definitely “blends” in with its surroundings. And to walk out onto your deck as the sun is rising behind the Mittens and Merrick’s Butte and smell that desert air and see all the stars that are invisible here in the northeast…….Well, a worthwhile experience in my mind.

  5. John Strong - Visual Notebook

    I tend to use sepia in a more general form as well. To me most “real” sepia photos are too brownish. I really like this shot with its barren, sterile appearance. Pity that half a woman’s body is visible in the near window – seeing only the man’s shadow apparently reading a paper would have been, what’s the word that kids use??? Oh, yeah: awesome! As it is, it’s only great!

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, John. Yes, I almost broke one of my own “rules” and thought about eliminating the woman. Leaving her there seems to remove some of the mystery of the image. But I couldn’t do it. I’ll do it if I’m cropping, but I won’t erase things (or people) that are still in the frame. If they’re there, they stay.

  6. Paul

    Great processing, Paul. When I first opened it, I thought of Moonbase Alpha, for some reason. Space 1999. 🙂 Perhaps it was the rocks outside of the futuristic style windows. Excellent conversion.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Paul. I find it very interesting that some see the architecture as a reflection of “ancient dwellings” and others see it as much more futuristic. Maybe it’s because both interpretations fit. I know I can see it both ways………


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: