The scalloped river

After a heavy fall of snow a river is transformed. Its bouldered edges sculpted by snow into delicately scalloped mounds.

The original - click to enlarge

This could be almost anywhere – Canada, USA, Europe, Scotland, if the conditions were right. It’s all about being lucky – in the right place at the right time. The location is incidental, but actually it’s the river Vispa at the top end of Zermatt where the ski run down to the village ends. And this is winter at its best.

The original image (above) was taken on my Canon G10 and is almost ‘straight-out-of-camera’. No adjustment needed to levels, curves, contrast or brightness. Just a straighten, a small clone at bottom left to remove a bridge rail, the spot healing brush to remove the more obvious ‘glitter’ points that are common with snow scenes when shot towards the sun, and final sharpening.

I converted it to B&W (see below) because I thought it seemed a fairly obvious choice for conversion. But, it just didn’t work for me. Without those subtle bluish tones in the water somehow the image ends up looking a little drained. That’s my subjective opinion. Maybe you think differently?

B&W version - click to enlarge

It just goes to show that there are some images that look like they will work well in B&W (simplified and enhanced by the loss of colour), but don’t. In losing those little subtle touches of colour you discover that they actually contributed far more than you thought, and that without them the image is diminished rather than enhanced.

Do you agree? Do make a comment and let me know what you think about this pair – both can be enlarged if you want a closer look.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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15 Responses to The scalloped river

  1. Adam Allegro says:

    I agree, the first image works much better than the black and white. Nice work my friend.

  2. Len Saltiel says:

    I agree also Andy. The lost blue tones make the first one better IMHO. I hardly ever process in B&W although I do appreciate it. I saw a podcast where Trey Ratcliff thinks that B&W is either hard wired into an individuals brain or not. Interesting theory….

  3. I absolutely agree. The subtle colorations are part of what makes this photograph (and many others, in my opinion, including some of my own) so good.

  4. Marc says:

    Colour works best here. As much as I like B&W conversion, I think sometimes it can suck the life out of an image. The blue tone definitely gives the colour shot a bit more depth.
    By the way, I like the tiny foot prints in the snow.

  5. I’m with you on liking the color version better. The blue tones give it more of a true winter feel.

  6. I love the animal tracks!!I agree too.

  7. Jimi Jones says:

    Great shot, Andy. Really digging those tracks left by some small critter. 😉

    I agree, color tones really do add much more than we realize at times. I’ve converted many images only to find them a bit underwhelming. I always use a separate layer so I can toggle it off and keep my color version if desired. Interesting how these small visual elements work.

  8. I agree Andy the original color version works much better. I would have had the same thought process assuming that this image would have worked better in B&W. Great job on the composition.

  9. seekraz says:

    It seems that there is a resounding preference for the color, be it ever so slight…and I must agree. The hint of blue makes all the difference. Beautiful photo. 🙂

  10. Beautiful images, and I have to admit I like the color one a smidge more, myself!

  11. Great photos with lovely shapes! Love the animal prints (or are they miniature footprints?)

    I personally think the black and white one is just as nice. But I find digital camera shots tend towards blueness anyway compared to my ‘warmer’ film camera. I’ve especially noticed that in autumn when my friends’ digital cameras tone down the lovely golden hues by trying to ‘blue’ them. Having said that, my film camera doesn’t really seem to adore snowscenes and they usually look better from a digital camera – could be the lack of the bluey tinge?
    Carol.

    • LensScaper says:

      Hi Carol. Many thanks for your comment. I think those footprints are almost certain to be animal ones. Colour balance is such a complicated issue. I always leave my camera on Auto White Balance knowing that I can adjust it in Camera Raw later when I start processing. I can’t actually remember whether my final film camera gave me any option for adjusting the outdoor white balance.

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