Retroblogged from my LiveJournal post for 25 May 2011.

The great photographer Ansel Adams is one of my heroes/inspirations/teachers, as he has been (and no doubt will continue to be) to many others. I often find myself taking pictures with the intention of making monochrome versions of them, adapting for digital the tools and techniques Ansel presents in The Negative. Thus it was that I found myself in downtown Urbana with a good view of the courthouse, and realized that the situation was amenable to such treatment.


The early afternoon light here is harsh but tempered a bit by haze. The courthouse is a terra-cotta color, so if we emphasize the red channel, we can both tame the shadows a bit and separate the courthouse from the sky; the equivalent operation on film would be using a red filter with a panchromatic emulsion. Ansel used this effect more dramatically in his famous 1927 photograph Monolith, The Face of Half Dome. Emphasizing the red channel had the undesirable side effect of blanking the traffic lights; since the lights were green for E-W traffic on Main Street, I made a second version with green emphasized, used layers in the GIMP and masked in the bottom traffic light in the three fixtures for eastbound traffic.

This is not a literal rendering of the relative values of the scene; it is an interpretation of them reflecting what the scene made me feel at the time.

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