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Thread: First attempt at B&W

  1. #1
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    First attempt at B&W

    I rarely do B&W so I have little skill in this arena but this shot cried out to me and begged to be done in B&W so I'm giving it a try. The original was taken through the window of the plane from somewhere around 30,000 feet. There is a reflection flair that I'll need to deal with before I'm done but for the moment, my interest centers on setting the brightness and contrast of the image correctly. This was done with the Sony P&S so I don't have the benefit of RAW processing available. Here is the original JPG shot at ISO 64, 1/640 sec at f4, 2048x1536 pixels. Posted full size.

    First attempt at B&W

    Here it is converted to B&W with some post processing applied.

    First attempt at B&W

    As I am just starting out with B&W, I've not yet developed a sense of what is enough and what is too much. Any recommendations and/or C&C are most welcomed.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 6th August 2011 at 04:13 PM.

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    Squidgy's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Hi Frank, I've never tried B&W conversion before so I cant comment on that aspect but I think you have done a tremendous bit of PP. How you have gone from a milky looking colour shot to a clean, crisp, B&W is beyond me. I like it... excellent!

    Cheers
    Nigel.

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Quote Originally Posted by Squidgy View Post
    Hi Frank, I've never tried B&W conversion before so I cant comment on that aspect but I think you have done a tremendous bit of PP. How you have gone from a milky looking colour shot to a clean, crisp, B&W is beyond me. I like it... excellent!

    Cheers
    Nigel.
    Hi Nigel, thanks for looking and posting encouraging comments. I've looked at that shot several times since I took it and always thought that the atmospheric haze was just choking to life out of this loser. Today I decided to see if there was any possibility of saving it so now it is half way out of the trash can. It may still go back the dump but for the moment I'd like to see if B&W processing can save it. All I've really done so far is drop the saturation and increase the contrast. There are a number of other approaches I've read about in this forum but haven't attempted as yet. I'll never know if I don't try!
    Last edited by FrankMi; 6th August 2011 at 05:13 PM.

  4. #4
    Squidgy's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    I hope you dont mind Frank but I had a go at editing your original myself and got a half decent result. However, the reflection in the window that is just up and left of centre is a problem for me. I used Photoshop and used the unsharp mask to remove most of the haze (this does not work with every picture) Amount 60, threshold 30/40, radius 0. Creat layer convert to B&W, Layer contrast 30, layer levels and push the low slide right to about 50, layer curves and form a slight S. It just shows a little more detal and adds contrast. It's probably not the right way to do it but it's worth a try just to see what happens.

    Cheers
    Nigel.

  5. #5
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Quote Originally Posted by Squidgy View Post
    I hope you dont mind Frank but I had a go at editing your original myself and got a half decent result. However, the reflection in the window that is just up and left of centre is a problem for me. I used Photoshop and used the unsharp mask to remove most of the haze (this does not work with every picture) Amount 60, threshold 30/40, radius 0. Creat layer convert to B&W, Layer contrast 30, layer levels and push the low slide right to about 50, layer curves and form a slight S. It just shows a little more detal and adds contrast. It's probably not the right way to do it but it's worth a try just to see what happens.

    Cheers
    Nigel.
    Thank you Nigel! You bring up a very good point. Would it be better to deal with the reflection first, then work on the rest of the image? All would be for naught if we get the perfect image but can't correct the reflection! I tried to change the colors, contrasts and brightness to attempt to identify exactly where on the image the reflection is located. I created a shaded mask to help identify the location as it is very faint, but the actual patterns may be easier to see in the previous images.

    First attempt at B&W

    On my monitor I can see a clear edge to the reflection just above the center of the image and at least three patterns of 5x5 plaid between the crater and bottom center. It looks like a reflection of a plaid shirt at that point.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to minimize or remove a reflection on a window? I would guess that creating an inverted image and blending might be possible but it might remove too much detail as well. Any thoughts?

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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Hey Frank,

    Like Nigel I've just run this through 'shop just out of curiousity. And with the same result I'm afraid. The reflection really is too much of a distraction, and I had no truck getting rid. Tried duplicating the layer, a slight sharpen then tried all blending modes. Even tried a blur. It's not a keeper for me mate. Sorry.

    I think the lesson to be learned here is to be prepared when shooting through glass. Some people swear by a polarizer, while others use a rubber lens hood to get really close to the glass and cut reflections out entirely.

  7. #7
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Quote Originally Posted by The Blue Boy View Post
    I think the lesson to be learned here is to be prepared when shooting through glass. Some people swear by a polarizer, while others use a rubber lens hood to get really close to the glass and cut reflections out entirely.
    I'd agree with both those from Mark for a DSLR.

    They could be tricky with a P&S, so;
    if flying and have window seat, go prepared; wear a plain black T-shirt
    be aware of reflections at shooting time and try using different parts of window, or take when sun isn't shining on you/the window (e.g. while aircraft is banking can be useful, if rare)
    you may even need to consider wrapping the camera itself (obv. not lens) in something black and non-shiny to remove reflections from the body and all the 'bling' labels on it, especially if you do manage to get the camera close to the window

    Or, since the chances of a window seat are about 2/6 to 2/10, just give up all hope and put on the noise cancelling headphones and snooze

    Cheers,
    Cheers,

  8. #8
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Interesting pic Frank and I like your conversion.
    I find BW conversions difficult but even if I shot in jpeg I still start the process by opening as Camera RAW in PSE8. But from studying many of the Comp BW entries and entering a few myself, I see huge variations in contrast adjustments etc etc so I guess that it is not an exact science as to what is the best BW conversion ...

    But if anyone has a 'fail safe' method they can recommend for BW conversions then I am all eyes

  9. #9
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    if flying and have window seat, go prepared; wear a plain black T-shirt
    be aware of reflections at shooting time and try using different parts of window, or take when sun isn't shining on you/the window (e.g. while aircraft is banking can be useful, if rare)
    you may even need to consider wrapping the camera itself (obv. not lens) in something black and non-shiny to remove reflections from the body and all the 'bling' labels on it
    Hi Dave, these are excellent suggestions and include a few I hadn't thought about. Of course, I didn't see the reflections while I was trying to get the images. I have since checked and realized that I don't own a shirt that has a 5x5 striped plaid so I must have been picking up some of the pattern from another passenger's clothing.

    From the research I've done, it looks like the only way to remove the glare is with tedious cloning and shading. I'm working on trying to see if I can get the image to the point where I can go back to working on the B&W conversion.

  10. #10
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    But if anyone has a 'fail safe' method they can recommend for BW conversions then I am all eyes
    Thank you Ron, I agree!

  11. #11
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at B&W

    Although It took two days, I was finally able to get the reflections in this image under control. After taking a break, I'll start thinking about going back to doing the B&W processing of this image.

    Just out of curiosity I located the area in this photograph in Google Earth. It is in the Kluand National Park & Reserve just over the eastern border of Alaska in the Canadian Yukon Territory. The rivers in this picture converge about 20 miles south of Lake Kluane on the Alaskan Highway and are about 120 miles east of Whitehorse. What looks like ribbons of land in the glaciers is actually soil that has been ground out of the river bed and over the centuries is carried on the surface of the ice flow.

    The waters from these rivers of ice flow into Lake Kluane, the Yukon River and after crossing the width of the Alaskan mainland, into the Bearing Sea not far from Russia.

    At the center of the left edge you can see Mount Maxwell. In the lower right corner you can see the Columbia Peaks between the clouds. At the top center where the rivers join is Kaskawulsh Mountain. In the top right corner is Staiway Peak. Out of sight off to the right is Mount Queen Mary and about 55 miles away, Mount Logan, the highest point in Canada at 5,959 meters above sea level.

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