The Power of the “S” Curve


The “S” curve in nature is a very powerful graphic element.  I was thrilled to find this one in the dunes.

During our recent tour with Cole Thompson, he was kind enough to show us some of his post processing techniques.  Learning how he uses the Dodge and Burn tool was an eye opener for me.  I used these tools and new ideas to lighten and darken key areas in this image.  The key when using these tools is to work on all three tonal ranges, shadow, mid-tone and highlights. There is a drop down dialogue box that shows all three on the tool properties bar at the top.  Before, I would use just one and that approach does not work nearly as well. It is also important to use a brush at just 2 or 3% opacity. Even though you don’t feel like you’re doing much when lightening a dark area when working on the highlights, trust me, there are pixels that are indeed being affected.  The same holds true when darkening a light area. There are shadow and mid-tone pixels there.

This entry was posted in Abstract, B&W, Cole Thompson, Death Valley, Essence and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Karl February 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    What a fantastic image!!! You got me excited to go back and work the new processing methods on the images I took last year in DV. It will be a good comparison between processing methods. Thanks for sharing.

    • john8276 February 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      You’re welcome Karl.

  2. Daniel Ruf February 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    Excellent work, John.

  3. Victoria February 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    Stunning… Simply, elegantly breathtaking!

  4. robyn February 21, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Stunning image John and thanks for the tips on burning and dodging! Have a great weekend!

    • john8276 February 21, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      You’re welcome and thank you Robyn.

  5. Bill February 21, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    I’m really enjoying your posts from DV. This image in particular I really like. It has a certain 3D quality to it. Makes me want to go to DV myself and try some B&W. Nice work!

    • john8276 February 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      Ummm Bill, going to DV all by yourself would be very dangerous, you really need to go with Dan and I on another tour. 🙂

  6. Linda Russo February 21, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Awesome B&W image, JB. Superb elements of design. Like-:)

  7. Joan Herwig February 22, 2014 at 12:58 am #

    I LOVE this photo – it has everything! I love your eye – I think you were a graphic designer in a former life! 🙂

    • john8276 February 23, 2014 at 1:28 am #

      Yup, thats me former graphic designer in my dreams. 🙂

  8. Stephan Dietrich February 22, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    “S”ensational image and b&w! Enjoy the Yin and Yang elements and appeal as well! A successful trip in many ways!

  9. David February 24, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    I love this image! S for Super! I am in the process of editing some DV images of my own, so now I definitely have to consider how to incorporate the dodge and burn method you describe. You wouldn’t happen to have any tutorial on that planned, would you? Thanks!

    • john8276 February 24, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

      Sounds like a tutorial on dodge and burn is in order….

  10. Alice Olive March 11, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Wonderful. Love the contrast from the left hand bottom corner up to the white fade out in the top right. Love it.

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