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Use the "Details" link to see a side by side comparison, and read notes about the editing.
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"The Clam Trees"

It's always worth considering whether an image will work better in black and white than in color.

For me, that usually involves asking:

1) Will black and white better create the mood I am after? and/or;

2) Do the colors get in the way here? If the colors are uninteresting, or distract from the character of the photo, black and white may be a good option. This usually comes up when the impact of the image is conveyed less by color than by shape, line and pattern.

Description: The clam trees (locals like to tell tourists this is where the clams grow) at Rock Harbor in Orleans are Cape Cod photographic icons. They are so frequently photographed that I was reluctant to join the herd but ultimately couldnt resist.....

Editing Comments: But I wanted to have my own take on them and a slightly toned black and white seemed right for this image. The colors weren't interesting, not did they add anything to the subject matter. In fact, they were a distraction, so buh-bye colors. Because I had bracketed these shots, I could get more texture and contrast to the sky pretty easily, and I darkened up the top a bit to keep the viewer's eye on the part that mattered. I did some dodging and burning to add more texture, and sense of light to the water. Then it was just a matter of experimenting until I found the level of sepia toning that felt right.

Definitions of the photographic terms I use on this site are below. I've kept it short, but there are many glossaries on the web if you want a more comprehensive guide.


Bracketing simply means taking a series of photos rapidly in a row with slight variations. These exposures can then be combined an any number of ways to create an image that contains a widewr rnage of information than any single frame.

The most common type of bracketing is exposure bracketing, where the photographer uses different shutter speeds to take a sequence of photos with different brightness levels.

Bracketing can also refer to focus rather than exposure. In this case – “focus bracketing” – you’re shooting images in sequence that are focused at different distances.

In theory, bracketing can refer to almost any variable in photography – even something like composition – but exposure and focusing are the most common contexts.

Color Grading:

Color grading is the process of editing the color, saturation, and contrast of an image, usually to create specific moods in a photo.

Color grading can be one of the most impactful tweaks you can make to your work once it’s been shot. Color, like lighting, affects a mood and feel of a photo, which can obviously have a significant impact on how people respond to an image.

RAW File:

RAW contain all the imaging data from your camera sensor – meaning maximum image quality and editing flexibility.

For example, RAW photos have a lot of latitude for recovering dark shadows. A RAW image that appears severely underexposed usually still has enough detail to recover a usable image in post-processing.

The two main downsides of RAW compared to JPEG are that RAW files take up more space, and they almost always require post-processing in order to look good. By default, RAW photos are very dull when you open them in most editing software).

White Balance:

Your eyes automatically adjust to different light sources, but a camera can’t do that—that’s why sometimes you take an image and it looks very blue or very yellow.

White balance is what a digital camera uses to remove unrealistic colour casts when taking a photograph. You often find that photographs taken under fluorescent lights, for example, have a strange blue colour cast to them – this can be corrected by adjusting the white balance settings on the camera.

If the white balance has been adjusted accordingly, objects that appear white in person will look white in the photograph.

The unedited images are below. You can see a preview of the edited version by moving your mouse over them. Click on them to see a large version, and make it go from "before" to "after". Click the image to see a larger version and watch the transformation from unedited to edited.

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