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Black and White question

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retta View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote retta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Black and White question
    Posted: 27 August 2017 at 16:21
1/200 f/4.5 ISO 100 Sony A77M2, 50mm Minolta lens (the only one I was carrying, lol)
I want to learn to process/shoot black and white properly. I shot this in color and changed it up a bit. I photoshopped it on an SW2700 BenQ monitor calibrated with ColorMunki. I will be learning how to correct those leaning buildings as best I can without proper tilt shift lenses next. I have two questions:
1. Is this properly processed, or did I miss something that will have more impact? I am looking for something that isn't too "contrasty", or unsaturated.
2. Could I have composed this differently to have more impact?

[IMG]chicago by Retta Edling, on Flickr[/IM
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote 4paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 August 2017 at 19:36
Hi retta!
I don't know about "properly" or "more impact", my opinions are different, everyone's opinions and tastes are different.

You said you will try to straighten the vertical lines, but you will lose much of the frame so that won't necessarily improve it. I would like to see more of the reflections in the lower half of the picture so I would have tilted the camera down, but probably there is another building or something below the frame which you avoided. Some photographers will sneak into a building or stairwell or roof to get a better angle - not sure if you want to do that.

You've done well to make it "isn't too 'contrasy'" - if you want it to look 'punchier' then increasing contrast will do it, also adjusting microcontrast and/or fine contrast / local contrast, in Photoshop I think it is 'Clairty' - adjust to taste. Also sharpening has a big effect in Black and White.

For B&W conversion I will use film presets to help me get an idea if I want it to be more contrasty with deep blacks, or less contrasty with more midtones. I cycle through different film presets until I see something close to what I envision, then I customize the adjustments from there.

Hope that helps!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote artuk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 August 2017 at 19:58
@4Paul agree with most of your comments.

The composition could be a whole long discussion in it's own right. Difficult to talk about it without showing examples of how the frame could be recomposed. If you are going to correct verticals later, it's best to keep the centre vertical of the frame "straight" (vertical), otherwise you have both rotational correction and perspective correction to deal with. I might have been tempted to compose with the camera at an angle of maybe 30 degrees, to put all the straight lines in different positions around thirds across the frame.

Not being too contrasty and making something punchy is sort of mutually exclusive - contrast gives punch and definition. Clarity or other high pass sharpen / high radius sharpening probably won't make a huge different to this as there isn't much fine detail to bring out. In fact, it may make the picture look worse.

I don't know how it was converted to black and white, but some software allows a conversion that simulates the effects of black and white coloured filters, which by cutting a colour range darken or lighten other colours. The alternative is to adjust the luminosity of each colour within a black and white conversion, which can be time consuming and not always good if you don't know what you are doing or what you want to achieve. It's often better to use software presets such as colour filtering or different black and white conversions (e.g. those in Capture One) and see which works best - because the results will be highly dependant on the colours in your photo.

My gut feeling is that perhaps the picture is a little dark? I don't know how the histogram looks, but I might be tempted to increase exposure until the highlights just start to clip, and then perhaps manage them with highlight controls. That will move the midpoint up and lift the midtones.

In general, low contrast conversions emphasise mid tone and tend to move the black and white points towards the middle - this can either bring out great subtlety of tone, or make the image look flat, depending on the content. Contrasty conversions push the dark and light tones neared to the black and white point, and make the picture more dynamic, but sometimes at the expense of subtlety and tonality.

As 4Paul says, it is often best to experiment, decide on a goal, and then process towards that.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote waldo_posth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 August 2017 at 23:09
Let me take on the second question first (and this is about glass facades of large buildings and their reflections): What kind of composition could have more impact? I would try to go the path of reduction to the elementary and simple (complexify later, if you still want). For example: there is an image on the right side of your photo - a large, uniformly patterned facade with the reflection of another building in it. Concentrate on this relationship: large facade - reflection in it. Try to elaborate the reflection - particularly by "letting the shadows speak". I found that in such shots very often there is a lot of color in those shadows - unearth them, make them visible, brighter, more vivid.
This is an example in color. As you might see perspective correction is really not the most important task here but rather to create a fitting crop.

As to the first question I do not see a reason why the image hasn't been "properly processed". As you can see from my example above color maybe a very important and effective ("impact") element. If I would process such a photo in b/w I would like to see a broad spektrum of interpreting the color values into greys, blacks and whites. To do this I use NIK Silverefx (the NIK collection is still free to download). Here you have a spectrum of color filters which you can slide along to see different ways of that interpretation (among other possibilities of processing). It is possible to make color photos "glowing" by using that tool. My personal tendency is to use red, orange, yellow and green filters for the interpretation of color values. Of course, in ACR and LR you can interpret every single color by giving it a particular b/w value. That is a more complex procedure. The NIK procedure is kind of a shortcut.

Whatever you decide for - NIK Silverefx is a powerful instrument for conversion into b/w.

I would not try to master two tasks at once: 1. conversion into b/w, 2. creating images of reflections on facades. Think about color as a first step as the latter task is concerned.
"Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." (Walker Evans)   http://www.flickr.com/photos/waldo_posth/
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Post Options Post Options   Quote retta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 00:47
Each of you has answered my questions very helpfully. I have a place to start on the B&W processing.
I used the straight up black and white adjustment layer in Photoshop and sharpened, changed contrast, and a few other basic things. Sorry I wasn't clear about the tilt. I kind of like it in this photo because I like the disorienting effect, but generally really do want my buildings straight up,lol.
I hadn't really understood sliding the colors to see what they did. It confused me, so I will keep at it until it is clear.

Yes, I was avoiding crazy rooftops in the framing. If I lived there, I would try several different ways to capture this to find what I want.
I would look more toward this for one option. Or a more specific combination of the other elements. shiny buildings crop by Retta Edling, on Flickr

It is very busy and I am concerned that it is "even more too much" in color. shiny buildings - Dyxxum by Retta Edling, on Flickr

I like the information presented. You have given me a direction and I will work on it in the next week.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sybersitizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 01:57
The original composition is fine; so is the grayscale rather than color treatment; so is the contrast, and so are the converging lines. Even so, there are literally dozens of different compositions and treatments and tonal choices and perspective adjustments you could extract from this single photo. However, I doubt that any one of them could be considered inherently superior to the one you presented. You could fill a gallery with such variations if you want to; or you could say I did this well and move on now to another project. All up to you!

PS: IMO the original color version is not quite as effective. The color serves to separate the planes and reflections and help 'orient' the viewer, but I prefer the 'disorienting' version without the color clues; and I like the fact that the right side with its bright strip has been trimmed away.
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aavo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 06:09
For my eyes this pic is where straightening lines not harms the structure and pic in overall. So my fist step to do is straightening here, but it's me :)
I think you can't do much better B/W here, as the walls have without reflections mostly no soul. This is probably the most important architectural idea hugely used in contemporary design. For my eyes color pic looks better :)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote retta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 15:50
I am going into the weeds a bit with this, but... if you are looking at this as not a standard architectural photo, meaning no client hired me to show their work, what is left in this photo for you? None? It's okay to be blunt.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote retta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 15:59
Originally posted by sybersitizen sybersitizen wrote:

The original composition is fine; so is the grayscale rather than color treatment; so is the contrast, and so are the converging lines. Even so, there are literally dozens of different compositions and treatments and tonal choices and perspective adjustments you could extract from this single photo. However, I doubt that any one of them could be considered inherently superior to the one you presented. You could fill a gallery with such variations if you want to; or you could say I did this well and move on now to another project. All up to you!

PS: IMO the original color version is not quite as effective. The color serves to separate the planes and reflections and help 'orient' the viewer, but I prefer the 'disorienting' version without the color clues; and I like the fact that the right side with its bright strip has been trimmed away.


Okay. I get rather confused at this point between what "must" be in a photo and what is not to be. People like Siskind even have differing criteria within their own bodies of work. I do see many options for composition, but was afforded this one opportunity from this one angle. I thought I got it right, but I also think there are other correct ways, so we agree. It is so hard to just say I did it well and move on. I guess I think I should be sweating more over some parts of this.
A lot of the work I see has such fantastic reactions and I think it's not fantastic. It seems the answer lies in practice, study and finding my own groove. Is that what you are saying?
We agree on the color version.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aavo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 16:23
If me to answer, then ...
These building are probably high, but I miss this impression, can only imagine. For me the sky can help.
For me straightening lines feels good when the angle of shooting is not far from horisontal axxess. If I see that there is no way to have it, I try to catch whole height of the buildings and as symmetrically as possible. Shots with high resolution can mostly give solution even when FL of the lens is not the best for shooting.
And whole pic can of course be rotated, no problem if this idea works well.
But again, it is just me.

From the very first comment:
"Hi retta!
I don't know about "properly" or "more impact", my opinions are different, everyone's opinions and tastes are different."
It is so.    


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Post Options Post Options   Quote sybersitizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 16:58
Originally posted by retta retta wrote:

Okay. I get rather confused at this point between what "must" be in a photo and what is not to be. People like Siskind even have differing criteria within their own bodies of work. I do see many options for composition, but was afforded this one opportunity from this one angle.

I meant there are numerous ways to crop (and process) this single photo for different compositions, any of which can be 'successful' for lack of a better word.

I thought I got it right, but I also think there are other correct ways, so we agree. It is so hard to just say I did it well and move on. I guess I think I should be sweating more over some parts of this.

If you enjoy the exploration, keep at it until you're convinced it's done. That's pretty much the way art works.

A lot of the work I see has such fantastic reactions and I think it's not fantastic.

Again, that's pretty much the way art works!

It seems the answer lies in practice, study and finding my own groove. Is that what you are saying?

I guess so. I could add a personal story ...

I was a better photographer in my youth because of one thing: I was impassioned and inspired. I shot Kodachromes and did virtually no printing, meaning there was little option for recomposing (cropping) later. One of my personal favorite genres was abstracts. Once I saw a likely subject, my modus operandi was to analyze the scene, find an angle and composition that worked - all strictly within the viewfinder - and commit. When I look back on that collection, I don't second-guess the way I composed those shots. I liked them then, and I still like them.

Today, I have plenty of opportunity to rework any or all of my slides because I've scanned them all into digital format. However, I haven't felt an urge to do that. They were right for the guy who shot them at the time.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote retta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 17:47
Originally posted by sybersitizen sybersitizen wrote:

[QUOTE=retta]

I guess so. I could add a personal story ...

I was a better photographer in my youth because of one thing: I was impassioned and inspired. I shot Kodachromes and did virtually no printing, meaning there was little option for recomposing (cropping) later. One of my personal favorite genres was abstracts. Once I saw a likely subject, my modus operandi was to analyze the scene, find an angle and composition that worked - all strictly within the viewfinder - and commit. When I look back on that collection, I don't second-guess the way I composed those shots. I liked them then, and I still like them.

Today, I have plenty of opportunity to rework any or all of my slides because I've scanned them all into digital format. However, I haven't felt an urge to do that. They were right for the guy who shot them at the time.


I have begun to implement this kind of discipline over the summer as I am shooting film again. I am interested to see how this all goes. I think I am looking for an answer that exists within. :-)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote retta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 August 2017 at 13:56
Originally posted by Aavo Aavo wrote:

If me to answer, then ...
These building are probably high, but I miss this impression, can only imagine. For me the sky can help.
For me straightening lines feels good when the angle of shooting is not far from horisontal axxess. If I see that there is no way to have it, I try to catch whole height of the buildings and as symmetrically as possible. Shots with high resolution can mostly give solution even when FL of the lens is not the best for shooting.
And whole pic can of course be rotated, no problem if this idea works well.
But again, it is just me.

From the very first comment:
"Hi retta!
I don't know about "properly" or "more impact", my opinions are different, everyone's opinions and tastes are different."
It is so.    




I can see what you mean. I will work on it over the next couple of months and see the effect. If we had more than one tall building in my little city, I could get more practice with this scale. :-)

Thanks everyone for your input. I'm off to the field.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 August 2017 at 14:03
Originally posted by retta retta wrote:

I have begun to implement this kind of discipline over the summer as I am shooting film again. I am interested to see how this all goes. I think I am looking for an answer that exists within. :-)


I agree that shooting film does require a lot more discipline than digital. I wonder how many on the 'film's not dead' challenge never shot film seriously before they got a DSLR?
A900, A58, 5d, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
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