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Thread: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

  1. #1

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    Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    I've been playing around with some of my flower shots and experimenting with PP and B&W. I tend to loose my judgement when doing something new, and would like some opinions on these. Don't worry about hurting my feelings, I'm not sure about them either. I kind of like the lily though.

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    1/160s: f5.6: ISO 100: 175mm - the usual PP then converted to B&W with a low % blue filter and a white vignette applied

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    1/400s: f14: ISO 200: 200mm - converted to B&W and then tried darkening an already dark background. I intentionally left the top left corner lighter as that is the direction the light was coming from and besides that trying to darken it more with my PP skills messed up the flower

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    1/10s: f5.6: ISO 200: 90mm - kind of soft looking but I liked the paper like crispness of the petals. Not sure if it works though. Sort of boring

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    1/250s: f8: ISO 200: 65mm - This one is a far cry from the original which was some yellow weeds in a sandy roadway. Converted to B&W infared filter and then played with green and red sliders in Elements.

    Any feedback is appreciated.

    Thanks
    Wendy

  2. #2

    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Wendy

    I really don't know. As you know, I love both BW and floral shots. But I've tried doing BW florals and I just can't get them looking right. there always seems to me to be something essential missing. I don't know much about art theory, but BW seems to me to be reductionist - you are taking away the colour and just by using structure, contrast and composition you can hopefully make a scene at least as effective as it would have been in colour - but in a different way. The problem is that some scenes have such an expectation of colour in the mind of the viewer that seeing it in BW can come as a shock to the senses. For example a beach scene with deep blue sky, golden sand, and a brightly-coloured striped deckchair is very much a colour scene. It might work in BW, but the chances are that it will work better in colour because the strong colour not only gives the elements in the shot form and shape, but are hard-wired into the viewers mind.

    I think floral shots may be in that same category. In nature flowers have often evolved a wide range of colours for various evolutionary reasons that the colour has become part of what they are. I've seen some BW floral shots by various very good photographers at exhibitions etc, and even they seem to struggle to get something out of their efforts. Of course, this is just my opinion, all of these things are a matter of subjective opinion.

    Having said that I think yours are quite good. The first one is probably my favourite - it is attractive, but some of that could be down to the presentation (which is nice). #2 has a very good shape, but even in colours these can look a little plain - their strength is in their shape. I also like #3 but the exposure doesn't look quite right - perhaps a little more exposure and contrast? #4 looks interesting, but I'd like to see a much larger version of it.

    I think it's good that you are trying this, but I think you are setting yourself a difficult task - but that's no reason not to do it! If you like I'll try some in the next few days and post them?

  3. #3

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    Wendy
    If you like I'll try some in the next few days and post them?
    That would be cool, you always have very good ideas. I'd like to see what you do.

    Thanks for the very thoughtful reply. I hear what you are saying and it makes a lot of sense. I'm not quite so tied into having to have colour in florals though. I think they can work in B&W, but like you say kind of difficult. These are just a result of trying to save some shots that I did not like. For instance the Lily is orange, and i did not like the overpowering colour, and the colours in the last shot of the yellow weed in the sand were not very nice either. I think I like the Calla better in colour, and the Rose, well you confirmed what I thought that it is a little boring. The colour version was indeed kind of flat looking and I'm pretty sure there is some motion blur there due to the slow shutter.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. I think I saved the PSD of #4. I have to go out now, but will post a larger version when I get home later.

    Wendy

  4. #4

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Hi,
    In my opinion a B/W image of a flower must underline the fragility and graciousness of the shape.Your images seem to meet my opinion.Of course first of them has a frame too dark.This first having a treatment near high key asks a white border something around You see below

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Thanks for reading
    Radu Dinu
    Last edited by Radu Dinu Cordeanu; 1st August 2010 at 05:40 PM.

  5. #5
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    I've never thought of B+W flower shots Wendy Actually I think you've discovered something and the top one works; I don't read the books or follow fashion actually I do know, it must be hard or everybody would be doing it and the top one actually works.

    Now somebody is going to say it is all old hat, after all all photo's were B+W once.

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Hi Wendy,

    If you're sure I can't hurt your feelings ... read on

    I like #1, although perhaps a tad more contrast on the water drops would be useful. I am undecided about the border, I can see what Radu means, and I quite like his version too.

    #2 is a strong shape as others have said, I just find the BL corner a bit too large dark and detail-less, there is almost half a frame of dark nothing-ness.

    #3, I like the bloom, but again the background, and even the second stalk and bud don't really add anything.

    #4 is lacking enough detail to hold my interest, it needs to be colour (as Rob suggests), or much bigger/tighter cropped.

    As usual, Rob talks a lot of sense, so I won't try to improve on that.

    In summary, at first sight, I liked 3 of them, but thought the last didn't work for me.
    After seeing Radu's version I like that too.

    Hope that helps,

  7. #7
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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    I pretty much agree with Dave here, except I prefer your version of #1. I agree with Rob that the exposure in #3 doesn't look right but I like the composition. # 4 looks messy to me and does not hold my interst at all. I like your use of shape and proportion in the frame and I think that these would look much better in a larger print.

    Well done.

  8. #8

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Quote Originally Posted by Radu Dinu Cordeanu View Post
    Hi,
    In my opinion a B/W image of a flower must underline the fragility and graciousness of the shape.Your images seem to meet my opinion.Of course first of them has a frame too dark.This first having a treatment near high key asks a white border something around You see below

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Thanks for reading
    Radu Dinu
    Very nice Radu. 2 different looks, and I like them both but I like yours the best. It is exactly the look that I like.

    Thank you for taking the time and for the wise words
    Wendy

  9. #9

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, it is appreciated, and I would have to say I agree with all of it. #1 seems to have potential, (I prefer Radu's version) and possibly #4, but after working on it again to produce a larger version, I have to agree with Peter that it is just messy looking. I think this infared B&W has potential though, I might try it on a different shot.

    Regardless, I have posted a larger version - had to do it over because I did not save the PSD file. This one is from a slightly different shot than the first one. I've also included a shot of the original colour version which I don't like at all.

    Right click and select Open in New Window to see full size
    Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Thanks again for the feedback eveyone.
    Wendy

  10. #10
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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Wendy

    Apologies for coming in late on this. All the wise words that require saying are, I think. said above. My only contribution to the discussion would be to make the point (and I haven't practiced it, so please ignore if wished) that with any sort of vegetation in B & W it has got to be, I think, about shape and texture.

    What you are trying to achieve, I suggest, is to emphasise shape and texture to the viewer. Hopefully he or she will appreciate your demonstration of that shape and texture. If we get that bit right, then I think the viewer is happy to work without (or make assumptions about) the other information; i.e. colour, so long as we don't go over board with the tone shifts in pp. For example, in most cases we would expect a flower to be of a lighter or brighter tone than the leaves and stems of the same plant (not all flowers stick to the rules, of course. That's the problem with nature!). So we should keep the tone of the flower lighter than the tone of the leaves and stems.

    I don't see any problem in making pictures of foliage in B & W. Not easy, as Rob suggests, but, as we can see from your examples above, worth the effort.

  11. #11

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Thanks Donald. I think I will continue to experiment with this. There is something about B&W florals that I like. Perhaps it's just because a lot of times I really mess up the colours.

    Below are a couple more from yesterday that I could use feedback on (anyone! help me out here ). I've included the colour and B&W version. I really appreciate all the pointers so far on what I should be trying to do with these. Please don't get upset if I appear to be ignoring any advice or tips given. Things take awhile to sink in with me and I have to learn by doing.

    So here goes - let me know what you think. Good, bad, ugly, give it up, keep trying. This is new territory for me so all suggestions, advice, tips, comments will be considered.

    #1
    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    1/30s: f18: ISO 200: 31mm
    The usual RAW processing and sharpening, then levels and contrast adjustments in Elements

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    B&W conversion in Elements played with Red & Green sliders and made adjustments to levels and shadows

    #2
    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    The usual RAW processing and sharpening, then levels and contrast adjustments in Elements. Wish I would not have cut off the bottom petal of the lily.

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    B&W infared conversion in Elements, adjustments to Red and Green sliders and then levels and contrast to try to lighten the lily. Then for a different perspective I skewed it a bit.

    Wendy
    Last edited by ScoutR; 2nd August 2010 at 03:28 PM.

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Hi Wendy,
    I think I would agree that most of the time I don't find BW working on flowers. Though there are some exceptions like your second one in your first post. When the image gets a little more abstract you van achieve beautiful results. The lines in the leaves give great structures which can be improved nicely in black and white. I don't know the name of that (kind of) flower but I've seen more black and white work of it that works. Your shot reminds me of some work I've seen on Flickr(not mine!). What do you think?

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Thanks Jeroen: I like the shots that you linked. I think his Calla Lily was pure white whereas mine has a pink tint to it. This particular flower does lend itself well to B&W though. I will have to find some other flowers that will work better. I like the looks of the Dahlia and the Lily in the second shot of my second entry, but I'm not so sure about the composition. I'll keep working at it.

    Thanks for the feedback, it seems most agree that B&W florals are not that appealing. I suppose I just like them because I was trying something new, and thought they worked out pretty good. That happens sometimes, then I look at them a week or a month later and go ewwwwww what was I thinking.

    Thanks again
    Wendy

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    Thanks Donald. I think I will continue to experiment with this. There is something about B&W florals that I like. Perhaps it's just because a lot of times I really mess up the colours.

    Below are a couple more from yesterday that I could use feedback on (anyone! help me out here ). I've included the colour and B&W version. I really appreciate all the pointers so far on what I should be trying to do with these. Please don't get upset if I appear to be ignoring any advice or tips given. Things take awhile to sink in with me and I have to learn by doing.

    So here goes - let me know what you think. Good, bad, ugly, give it up, keep trying. This is new territory for me so all suggestions, advice, tips, comments will be considered.

    Need some C&C on B&W Florals
    B&W infared conversion in Elements, adjustments to Red and Green sliders and then levels and contrast to try to lighten the lily. Then for a different perspective I skewed it a bit.

    Wendy
    Wendy, this has a different quality to the others. I find that lily yearning for the love of the dahlia and the dahlia retreating, while she blushes. Even though it's b & w, I can still "see" the blush. Fanciful, maybe, but this is what that image makes me feel.

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    Wendy, this has a different quality to the others. I find that lily yearning for the love of the dahlia and the dahlia retreating, while she blushes. Even though it's b & w, I can still "see" the blush. Fanciful, maybe, but this is what that image makes me feel.
    fanciful, yes, but I knew there was something going on between these 2

    I viewed this last night on the monitor at work, and the top right corner very clearly showed a light grey diagonal top right. I've adjusted contrast and brightness here at home and I cannot duplicate it. Can anyone else see the light grey triangle top right. It's from the skewing, but I thought I had it blackened to match the rest of the shot.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    Thanks for the feedback, it seems most agree that B&W florals are not that appealing.
    I respect that view, but don't agree with it. As implied in my previous post above, I do not see any reason why B & W presentation of floral subjects cannot be as impressive and appealing as images rendered in colour. It's about picking the right subject, creating the composition and managing the lighting.

    Of course you're likely to hit the mark with a pleasing image more often in colour given that we expect to see nice colour. So the other factors of shape, texture, composition and light, though important, are helped by the good rendition of colour. Without the colour you have to step up a gear in relation to the other elements.

    That's probably why I haven't got into it and stick to bridges, pylons and such other 'big' things. Oh ... and tractors.

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I respect that view, but don't agree with it. As implied in my previous post above, I do not see any reason why B & W presentation of floral subjects cannot be as impressive and appealing as images rendered in colour. It's about picking the right subject, creating the composition and managing the lighting.

    Of course you're likely to hit the mark with a pleasing image more often in colour given that we expect to see nice colour. So the other factors of shape, texture, composition and light, though important, are helped by the good rendition of colour. Without the colour you have to step up a gear in relation to the other elements.

    That's probably why I haven't got into it and stick to bridges, pylons and such other 'big' things. Oh ... and tractors.
    I'm sure I will keep trying, I kind of like them. Actually there are a couple here that are the first shots in a year that I would not mind having printed. I'll wait a bit though, I might feel differently in another week. I'll try to plan future shots around shape and texture and see if I can get something better.

  18. #18
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    I viewed this last night on the monitor at work, and the top right corner very clearly showed a light grey diagonal top right. I've adjusted contrast and brightness here at home and I cannot duplicate it.

    Can anyone else see the light grey triangle top right. It's from the skewing, but I thought I had it blackened to match the rest of the shot.
    Yes, I can (but you knew I'd say that), sorry.

  19. #19

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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    I apologize for coming in (very) late, Wendy, but it's a very interesting concept. In the original group, I thought #4 had the best potential, and you showed it, as an image that actually has an advantage in B&W. As others have said, the advantage of monochrome is that it lets the structures, textures, geometry, and intricate shapes come through, without the distraction of color. Most flowers don't seem to have big color variations in the internal structures, so it seems to me that, in general, you'll find more interesting subjects for this kind of B&W in groups and plants.

    The other point of monochrome, of course, is to provide an alternative view or alternative reality. In that case, maybe think about moving farther away from an easily identifiable flower, or boosting contrast to make it more stark. Maybe even invert it to a negative.

    I agree with Donald: I'm very interested in seeing where something like this might lead.

    Cheers,
    Rick

  20. #20
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    Re: Need some C&C on B&W Florals

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    I'm sure I will keep trying, I kind of like them. Actually there are a couple here that are the first shots in a year that I would not mind having printed. I'll wait a bit though, I might feel differently in another week. I'll try to plan future shots around shape and texture and see if I can get something better.
    Please don't give up after all this is what you like and you should explore it. One thing I have learned you have to do it for yourself or you will lose interest. I do agree that getting the subject matter right makes all the difference but isn’t that the same as all subject matter and comes with time and practise.

    I was wondering if a textured paper might give an interesting effect when printing but it would have to be with a high key more minimalist shot, I think. You could experiment by using a textured style on your images to see if it works. You might have to use a layer to soften the effect.

    Keep going girl.

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