Jonathan Critchley

I am a big fan of the minimalist photographer Jonathan Critchley, this is a fairly typical example of his work - JONATHAN CHRITCHLEY FINE ART OCEAN PHOTOGRAPHY | STRAND | 1

I can get a similar effect in DT, but it tends to be fairly haphazard. Here is an original and my attempt at a black and white minimal version
_CTW1680.nef (25.2 MB)

The question is, does anyone have a solid method for producing images of this type rather than my fumbling about?


There doesn’t seem to be a trick here. Most pictures are either long-exposures of moving things (clouds or water), or hazy shots. In both cases, they all have a milky background to begin with.

Then, it’s only a matter of driving your contrast curve. If you look carefully, none of his pictures have true white (easy to compare against the white background), which ensures details even in the brighter areas. And most of them don’t have true black either (you read details even in dark blobs). But all of them have the utmost attention given to the midtones (while most amateur photographers spend too much time on the extreme luminance values and forget the “meat” in the middle).

The guy is basically a master of the dynamic range with a keen eye for graphic scenes with a dreamy soft spot. All you have to do is to become a master too… I mean, I don’t see any post-processing tricks I could dissect for you here. It looks a lot like any basic levels/curves stuff, just done with taste and skills.

_CTW1680.nef.xmp (32,5 Ko)


I did a bit of cheating here and used a mask to make some sort of basic cut using levels. Local contrast does help a lot and filmic added to my final push to get some sort of black.

_CTW1680.nef.xmp (22.3 KB)

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_CTW1680.nef.xmp (25.4 KB)

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With another image: Sunset in Corsica
dt 3.5
P1150686_Pointe de la Parata_18.RW2.xmp (30.5 KB)

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I would look at that image as being quite different and don’t think that the same type of impression would be gained.

This one was a bit of a battle and it still isn’t quite how I wanted it, but here’s my attempt in darktable 3.5 (master):

_CTW1680.nef.xmp (19.3 KB)

Lots of fumbling about here as well and probably I’ve thrown too many different things at it. Fumbling about is basically my learning process though.


This was fun! Posting as a screenshot, so the curve I used to “bandpass” the tree is visible for consideration:

There’s a lot of control available in that curve beside the bandpass, I kept it linear but one could selectively manipulate the contrast of different levels, tolerant to such is monochrome.

I also toned it with a single-channel curve, blue, go for the cold look…

Your fumblings are worthwhile; I like yours a lot…

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Not the same type as the OP, but more along the lines of

Although, no where near as refined as Chritchley’s editing technique, not to mention his skill as a photographer.

_CTW1680_02.nef.xmp (50.5 KB)

The winding white road is important for the composition, so I tried to keep it softly emphasized. Not at home with the masking tools yet.


@epeeist can you please add a license to your image?

_CTW1680.jpg.out.pp3 (14,4 KB)

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_CTW1680_08.nef.xmp (12.6 KB)

darktable 3.5
_CTW1680_01.nef.xmp (8,0 Ko)


Very nice, thanks for sharing!

dt-dev, sigmoid, tone curve, contrast

and crop

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The second one I really like.

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@epeeist This is an interesting subject. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely work on it when I find the time.