Two Different Treatments

Ha Long Bay - Color

Ha Long Bay – Color

Ha Long Bay is one of the most famous sea views in the world. It’s a bay off Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin, and it’s filled with haystack rock formations. They range in size from mountainous, habitable islands, to small rocks, not even suitable for rock climbing. You’ve seen hundreds of pictures of them, generally in the form of gorgeous sunrise or sunset scenes, probably with junks and other ships in the picture.

My two days on the bay included no clear skies, so I set about shooting for mood, taking advantage of the mist. This 6 am picture shows the difficulty I faced in processing. There’s almost no color in the scene, and as I worked to punch up what color there was, I got more and more blue. The pale pink-orange behind the distant mountains is the only sign that there’s a color other than blue. Making a virtue of necessity, I produced this:

Ha Long Bay - Selenium

Ha Long Bay – Selenium

Adobe Lightroom has a great batch of presets that can send you into a new direction, or give you a fresh perspective on your photos. In this case, I used a colored black and white treatment that mimics selenium toning. Converting metallic silver to silver selenide stabilized the metals, improving the longevity of prints. It gave a slight color cast that could range from reddish brown to purplish brown, and it could be used to soften the look of a print by bringing down the highlights.

Lightroom’s version of selenium gives a vague bluish cast to the image, and I haven’t played with changing that yet. In this one, after running the preset, I increased the exposure a bit, because the original file is pretty dark, and I added a slight vignette, because I think the dark corners push your vision back into the center of the image. I thought about brightening the boat, but I decided I like the very black anchor that it gives the picture, which would otherwise be a pale, vague, hard to look at image.

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