Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #162: All About the Light at Whistler

I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.~Trent Parke

This week, Tina invites us to share photos that illustrate the power of light. She reminds us that photographers are on a perpetual quest to find great light and capture those magical moments. I couldn’t agree more.

Sadly, great light has been elusive this summer. For days at a time, Vancouver and the surrounding areas have been obscured by hazy skies caused by high temperatures and smoke from wildfires. Other times, we’ve had periods of rain and unseasonably cool temperatures.

When we visited Whistler, British Columbia two hours north of Vancouver, the weather forecast called for rain and smoky conditions. But, I was determined to capture a few memorable shots of this stunningly beautiful city crowned by the Coast Mountains. We bought tickets to ride the Peak to Peak gondolas, which took us up to the summit of Blackcomb Mountain, which rises over 2,000 feet above the resort town of Whistler.

Despite the weather conditions, the views at the summit were breathtaking. I took dozens of photos in the rain, but the results were disappointing. So, I decided to try several techniques to improve them.

Apply a Topaz Filter

In my first photo you can see the hazy skies and indistinct clouds and the glaciers covered with snow.

View at the Summit in Photoshop

In the second photo, I sharpened the image by applying the Topaz Clarity Bump filter. I liked the added details in the clouds and how it sharpened the mountain peaks.

The view at the summit with the Topaz Clarity Bump filter.

Try Black and White vs. Color

In this second set of photos, I tried another technique. On the left you can see the original color shot in Photoshop. I wanted to bring out the contrasts in textures–the rocky precipice, the mountains and the sky, so I applied the Topaz Silver Effects filter. Which image do you prefer? The color or black and white?


This last technique is to create a HDR (high dynamic range) image in camera. When using this setting, the camera automatically captures a series of multiple exposures of the same image. After you combine these images in Photoshop, you often notice more detail in the photo and greater depth. Our son captured this photo of me and Rich at the summit. It highlights the textures of the gravel, the clouds, and the rocks. It also emphasizes how tiny we are in comparison to the vast sky.

As one last experiment, I brought the image into Silver Effects and liked how the details emerged in the clouds and mountains. What do you think? Which one do you prefer? The color or black and white?

The conditions that day were less than ideal, but this experience taught me a few ways to take advantage of the available light–both while shooting and during post-processing. It was a valuable lesson.

We hope you join us this week for Tina’s wonderful, inspiring theme for LAPC #162: All About the Light. Last week for Ann-Christine’s challenge, you shared many images of feet and shoes from all over the world. A happy dance for all of us.

It’s Amy’s turn to lead us next Saturday at noon, so be sure to visit her beautiful site to join us. In the meantime, have an inspiring and joyful week!

70 replies »

  1. Beautiful images Patti! For the mountain landscape, I like the black and white better. It brings out more contrast and lessens the hazy effects. For the picture of you and your husband, I like the color better. Somehow, for me, the black and white image is too dark. I think it’s fun to try an image in color and black and white. You get a better sense of the image’s tonal quality. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Anne. Thanks so much! There were challenging conditions. Rain, haze, fog! I agree with you about the b/w. Yes, I can see your point about the color version for the portrait. The clouds look a bit menacing behind us!! I also realized I’m almost the same height as Rich!! I always appreciate your thoughtful feedback. Have a great weekend.


  2. Hi Patti! Tough to decide; I’m usually all for black and white, but for some reason the colour mountain view is more appealing. Possibly because I’m viewing from my phone? The portrait; however, looks wonderful in b&w.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Chris. Interesting!! So far we have 3 votes for b/w and 1 for color! I really wanted the sun to come out, but …. Thanks so much for your thoughts. Enjoy the weekend.


  3. Great ideas for enhancing the dull originals Patti. The B&W are my preference but I enjoy monochrome photography. Looks like a lovely spot to get away to and have a bit of family time ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Brian. Thanks! It was a valuable “lesson,” especially since I wasn’t sure when we’d be back to the top of Whistler again. But now, I’m wondering what it would be like on a sunny day….It was a fabulous spot. The winter Olympics were there in 2010. Just beautiful.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Loved your response Patti – good for you for refusing to give up! It is and amazing vista from up there. I loved the effect your B&W conversion worked on the first image you tried but must admit I preferred the color image on the last because it’s about you two rather than the scenery. I used to use HDR quite a bit but haven’t used it of late – an excellent reminder that it can save your efforts if nature is uncooperative! Excellent tutorial

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Tina. Thanks for the great feedback on these shots and the post. So you prefer the color for the portrait. I can see what you mean about using color in that case. HDR is useful at times. Necessity is the mother of invention–in this case when the conditions weren’t great and I was determined to get a few good ones! I hope you’re enjoying your travels. We are doing the same this week. It’s so much fun! Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the bw version of the mountain range most. It’s a scene working very, very well in monochrome. So, you have to be angry. It’s a fantastic image and stresses the idea, monochrome isn’t dead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Andre. It’s taken me a bit longer to get back to you this week because we’re traveling. But, as always, I appreciate your thoughts on these images. Yes, I can see what you mean about b/w for that shot. Monochrome is so beautiful. I love how it highlights the light and shadows. Take care, Andre. Have a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donโ€™t hurry, Patti. You know, I love monochrome. Try it more often to get used to it. SilverEfex gives good results because it emulates the old films. When not have it already, give it a try. You can even find the old version published for free by Google. Much of fun and success on your trip ๐Ÿ˜Š and โ€ฆ good light ๐Ÿ˜

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi, Andre. Yes, I use Silver Efex, too. I agree. The film simulations are great. I always have fun picking out the one that works best with the photo. Thanks for the good wishes, too. We’ve enjoyed 4 days without rain. Tomorrow will be rainy, but that’s OK!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Beth. Thank you so much! Your feedback really helps me understand how these shots are perceived by others. Weโ€™re traveling this week so itโ€™s taken me a bit longer to get back to you. I hope all’s well.


  6. You had me at Black and White. That mountain scene is much improved by Silver Effects. Both last year and this year, photos around the northwest have been marred by smoky haze. It is great we have such tools for our digital images to bring out their best light.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I too like to experiment and often find I can turn a relatively dull shot into something much more interesting. I particularly like your B&W edit of the mountain landscape – it has far more impact and texture! But I think the jury’s out on the other B&W edit, as it’s a bit sombre, whereas the red in the colour version lifts the shot. Just my opinion, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I grew up on Vancouver so those coastal mountains are familiar to me. I went to UBC and can remember being uplifted by the snow capped mountains as I walked to class. I like your black and white. The contrast in b &w is so striking! PS I also remember Vancouver has a LOT of rain due to the moist air that comes in over the water rising up over those mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you grew up there! I didn’t know that. Glad to hear your thoughts on the black and white images. It is more interesting to see the photos in b/w. I agree. As always I appreciate your visit and thoughts! Have a good day. Say hi to Blasini for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So glad you made the trip, Patti! Rides over 2,000 feet above… that is a cool ride. I love the mountain views. Beautiful HDR image, I love the black and white version especially. Happy to see you and Rich. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Amy. Thank you! I’m delighted we made it, too. It wasn’t easy. It was a very cool ride up to the top. We had to switch gondolas half way up it’s so high! Glad you like the HDR. It really helped that day given the weather. Take care and enjoy the day, too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jane. Thank you! I was really hoping for the best under less than ideal conditions. It’s been such a sad summer, hasn’t it? All these wildfires. I always value your feedback! I’ll take a look at your site next.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Very nice. I am one who usually loves color, but love the dramatic change the Silver Effects made. I think changing a photo from color to black and white give different meaning to it and you notice different things. You definitely nailed it. Me…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Patti

    Your photos from Whistler are awesome even if you didnโ€™t have the light you wisjed for. Yokr post has some reslly creative examples of techniques and I love how you experimented. Iโ€™m a big fan of HDR which is exceedingly difficult to use in the field on fast-moving wildlife. Yours looks great!

    Hereโ€™s the Great Egret keeping it light:

    Beautiful Great Egret Keeping it Light

    Best, Babsje

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well done turning things positive and your way during such conditions! I must chime in on the B&W mountains and you and Rich in colour. i hope you have a lovely traveling time now!

    Liked by 1 person

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