In the Zone with Ansel Adams

Silver Efex Pro 2

allows you to view “zones” in your B&W image

Through the Bridge

Middle Prong Little River, GSM NP

Technical – Nikon D300, Tokina 16-50 @36mm, 1/2 sec,  f/22, EV=-1/3, ISO200, WB=Cloudy, multi-segment metering, aperture priority, RAW capture, tripod, circular polarizer

f/22 for maximum depth of field. Wanted everything from the bridge rail (less than a foot away) to the far end of the stream in focus
f/22 plus overcast & rainy day = long exposure = tripod
Circular polarizer cut down on glare from wet rocks & leaves


Frame the scene with the bridge rail
Rail also enhances the feeling of depth in this 2-D image

Fill the frame with oblique lines and shapes


Step 1 – Convert RAW to jpeg in Capture NX2
Step 2 – Tonal & Color contrast adjustments in Color Efex Pro
Step 3 – B&W conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2 (tutorial here)

Click to enlarge. I started with SEP2’s Film Noir 1 preset (left window). From there I made some global adjustments to get a better balance of tonal values. I used SEP2’s histogram and Zone System display to guide me (see screen capture below).
B&W film photographers relied on Ansel Adams zone system. You can read about it here. SEP2 allows us to see which parts of our image fall into which zones. From there we can make adjustments to suit our vision.
In this image, I wanted some true black and some true white in order to make a more striking print. At the point where I stopped with today’s image, the mid tones are “muddy” and need more work but the blacks are black & the whites are white. 😉
Here is the SEP2 depiction of zone 2. You need to click & enlarge the image to see the zone display (red cross hatching – look carefully in dark gray areas).


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