General Thoughts
Rock Stains - Otter Point — Acadia National Park, ME © jj raia

Rock Stains – Otter Point — Acadia National Park, ME © jj raia

In the last post I mentioned something about being able to get rocks to take on a blue tone. To follow up on that, my initial discovery occurred when I looked through my processed chromes from a fall trip to Maine’s Acadia National Park back in the mid-90’s. I found myself at Otter Point one late afternoon on a clear blue sky day and discovered some great photo opportunities, including loads of great abstracts in both the rocks and tide pools there. Some of the rocks had a kind of metallic sheen to them with what appeared to be water stains along many of the cracks. I took some shots of these rocks, only including areas in complete shade to even out the contrast and “flatten” the image. To my back was the eastern horizon, so the sky was not affected by the red and yellow from the late day sun, and was a beautiful, deep blue. The western sky was completely blocked out by the wall of stone. When I looked at those chromes later, I thought they had someone else’s film mixed with mine!! Where did these images come from? It took a few minutes to realize that these were the shots from Otter Point! The (unaltered) image above is typical of those that had really picked up the blue from the sky and in the shade.

Granite and Lichen — Acadia National Park, ME © jj raia

Granite and Lichen — Acadia National Park, ME © jj raia

Another abstract image of the pink granite and lichen on Cadillac Mountain (also taken in the shade, but early morning with my back to the west) resulted in a bluish cast picked up by the lighter gray lichen on the rocks. Although these two examples were totally unexpected, I eventually used this information when taking shots in the same conditions, but now expecting that certain parts of the image would be rendered with a blue cast.

When you create abstracts, it’s pretty obvious that you have allowed for the creative to completely overtake reality. But the creative doesn’t have to stop there in the field.

Red Water Stains © jj raia

Red Water Stains © jj raia

By changing the hue for individual colors, or the entire image for that matter, the creative can continue from the field into the digital darkroom. That’s what was done to create the red version of Rock Stains seen here. Since neither the original blue or the red are anywhere close to reality, you can go as far afield as you wish to take it. The only limitation is your nerve in pushing those limits, or sliders, whichever the case may be.

These same conditions can come into play for photos of just about anything. This final picture is of a metal water tower made of cast iron from the 1800’s. The oxidation of the metal had some small rust spots, but most of it had a sheen similar to the rocks of Otter Point. The white area is very old, weathered paint. The same conditions applied (my back facing east…clear blue sky…late afternoon) and I took the shot, this time knowing the metal would most likely render blue in the chrome after it was processed. Sure enough, there it was when I got them back. Today, you don’t have to wait, you get instant feedback after the shot is taken and can make judgements and adjustments to the results right then and there to get exactly what you want.

Rust Patterns — Fort Mott State Park, NJ © jj raia

Rust Patterns — Fort Mott State Park, NJ © jj raia

It’s important to note that it’s one thing to look for this and incorporate it into your vision; it may also be important to know when you don’t want the blue cast to show up and either avoid those conditions or compensate for them by making the appropriate changes to your white balance setting. But, I suppose even that can be corrected in post processing on the computer so much easier than when it was film.


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