Two faces of 'Touchstones'


Prints Available

Color or Black-and-Whte? What's your Favorite?

I turned out of a motel parking lot in Clayton, New York, about 4:30 a.m. bak in September 2021, heading home from my final Bassmaster event. It had been a long, tiring travel season, so I honestly just wanted to make the 23-hour trip to the house and rest up.

That's before I noticed clouds in the sky.

My thoughts soon turned to the possibility of a sunrise photo on the banks of nearby Lake Ontario, so I pulled off the road and pulled up Google Maps (one of my favorite scouting tools). I turned on the satellite view and started looking at the closest shoreline in an area called Point Peninsula.

It looked promising, so I made a right turn for the hour-long side trip. As the very first light of day creeped over the horizon, I was driving the lake-front road with hopes of finding an old pier or something to serve as a great foreground.

The wind was blowing briskly off the lake, churning up pretty sizable waves. I knew exactly what I would do if I could just find the perfect setting.

And then I saw it: a line of boulders extending from the shoreline out into the lake, forming a little curved point. It was right behind a lakefront cabin, but there were no cars there. So I pulled off the road and grabbed my gear.

The waves were huge in this area because it was very shallow. Clouds streamed across the sky above, moving from the eastern horizon directly at me.


I set up my Benro Mach 3 carbon fiber tripod in the shoreline rocks, using the short column to allow me to position the camera very low. I clamped on my camera body and switched to a Sigma 14mm Art lens to help me get the entire scene.

My vision was for glassy smooth water and streaky clouds above meeting at the point of sunrise. So I used a filter setup that included a polarizer to break any glare on the water and a neutral density filter to cut the amount of light passing through the sensor so I could extend the exposure time dramatically.

All I just needed some color from the sunrise.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. The clouds were just too thick, resulting in a gray rather than gloriously colorful sunrise.

No worries; I just kept working. In fact, the low light worked in my favor, making it easy to a nearly 4-minute exposure.

I was pumped when I chimped the back of the camera and saw the results. After capturing a few more frames to ensure I had the goods, I loaded up and headed south again knowing I soon would be adding a great new image to my New Releases Collection.

The final print, titled "Touchstones," was everything I hoped. The cool light of the overcast day provided a wonderful blue tone to the entire scene – and the bottom of the lake was even visible around the rocks.

I absolutely love the print! And it quickly sold to a collector and became one of my Best Sellers.

Fast forward to February 2023, when I was sitting in the office one flipping through my files in search of unprocessed images that might be worth working up.

I was stopped by "Touchstones," wondering why in the world I hadn't tried the composition as a black-and-white photo.

I was quickly opening one of the photos to see if it had the potential I hoped for. And as soon as I converted the color image to monochrome I absolutely knew I would be proud to add the image to my gallery.

My monochrome conversion software of choice is MonoFX, a Photoshop plugin that allows me to make all the adjustments in brightness and contrast needed, just like the old darkroom pros like Ansel Adams.

The result was "Touchstones in Monochrome," and it is now part of my Black-and-White Collection.

Which is your favorite?

Touchstones in Monochrome

Prints Available