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Thread: Informal monochrome portraits in Jordan

  1. #1

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    Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    My wife and I spent about a week in Jordan in 2010. This past weekend I converted some informal portraits made along the way into black-and-white photos.

    C&C encouraged, as always.

    Photo #1: This boy was selling homemade sweets in the corner of an entryway at the ruins of Jerash. We bargained ahead of time that I would be able to release the shutter several times, not just once, in return for purchasing some of his sweets. I got the better end of that deal, as you can see.
    Informal monochrome portraits in Jordan


    Photo #2: This man, an avid soccer player, is a stone cutter helping to restore Jerash's ruins. When I showed the color version of this photo to him and his co-workers on my camera's LCD, they joked that he should be in Hollywood. Duh. I messed up by not leaving enough space on his left side.
    Informal monochrome portraits in Jordan


    Photo #3: These two boys and their ring leader were thrilled to have their picture taken as the sun was setting on their small village near the Dead Sea. Not as thrilled as I was.
    Informal monochrome portraits in Jordan


    Photo #4: This gentleman -- and I mean that as the highest compliment -- and his two assistants were herding about 200 sheep along the side of the road. After chatting with them for awhile, I asked if it would be okay for my wife to be in charge of the lead sheep for a little way. They couldn't have been happier. I wish we had taken the time to walk with them for hours. I tried to position him so his face would be entirely in the shade, but the dappled light was the best that I could find.
    Informal monochrome portraits in Jordan
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 12th February 2013 at 03:27 AM.

  2. #2
    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Mike, a very nice bit of work with #1 and #2 being at the top of the heap. I do have a small issue with #4....the triangle under is arm between his body and tree. I think that because he and the tre seperate the background from that center spot...it being where the sun hits, makes it look unnaturally dright and soft. Really hard to put my finger on it but it stands out to me.

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    I'll try toning that area down, Paul. Thanks!

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Very nice series.

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    All nice. I really love the first photo. The boys expression and your capture of it are both great.

    Karm

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Thank you, Karm!

  7. #7

    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Lovely shots. I think 1 and 4 are my favourites due to the added contexts from the clothing. Really nice work.

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Glad you like them, Dan!

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Yes, I too like the series but pity you have just 'snipped off' the top pf their heads in 1 and 2

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    I actually like the look of the crop that doesn't include all of the head, Peter. Perhaps I should crop a little more off?

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Mike, I wonder why all b&w?
    The conversions are all very good technically speaking. I think the crops in 1&2 are right on, no need to leave the top of someone's head in a photo at all!
    Good work.

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Thank you, Brian. The reason all of the photos are black-and-white is that I am nearing completion of a project to convert my better images that are appropriate for monochrome. As I complete a group of them, I post my favorites. I also often use a sepia treatment, brown toning, and a look that resembles an 19th century albumen print.

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Thank you, Brian. The reason all of the photos are black-and-white is that I am nearing completion of a project to convert my better images that are appropriate for monochrome. As I complete a group of them, I post my favorites. I also often use a sepia treatment, brown toning, and a look that resembles an 19th century albumen print.
    I know this topic was brought in earlier thread, but what inspires you to convert to black and white?

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    I actually like the look of the crop that doesn't include all of the head, Peter. Perhaps I should crop a little more off?
    I think so. I recently spent some time looking to see what some prominent portrait shooters do in common, and if they didnt use the whole head, they tended to crop about a full inch to inch and a half off the crown. They do this crop a lot, and I really like it.

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    John,

    I've been thinking about this a lot since reading and posting in Terri's thread, especially while post-processing my monochromes. I'll list the reasons I convert specific images to monochrome. As you review them, keep in mind my relatively inexperienced perspective: I have been making conversions only for a year and, unlike Donald who has a keen ability to "see" in black-and-white, you could count the images on one hand that I thought in terms of monochrome before releasing the shutter.

    The reasons I convert a particular image are as follows:

    1) Converting can eliminate colorful elements that are distracting.

    2) Converting can emphasize shape, strong lines, texture and the like.

    3) Converting can produce pleasingly rich, dark tones in relatively high-contrast images with a wide dynamic range. I like portraits and candids produced in this style because the dark tones inevitably draw attention to the subject's eyes.

    4) Converting can produce subtle nuance in relatively low-contrast images with a narrow dynamic range.

    5) Converting to monochromes toned with colors such as gold and/or brown are pleasantly warm.

    6) Converting timeless images to monochromes, whether toned or not, reminds the viewer of photographs that were made before it was possible to capture color photographs. (Having said that, I also like toned monochromes that are not at all timeless and wish photographers wouldn't reserve that style for use only with timeless scenes.)

    7) Converting to monochrome using a gold-brown toning resembles today's look of an albumen print made in the 19th century.

    8) Converting to monochrome can present options for crops that are not viable in the color version.

    9) Converting to monochrome simply works for whatever reason, despite that sometimes I'm not able to decide exactly what that reason may be and despite that the photo may only be just as pleasing in different ways, not necessarily better, than the color version.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 17th February 2013 at 12:54 PM.

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    I like that style also, Kevin. I can easily imagine cropping more off the top of the head in the first photo. However, I'm struggling about that possibility with the second photo because I'm not comfortable with more of a crop due to the shape of the man's hairline. I'm thinking that I should use a crop in that one that displays the man's entire head.

    By the way, one reason removing a significant part of the subject's head works so well is that doing so often places the eyes about one-third of the way down from the top of the frame. That's a position that naturally attracts the viewer to perhaps the most important part of the composition.

  17. #17
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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    John,

    I've been thinking about this a lot since reading and posting in Terri's thread, especially while post-processing my monochromes. I'll list the reasons I convert specific images to monochrome. As you review them, keep in mind my relatively inexperienced perspective: I have been making conversions only for a year and, unlike Donald who has a keen ability to "see" in black-and-white, you could count the images on one hand that I thought in terms of monochrome before releasing the shutter.

    The reasons I convert a particular image are as follows:

    1) Converting can eliminate colorful elements that are distracting.

    2) Converting can emphasize shape, strong lines, texture and the like.

    3) Converting can produce pleasingly rich, dark tones in relatively high-contrast images with a wide dynamic range. I like portraits and candids produced in this style because the dark tones inevitably draw attention to the subject's eyes.

    4) Converting can produce subtle nuance in relatively low-contrast images with a narrow dynamic range.

    5) Converting to monochromes toned with colors such as gold and/or brown are pleasantly warm.

    6) Converting timeless images to monochromes, whether toned or not, reminds the viewer of photographs that were made before it was possible to capture color photographs. (Having said that, I also like toned monochromes that are not at all timeless and wish photographers wouldn't reserve that style for use only with timeless scenes.)

    7) Converting to monochrome using a gold-brown toning resembles today's look of an albumen print made in the 19th century.

    8) Converting to monochrome can present options for crops that are not viable in the color version.

    9) Converting to monochrome simply works for whatever reason, despite that sometimes I'm not able to decide exactly what that reason may be and despite that the photo may only be just as pleasing in different ways, not necessarily better, than the color version.
    Having started my photographic journey in film (point and shoot) I would sometimes purchase b & w film and as you state in reason # 6, capturing an image that seems timeless is always a joy. Have you tried shooting digitally in monochrome only? I know in doing so you lose a lot of info and it is more difficult to remember certain color patterns afterward.

  18. #18

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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Have you tried shooting digitally in monochrome only? I know in doing so you lose a lot of info and it is more difficult to remember certain color patterns afterward.
    No, I haven't. Everything I read advises against doing so. I'm not sure, but I seem to remember that that's because capturing a black-and-white image is achieved by the camera automatically desaturating all channels equally, which doesn't yield results that are as desirable as controlling the channels individually.

    However, I do wonder if shooting in black-and-white wouldn't help a photographer learn how to "see" in black-and-white, thanks to being able to review the image immediately on the camera's LCD. Come to think of it, I ought to check out my cameras' options, as perhaps there are some in-camera controls that allow the black-and-white version to be made by controlling the color channels.

  19. #19
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    Re: Informal monochrome portraits from Jordan

    John, I have used the in camera monochrome settings and it works ok. I feel that post prossing then converting works much better. You get much better control.

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