Mono Lake Cinder Cones

image: black and white photograph Mono Lake Cinder Cones-from Highway 120
Mono Lake Cinder Cones in HDR Black & WhiteThis full resolution image is included in my online collection,"Monotone" so click the photo to beam yourself there.

Seeing the Photo

Every time I drive through Yosemite to get to the Eastern Sierra, this view looking East towards the Mono Lake cinder cones is tempting to photograph. There are occasions where I’ve stopped because I thought I saw a photo, but didn’t really, and came home with bupkis. Either the light was really wrong or there were no clouds.

Composing the Shot

Coming up the steep grade this time, seeing those beautiful clouds inspired me to quickly create a composition. For landscape photographers, it’s a sin to waste great clouds!

Noticing how the foreground mountain’s ridges moved as the Jeep continued up the highway, and how the framing of the Mono Lake cinder cones was moving, I projected that my best angle was still ahead and hoped to manifest a turnout on the curvy mountain road when I arrived.

Everything fell into place and this time, it was perfect! You know the feeling you get when you KNOW you’ve just captured a really nice shot?!

Making the Photo

Even though this is a 3 exposure HDR, I didn’t use a tripod this time.  It might have been that fact that I was pulled off the highway into a small turnout and felt that I wanted to get the shot and go. Or, maybe from the confidence I get from the super amazing image stabilization of my Olympus.  Of course, I still need a tripod at night and in really low light.

The 3 exposures merged in Lightroom using the Photomatix merge-to-32-bit plugin and then I did the black and white conversion in OnOne’s Perfect BW 9.

Converting to Black & White

You know how much I like and use Topaz filters, right?  For some reason, I haven’t learned to use the Topaz black & white conversion filter well, so I avoid it.  Instead I use and love OnOne’sPerfect BW 9, so that’s how I made this one.

Perfect BW 9 is part of the full Onone Software suite called Perfect Photo Suite 9. I understand that everything they have, including Perfect BW 9 is on sale for 50% off for another 5 days. You can check their stuff out by clicking on the banner below.

To get the dark sky, which pops the clouds, I used the yellow filter and just adjusted the opacity/strength to suit me.  the orange and red filters are even stronger and were just too much for this image. At high altitudes the sky is very blue and it doesn’t take much to get some serious darkening.

Want to see more black & white photos like this one?

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The American Southwest-Northern Arizona