The many faces of Church Rock

Over the holidays, my family took an old-school road trip down to Arizona to visit relatives. Along the way, we came across an interesting geological feature that I’d never even heard of before — an old, eroded bit of volcanic material called Church Rock:

Church Rock

Located 10 miles east of Kayenta, Church Rock (nicknamed after its supposed resemblance to a cathedral from some angles) is part of a whole string of interesting geological features in this part of the country.  On the far horizon, you can see the chisel-shaped tip of Agathla Peak, in Monument Valley.  I think the line-up of features makes a good composition, although something like a 16:9 crop would reduce the impact of the foreground nicely.

At any rate, I thought this to be a sufficiently iconic view, that it was worth tinkering around with in post processing.  The above rendition is with a bit of dynamic range expansion — essentially, a single-image HDR from the original RAW file, courtesy of onOne Perfect Effects.

For comparison’s sake, this is the original, nearly SOOC, image:

Church Rock (Original)

Personally, I prefer the gently HDR’ed version for the extra drama it brings out of the rock face.  Like many features in the west, I thought it could be interesting in black and white as well:

Church Rock B&W

Here I did the black and white conversion using onOne Perfect B&W (onOne’s software is really starting to grow on me).

But what about a more abstract look?  If you’re going to play in software, why settle for subtlety?

Church Rock Van Gogh

The above version used Topaz Impression (a la Van Gogh) to smooth away some of the distracting details.

Finally, the most abstract version of all, using an iOS app called Brushstrokes:

Church Rock Brushstroke

I love the look this gives the scene, I could almost see this on a book cover of some western-themed novel.  Sadly, though, the image breaks down the closer to 100% you view it at.

So which version of the scene is your favorite?