Creating Style In The Absence of Visual Information

I distinctly remember sitting on this bamboo train as it shuttled us at an impressive velocity from point A to point B in Battambang, Cambodia. Aside from the experience of actually riding on this primitive-yet-ingenious mode of transportation, I remember the tinge of frustration as I chimped the images that I was taking of our train operator. The sun was high, the light was awful, and the heat was pretty intense. It was, at face value, a perfect recipe for bad photography. At least, that is what I thought while I ogled the back of my camera’s LCD. Image after image, I saw all highlight information get obliterated and sacrificed in the name of capturing some mid-tone and shadow detail. In the moment, I thought that these images would be rendered useless and never see the light of day (pun intended).

It wasn’t until I started spending more time using Perfect B&W that I learned to appreciate blown out highlights and clipped shadows when working in a black and white medium. There is something intriguing and stylistic about embracing what isn’t there when trying to tell a story with an image rather than doing everything possible to convey every little detail. It is a lesson that I have found to be extremely beneficial, especially when I find myself shooting under less than ideal lighting conditions.

In terms of processing

You can view the full workflow video for this image on this week’s episode of Perfect Inspiration over at onOne Software:



  • Nice feeling of speed, great capture and processing :)

  • Nice processing +Brian Matiash and like the color tones.

  • Nice image and great feeling of motion!


  • +Brian Matiash  Those are some pretty big motion blurs, you must have been flying down the track. How were you not scared? Or were there railings on your side of it that we can't see?

  • Great tutorial, +Brian Matiash Love the creative detail you bring out in both the shot and your commentary. Thanks!

  • cool

  • I really enjoy your tutorials.  Not only do I get a lot from your processing tips, I learn from your thought process too.

  • +Scott King I was a bit shaky at first but you get used to it pretty quickly. No railings at all other than the one that you see the driver sitting on (we had one, too). :)

    Thanks so much, +Cynthia Pyun, et al.!

  • You had me at bamboo train.  Sweet action, man.

  • Stunning!