Here are two different takes on the abandoned gas station in Halloran Springs that’s a familiar sight to anyone traveling on Interstate 15 near the border with Nevada. This pair of photos drove home how much more difficult black-and-white is compared to color. With color photographs, there aren’t a lot of choices to be made in Photoshop. You can fiddle a bit with exposure and saturation and so forth, but just a little bit. Basically, the picture is what it is.

But black-and-white, especially in the Photoshop era, offers a huge choice of looks. In this one, I chose a very high contrast conversion, as if I’d been using a deep red filter, but if I’d chosen one of the other conversions it would have looked very different. Plus there’s generally more flexibility in “dodging” and “burning” of specific bits of the photograph. In this one, my recollection is that I applied even more contrast specifically to the Lo-Gas sign.

Were these the right choices? Another photographer might have chosen completely differently and produced a picture that was just as good or better. That’s all part of the fun.

January 25, 2020 — Halloran Springs, California

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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