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Thread: Something new for me ... B&W

  1. #1
    escaladieu's Avatar
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    Something new for me ... B&W

    Inspired by Mr D, a step into uncharted territory ...

    Something new for me ... B&W

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Something new for me ... B&W

    You're very kind, Jeff. I love the texture you can get out of old wooden fences like this. Plus, they provide the most wonderful lines around which you can create depth in your images, as you have done.

  3. #3
    escaladieu's Avatar
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    Re: Something new for me ... B&W

    Cheers ! You are one who is being kind ! What would help me, and others, I suspect, is a guide/how to to converting RGB to B&W. I know you use SFX Pro, I used Topaz BW Effects to do this, but apart from using the presets, I have not a clue as to go about a conversion. I read up about using PS to do it, luminance channels etc, but that's just the mechanics .... Do you know of any such ?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Something new for me ... B&W

    You honour me in asking how I go about B & W conversion. I’m not sure that I have any great pearls of wisdom to impart. I am someone who works on emotion and feeling rather than technical knowledge or skill. So, it’s a case of what feels right and what works to get to the vision I started out with.

    I suppose the first thing to say, which I have written on here previously, is that the decision to make an B & W image is made as I look at the scene and wonder whether to get the camera out of the bag at all. In other words, I never press the shutter wondering whether I’ll make this one a colour or a B & W image. I know that many folk make a decision to make a B & W once they have the file back home on the computer and some make both colour & B & W versions. That’s fine and I admire them for that, but that doesn’t work for me.

    I have tried to teach myself to ‘see’ in B & W. So that when I look at a scene, I try and envisage it as a B & W image. That really concentrates the mind on looking at the tones in the scene and assessing how they’re all going to turn out in a B & W image. To help me with that, I have the camera set to ‘Monochrome’. Now, I’m shooting RAW and still get all the data, but the JPG image that appears on the back screen is a B & W. I find that a useful aid. If I shoot to make a B & W image, I never consider making that into a colour image, even if it would’ve made a superb colour picture. That’s just the ‘rule’ I impose upon myself. And vice-versa – nothing shot to be a colour image will be made into a B & W. That would just be ‘against-the-rules’.

    That takes me back to that statement above about ‘vision’. It can sound rather pretentious to talk about ‘my vision’, but I believe it is worth thinking about. I do try, very hard, (and often fail) to ‘see’ the final image in my head even before I set up the camera. I think that’s why I tend to work rather slowly. And why I need to shoot alone rather than in company. I may be at a location for up to an hour just looking. Seeing what is in the scene, what the light is doing on it. Trying to work out whether there is a shot there and what it’s going to look like as a finished image. In this technological age, it may be a rather ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘odd’ approach to take, but the idea of trying to ‘see’ in B & W and capturing a photograph with the express idea of it being B & W, is what I get pleasure from. And I hope that the pleasure translates into quality of the finished product.

    So, and the reason for labouring the point so much, if my images are indeed worthy of a second glance, then I honestly believe that, for me (and, as I say, there are many other brilliant B & W photographers who do it differently), the fact that this is the approach I take at the time of capture is the single most important factor in my success.

    Back in the digital darkroom, my process involves 3 bits of software – DxO Optics Pro;Nik’s Silver Efex Pro2 (SEP2) and The GIMP. I do almost everything other than the B & W conversion itself, in DxO with the RAW file – Capture Sharpening; Any adjustments for Exposure, Fill Light, etc; Dust Spots; Crop.

    Then I make a TIF for export to SEP2. I make a copy of this into a sub-folder so that this pre-converted TIF is saved. (Remember I’m not using this as part of an Adobe Products –Lightroom; Photoshop – package so have to make sure I keep relevant copies separate from each other).

    I think that SEP2 is indeed the quality tool that everyone raves about. It is superb. It is interesting to look at all the on-demand video tutorials on NIK’s own website. People do approach the workflow differently. I seem to have developed a ‘style’ or approach of my own. What I’m now finding is that I’m going less and less to the amazing presets that are available.

    Like I said, I attempt to have a vision of what the final image is going to look like. My earlier use of the presets has opened my eyes to the sorts of look/effect that can be achieved. But they are so good that I started finding that if I went to presets, I’d then find myself going ‘Wow’ and starting off down a route that interfered with my original vision when I was out there in the field or forest etc. So, not wanting my vision to be ruined by something that impresses me but is not that vision, I tend to just start with the neutral option and make my own adjustments from there. On many of my final images I will apply the tools that would have been employed in the making of the preset. But they are now all used according to my recipe and are not being influenced by the wonderfully creative and artistic hand of someone else involved in the design and build of the software.

    I will spend, what some people might see as, a long time with an image in SEP 2 (maybe an hour …. or more). The creative options are enormous and getting to that final image that you had in your head is, for me, one of life’s great pleasures. It is an act of creation so far as I’m concerned. I'm not a high volume shooter, so can indulge this passion.

    These processes will include any toning, vignetting, burning edges etc that I want to include.

    Then I save from SEP2 and I have my TIF ready to finish off in the GIMP. In the GIMP, where I save the file in GIMP native .xcf format, I:
    • apply content/creative sharpening
    • do any cloning that is required
    • resize a copy for online publication (make two JPGs – one with a border for CiC copies and one without for my own website.


    So what I have at the end of the day is:
    • A RAW file
    • A RAW processed TIF (before B & W conversion)
    • A GIMP .xcf file
    • 2 x small JPGs (I will make a large JPG when it’s time to have it printed).


    So, there you have the wayward ramblings of an aspiring photographer. If they prove to be informative to anyone, then good. If not, then hopefully it was at least an interesting read and didn’t keep you away from doing something more important.
    Last edited by Donald; 3rd April 2012 at 01:49 PM.

  5. #5
    JPS's Avatar
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    Re: Something new for me ... B&W

    Donald, most interesting, very much enjoyed reading.

    Jeff, a great picture. Love the atmosphere you have created, well done.

  6. #6
    escaladieu's Avatar
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    Re: Something new for me ... B&W

    "I have tried to teach myself to ‘see’ in B & W. So that when I look at a scene, I try and envisage it as a B & W image. That really concentrates the mind on looking at the tones in the scene and assessing how they’re all going to turn out in a B & W image. To help me with that, I have the camera set to ‘Monochrome’. Now, I’m shooting RAW and still get all the data, but the JPG image that appears on the back screen is a B & W. I find that a useful aid. If I shoot to make a B & W image, I never consider making that into a colour image, even if it would’ve made a superb colour picture. That’s just the ‘rule’ I impose upon myself. And vice-versa – nothing shot to be a colour image will be made into a B & W. That would just be ‘against-the-rules’. "

    That was helpful thank you very much

    J

  7. #7
    Daisy Mae's Avatar
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    Re: Something new for me ... B&W

    It's a great image Jeff.

    Donald..,that was really informative, thanks. You have certainly inspired me to try my hand at B&W too.

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