Look. See. Imagine. Create. Color Versus Monochrome at Imperial Point, Grand Canyon

Mount Hayden at Point Imperial, North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

Mary and I have been to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon three times in the last twelve months. It is much more remote than the South Rim, is 1,000 feet higher (so its colder), has less services, and is also, therefore, less crowded. While the South Rim has nine look-out points that are easily accessible, the North Rim only has three (but they are all spectacular). On our last trip, we planned a sunset at Point Imperial so that we could photograph the moonrise, but we also had unexpectedly good afternoon light.

LOOK: The light and color were quite pretty on this afternoon as we shot away on our color cameras. The light started to be quite contrasty, so I pulled out my infrared camera for a few images.

SEE: I always think in the field you should make both landscape and portrait orientation and then decide later which one looks better. The image below really puts the focus on Mount Hyaden.

IMAGINE: I thought the contrasty light might look better in infrared than the color images. I also figured that I would process the color photos into monochrome and see how they would look, too.

Same photo as the cover converted to monochrome in Lightroom

CREATE: The cover photo looks pretty good as a black and white and it has a lot of middle tones in the canyon wall. I think the infrared version converted to monochrome looks even better. The blacks are blacker and the whites, whiter. There is great tonal variety from white to black and every shade of gray in between. In the Ansel Adams zone system, I pretty much hit all the zones in this photo. There’s a lot of black in the lower right corner, maybe more than some would like, but I think it is balanced by the light gray and white in the sky. The crisp lines between shadow and light make it work. It just looks more dramatic.

This infrared capture converted to monochrome in Lightroom was my favorite from the afternoon.

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