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Thread: Calgary in Black and White

  1. #1
    dje's Avatar
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    Calgary in Black and White

    I recently purchased the Nik software suite and have been playing around with some recent images looking for potential B&W candidates. The aim is to become more proficient in the use of Silver Efex Pro but the exercise also serves the purpose of discovering what to look for in an image that will make it a likely B&W candidate.

    These shots were taken in Calgary during our trip to Canada last year. We only had a short stay there but it was an interesting place with some interesting architecture - not really what I expected.

    Anyway, I'd be interested to hear what you think of these conversions, both in terms of their suitability for B&W and also the job I've done with Silver Efex Pro. I've a lot to learn about it at this stage although it seems relatively easy to get something reasonable to start with. The only adjustments I've used on these are to the Brightness, Contrast and Structure sliders. Not sure whether I've gone too hard on contrast.

    Dave

    Calgary in Black and White

    Calgary in Black and White

    Calgary in Black and White

    Calgary in Black and White
    Last edited by dje; 4th September 2013 at 09:18 AM.

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    steve

    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Dave - for first goes with new s/ware I'd say they were well done, but even though I favour strong contrast and I feel the first image really succeeds, the others are perhaps a tad too hard ;-) ---- although the Husky Oil lettering is beyond your control, for some reason I don't understand it spoils the last image for me.

    steve

  3. #3
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Thanks for your comments Steve. I'm interested to hear that you think I might have gone a bit far with the contrast. As for the Husky Oil sign, cropping the top of the photo is probably in order.

    Dave

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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    A few thoughts and a question...

    Considering that this is your first go, you were highly successful. Congratulations! The first one is so nice that even if weren't your first attempt, you have lots of reasons to be proud.

    All of these images are ideal candidates for monochrome conversion. Good eye! However, the composition of the last one doesn't work for me whether in monochrome or probably color. That's because the clutter makes me wonder what the subject is.

    I agree with Steve that you may have been a tad heavy-handed with the second and third photos, but really just a tad.

    I licensed the Nik suite months ago and have never used it. That's only because I haven't had the time required to properly delve into it and give the software the attention it surely deserves considering its widespread reputation for quality. Even so, I make a lot of monochromes, so I feel comfortable in mentioning that no developer could possibly make a Brightness slider that provides the control of a Curve tool. You seem to have a natural eye for this stuff, so you might want to consider abandoning the Brightness slider and moving on to using the Curve to learn how to achieve at least the same and usually better results. (If the Nik product doesn't have Levels and Curves tools, I'll be shocked.)

    You didn't mention whether the Nik adjustments that you made were selective, global or perhaps sometimes both. The bright clouds could be more interesting if they had more detail (tonal variation). If you select them and apply the Curve tool to provide that variation, they might become more interesting.

    By the way, there seems to be two small parts of something, perhaps a tree, on the left side of the frame. You'll probably like the image better if you remove them.

    Finally, the question: Did you fully post-process the images in color before converting to black-and-white? If you did, great. If not, I think there is a lot of merit to doing so.

    Again, well done! So well done that I look forward to seeing more of your monochromes!

  5. #5
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Mike thanks for you kind and informative comments. I think I'm starting to blush

    The small distractions on the left hand side of the first image were actually part of a larger distraction. I was a bit sloppy in removing this.

    The main subjects in the fourth image were the trees and the unusual curved structure but I agree it is a bit busy. A different angle in which the buildings on the right were not so dominant might have worked better.

    Yes I did all the main processing on the colour images with just the B&W conversion at the end.

    There was some selective adjustment of the brightness of the sky in the fourth image but all B&W conversions were global adjustments only. I have used the Nik control points in other Nik software but haven't tried it yet in Siver Efex Pro. I've also used layer masks with some of the Nik software. There is a Curves control also in Silver Efex Pro but I haven't experimented with it yet. More to learn and more fun ahead !

    Dave

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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Dave - Mike covered pretty much anything I had to say, the only thing I'd add is that it sometimes pays to deliberately 'overexposure' a version of the final image just to make sure some interesting piece of detail hasn't been lost that could be recovered, at least in part, without sacrificing the whole image.

    Also, I don't know if you are aware but NIK have a youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/NikSoftwareLessons which has some really great content and a quick search on youtube will show loads of other contributors - you can pick up all sorts of odd little gems from them.

  7. #7
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Quote Originally Posted by dabhand View Post
    Dave - Mike covered pretty much anything I had to say, the only thing I'd add is that it sometimes pays to deliberately 'overexposure' a version of the final image just to make sure some interesting piece of detail hasn't been lost that could be recovered, at least in part, without sacrificing the whole image.

    Also, I don't know if you are aware but NIK have a youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/NikSoftwareLessons which has some really great content and a quick search on youtube will show loads of other contributors - you can pick up all sorts of odd little gems from them.
    Thanks Steve

    I have seen some tutorials but not these. They look to be very useful indeed.

    Dave

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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Dave - also meant to add there's a Kindle book by Robin Whalley - Dramatic Black & White Photography Using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 - costs 2.68 (I'll leave you to do the conversion !) but it is terrific value for the money and covers B/W imagery in a comprehensive but concise way.

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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Dave,

    If you're used to using the Curve and Levels tools when post-processing color images, be aware that following up with them once you have converted to monochrome requires relatively little adjustment; it's very easy to overdo it at that point.

  10. #10
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Quote Originally Posted by dabhand View Post
    Dave - also meant to add there's a Kindle book by Robin Whalley - Dramatic Black & White Photography Using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 - costs 2.68 (I'll leave you to do the conversion !) but it is terrific value for the money and covers B/W imagery in a comprehensive but concise way.
    Thanks Steve, it does indeed sound like good value. I'll probably get it.

    Dave

  11. #11
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Calgary in Black and White

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Dave,

    If you're used to using the Curve and Levels tools when post-processing color images, be aware that following up with them once you have converted to monochrome requires relatively little adjustment; it's very easy to overdo it at that point.
    Point taken Mike. My colour image processing has taken a few different directions over time wrt contrast adjustment, depending on the software being used. Currently I try to do as much as I can in ACR with the Contrast slider or the Curves. I do feel the Contrast slider in the latest version of ACR (or Lightroom) is a big improvement over earlier versions and also over PS. I sometimes use the Levels adjustment in PS for some fine tuning also.

    Dave

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