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Thread: B&W - The Birdwatcher

  1. #1
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Firstly, apologies Donald... ...I know it is your style to do square-cropped B&W photos. I just couldn't really see any other crop in this image and it simply had to be B&W! I guess we all have to gain our inspiration from somewhere

    Anyways, the quality of your photography and B&W conversion techniques vastly outweighs what I've done here, so you have nothing to fear!

    So, I took this shot a long while back and didn't really see much in it at the time. The metal beams in the water are part of what's left of the West Pier in Brighton after the fire in 2003. I came accross it this morning and thought I'd try my hand at a B&W conversion on it. This has been done simply using the B&W colour sliders in ACR and cropped and sharpened in CS5 with a slight S-curve adjustment added.

    As usual, all help, advice and C&C is greatly welcomed.

    Nikon D90 | 18-200mm VR lens @ 135mm | f/18 | 1/40 sec | ISO 200

    B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Many thanks for viewing
    Last edited by RockNGoalStar; 7th September 2011 at 10:46 AM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Tommy - No apologies required. If what I've done has contributed in any way to sparking off ideas in other people, then I'm flattered and honoured.

    I find 1:1 a fascinating ratio. It's both a wonderful discipline in term of composition, but also a powerful tool in terms of image impact once processed.

    As I've written before, I do compose my images for a 1:1 square ratio (this phase may pass, but for the moment I'm enjoying it). I read elsewhere (can't remember where - apologies) of a photographer who shoots in portrait (i.e. turns the camera round) but composes for square format. And, you know, it works. I find I do most of my stuff with the camera on its side (that's why I really need to invest in a lens collar for my 70-200 f4L).

    Composing for that 1:1 ratio in the viewfinder (or on the back screen in LiveView) really makes you work hard at the composition. There are lots of shots that you walk away from because you cannot 'see' them in 1:1 format. I like that. It tells me that I am studying the scene in front of me to the level that I desire.

    And then, in a 1:1 image, I think you really have to be thinking about what you've got in that frame and, by definition, what you don't want. I haven't really found much written about 1:1 images; i.e. what the important things are to think about etc, so I'm just sort of making it up as I go along.

    But I think that, in terms of what works, you've pretty much nailed it in this one. Simple structures and shapes, tones and textures. It's not cluttered. I like it very much. The angle of the beach is superb.
    Last edited by Donald; 7th September 2011 at 11:53 AM.

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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    That's a cracking shot Tommy - I love it. Its got atmosphere, with the breaking wave/sea spray and the solitary figure in semi-silhouette, the brooding clouds - and the composition is excellent, love the angles - the diagonal of the beach and the tall upright objects (the metal things, the figure, the distant 'chimney'). The black and white works perfectly - dark beach (interesting that its dark) and objects, light sky. And I like that single silhouetted gull matching the solitary figure. And you've even got foreground interest with the shiny pebbles. Well done, that would be a contender for a lot of the competitions here as far as I'm concerned!


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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    cant really add anything new from the post above if there was a tick icon then a tick it would get I like

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Tommy

    Just another little footnote to reiterate that I don't have exclusive rights to square format B & Ws.

    What got me excited about them was a visit to the National Media Museum in Bradford (England) earlier this year to see the 'Land Revisited' exhibition of Fay Godwin's work. Seeing her square format images hanging on a the wall just blew me away. They were staggeringly wonderful. They look good in the book, but when you see them hung to exhibition standard, they just take your breath away.

    And without consciously planning it, I then found myself 'looking' for scenes that could be composed and made into square format scenes. The disadvantage we have, of course, is that with DSLRs we're not seeing a square photograph in the viewfinder. We have to 'see' the square image in our head.

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    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Tommy, this one really speaks.

    Very moody and emotion-provoking.

    Funny how something once passed over is really a hidden gem.

    This one would get a spot on my wall.

    Well done, sir.

  7. #7
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I haven't really found much written about 1:1 images; i.e. what the important things are to think about etc, so I'm just sort of making it up as I go along.
    Hi Donald,

    Are you looking it the right places? - I would have thought any book where the photographer shot with a 6x6 MF film camera should do

    It won't be expressed as "1:1" because that's too recent a term I suspect.
    Of course, to make life even more difficult, books might even be titled by camera model or type used.

    Cheers,

  8. #8
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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Hi Tommy, you are getting really good at pulling together elements that strengthen a composition.

    In this image you have managed to artistically combine horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, a human interest directed at wildlife, the tempest of the sea, the angry clouds, the mystery of what might be on the horizon, a tremendous sense of depth based on both the rocks on the shore and the buildings on the horizon, and amidst all the sea and sky turmoil, an almost serene sense of tranquility in the person and the bird she is watching. Add to that the technical perfection and effective cropping.

    I have to admit that this image is among the best B&W images I have seen in my short time on the forum, and I have seen a lot of fantastic photography here at CiC. I am blown away!

  9. #9
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Hi Tommy,

    I really like the composition, I think the shot really works because it has three vertical element groupings ranging into the distance; person, pier pillars and the chimney, all nicely arrannged. You also have a triangle or two in there

    However, you know how I like to educate, so I am going to be a 'bar steward' (again) and point out a few areas for improvement.

    I am seeing thin coloured edges (cyan left, red right) on all the vertical elements - not sure whether that's uncorrected CA (chromatic abberation) or, since I wouldn't have thought CA would survive the mono conversion, something introduced during PP. Also, it is all one sided, it doesn't reverse colours/edges on the right hand side, as CA (from a full image) would. The effect is very subtle if you blow it up with browser zoom to > 300%, but at 100%, it is about a pixel wide. I don't think it is my (two) monitors, do you see it? (also, I don't see it on the border edge)

    I know it is messing with reality, but if a couple of brackets on the pillars accidentally "fell off" in PP, it would help - just the two most prominent on 2nd and 4th pillars. (nonchalant whistling while cloning is optional)

    I also wonder; the spray is a bit of a grey smudge and might stand some help to pop a bit more, not sure exactly how, I'd play (on a separate layer) until I had something that works.

    Talking of the spray; where it passes in front of the pillars, it reveals they have a bright halo from a little too wide radius in sharpening at some point in the workflow.

    I'll mention I looked at whether the horizon was level but decided there's too much wave swell and background land shapes to be sure - and the left and right, of the 4 pillars, are vertical.

    Don't be discouraged, I am being really, REALLY nit picky (sorry), it is still a great capture and respect to you for shooting it and composing this crop so well.

    I hope the above helps,

  10. #10
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: B&W - The Birdwatcher

    Donald, David, Paul, Terry, Frank, thank you so much for all your kind words and thoughtful comments. It means a lot that you all like it

    Dave, you had to go and ruin it by finding flaws all over the place! *SHAKES FIST*

    Just kidding, of course! I appreciate the constructive criticism as much as the praise. If not more in fact. However, it's great to get both

    I will look at the blemishes and try to fix them up. You have eagle-eyes Dave, I'd have missed them completely!

    @Donald, it's interesting what you ay about the 1:1 aspect ratio. I'd be lying if I said I shot this with that aspect ratio in mind, but I will bear it in miond when I am out and about composing images in my mind, as I usually find myself doing when I am walking around!

    Thanks once again for all your input. You've all made me very happy with your comments

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