Sacromonte #1

by | Jul 22, 2017 | Experience

This image is an architectural detail of a house in Spain. I like the contrast of form in the straight lines and curves, combined with the organic element from the plants growing out of the wall. To me, that’s what made the composition so compelling.

What I find really interesting is that the tonal values on the house range from Zone 3 to Zone 10 on a subject that’s totally brilliant white. As a reminder, Zone 0 equals black and Zone 10 equals white. That’s eight Zones from a one-zone subject. This is the power of shadow and tonal manipulation. You could shoot a ping pong ball on a white background and, with the right lighting, create an image with a complete tonal range. (Maybe I’ll try that!)

A rule of thumb in architectural photography is that intersecting walls should never have the same value. This subject sort of carries that to an extreme with the added component of texture. By the way, this house was facing southwest. It was shot at midday. If I waited until the “magic hour”, the sun would have hit the main wall straight on and washed out most of the texture, which is what makes this image on of my favorites.

The thing to remember is the actual color/tonal value of a subject is of minimal importance. A monochrome subject, under the right light, can take on brilliant dimension. Sometimes you have to enhance the tones in post, just as you would do in a darkroom. All the information is there. You’re not artificially adding anything. You just have to find it.

I’d like to talk about manipulation. In the digital world anything is possible. How much manipulation is acceptable before it’s no longer a photograph? Does it matter? What about the strict rules of journalism? Maybe we can get a discussion going!

Nikon D-300 with Nikkor 16-85mm at 56mm-f13 – 1/640 – ISO 200 – spot metering. Post processed with Aperture 3 and Nik plugins.

Readers of this newsletter can receive 30% off any prints on my site by using the code MC30 at checkout. To go directly to the featured image, click on it above. Otherwise visit my site at

I would really appreciate your comments on this post. I’d like to hear your opinion of this photograph and what kind of images you’d like to see. Would you like more technical information or more thoughts and philosophy? I’m anxious to hear from you and to try to make the best newsletter possible. Please send me your thoughts.
Thanks for your time!


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This