Nature & Industry, Wyoming – The Color Chrome process

This is the Dave Johnston Power Plant – A coal plant in Wyoming. I feel it had it’s own beauty, spires of cement intermingling with the flow of nature. This company allows people to walk in and use the land around the plant for hunting, hiking etc, leaving the beauty that surrounds this plant unmarred. It’s a great example of industry mixed with nature. I come from hydro eclectic county where our massive power output is used around the nation and I find the engineering behind such essentials industry to have a beauty all it’s own.


For Photographers. How it was made / Color Chrome process…


The composition. After testing various possibilities I opted to justify the plant to the right, with the river trailing to the left. I used the brush close to the camera as a floor for the scene. It was sunset and I was triple bracketing to make sure I had the range of light.

Back in the trailer the real work begin. I started in LR with presets and a subtle HDR process that blended the main exposure with a Photomatix Fused image from the three bracketed frames.

The final look is something more however. I’ve started calling this process Color Chrome. I doubt I’m the first person to discover it, but it works something like this. I take my final color image. Then I make copy, preparing it as a b&w. Not a simple de-saturation, but a good b&w with nice tones and contrast. Both versions now go into in PS as layers. I then work them together using blending modes and masks to mix tones and colors from the layers. Why do all this? I find a well made b&w conversion has bold tones that are quite different from color. By using a Color Chrome effect I can maintain the image and color and gain some of the chromatic tones of the B&W.

Planning images for large prints has made me more aware of imperfections. I find it’s easy to get blotchiness and artifacting in skies like this one. Especially when doing multi step process like this one. I worked with 16 bit files in PS and spent some time cleaning up and working the image to get rid of artifacts blemishes. More on artifacts and noise another day however. To wrap this up I cropped it wide. I like the deep blue sky, but did not want too much space.

Finally, there are various ways to approach a Color Chrome photo. Color on top, b&w on top, varied blending modes (overlay, hard light, soft light, etc), duplicating layers, masking layers. The possibilities are nearly endless, but the general idea is the same. The mix of color hues with the tones form a B&W photo make something unique and I’ve used it on various images now with good success. Your input welcome… Gavin

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