Monday, January 25, 2010
82 Black and White Photographs - Not as Easy as it Looks
This young lad and I encountered each other at a recent wedding. He was having fun with the camera his mom had handed him and he seemed such a poster-child for the joy of photography. He and I squared-off ... camera to camera ... mano-y-mano. Or, I guess, cámara-y-cámara? I think I won though I never actually looked at his pictures ... hmmm ... now I wonder?
Working on this image, however, frustrated me because I couldn't get the black-and-white tones that I wanted. This frustration has prompted me to go on a quest for better B&W technique. Join me if you dare. Or better yet, drop me some advice and save me a lot of hard lessons :)
Clearly all the panels but especially the third panel from the left is blown out. So there are some easy things for me to fix but before I do, I want to get a bit more disciplined in my B&W technique. Wax-on ... wax-off
Tones, textures, forms, lines, motion ... all of these take front when in black and white. Color is like candy. The sugar makes your tongue tingle but it doesn't satisfy like richer and more complex flavors can.
I foolishly thought I would do a quick google search and learn pretty much everything I need to know in about an hour. An hour later I learned that either nobody really knows anything or they're hiding it better than their Aunt Irene's Christmas gift.
Let me save you an hour of google searching in one sentence. "It aint easy and you have to do it to suit your artistic taste". If you'd rather read that same thing from 100 famous photogs ... feel free to waste an hour. Or you can buy one of their books and pay for the same message. Fine by me.
Of course there are some essentials that have more to do with basic photography than B&W artistry per-se.
o Skin tones should look natural
o Eyes should pop and have expression
o yada yada yada
This is no scientific analysis but I have found 50 Lightroom Presets and then ran this image through them (thank God for preview) and found the best preset I could for this image (posted above). Then I used the Nik Silver Efex Pro technique (to the left). Let me know which one is better. The top is a tad more contrasty. I intentionally added some film grain to this one (Nik SEP lets you do that).
Silver Efex Pro
I'm going to keep practicing and reading. I'll post the stuff I learn or at least the mistakes I make along the way.
Peace out bean sprouts,