An epiphany


RobL

Link Posted 19/02/2020 - 23:10
I have always expressed a dislike of black and white photos where the option of colour is available; an oil or watercolour painter doesn't paint in monochrome, that is the preserve of media such as charcoal and pen and ink, so to my mind a colour sensor falls into the same category as a palette. I especially like images which use colour subtly although very rarely achieve that myself. However whilst trying and failing to process Hamlet (below) I couldn't satisfactorily resolve the amber light thrown by the floodlight so in desperation I switched to black and white and I suddenly thought it finally works. This has led me to try the same treatment on a few other photos where there was hardly if any colour present and I had been struggling to achieve something, so here they are and any comments would be welcome.









Having discovered that the K1 will take black and white photos in RAW I am resolved to look for suitable subjects and try a more authentic approach.

HarisF1

Link Posted 19/02/2020 - 23:29
Very interesting, I'd like to know more about this dislike of B/W photos - did you try to use monochrome in the past with less than decent results?

From the images you've linked I find the second to be the most compelling. It demonstrates what I like about monochrome pictures, namely the tones and contrast. It's backed by a very nice composition, as though we're following the story of the two people from a 'voyeur' perspective.

The last image doesn't really seem to work in B/W, it feels a little bit flat. Perhaps a bit more texture from the clouds would help, maybe a little bit more contrast. Or you can boost the contrast greatly, like Derek sometimes does with his mono.
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davidwozhere

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 01:21
And don't forget you can use red and green (for example) filters in PP which can make huge differences to a B&W result, either adding it or removing it.

That second image is really nice, especially the composition.
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Last Edited by davidwozhere on 20/02/2020 - 01:23

RobL

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 07:58
Thanks both, David I will try the filters and I was surprised to see what effect the colour temperature slider had. HarisF1 you are right about the last one, curiously it could have not needed a conversion as the original file is monochromatic despite being shot in colour. I have a couple as the light was changing so fast but I think I overdid the darkening. As for my dislike of b/w photos, to me colour is life and rendering a normal scene like flowers or landscape in b/w is like sucking the life out of it, if that makes sense. The ones I have selected were shot in conditions that rendered very little colour if any but the atmosphere appealed. It can become rather pretentious especially in street photography, but just rendering something in b/w doesn't make it artistic there has to be the core of a good image and a well-considered reason to render it as such. I have no problem with b/w photos by people like Ansel Adams and others from before colour became available, that was the medium available at the time and the technical processes just involved exposing a light-sensitive material; my friend summed it up nicely: "Color film/sensors are for taking pictures of colors, b&w is for taking pictures of light." I think it boils down to the appropriate use of the materials at hand, I love for instance the etchings of Norman Ackroyd link which have a softness reminiscent of collodion wet plate photos and hard to reproduce otherwise without "faking" it.

Anyhow here are a couple more from the archive newly converted:





Last Edited by RobL on 20/02/2020 - 08:05

alfpics

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 08:36
I Like all them - the subjects chosen suit the b&w well. I particulalrly like the pier structures and the archway with sun shining through. I keep meaning to try red and green filters and convert, but often don't get round to it!
Andy

swarf

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 09:51
Definitely keep at it. Of the first group, it's only the last one that doesn't work for me. The other three all have something, but I agree with others in that #2 is the stand out. Of the second group, it's the two pier shots that work best for me. It's because they both have a good level of contrast and things to focus on, whereas in the first of that group I find my eye just wanders around trying to find the key point of interest.

If you have it, I would definitely recommend using SilverEfex Pro to do your conversion. IMHO it's a far better option than either Photoshop or Lightroom.

Phil
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PeterKR

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 10:20
swarf wrote:
Definitely keep at it. Of the first group, it's only the last one that doesn't work for me. The other three all have something, but I agree with others in that #2 is the stand out. Of the second group, it's the two pier shots that work best for me. It's because they both have a good level of contrast and things to focus on, whereas in the first of that group I find my eye just wanders around trying to find the key point of interest.

If you have it, I would definitely recommend using SilverEfex Pro to do your conversion. IMHO it's a far better option than either Photoshop or Lightroom.

Phil

I also agree with Phil's comments and feel that this was a worthwhile exercise - you never know till you try and sometimes the results are a pleasant surprise.

Inspired by your work I did a conversion on a shot I took recently (the old gatehouse), using SilverEfexPro (part of the free Google NIK collection) as suggested by Phil.

I'll be watching for more pics ?

Peter
Last Edited by PeterKR on 20/02/2020 - 10:21

RobL

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 11:05
Thanks for your comments, very encouraging, I have been experimenting with the LR presets but in the end just did my own. I think I prefer this alternative to no. 4 taken a few seconds earlier:


I was on a headland when I spotted this in the distance so grabbed the 70-200mm at full stretch and rested it on a low wall, then had to jump back in the car as the rain came racing over!
Last Edited by RobL on 20/02/2020 - 11:09

LennyBloke

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 13:26
Glad to see you've come round to the dark side Rob - I think you're discovering that it's very much about the right subject for the B&W treatment and then there's the fine tuning - High Key, Low Key, etc. - You have picked some perfect candidates - the beach/pier shots and the statue for example - and your processing is well suited and nicely done. You're going to spend hours/days/weeks now going through your back-catalogue and rediscovering the beauty of your images.
LennyBloke

johnriley

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 13:29
Monochrome is a powerful choice in its own right, and these days it's one that we do make from choice, not because colour is too expensive to contemplate!

However, my feeling is that some images just cry out to be black and white and it's those that end up being powerful in their own right. Usually this means light, texture, tone, composition and content all work together and colour would introduce competing and unnecessary complication.

Enjoy your journey of discovery!
Best regards, John

RobL

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 16:26
Thanks again Lennybloke and John, I think my dislike stemmed from subjects I felt should have been in colour and had been monochromed for no valid reason. I have just been out between showers and grabbed a couple with the K1 set to b/w, the screen previews were b/w but the RAW files are in colour whilst the JPEGs are b/w; as the subject had a high dynamic range I shall have to see which files process better but I am guessing it will be the RAW files. I think I will also try some b/w film but the colour film in at present is only half used after eighteen months!

Well here are the two versions of the same image, the first is a jpeg processed in camera as b/w and with some post processing whilst the second is the RAW file with the same processing settings plus the b/w conversion. The RAW is definitely better but both have blown highlights.

And the RAW file

Last Edited by RobL on 20/02/2020 - 16:49

pschlute

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 18:18
Love the second image in your first post. A classic b+w image.
Peter



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pschlute

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 18:24
RobL wrote:


Having discovered that the K1 will take black and white photos in RAW I am resolved to look for suitable subjects and try a more authentic approach.

RAW files contain all the data captured including colour. It is the processing, either in-camera or in software that will create the b+w image.
Peter



My Flickr page

Sry

Link Posted 20/02/2020 - 22:06
LennyBloke wrote:
Glad to see you've come round to the dark side Rob

Indeed, welcome aboard!

I really don't feel there's anything right or wrong with choosing colour or b+w for any given situation (except in the case of product photography or such specific tasks). I enjoy b+w for the way it takes me away from reality (ever so slightly, or totally), for how it helps me concentrate on tones and textures, harsh contrasts (as in your piers) or subtle greys (as in your second image of the first series). Shooting (or thinking, rather) in b+w, helps me get in a certain mood, within which I am more receptive to capturing (hopefully) sensations rather than reproductions.

And yet there are others (fellow forum member Bill Ward certainly comes to mind) who manage to convey all of the above, in colour.

Just a matter of what works for you, I suppose. Plenty of great images to create either way, I'm sure!

cardiffgareth

Link Posted 22/02/2020 - 21:26
When shooting in black and white and colour is stripped away the viewer doesn't have strong colours to draw their eyes around the composition, but instead the viewer is drawn to shape, where the image looks 2D or form, where the subject has a 3D look to it. This is achieved through shadows, highlights and layers providing depth to an image.

Looking at no. 2 in the original set, the last pier image and the first of the street scenes I think they have depth, layers, great tonal ranges and are successful images.
Gareth
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