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5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

13 Feb

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

There are different schools of thought when it comes to black and white photography. Some believe it was a technical limitation of the past that you need to get over and move on. While others see it as a creative choice, that needs to be explored in great depths.

As camera technology gets better, with more emphasis on improved color ranges, why would you choose to shoot or process your images in black and white? In this article, we’ll look at five reasons why you might want to shoot or convert your images to black and white.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

1. B&W Helps you see differently

The old “Masters” of photography shot in black and white initially, because they had no choice. Even with the advent of Kodachrome, which introduced the world to color photography, there was still a pursuance of black and white. This was because black and white was (and still is by some people) seen as photography in its the purest form.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

When you remove color the emphasis shifts to the other compositional elements of the image. These include lines, shape and texture, contrasts and tones.

With this in mind, it is obvious that not all images will translate well to black and white. So, look at all the elements and deduce what else you have to work with, besides color.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

Many times black and white helps you develop a different perspective from what you are used to seeing, which nurtures your photographic eye.

2. B&W Eliminates distractions

You are used to seeing the world in color and there nothing is wrong with that view. Sometimes this contributes to other elements or details being lost or taken for granted. Some of the elements (highlighted before) required for a great photo include contrast, texture, lighting, shape, and form.

When you shoot for black and white, you challenge yourself to remove the distraction of color. These include color casts and differences in color temperature (ambient light sources), as well as specific colorful elements that are strong, which may reside in the background or take away from your story.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

Monochromatic imagery forces you to focus on form, shape, and texture while composing. If your emphasis is on making colors work together, these elements are sometimes overlooked. With black and white, distracting colors are now translated into shades of gray that add to your image.

3. B&W Offers creative choice

Since your world is in color, it is safe to say that color photography depicts reality and is more realistic. Thus, black and white photography is viewed as a rendition of reality – or how you interpret what you see.

When you remove color, you not only isolate the different elements, you are compelled to find how they relate to each other. This helps you explore and create different ways to tell your story.

When you take away color, you remove what your viewer is used to seeing. Now you are charged with finding the stronger elements in the scene and figuring out how to use them to convey what you want to depict.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

4. Adds emotion or mood

Something about the variance of tonal ranges, rich blacks, and deep contrasts appeal to us psychologically. It creates a connection that makes you stop and pay attention to what is being presented.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

Many photographers use black and white for storytelling in travel and street photography, as well as when portraying religious or cultural activities. Monochrome in some genres connects, enhances and strengthens emotions and mood.

5. Timelessness

Even though this is lower on the list, it is one of the more common reasons why some photographers shoot in black and white. Monochromatic photography adds what is seen as a timeless quality to your images.

Black and white photos seem to transcend reality and take you back to a time gone by. Historically there were color schemes that were specific to types of film or trends in digital photography that can date your image. The removal of color makes it tougher to figure out when the image was taken/produced.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

Bonus

You no longer have to imagine what your scene will look like in black and white, as current camera technology allows you to try this on the spot and see if it works. While some photographers prefer to shoot in black and white, others prefer to shoot in color and then process or convert their images to black and white to get a different or better tonal range.

Note: If you shoot RAW format and set your camera to its version of the monochrome setting, you will see a black and white preview on the LCD when you review your images. But you will still have all the color data available in the RAW file at the post-processing stage. This gives you the best of both worlds – a quick b/w preview and ability to convert later.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

This image was shot in black and white using the camera’s monochrome settting.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

This image was shot in color and then converted to black and white in the processing stage.

Conclusion

While black and white photography still has an important role in photography, please note that not all subjects translate well to this mode. Even though a strong composition is not color dependent, sometimes the power of the photo is its color. This is why it is good to know when to use black and white.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography
If you are interested in pursuing the monochromatic, look for the other elements of composition like texture, shape, form, lines, and contrast. Experiment with shooting and processing black and white images and figure out which resonates with you more.

The post 5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography by Nisha Ramroop appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Weekly Photography Challenge – White on White

26 Jan

If it is still winter and is blustery and snowy, this one will be easy for you.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Your challenge is to photograph a white subject on a white background. The trick here is to use light to your advantage. Usually, with a white subject, you’ll want to create a high-key or all light toned image. But you don’t have to do so, get creative. Use some shadows and create a dramatic image.

Use directional light to add dimension and show the shape of the subject. You will need some shadows to separate the subject from the background. So let’s see what you can do.

Weekly Photography Challenge – White on White

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – White on White by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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How to do Black and White Conversion with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

22 Jan

Now that we’ve poked around ACD System’s most capable software – having worked out a decent Photo Studio Ultimate workflow, as well as ways to make migration as easy as it can be – I think it may be time to actually use it.

After all, photography is the whole point, right? And, as much as we may sometimes dislike this fact, post-processing is very much part of it. So, this time, no ratings, no color labels, keywords, or metadata. No presets, either. In fact, we’ll only be touching on a small part of the Photo Studio package. Mainly the Develop mode, or however much of it we might need for a black and white portrait of an immensely charming lady. This is refreshing.

An important disclaimer: As has been stated on numerous occasions (so many times, in fact, that you may have learned this paragraph by heart) the license for this copy of ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate has been provided by ACD Systems. Having said that, the article has not been dictated by the company in the slightest, not even the task itself. My words are always my own, so take that for what it’s worth.

About the Portrait

The curious and geeky among you may wonder about the context behind this unusually-composed photograph, and I will gladly satisfy said curiosity and geekiness. The lady’s name is Ona (or Anna, if you will). She is a 94-year-old ex-partisan and exile survivor from my hometown, known better here by her codename, Acacia. Along with that, she is an immensely lovely old woman with a brilliantly sharp mind and memory.

I find her beautiful, most of all because, after being betrayed by her loved one, stabbed, shot, imprisoned and tortured, there is little bitterness to be found in her words. This portrait was taken as we met for the second time when I took her on a promised trip to a nearby forest.

The best part of this process we call taking portraits is everything that happens before the click and after the camera is cozy in its bag again. This is the part to savor, not the visual proof, the byproduct of simple human interaction. Whether you like the given portrait or find it exceedingly average, the experience is beyond all that. It was a lovely evening, and lovely company to be in.

The data

Unlike a different portrait of Acacia keen-eyed readers may have noticed in one of my previous articles, this one’s not an already-perfectly-black-and-white Ilford HP5 Plus negative. Instead, it’s a Fujifilm X-Pro2 RAW file, taken with the XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens, then converted to DNG. And, upon close examination, this is a lovely, natural-looking image. ACDSee Photo Studio is handling it very well.

But none of it matters. Not the camera, or the lens, or the aperture (f/2) and ISO (that’s at base 200). Not the image sensor, the size of it, or the resolution. Before we even start talking about tones and their curves, here’s a secret about portraits, whether black and white or of gentle color – it’s about the light. Really, if there was one thing for you to take from this article, repeat after me— it is all about the light.

Even when it’s as unassuming, as undramatic and soft as it was on that warm May evening, this is where you start your post-processing. Beforehand. It’s the crucial first step.

Get the light right, and you’ll have the most fun, and the simplest time at the computer bringing about the final touches. Photo Studio will help you here and make the task easy. Get the light wrong, and no effects, no HDRs, clarity sliders, and dynamic ranges will save the image.

With the romantic bit out of the way, let’s get to it.

Black and White Conversion with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Bump the Contrast to high. Using the Tone Curves, deepen the shadows further, and bring out the highlights until they are almost white. Use the Sharpness slider liberally to emphasize the wrinkles. Something missing? Finish up with a dash of vignetting. Skin as bright as the sky, shadows as deep as … something else vaguely poetic. All the experience reflecting in the now-shocking creases on her face.

This is everything we are not going to do.

Not to say that there is something wrong with high-contrast black and white photography, but thinking every portrait of an older person needs to be accompanied by a healthy (read – senseless) dose of clarity/contrast is a cliché I will gladly call out. Acacia is soft in her expression. The light is soft. Her feather-light hair is soft. Let’s keep it that way. Let’s not bring drama where there is only calm. Let’s not try to change what seems to come naturally from all this softness. Let’s, instead, start with color.

Strange as it may sound, converting a digital image file to black and white means working with color. In fact, from a certain point, it’s almost no different than working with a color image. Especially when post-processing with portraits, understanding skin tones and what colors lie there is extremely important (a lot of red), because that, along with the light, will dictate a large part of the adjustments to be made. And, as ever is the case when working with color…

1. White Balance

Setting the White Balance (to taste) is mandatory, and is the natural first step. Now, Fujifilm is usually so very, very accurate when it comes to color temperature. It doesn’t really do the “warm glow” thing and sticks to a more neutral tone overall. Some might even call it cool (in both a color temperature and the “it rocks” sense of the word)

How to do Black and White Conversion with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

My White Balance adjustment is subtle and verging on unnecessary. A bump of just around 500 degrees towards the warm side (from 5000K to 5500K). I may come back to this setting at some point, but before diving into gray tones, I tend to give myself a technically good starting point, a decently-exposed, decently-toned image. This small adjustment seems to have done the trick for now.

Speaking of technical things, I also tend to fix any visibly-irritating distortion, vignetting, and image straightness at the very start, when necessary.

Black and White Portraits with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate
Black and White Portraits with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

NOTE: Jumping ahead a bit, I will show you what I mean about white balance and black and white photography. Notice how adjusting this one setting that is seemingly unrelated to black and white conversion (from around 2450K degrees to our chosen 5500K) changes the overall look of the image.

The impact of warmer or cooler color introduced with WB adjustment depends on how dark/light and prevalent certain color ranges are. As you tweak Tone Curves and lightness/darkness of individual color ranges using Color EQ/Advanced Black & White tools, the effect of the WB adjustment will become more noticeable. But it’s a complex process and quite difficult to accurately predict.

2. Convert to Black and White

There are three ways to do black and white conversions with ACDSee Photo Studio Develop mode.

The first one involves adjusting the Saturation slider (General tab) to -100. The second involves desaturating each individual color range using the Color EQ tool. Obviously, neither way is particularly practical. Unsurprisingly, the third option proves to make the most sense – simply change the Treatment setting from Color to Black & White at the very top of the General tab, above the Exposure slider.

All three options render the exact same initial conversion, so using the most convenient (and most easily reversed) method is, well – you get the idea. Using the Treatment method will disable the Saturation adjustment slider and replace the Color EQ tool with the Advanced Black & White tool.

How to do Black and White Conversion with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Change the Treatment setting from Color to Black & White on the General tab.

3. Overall Contrast

I have likely noticed that the initial conversion is fairly low-contrast. For me, that’s good. I like to start off with a flat look and work from there (and I already love how soft and beautifully toned the hair is). For the general contrast of the image, I tend to use the Tone Curves. The contrast slider is fine for adjusting general contrast by just a smidge but is too imprecise when a more pronounced or more controlled adjustment is needed.

Tone Curves is an exceedingly powerful tool, of course, and I keep coming back to it again and again during post-processing, just to make tiny adjustments. When using the Tone Curve, I don’t pay too much attention to areas that I know are of mostly one specific color, like trees and grass. Even if these areas are a little off, I’ll be adjusting them later on using the color tools.

What matters to me is the general look, the shadows, and the highlights. Here, a mild adjustment of the shadows is enough.

Black and White Portraits with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Before Tone Curves

Black and White Portraits with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

After Tone Curves has been tweaked.

To keep the image subtle and calm, I’ve left the highlights as they were and only really pulled the shadows down a touch. Nothing too drastic, just enough to emphasize that soft light. Note how the bright tones of Acacia’s face and hair remain almost identical, but the deeper shadows have corrected the sense of flatness to a degree.

We are not quite done yet, but this is now closer to what I envisioned.

4. Back to Color

I think it’s possible to do a decent black and white conversion using just the Tone Curves, or alternatively just the color adjustments. At least if the first step is done well – remember my point about the light? But, when used together, these tools work at their best.

Switching to the Luminance tab of the Color EQ tool allows us to adjust the brightness of each individual color channel. In other words, I can adjust how dark or bright my reds, blues, greens, and other colors, each separately. This means two things; you have a very high degree of control, and also unlimited ways to mess something up. I’d say we should avoid the latter.

My issue with this image lies mostly in the grassy area. You see, there are at least two things that I can do to emphasize Acacia’s face. I can go down the “clarity and contrast everything” route and just keep working those Tone Curves further. Alternatively, (this is clearly my preferred choice) I can de-emphasize the area that surrounds the main visual element, to make her stand out a bit more.

In other words, I’ll just pull down the grass tones to make them slightly darker using the Advanced Black & White adjustments. As I’ve mentioned before, this tool allows control over the luminance of individual color ranges. The Advanced Black & White tab allows grab-and-pull action on the image itself if you’re ever unsure what colors are in that area. In this particular case, I know it’s mostly green and yellow.

Black and White Portraits with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Again, this is a subtle adjustment, but it has helped make Acacia’s face stand out more. As ever, there’s plenty of room to push further. But, knowing I’d be making some more adjustments afterward, I didn’t. Keep in mind I’m doing this all to personal taste.

One might proceed to adjust the tonality of skin, for example. But I’ve found it to be to my liking already, so why tweak something just for the sake of it? And if you’re curious about the Purple and Magenta colors, that’s for the hair and sweater. We are now nearly done!

5. Final Critical Touches

The last adjustments (not counting any going back and forth with the tools that have already been used) are made using the Light EQ tool. What this tool does is give you precise control over shadows and highlights, the same way Color EQ/Advanced Black & White allows precise control over colors.

Light EQ is actually not that different from Tone Curves but can be a little easier to use and it doesn’t seem like such a global adjustment. I use it when I only need to make small changes like save a highlight here and there, or bring out a shadow or two. A subtler operation is easier with Light EQ than with Tone Curves.

My goal here was to make sure all the shadows and highlights of Acacia’s face were in order and not too harsh. But because I knew I’d be printing this on a fairly textured paper (PermaJet Portfolio Rag), I also knew I had to bring it all up a notch.

Black and White Portraits with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Black and White Portraits with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Notice how the last step, the Light EQ tool, is also perhaps the most prominent. I could have done pretty much the same with the Tone Curves, but Light EQ has made it easier. I also find the Standard mode the most user-friendly, while still offering plenty of control.

After setting the Tone Bands to 9 from the default 5, I could make the adjustments with enough precision. The image is nowhere near as flat as it was when we started off, but the fundamentals are very much the same.

6. Final Less Critical Touches

Once the overall look of the portraits is as I envisioned, it’s time to take care of the little things, like sharpness, noise reduction, and such.

That’s It!

Over the years, I’ve found that when it comes to photography the less you tweak the better. The simpler tools you use, the more you learn to focus on the image itself rather than effects and wow-factors. I believe this article is a supporting example of such a point of view and I hope you’ve picked up some tips for black and white conversion using ACDSee’s Photo Studio Ultimate.


Disclaimer: ACD Systems is a paid partner of dPS

The post How to do Black and White Conversion with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate by Romanas Naryškin appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

20 Jan

Some photographers use Photoshop for converting photos to black and white, others use plugins. But what you might not know is that you can create beautiful black and white images with Lightroom. The benefit of keeping your workflow within Lightroom is that it saves you a lot of hard drive space (as the only way to send a full-quality photo file to a plugin or to Photoshop is to convert it to a 16 bit TIFF).

The tips in this article will help you create beautiful black and white photos in Lightroom without Photoshop or an extra plugin!

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

1. Shoot Raw

The first tip is quick and simple. You need to use the Raw format to make the most out of your camera and for Lightroom to get the best out of your photo files. JPEG files have already been developed and compressed by the camera and don’t contain the information that Lightroom needs to make a good black and white conversion.

2. Learn to use the B&W tab

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom - B&W panel

The B&W tab is part of the HSL / Color / B&W panel. When you click on the B&W tab, Lightroom converts your photo to black and white. At the same time, it automatically adjusts the Black & White Mix sliders (see below) to the settings it thinks will give you the best black and white conversion.

As this is an automated process, it is quite likely that you’d like to take control and override the settings. But first, you need to know what the Black & White Mix sliders actually do. They work very simply and make the tones in your photo lighter or darker according to the underlying color.

The easiest way to explain this is with examples. The color photo below has a deep blue sky which would look great in black in white.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

When you click on the B&W tab Lightroom carries out an automatic conversion. This is what the photo looks like.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

And these are the Black & White Mix sliders as set by Lightroom.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

Tweak it a bit

The conversion looks good, but you can take control by moving the sliders yourself to see what happens. In this example, you could move the Blue slider left to make the sky darker, which would make the conversion even more dramatic. Or you could move it right to make the sky lighter and give a softer, more subtle conversion. It’s up to you.

You can see the difference when I move the Blue slider more to the left.

 

Here the blue sider is at -30.

Or move it to the right and the sky gets lighter: Blue + 25

Skin tones

The next example shows how the Orange slider makes a big difference to Caucasian skin tones. Here’s a portrait converted to black and white in Lightroom, with the Black & White Mix settings as chosen automatically by Lightroom.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

This is what happens when you move the Orange slider. To the left makes skin darker – to the right makes it lighter.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

Orange at -31. It makes the model’s skin darker and brings out its texture. If that is not desired – move the Orange slider to the right. 

Orange at 0.

Orange at +20

Experiment with the B&W Mix sliders to see the effect they have on your photos. Keep these points in mind as you do so:

  • The sliders always affect the underlying colors in the photo. If it helps to see the colors in your photo so you can understand which tones are affected by which sliders, click on the Color tab in the HSL / Color / B&W panel. Click the B&W tab again to return to black and white and your settings will not be lost.
  • The B&W panel is for subtle adjustments. If you move the sliders too far you’ll get strange effects like pixelation. Try not to go past +35 or -35.
  • If there are people in your photos pay attention to skin tones when adjusting the Red, Orange, or Yellow sliders. Zoom into 100% to double check your adjustments haven’t done anything odd to their skin tones.

3. Apply Clarity wisely

Clarity is a powerful adjustment that increases contrast, emphasizes texture, and adds punch to your black and white photos. But it needs to be used wisely in order to avoid an overcooked look. If you are new to Lightroom this can be hard to judge at first, but a good rule of thumb is to always add a little less Clarity than you think you need.

Another tip is that Clarity may be more effective when it’s applied locally. A good example of this is a photo taken with a prime lens at a wide aperture, with the subject in sharp focus and a blurred background. In this situation, it’s best to apply Clarity to the sharp areas using a local adjustment.

Let’s look at some examples. In the first, the entire scene is sharp. You can apply Clarity globally (using the slider in the Basic panel) to photos like these. Here, I set Clarity to +80 to emphasize the texture of the metal.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

In the second, I applied Clarity only to the cow’s head, but not to the blurred part of the photo, using the Adjustment Brush.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

This screenshot shows the mask created by the Adjustment Brush.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

4. Learn from Lightroom develop presets

Follow the tips in this article and you’ll have a good foundation for working in black and white in Lightroom. Now it’s time to get even more creative. There are lots of techniques you can use, from Tone Curve adjustments to Split Toning and manipulating contrast.

One of the best ways to learn these techniques is to download Develop Presets made by other photographers. These are helpful if you are new to black and white photography by giving you a quick and easy way to convert your photos to black and white without paying too much attention to the details.

But you can also learn a great deal from those presets by analyzing the settings used. Go into all the Develop module panels and see what the photographer has done. For example, I developed the photo below using a preset.

Black & white in Lightroom

One of its characteristics is that there are no true black tones in the photo. This is confirmed by the gap on the left side of the histogram.

4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom

How has this been achieved? The answer is in the Tone Curve panel. The creator of the preset lifted the left-side of the Tone Curve up, which gives the effect seen in the photo.

Black & white in Lightroom

Conclusion

Lightroom is a powerful tool for black and white conversions and you’ll be amazed at what it can do when you learn how to use it properly. The tips and techniques in this article will get you started. If you have any questions about this then please let us know in the comments!


SuperBlack Presets for Lightroom

Want to get a head start with black and white? Take a look at my SuperBlack Presets for Lightroom, developed to help photographers like you create powerful black and white photos in Lightroom.

The post 4 Tips For Better Black and White Photos In Lightroom by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Weekly Photography Challenge – Black and White Portraits

16 Dec

There is something very appealing about the simplicity of a portrait in black in white. It becomes less about the setting, background and environment and more about the person being photographed.

This week we want to see what you can do to create your best black and white portraits. Here are some articles to help if you need assistance:

  • How to Create Good Black and White Portraits
  • 5 More Tips for Making Better Black and White Portraits
  • 3 Simple Steps to Craft Better Black and White Photos
  • Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes in Black and White Photography
  • A Guide to Black and White Conversion in Photoshop
  • A Guide to Black and White Conversion in Lightroom

Weekly Photography Challenge – Black and White Portrait

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

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Retrographic: The world’s most iconic black & white images brought to life in color

19 Nov

There’s an incredibly talented online community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers who spend their free time bringing iconic black-and-white photography to life in color. You typically find their work on Facebook, Reddit, or occasionally featured on photo blogs, but we’ve never seen it published in any official printed capacity we’d want to display on a coffee table… until now.

Retrographic: History’s Most Exciting Images Transformed Into Living Color is a photo book released in September that any photo lover would be proud to own and display. A labor of love created alongside the aforementioned colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers, the book is the brain-child of author, photo-curator, and Royal Photographic Society member Michael D. Carroll.

“Through the careful selection of striking images and dedicated colorization research, Retrographic takes the reader on a visual tour of the distant past,” explains Carroll. “Many of these moments are already burned into our collective memory through the power of photography as shared by people across the 190-year long Age of the Image. And now, these visual time capsules are collected together for the first time and presented in living color.”

The book contains 120 images in all, including some of the most iconic and influential in history—The Burning Monk, V-J Day in Times Square, The Wright Brothers’ First Flight, and many many more. As Carroll explained to us over email, the idea was to present people with a photographic history they could more easily relate to:

There is a tendency for people of the present to look back at history in black and white, which can be highly aesthetic in that black and white makes the subject look pleasing to many people. However, black and white can make the viewer feel detached from the subject. We hope that adding color breathes life into historical images and reconnects people to those who went before and helps us to understand and empathize with them.

And if the colorized photos aren’t enough, the book’s remaining 73 pages are filled will “informational gems” and narrative, including a forward by Royal Photographic Society Ambassador Jeff Vickers.

You can browse through a sampling of the images included in the book below, and if you want to learn more about Retrographic, visit the book’s Facebook page, or pick it up for yourself on Amazon.

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Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Luminar – The New Powerhouse for Fine Art Black and White Conversions

14 Nov

I recently embarked on a project of creating black and white images for an upcoming exhibit at an art gallery. The images have been shot, now the only question that remains is how will I handle the post-processing. In years past I’ve relied heavily on Lightroom and also Nik Silver Efex (yep remember that program). I have found, however, that the black and white conversions and looks created by the Nik Collection are starting to get a little dated.

It was very trendy some years ago to process in Silver Efex, but now that Google is no longer updating the program I find that the presets are not working as well for creating looks that appeal to today’s art buyers.

Luminar - The New Powerhouse for Fine Art Black and White Conversions

One of the images in the collection. I used Lightroom for some initial adjustments then used Luminar as a plugin to finish off the editing.

So I decided to process my images using Luminar by Macphun. I was already familiar with the program and the easy to use interface, so I thought I would push myself a little further and edit these images looking specifically to process for black and white.

Preset Black and White Workspace

One of the first things to be aware of is that Luminar offers a Black and White specific workspace. By clicking on the workspace tab, you will bring up a variety of tools that will help you to process for black and white conversions.

The workspace includes some filters like Colour filters, Exposure/Contrast, Highlights/Shadows, as well as Clarity/Detail, and a few others. The Curves filter is nicely constructed in that you can adjust RGB as well as the separate colors with just a simple click of the mouse.

Luminar - The New Powerhouse for Fine Art Black and White Conversions

In this image, you can see that I’ve set the workspace to B&W for black and white conversion.

I was also able to add additional filters to the list and remove others quickly and easily. For the majority of my images, I don’t tend to use textures, so I removed this filter from the workspace. If I were to process another set of images, I might use this filter, but for now, it was easier to remove it. You will notice that once you start adding or removing filters, the workspace becomes a custom setup.

Create your customized Workspace

One of the features that I like about Luminar is the fact that I can create a customized workspace. I am still in the process of tweaking my black and white filters so I can quickly and easily choose a specific workspace with which to start. One that will offer me the filters I need for easy black and white conversions aiming at a variety of different looks. For instance, I can create workspaces for grungy black and white conversions as well as ones that would mimic vintage film looks.

So I added filters to the workspace and made a custom set for processing to my tastes. Filters I removed; Texture Overlay, Grain, Soft Glow, Curves, and Vignette. I added the Advanced Contrast filter. You can also collapse any of the filters you aren’t working at the moment by clicking the little triangle icon just left of the filter name. That will give you more work area and less need to scroll up and down the filters panel.

Adjustment Brushes

Luminar also offers users the opportunity to make specific local adjustments with the Brush and Radial Mask tools. For one specific image, I used the brush to paint in my adjustments to only specific parts of the image. The brush tool creates a mask where you can selectively apply edits to your image.

Read more about this technique here: How to use Filter Masks in Luminar for Powerful Local Adjustments

Here you can see how I am applying the Highlight/Shadow filter only to a select area using the brush and a filter mask.

Workflow

So without further ado, I will take you through the steps I used to edit this image. As you will see, Luminar is a very quick and simple to use program that lets you edit your work in the matter of a few moments.

Step 1 – Presets

I always start by viewing my images in the presets. Who knows, one of them might just work and then my job is done. Luminar has these huge previews of each preset at the bottom of the screen, I find them very useful. This one is called “Bloody Mary”. I like the hint of color it includes but for this upcoming exhibit it won’t fit with the rest of the images so I’ll have to save this effect for later.

Step 2 – Black & White Workspace

Next, I chose the Black and White workspace and then started to adjust the black and white points. I like to make sure that each of my images contains the full range of tones right from pure white to pure black. This is always one of my first steps. I make sure that my histogram touches both the left and right edges. This step is very important as it gives my prints a lot of depth.

Before adjusting the Black and White point sliders. Notice the lack of contrast in the image.

After adjusting the Black and White point sliders. This sets the pure black and pure white in the image and adds contrast.

Step 3 – Color Filters

My next step was to play with the color filters and sliders and see how they would affect the look of the image. Sometimes using a filter makes a specific part of the image pop. For this particular shot, I want to emphasize the bands of light that played across the tree trunk.

To do this click on “Edit” next to the colored circles, and then on the Luminance (brightness) tab. That will allow you to adjust the tones of each color individually. Play with them each to see how they affect your image.

In this image, if I move the red slider all the way to the left, you will see that the tones on the rock get considerably darker. While moving the slider to the left adds light to this part of the shot.

Before adjusting the color sliders.

Red slider to the left darkens any tones in the image that are red.

Red slider to the right lightens red and darkens opposite colors.

Step 4 – Structure

I wanted this shot to be much grittier and defined, so I adjusted the Structure Filter as well. The texture in the bark is important for the effect of the light on the trunk. The structure slider helps emphasize this.

These two shots show the effect Structure has on this image. In this first image, I’ve purposely moved the slider all the way to the left so you can see the effect. The second shot shows the slider moved further to the right. The ridges of the bark become much more defined as I played with this slider.

Structure Slider pulled all the way to the left.

Final toned-down Structure Slider.

Step 5 – Split Toning

For this series of images, I am pairing urban shots with nature shots. All the nature shots, however, were taken somewhere within the city of Toronto. The photos will also contain a slight hint of blue. I love that tone when it’s printed out on my textured fine art paper. I also like to pair this hint of blue with a slightly grey/blue matte when I frame the images for the gallery exhibit. It’s a subtly unique look.

You can see here I’ve exaggerated the saturation to determine if I liked the color. Then, once I had the hue I liked, I toned the colors down to add just a subtle hint of blue to the black and white image. I also adjusted the balance so that the tone of blue will show more in the shadows than in the highlights.

Exaggerated Split Toning Filter to judge the color.

Final Split Toning settings and look.

Step 6 – Final Adjustments

Finally, I added an Advanced Contrast filter. I wanted to give the details within the image some punch and this slider worked beautifully on this image. You can play around with the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows separately. After some adjusting, I shifted the highlight slider further to the right adjusting the effect of the contrast on the tree bark.

Advanced Contrast Filter turned off.

Advanced Contrast filter added.

Conclusion

Well, that’s it, folks. The editing was very quick and simple. The image is complete for now. I always like to leave my work for a few days and then come back to view the image again. A set of fresh eyes always helps in fine-tuning the details.

In closing, Luminar has proved to be a very quick and easy-to-use tool for completing black and white conversions. It offers the same versatility and creative opportunities as other programs and is truly a powerful application.

Before and after comparison. You can use the handy before/after slider to see all the changes you’ve made to your image. Just click the little icon at the top that looks like an open book, and move the slider across your image to see the effects.

Before and after image, side-by-side.

I like the fact that I can use it as both a stand-alone product and a plug-in for Lightroom. The interface is certainly easier to navigate than other programs and I enjoy working in Luminar. That certainly says something as I’m not the type who likes to mess around with post-processing.

Disclaimer: Macphun is a dPS advertising partner.

The post Luminar – The New Powerhouse for Fine Art Black and White Conversions by Erin Fitzgibbon appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Video Tutorial – Tips for Making Dramatic Black and White Landscape Photos

21 Oct

Shooting for black and white requires you to see a scene and think a little differently. You’re looking for a contrast of tones, not color, and it can be hard to “see” in black and white if you’re new to shooting in monochrome.

Here is a short video with some practical tips you can apply to create more dramatic black and white landscape photos.

If you want more help with your black and white here are a few more dPS articles on the topic:

  • How to Enhance your Black and White images with Infrared Photography
  • 3 Simple Steps to Craft Better Black and White Photos
  • 6 Tips to Help You Make Better Black and White Landscape Photos
  • Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes in Black and White Photography
  • A Guide to Black and White Conversion in Photoshop

The post Video Tutorial – Tips for Making Dramatic Black and White Landscape Photos by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Weekly Photography Challenge – Black and White Landscape

21 Oct

Landscape photography is a popular genre, but it can be hard to do it really well.

If you want to take your landscape images to the next level – try shooting some in black and white! There is some help here if you need it: Video Tutorial – Tips for Making Dramatic Black and White Landscape Photos. 

Photo by Yuriy Garnaev on Unsplash

Weekly Photography Challenge – Black and White Landscape

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images on the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

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Cooling Cities: L.A. is Painting Streets White to Combat Heat Island Effects

15 Sep

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Thanks in part to heat-absorbing materials and colors, cities tend to be warmer than their natural surroundings, and in hot places with lots of dark roads like Los Angeles that can prove a serious public health hazard.The mayor has pledged to reduce temperatures in the city by 3 degrees over the next 20 years, in part by dealing with urban heat island effects in new and different ways.

As part of this promise to help make bring down temperatures for its millions of residents, LA is trying something that could dramatically change its urban landscape: repainting roads in white. The aim is to reflect rather than absorb heat and so far the results are extremely promising.

“We found that on average the area covered in CoolSeal is 10 degrees cooler than black asphalt on the same parking lot,” said Greg Spotts, the assistant director of the Bureau of Street Services for San Fernando Valley, an area with particularly severe heat problems.

It’s not just about open public spaces either: reducing exterior temperatures has impacts on adjacent interiors. Heat reductions outside and mean cooler spaces inside area homes and businesses. In turn, this can help residents and owners save on cooling costs. It also isn’t just a daytime problem: heat captured during the day is released into the night air, keeping things hotter around the clock.

The process doesn’t come cheap, however: each coat lasts for around seven years but prices out around $ 40,000 per linear mile. If it works, though, the cost could be offset in part by savings on other fronts, in addition to making for a more healthy metropolis all around. Meanwhile, other strategies are also in play — the city is looking to make roofs brighter, for instance, and bring more green into the mix. (via Inhabitat and L.A. Times, images by Greg Spotts and Giuseppe Milo).

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

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