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Thread: Recreating an old B&W

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    Suzanne's Avatar
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    Recreating an old B&W

    Recreating an old B&W

    Many years ago I had taken a photograph using a film camera (Pentax) that my grandfather had given me. It was a similar shot of roots, up close, with leaves scattered around. I really loves that shot. I lovingly developed it in the dark room, burned and dodged with great care, and was over joyed when someone asked me to put it into a show. I did so, and it was stolen.

    i usually use my current camera for just taking reference shots for my paintings, but love to dip my toe into the world of photography every now and again. And so, Katy and I were out in the freezing cold one day and I came upon these roots and that old photo came to mind. Now with a digital camera that, alas, I am not as practiced with I tried to recreate that shot. I like this, but I also realize that it needs something. I'm just not sure what. It's not quite right. I am sadly not as technically learned as most of you. So I will try to follow along.

    I would love to hear your thoughts.

    I took this using my Canon Powershot S3 Just using the standard 58mm lens that came with it.
    shutter 1/25
    ap 2.7

    Thanks in advance!

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Recreating an old B&W

    Suzanne

    Hope you don't mind but ........

    Recreating an old B&W

    The object of the exercise was to get that main root to 'pop' out from its background, amongst which, I thought, it was getting a bit lost.

    So:

    1. Applied quite a heavy dose of Local Contrast Enhancment (LCE)
    2. Applied a black layer mask and then painted the LCE back in to just that main root
    3. Made a new layer
    4. Applied an S curve to get more contrast into the picture
    5. Applied a black layer mask to this layer and then painted back the effect of the curve onto the main root only

    Has it made any difference?

    ps - I use the GIMP not Photoshop or one of its offspring, in which the steps above may be different.

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    Suzanne's Avatar
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    Re: Recreating an old B&W

    Thank you, Donald. I think I understand what you did, and yes the root is definitely the point of interest. I use photoshop on a mac, so i think the terms are a bit different. I'm going to kind of hash through and see if I can do what you did. It is much! better.
    The only thing i'm not sure about . . . You said you applied an s curve. ?? I can see now that it definitly needed more contrast.
    Thank you for the advise. I'll keep working on it.

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    Re: Recreating an old B&W

    OK Donald, I played around with photoshop a bit. I'm interested to see what you think. Oh, and I realized I did know what you meant by curves. I had to put it into action to actually remember. So one of the issues with this photo I know is that its a pretty busy comp. Don't you agree? But I just love getting into the nitty gritty of the earth. It's so beautiful. And as you said the roots ARE the interest. So making them pop out without loosing too much of the interesting puzzle of a background is the problem, right? Is simplifying the background always the solution? (That's somewhat rhetorical) Anyway, sorry, I'm rambling. So here is another attempt at this shot with more post prod work. I did a variety of things. Mainly dealing with contrast. Trying to increase it with out it getting to frayed. Also a little strategic dodging and burning. Too much on that main root? What do you think? Again thanks for the help from you and anyone else who care to comment.
    Recreating an old B&W

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    Re: Recreating an old B&W

    The first thing that come to my mind when viewing digital monochrome images is a complete lack of grain. Additionally, monochrome film does not simply surpress color, as reducing the saturation does, it has an actual sensitivity curve that biases the scene colors as it records the various shades of grey.

    I have and recommend that you get a trial of Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro. With Silver Efex Pro, you can select a predefined film type or vary the spectral responce curve and grain to your liking as well as making other adjustments.The NIK site has a collection of video lessions that will how you what you can achieve.

    If you post a link where I could get the full resolution original color image, I can download and try my hand at it in Silver Efex Pro so you can see what my take is on this image.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 7th December 2010 at 03:38 AM. Reason: typo

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    Re: Recreating an old B&W

    Thank you so much Steaphany. I keep hearing this SilverEfex software refered to. It sounds like it is the thing to have if you gonna be working with B&W. Having slept on all these thoughts, I'm beggining to think if maybe this just isnt the right shot. I mean the right roots. And then I got thinking that I might actually still have some unfinished tries of that old film shot. Which is pretty amazing since this was over 15 years ago. I'm gonna see if I can dig it up and try to see what it was about that shot tht I loved so much. If I find it is it ok to post non-digital shots up? Then maybe we can figure out what I'm after. In the mean time I'll see if I can figure out how to get a link for you to have a copy of the color digital shot. Thank you very much, again. cheers

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Recreating an old B&W

    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanne View Post
    I keep hearing this SilverEfex software refered to.
    Suzanne
    Indeed, it is the tool of choice for a great many people. Michael Freeman in 'The Complete Guide to Black & White Digital Photography'', which I consider as my primary reference text, does devote 2 pages to Silver Efex. However, he does say, "... frankly, if you are working within Photoshop, its 8-hue slider approach is all most people could ask for" (p110). He is referring to Photoshop's Black & White Dialogue which, I understand, is also accessible via ACR.

    Now, of course, I use neither. I do my B & W conversion at the RAW processing stage in DxO Optics Pro.

  8. #8

    Re: Recreating an old B&W

    frankly, if you are working within Photoshop, its 8-hue slider approach is all most people could ask for"
    I would agree with that and grain can be added with a plug-in. The main problem I see with the image is the 'muddy' look. Donald has corrected that with contrast enhancement and adjustment of the tonal curve. However I think your subject matter could also be giving a problem. There are a lot of grey tones that are very near to one another so it is not a high-contrast image to start with. If you are shooting for black and white you need to consider if the scene has a fair balance of darker tones. These darker tonal areas will give the b/w conversion its zing. Also remember that you can introduce colour tones after the conversion with the hue/saturation sliders. Primitive but it works. I do not like the slight sepia cast you can sometimes get so I often add a little blue and then have another bash at the tonal curve.

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