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Author Topic: Black and White Landscapes!  (Read 30759 times)

ions

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Black and White Landscapes!
« on: April 20, 2012, 09:15:53 PM »

Kernuak

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 05:33:27 AM »
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girod199

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2012, 02:30:17 AM »
I really like both of your first pictures, Kernuak and ions. Great work!


Corona Del Mar by M Girod, on Flickr


Corona Del Mar by M Girod, on Flickr


Leo Carrillo State Beach by M Girod, on Flickr


Leo Carrillo State Beach by M Girod, on Flickr


Leo Carrillo State Beach by M Girod, on Flickr

Kernuak

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2012, 03:59:59 AM »
Thanks Girod. I think B&W is a very personal thing. There are so many ways to convert (beyond actually shooting in B&W) and so many different treatments that they can be given within the conversion techniques, they can look completely different. I tend to like the high contrast moody look, with deep shadows, although too many shadows and you lose the impact. I usually struggle with light skies in B&W for some reason, my eyes (or brain) always expect to see a dark sky and that influences my processing. For that reason, although your first too have a real sense of movement and are therefore probably better technically/artistically, I'm drawn more towards your third. Regardless of techniques though, the key is definitely a full dynamic range, then you can accentuate whichever parts are strongest. If a bright sky or waterfall is the dominant element, then some supporting shadows will make it stand out more and vice versa.
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girod199

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2012, 05:01:40 AM »
I agree. Editing photos in B&W and in color have a totally different feel. I think B&W really makes you look at your photo and decide what you want to be the main focus and create some contrast so your vision is clear. In the first 2 I was so focused on creating a balance between the rocks and the water that I may have overlooked the overcast sky. I would have really liked a sky like your first and last photos with the amazing clouds but mother nature had her own plans. Great dynamic range tip!

Quasimodo

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2012, 05:19:52 AM »
Great shots. I wondered if you both have some tips for how to make the b&w to pop out more? What I do now is I convert my photos to b&w in photoshop, then adjust the different color information, then add a contrast/brightness (basically pushing the contrast a bit up and a bit more brightness).

I am enclosing a shot I took of a group of people (the shot is taken approx. 100meters away with 5D II, and 70-200 IS II and a 2x extender III. The first is how it was originally with color, the second I have converted to b&w trying to make the subjects pop more out.

Feedback would be appreciated.

Gerhard.
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Quasimodo

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2012, 05:25:35 AM »
Great shots. I wondered if you both have some tips for how to make the b&w to pop out more? What I do now is I convert my photos to b&w in photoshop, then adjust the different color information, then add a contrast/brightness (basically pushing the contrast a bit up and a bit more brightness).

I am enclosing a shot I took of a group of people (the shot is taken approx. 100meters away with 5D II, and 70-200 IS II and a 2x extender III. The first is how it was originally with color, the second I have converted to b&w trying to make the subjects pop more out.

Feedback would be appreciated.

Gerhard.
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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2012, 05:25:35 AM »

Lance James

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2012, 12:40:26 PM »
An old trick for quick and pretty decent BW is to just use the green channel. Sometimes red but usually green works best. Start there and then do your adjustments. Or, by NIKs silver efex pro. Love that plugin.

Narcolepsy

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2012, 01:53:31 PM »
My attempt in Sliver Efex Pro 2
There are many on this list who are much better than me with this software

Kernuak

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2012, 04:33:49 PM »
Great shots. I wondered if you both have some tips for how to make the b&w to pop out more? What I do now is I convert my photos to b&w in photoshop, then adjust the different color information, then add a contrast/brightness (basically pushing the contrast a bit up and a bit more brightness).

I am enclosing a shot I took of a group of people (the shot is taken approx. 100meters away with 5D II, and 70-200 IS II and a 2x extender III. The first is how it was originally with color, the second I have converted to b&w trying to make the subjects pop more out.

Feedback would be appreciated.

Gerhard.
Thanks Gerhard. I tend to dabble in black and white, rather than specialise in it. As I said, there are a number of different ways to do the conversions. Obviously the simplest method is to switch to B&W mode on your camera. However, that rarely works well for digital. Digital films were developed over decades to produce the look that the classics, such as Ilford or the likes of Ansel Adams, digital just doesn't have that pedigree, so it has to be done in another way. When B&W film was used, different filters were used for different scenes, to highlight certain colours. That may seem strange, but to get the rich tones, you need the strong colours to start with. Digital is no different in that regard and often increasing the saturation before conversion can be the key, even if it means saturating to the point where it looks garish and horrible in colour. I often do a quick conversion first to see if it has anywhere to run, just to get a feel for how it might look with some work. Once I start though, I tend to add a curves adjustment layer and change it to strong contrast, that has the side effect of saturating the colours, at least in appearance anyway, it also deepens the shadow areas, which will give you good strong blacks after conversion. I then add a black and white layer and try the different filter presets to see which one I think works best for the scene; often that turns out to be the green filter. I then move the different colour sliders backwards and forwards until I get closer to the look I want. Once i have done that, I then think about whether any areas need further work. I may adjust the shadows and/or highlights or add a levels layer and adjust that way. Finally, for some images, particularly the first, third and last, I start dodging and burning specific areas to further increase the contrast between different textures. I did this for the sky areas on the Groynes image and for the clouds and rocks in the last two.
Not every image works in black and white and it is a very rare image that works equally well in colour and B&W. The key to a B&W image is top break it down to a simple level. If you are looking to convey a mood, then get it right and B&W will add the wow factor. Strong shapes and textures also work well. If you have rotting wood with strong textures, like in the groynes, that is a bonus, but anything that you can bring out with subtle micro-contrasts will work. |Triangular shapes also work well, so some triangular rocks also add a statement. However, while strong textures, shapes and contrasts are the obvious choice, don't rule out misty scenes, they may lack the textures, but with the right composition, there is a real mood there.
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Kernuak

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2012, 04:41:26 PM »
As for your shot, I don't do alot of portraiture, but my first instinct is that it is too wide. For me, there aren't enough strong focal points for black and white. Not many posed shots work well in B&W, particularly groups, although the real masters can make some amazing images in the studio, but they do that with the aid of perfect lighting, often with large areas of almost complete shadow. In your scene, you don't have that luxury, as you had to go with what you had. I would be tempted to crop in closer, as the areas around the group aren't adding to the image and it puts the whole group dead centre. To start with, try cropping more on one side than the other to see if it works, as it may not. I think you do need to go in quite a bit closer though.

See what you think of the attached crop.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2012, 04:56:53 PM by Kernuak »
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Kernuak

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2012, 04:51:58 PM »
I agree. Editing photos in B&W and in color have a totally different feel. I think B&W really makes you look at your photo and decide what you want to be the main focus and create some contrast so your vision is clear. In the first 2 I was so focused on creating a balance between the rocks and the water that I may have overlooked the overcast sky. I would have really liked a sky like your first and last photos with the amazing clouds but mother nature had her own plans. Great dynamic range tip!
You say about the sky and it isn't ideal, but I think just like you say you overlooked the sky, I think you can make the viewer over look it too. You have some nice strong shapes with the rocks and good movement in the water, those can be powerful elements, if you can make the most of them. You're lacking real blacks in your first two images as they are, but they are there, you just need to bring them out. Do that and they will draw the eye much more. Hopefully you shot in raw, so that you can create a 16 bit tiff. Follow something similar to what I described in my previous post, but concentrate on dodging and burning the rocks, making the midtones darker, then do the same for the texture in the sea, but this time make the lights lighter and the darks darker, to further accentuate the textures you have there. For the third image, the forground is a little subdued, but add a gradient to the lower part and increase the exposure (basically an upside down gradient, with the strongest change at the bottom), by something like half to a full stop. You then have something you can play with in the tiff. You have some cloud textures in the sky to bring out as well as the textures in the rocks and sea. This will almost certainly work well starting with a green filter in the black and white layer. You could do something simimlar with the fourht one, except that it doesn't need the gradient. The last one is almost there, but you've lost all the detail in the bottom left corner, so if you can increase the exposure in that area, not too much, but enough to see the detail.
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girod199

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2012, 05:15:44 PM »
Thanks those were very helpful tips!

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2012, 05:15:44 PM »

Quasimodo

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2012, 05:33:21 PM »
Thank you Lance James, Narcolepsy and Kernuak for your answer, and especially to Kernuak for you very informative step by step answer. I will try this. Just a quick question.. Do you do these changes in Raw or in Photoshop? And if yes, is there a difference? The book I am trying to read on Photoshop by Martin Evening gives me the impression that 90% can be done in Raw, and that PS is for tweaking?

I like the crop you did, also by cropping the movement of the people in the shot becomes more eye stopping.

Narcolepsy: Thanks for converting the image. It looks almost like a silver print, but that can be my monitor on my laptop. Looking forward to see it on my monitor at work tomorrow.

Gerhard.

And also sorry about the posting of a peoples shot in this thread, but I got carried away when I saw knowledgeable people in this area.
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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2012, 03:34:01 AM »
Trying to use the tips you guys kindly suggested. I think it is hard. I realise that I will have to learn how to mask, so I can work on the different parts of the pictures and make sectoral changes. When playing with the contrast (for instance I wanted to make the shaddow in the trees brighter and with more detail) it comes with a cost on the foreground snow details. when I had the trees as I wanted them the snow was totally burned out... Also as you can see, there is a heavy vignetting here.

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Re: Black and White Landscapes!
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2012, 03:34:01 AM »