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Author Topic: More B&W  (Read 2959 times)

armand

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More B&W
« on: December 07, 2010, 12:37:58 AM »

I kept playing with B&W conversion in LR and I got few more pictures. Some look better in B&W than in color. Most are from Acadia, few from Arizona.
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armand

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2010, 12:39:46 AM »

the mountain one I posted it in the past as a color version.
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armand

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2010, 12:47:13 AM »

Looking over again I realize none is from Arizona, but from Texas and New Mexico  ;D
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John R Smith

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2010, 07:09:54 AM »

Armand

I'm not sure quite why nobody is replying to your post, perhaps it is because you have snowed us with rather a lot of pictures here. Anyhow -

My personal favourites are BW2b (the beach scene) and BW3 (the desert landscape). Both of these seem to be strong compositions, and are nicely done. My nit-picking observations would be that with this kind of landscape work you have to be an absolute fanatic for fine detail on every technical issue. For example, with the beach scene I just sense that the horizon is not quite horizontal. Be good to level it up. And your lens is causing you problems in the lower corners, which are going soft.

As a B/W fanatic myself, I think you need to work a bit more on your conversions from colour originals. LR has all the tools you need to do this, but you have to be prepared to put some time and effort into it. These shots do at present look rather "flat", which is typical of what happens if you just convert a colour shot and hope for the best.

OK, I'll stick my neck out and give you my basic recipe (the rest of you can just go and giggle in the corner).

* Convert to B/W using the LR default settings (Brightness 50, Contrast 25 etc).

* Set EV so that specular highlights are just clipping.

* Set Black so that you have proper solid black in your key shadow areas. So at this point you have pegged each end of the Histogram.

* With certain photos, a touch of Shadow fill can really work wonders now.

* Contrast will usually be fine at the default 25, but if you increase it be careful not to lose detail in the delicate highlights.

* Detail will often work wonders on complex landscapes, by increasing the internal contrast of the image. A setting of 20 is a good start.

* Then, last but certainly not least, adjust Brightness to get your basic luminosity where you want it. I often end up around 64. This is effectively a mid-point gamma adjustment, remember. You can push it around quite a way without the image breaking-up, because the end-points of the Histogram are nailed down.

These settings are only a start, but should get you in the ballpark, as they say. If you already know all this stuff, then yes you can just write me off as an old fart  :D

John
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 07:27:40 AM by John R Smith »
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Dave (Isle of Skye)

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2010, 08:21:29 AM »

Hi,

I like shots 2 and 4, because I like the abstract nature of them.

Photobloke
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armand

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2010, 09:56:03 AM »

Actually I didn't. As I said I had a couple of books and I was trying to go partially with what was recommended in one of them, things that were not quite as you said  >:(  I'll get to the second book and see, maybe on the internet also, as I did spend quite a lot of time with them (30-60 min/photo in LR3, or more). I usually start with the preset Look 3 in LR and go from there. Thanks a lot anyway, I guess I have to revisit all my shots again.

That beach shot is actually level, it's just an optical illusion. The initial one wasn't but I did level it afterwards in LR. The lens was a Sigma 8-16, and without really good focus and cropping I don't know how to get rid of the soft corners. Maybe I should use more DxO for geometry and detail (I don't latelly, as I shot mainly landscapes and perfect geometric correction is usually not needed).


PS. I'm curious about BW2d, as I still don't know what to make of it. The technical part is not great and I don't know if people can get over it or not
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 09:58:11 AM by armand »
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John R Smith

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2010, 10:32:25 AM »

That beach shot is actually level, it's just an optical illusion. The initial one wasn't but I did level it afterwards in LR. The lens was a Sigma 8-16, and without really good focus and cropping I don't know how to get rid of the soft corners. Maybe I should use more DxO for geometry and detail (I don't latelly, as I shot mainly landscapes and perfect geometric correction is usually not needed).

My mistake then, Armand, I expect my sense of the horizontal is getting tired . . . Forget DxO, get yourself a better lens.

As I said I had a couple of books and I was trying to go partially with what was recommended in one of them, things that were not quite as you said  >:(  I'll get to the second book and see, maybe on the internet also, as I did spend quite a lot of time with them (30-60 min/photo in LR3, or more). I usually start with the preset Look 3 in LR and go from there. Thanks a lot anyway, I guess I have to revisit all my shots again.

I never use any of the factory presets in LR. To be blunt, they are pants. With B/W the whole objective is very different from working in colour. It really helps to have shot a lot of B/W film and to have worked in the wet darkroom, too. I didn't mean to imply that you haven't made a lot of effort and spent time on these frames, I'm sure that you have. Part of your problem is light. With colour, you can get a good or great result with very soft or diffused light or nothing special light. For B/W, we really need that light to be doing something magical and modelling the subject because we have no colour to define it, only shape, light and shade. First you have to decide where your black and white points are to be in the picture. Then you set about mapping all the tones between these two points. With B/W you can afford to clip your blacks a lot harder than you ever would in colour, in fact you should. Mind you, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with your blacks, on my monitor at least. The problem seems to be more in the upper-mids and lower highlights.

I quite often spend 2 to 3 hours on a picture, having made a couple of small workprints on the way, and then reluctantly have to accept that it isn't going to fly. Sometimes it takes me that long to realise that something is crap. And I've been taking photographs for fifty years.

John
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 10:53:23 AM by John R Smith »
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shutterpup

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2010, 12:08:46 PM »


I quite often spend 2 to 3 hours on a picture, having made a couple of small workprints on the way, and then reluctantly have to accept that it isn't going to fly. Sometimes it takes me that long to realise that something is crap. And I've been taking photographs for fifty years.

John

It's so refreshing to hear that those with experience greater than mine toil on some of their photos the way that I do, only to realize that the conversion won't go as I have it in my mind's eye ;)
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armand

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2010, 08:33:46 PM »

Another one that I had in my bag (2 slightly different versions)

« Last Edit: December 09, 2010, 08:38:14 PM by armand »
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stamper

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2010, 04:21:11 AM »

Armand

I'm not sure quite why nobody is replying to your post, perhaps it is because you have snowed us with rather a lot of pictures here. Anyhow -

Unquote

A good point. Too many posted images create a contest. A lot of posters will compare each one with another and this isn't what a critique is about. In my limited experience of B&W Photoshop or another pixel altering program will give you better results which goes against the grain of recommending working on raws. Why? Layers and blending along with masks and even channels will give "better" results if you have the time and skill. John quite rightly points out that presets don't work. After a conversion the "real" work begins,. IMO the conversion method isn't really as important as some make out. As long as you don't desaturate or change to one channel grayscale.

stamper

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2010, 04:24:32 AM »

I quite often spend 2 to 3 hours on a picture, having made a couple of small workprints on the way, and then reluctantly have to accept that it isn't going to fly. Sometimes it takes me that long to realise that something is crap. And I've been taking photographs for fifty years.

John

Your avatar portrays you as looking about forty five. Have you had a face lift? :) ;) :D

Rob C

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2010, 04:00:06 PM »

I quite often spend 2 to 3 hours on a picture, having made a couple of small workprints on the way, and then reluctantly have to accept that it isn't going to fly. Sometimes it takes me that long to realise that something is crap. And I've been taking photographs for fifty years.
John



And it isn't funny: that's what happened to me with two scans just recently: one deteriorated Kodachrome (probably my fault) with disintegration and discolouration, shot on honeymoon; another of a rather pretty model in Salamis, Cyprus, just that bit too difficult for me to retouch - great colour and condition, but it's a profile with her looking across the frame into the sun, with her head tilted up. The eye is closed, and the lid has too much lightening makeup on it. It looks horrid when reduced to 500 pixels across, my standard website size, just as if she was wearing some odd sort of plaster on the lid. I've tried cloning, curves, nothing works because all I manage to do is make it look even worse, mainly because instead of getting darker, it goes all magenta(ish) or worse. I suppose its a case of local overexposure and that's that!

The point is, I've spent two evenings at least on those images, even though I just knew it wasn't gonna work; felt stupid to be beaten by them, but as you suggest, comes a time...

Rob C

stamper

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2010, 04:08:39 AM »

Sometimes when you sit down to work on an image you aren't really in the mood. Just doing something to pass the time? If so you won't give it your best. Leave it till you're feeling in the mood and it is surprising what you can do. Also have another look at what you have done a couple of days later and you WILL find faults.

John R Smith

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2010, 03:23:15 AM »

Your avatar portrays you as looking about forty five. Have you had a face lift? :) ;) :D

The picture (a self-portrait) was taken about four years ago, when I was just 60. No face-lift (I wish!) but I was probably flattering myself with the choice of camera angle. I think everything is a bit greyer now . . .

John
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2010, 08:18:10 AM »

I think everything is a bit greyer now . . .
Maybe you should apply a gentle curves adjustment to your avatar.  ;)

Eric
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John R Smith

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2010, 08:38:31 AM »

Maybe you should apply a gentle curves adjustment to your avatar.  ;)

Eric

 :D

By the way, Armand, I like this picture of yours, and apologies for getting sidetracked. I prefer this one, version 2, which just opens things out a touch more and lets us see detail in the coat hooks -

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armand

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2010, 10:56:36 PM »

Few more. As I go through my old photos I realize there is so much life in my D50 shots, both color and BW. LR really works for some of them.

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John R Smith

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Re: More B&W
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2010, 03:51:25 AM »

Armand

I like #1 the best, it has impact and a good strong composition. Now this looks much more like proper B/W to me, with an excellent tonal range.

John
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