Monte Rosa – twice

I was fantastically lucky with the weather last week. A week’s skiing in Zermatt included 6 days when the sun shone out of a predominantly blue sky. On only one morning out of the six, the day started with high cirrus cloud veiling the sun and softening the light. That was the day I went up on the Gornergrat Bahn – the cog railway to Gornergrat – for one of the great viewpoints in the area from where you can see a circle of 4,000 metre peaks.

The panorama from Gornergrat is vast and I chose to take with me my 11-16mm Tokina zoom. It was an ideal day with the light having a soft quality to it that reduced the contrast that is normally a feature of photography up high especially when looking towards the sun.

_DS78508First up is the colour version of the image I shot with the lens set at its widest (16mm film equivalent). Monte Rosa – the second highest of the Alpine peaks is the vast bulk on the left, the Gorner Glacier flows down through the middle of the image and behind it is Liskamm, to the right are Castor, Pollux and then finally at the right edge of the image is part of the massive ridge of the Breithorn. This is one of the classic alpine views.

_DS78508_bwThis image translates well into B&W – a very simple process in Photoshop . There are several ways to convert to B&W, but my option is always to use Image/Adjustments/Black and White. This option allows me to use either one of the presets from the drop down list or manually adjust the sliders to achieve the precise effect I am after. In this instance I chose the green filter preset. More commonly I use the yellow filter preset because it significantly darkens a blue sky, but in this instance I felt an over-dramatic sky would detract from the softness of the light. After the conversion I made some adjustments to layers and curves to add a little extra contrast.

Which version do you prefer? As someone who almost exclusively shot in B&W for twenty years or more, I have an enduring love of the B&W medium, and I saw a huge amount of classic B&W photography in my younger days – especially mountain-scapes. I have said this before, but I will say it again: you can amend the contrast in a B&W image in ways that colour will not tolerate. Images, as a result, appear crisper, brighter and bolder. Despite the absence of colour I personally feel they are a more faithful representation of the high mountains. I remember the scenes in colour, but I see them in B&W.

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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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12 Responses to Monte Rosa – twice

  1. It’s really hard to pick Andy. Both work well and I love B&W but there’s something about that blue sky and the reflection of light on the snow that makes me gravitate to the color. Beautiful image.

  2. oneowner says:

    They’re both very nice, Andy, but I prefer the black and white version if forced to choose. If you’re usin Lightroom, the b&w conversion is very much the same as PS with the same adjustments. And it’s nondestructive, too.

  3. It would be wonderful to be up there, and with all that sunshine.

  4. Len says:

    They both have their merits so I choose not to pick one Andy. I will enjoy both.

  5. Oh wow, I really can’t pick… they both have completely different feels to them and they are BOTH excellent! I love color, just by my nature, so I think if I had to choose it would be the color version. But that’s not a choice easily made. Wonderful photograph, Andy!

    • LensScaper says:

      Many thanks Toad. I guessed you would prefer colour. The point is, as you comment, there is a different feel to the two media. B&W can seem cold, but for me it sums up the environment so perfectly.

  6. Jim Nix says:

    gorgeous work Andy!

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