As any landscape photographer, I am a big fan of the legendary American photographer Ansel Adams. I have also for a long time followed the French photographer Serge Ramelli, who lately has had a series of videos on his YouTube channel about how to take landscape photographs in the style of Ansel Adams. This inspired me to dig down in my archive, for a picture I took in September 2015, close to my family’s cabin in the Norwegian mountain region of Valdres. Here is the photo with only the color saturation removed, before I started the transformation into an Ansel Adams style masterpiece:
Then I got to work in Darktable, adding several layers of tone curves, each adjusting the contrast in a separate part of the image using masks. I started with stretching the overall contrast in the image a bit, making sure the black and white points were optimal. Then I used a new curve to lighten up the top of the mountain a bit, only the part without trees. With another curve, I did the same thing with a bigger area, affecting also the trees in front of the mountain. One curve was used to make the clouds more dramatic, and another one to darken down the foreground. Both of these helped to make the top of the mountain appear brighter relative to the rest without brightening it up further.
Next step was a grad filter to darken down the upper part of the clouds. I also used a big, soft vignette to brighten up the center of the image, before I made a final tweak to the overall contrast just to make sure that the brightes parts were white and the darkest parts were black. After some noise reduction, sharpening and cropping the image is ready. Watch it here or in my landscape gallery.