Basalt in black (and white)

Have you ever noticed that different rock formations are more conducive to different photographic techniques than others ? In my local area I’m pretty lucky that there is a relatively large variety of geology types to choose from on the coastline. Here I have photographed a basalt area which does not really ‘light up’ a lot with twilight light due to it’s black colouring and textures. Often forming in columns or pillar like shapes and reflective (when wet) can have some advantages though. I always feel basalt really lends itself well to B&W photography and imagery.

 I shot this on Velvia 50 and the original is nice but I always had the intention of the final image being a B&W. So with this in mind I converted it in CS3, any technique tips on this type of conversions are welcome.


Basalt cascades – Fuji G617, Velvia 50.


~ by Tony Middleton on November 5, 2008.

10 Responses to “Basalt in black (and white)”

  1. Hi Tony, the basalt textures look really nice and I like the shot. I feel the bw conversion needs a bit more “pop”, more contrast but keeping shadow detail (very important), perhaps a bit of duotone to warm it a bit.
    I’ve worked heaps on this a bit earlier this year, have a look at my tutorials:

  2. Hi Flemming,
    thanks for your feedback – are you referring to your post using the ‘alien skin’ plugin ?
    tone 🙂

  3. Hi Tone,

    Yeah this one:


    Alien Skin exposure is brilliant but expensive. You can also get great results using Camera Raw as the black and white converter!

  4. I’ve had a few run-ins with basalt on my surfboard, it’s not very friendly. I’ve never focussed on black and white landscapes but as you’ve noted, basalt is excellent for it. Have you ever used B&W film with your G617 Tony? I think it may be worth a try because the sky doesn’t have to be dripping with colour.

    As for converting in PS CS3 to B&W, I always use the method of:

    Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White

    and then toy with the various filters until I get something that I like. I find I have to edit in 16 bit or else I get banding with solid coloured skies. The bad thing about this method though is that sometimes it can make the edges between black and whites crap.

    Again, I assume the best method would be to use coloured filters in the field rather than during post processing.

  5. Thanks for the tips Flemming ! I’ll have a play around with it when I get a chance. 🙂

    Hi Cain, No I haven’t used B&W film in my 6×17 – I’m just addicted to velvia there… 🙂 Also thanks for the tips – would you believe I have none (and don’t know how to) use layers…I’m no PS guru I rely more on my original work..if i ever get my online files to even match them I’m over the moon.

  6. I know what you mean with scanning those slides. I took a roll of Provia whilst I was in Tasmania. Sometimes I think there’s more skill involved in getting an accurate digital representation of the slide than exposing the slide itself.

  7. I think it’s come up pretty good Tony. I like it.
    I am the same on photoshop though. Basically know nothing. And never get my online images looking the same. It is alot different between film and digital I know, but it is a bit frustrating.

  8. Cain – I guess this is true and a very valid point. Imagine holding a sublime detailed and saturated film in your hands at 60mm x 170mm in size as opposed to 24mm x 35mm and then see it ‘destroyed’ into pixels… such is life 🙂

    Stephen – thanks mate. To be honest I was not completely happy with the result on this and hence I posted in here so I could perhaps gets feedback on how to improve my PS skills in this area.

  9. based on film area, it’s twelve times my pain Tony!

  10. scary hey ! and to think it records information on a plane 12 times that of a 1DmkIII. It’s just the converting them to pixels/PS that I need to work on some more… 😐

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