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Black and White Photography

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posted on Jul, 2 2013 @ 09:40 PM
As I've posted before, I'm beginning to dabble a bit in amateur photography and I'm doing what I can to improve my skills. I've noticed a few things along the way, one of which is the shear amount of color the world has! Our world is one full of bright colors and amazing scenes. Our phones, television screens, magazines, and even our walls are filled with the wildest and most amazing mix of colors anyone can imagine. Whether it'e the subtle shades of a rain storm, the soft hues of a sunrise, the cool tones of a moonlit snowpack, or the florescent noise of a sports car, color surrounds us.

But, for all that it's worth, color can be a distraction. As such, I recently set out to look at the world through the "limits" of black and white. While the camera I have is not your traditional black and white or "monochrome," film camera, the RAW files can easily be desaturated and left to produce the traditional style picture. The result (hopefully) is an image that captures the essence of a moment, a mood, or a story without the distraction of color. While none of my pictures are anything to write home about, I'd like to share a few of my favorites. Afterwards, I invite you to share your favorites as well, whether you took them or not. As always, your helpful criticism and advice is welcomed!

This was one of the first shots I took with my new camera, it's not actually black and white, but the lack of color makes it simple enough to capture the mood. This is the kind of yard swing many people in the south will connect with; it's the kind of place that can't be beat in the breeze of a warm summer day.

I took this while walking through downtown Charleston, South Carolina. I really liked the symmetry of the front of the building, as well as the connected feeling that came with knowing someone a long time ago saw the exact same storefront and walked the same street that I walked that day.

Bell Tower
The bell tower and steeple of St. Michael's Church towers over Charleston like a sentinel that's always watching. Without the distraction of colorful buildings and a blue sky, I really enjoy this shot.

A sharp contrast to the last image, this next one comes from a building expansion nearby. The mix of equipment, debris, scaffolding, and the construction wrap blowing in the breeze all contribute to a rather industrial and incomplete feeling that I find quite fascinating.

I've shared this before, but now I have a full size 20x30 print decorating a wall in my living room. I have a color variant of the same shot, but the black and white stands out because it really captures the desolate feeling of the scene.

Sunset Over the Bonyard
A final trip back to the beach for this last image, yet another that I've actually shared here before. This is another that I have a full print of ready for hanging. I love the atmosphere that came from the black and white conversion; it's a scene that I can't help but enjoy. The soft light and setting sun bring about a surreal feeling that just can't come from the same image in color.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you found at least one of these images worth your time! I look forward to seeing some of your favorites before you go!
edit on 2-7-2013 by Mapkar because: Typo repair and image source correction.

posted on Jul, 2 2013 @ 09:44 PM
reply to post by Mapkar

Umm WOW! The top one..the swing is phenomenal. That is one you should offer to sell. Very nice.

posted on Jul, 2 2013 @ 09:55 PM
reply to post by brandiwine14

Thank you very much!

You're not the first person to mention selling that particular item, but I'm hesitant to do that because of the quality of printers. I don't want to sell something that's not top notch, so until I find a reliable print lab that's good enough that I'd hang it on my wall, I'm hesitant to let someone else experience anything less than the very best. But one day, we shall see.

posted on Jul, 2 2013 @ 10:09 PM
reply to post by Mapkar

Nice work.
Black and White photography can sometimes be more appealing that color photography. You have some really good examples here.

I am curious, do you use something like Photoshop to adjust your saturation levels? If so the balance is off somewhat on the Storefront. I love the medieval style architecture.

I think I like the Bell Tower the best but the vignette seems to be a little too thick.

I really like the trees on the shoreline as well and the balance seems to be nearly perfect.

Have you considered selling your work on Stock Photo.Com?

posted on Jul, 2 2013 @ 10:28 PM
reply to post by ShadellacZumbrum

That's precisely the type of stuff I'm looking for, thank you!

To answer your questions, I use Lightroom for adjustments. It's a worthy investment.

You were absolutely right about the storefront, I thought it looked a little... odd. Looking back at the DNG I found that the luminance of the orange slider was bottomed out! It has much better texture now than what's included above. Thanks for pointing that out and giving me something to look for!

The Bell Tower is a tough cookie, I don't actually like using a bunch of vignetting. I'll admit it's a bit thick, but it was a sacrifice to bring the sky under control in monochrome. Part of the vignetting is due to the 40mm lens because in the monochrome version I didn't apply lens correction. There was a tad bit of post crop vignetting added to tame the sky because it was causing the entire bottom to wash out in a grey fog that I didn't like. This wasn't nearly as much of a problem on the full color image. I'll keep looking for a solution though and try to implement it to reduce the vignetting and tame the sky a in a more picture friendly way.

I haven't really looked into stock photo sites, after some of the requirements for a certain large company, I felt the quality they're looking for is something I'm still a good ways from providing. In the future though, it's certainly a possibility.

posted on Jul, 2 2013 @ 11:02 PM
reply to post by Mapkar

Light room is an excellent piece of software and you are right a worthy investment.

Just remember the more adjustments you have to make the more you compromise the quality.

um,. . I am trying to remember. .. I think there is a way to flatten the tones and make everything uniform. Damn it has been too long since I used any software for anything other than postprocessing cgi.

You may have to use layer masks. or something like that. I wish I could be of more help.

If the image is RAW format you should be able to do ALLOT with it.

posted on Jul, 4 2013 @ 08:59 AM
reply to post by ShadellacZumbrum

I've never actually looked in to layer masks, I'll definitely have to do that.

And you're absolutely right about RAW. I used to shoot in JPG, coming from a point and shoot and all the limitations of their processing. When I found out what RAW was capable of and the superior opportunities associated with it I was convinced, that's the way to go!

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