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Thread: B&W advice please.

  1. #1

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    B&W advice please.

    Hello,

    I have a coral pebble I picked up in the Whitsunday Islands and I want to create a striking black and white photograph. I loaded the original raw file into Lightroom 3 and pressed the B&W button. Very boring indeed. There are too many buttons to press/twiddle and I am lost. My original lighting may be poor.

    Anyway, has anyone any suggestions as to how I should proceed?

    Regards, Peter.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/for...achmentid=9394

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: B&W advice please.

    Quote Originally Posted by MixedHerbs View Post
    Hello,

    I have a coral pebble I picked up in the Whitsunday Islands and I want to create a striking black and white photograph. I loaded the original raw file into Lightroom 3 and pressed the B&W button. Very boring indeed. There are too many buttons to press/twiddle and I am lost. My original lighting may be poor.

    Anyway, has anyone any suggestions as to how I should proceed?

    Regards, Peter.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/for...achmentid=9394
    Although the pattern of the countertop provides nice contrast, I think it competes with the stone. I would try a black background and surface, something non-reflective and also play around with the lighting you are using. One lighting technique would be to use only what you get from your flash.

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    Re: B&W advice please.

    Quote Originally Posted by MixedHerbs View Post
    I loaded the original raw file into Lightroom 3 and pressed the B&W button. Very boring indeed.
    Peter

    I don't know Lightroom nor have I seen anything from its B & W default settings. But I'd be prepared to put next month's salary on the fact that you need to do a lot more than just hit the default B & W setting to get a good B & W image.

    There are many ways to skin a cat, but the production of a high quality B & W image might start from hitting the B & W default setting. You then go from there with other controls to process the RAW file to produce the final image.

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    Re: B&W advice please.

    At the risk of being too pushy, I used Silver Efex Pro and did some rather unorthodox maneuvers to darken the backdop (table) and yet give a good contrasting result. I am sure Rob and Jiro will read this and say..duh, you could've done this and that, but I don't know how yet, so bear with my explanation as it is really pretty simple (and, it could be done in PS only, though with less drama).

    I masked a copy of only the piece of coral (it's not a rock) and copied that to a separate document where I applied a preset -strong contrast w/red filter. While there, the the pints adjusters, I added some detail to the leading right side edge for better definition and help lose the blowout which was occuring.
    I magic wanded this image and copied it (Control C)
    I then went back to the original image and proceded to darken the table top significantly (in Curves) and began to edit it in Silver Efex but I left the preset to neutral as while it had some nice contrast, it wasn't too much so that it would compete heavily with the copied image.
    When I was satisfied with tha tresult, I hit Done, and when it came into PS, I did a Control V to paste the edited piece of coral back onto the backdrop. It did require a little moving about to get it into exact position before flattening the image.
    Lastly, I brough the composite image back into Silver and did some shadow adjusting under the piece of coral...and viola'

    B&W advice please.

    Looking at it on the monitor, it is a tad too grainy even though I thought I'd lowered the grain and softness of the grain sufficiently. this is a second version where I added a vignette and lightened the overall image...I think perhaps I still need more knowledge in this program but wanted you to get the sense that it can be accomplished, one way or the other.

    B&W advice please.
    Last edited by MiniChris; 8th January 2011 at 04:22 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: B&W advice please.

    Thank you very much for your replies. I think I will enjoy being a member of this foruum.

    Shadowman.

    I will borrow some matt black fabric and re-shoot. I only have a flash that pops up from the top of my camera, but I will give it a try.

    Donald.

    "... But I'd be prepared to put next month's salary on the fact that you need to do a lot more than just hit the default B & W setting to get a good B & W image."

    You would win that bet.

    I grew frustrated with all the options available, never quite getting what I wanted.

    Chris.

    Golly, you have done a fabulous job, and that's the look I want. Now I must achieve that effect myself.

    But first, I will re-shoot, try to get the lighting a bit better, and the image a bit sharper.

    Peter.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: B&W advice please.

    Peter
    Quote Originally Posted by MixedHerbs View Post
    I only have a flash that pops up from the top of my camera, but I will give it a try.
    In which case I'd think about trying to use natural light. Are you able to set it up in a room where you've got some natural light coming in so that you can get the light coming infom the side. Probably the worst option is to use that pop-up flash on your camera, as it will make things look very flat.

    I grew frustrated with all the options available, never quite getting what I wanted.
    It is at first. And there's no substitute, unfortunately, for practice, practice, practice until they all start to make sense and you realise the impact one has upon another, etc. But if you enjoy the challenge of learning new skills .......

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    Re: B&W advice please.

    Try using your channel mixer. This will allow you to go to gray scale and then adjust your tones with the effect of using an infinite variety of color filters on black and white film. A good article on this is posted at http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...w_better.shtml.

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    Re: B&W advice please.

    Hi Mixed Herbs

    When you want to emphasize texture, the quality of lighting is key. You don't want to use your on-camera flash for the coral, you want to have light coming from the side, and mostly one side only. This is what will make the complex texture of the coral leap out.

    Set up your shot in a room in which you can control the light. Control the light with window shades, so only one window is allowing light to pass. This will goive you the unidirectional light you need. Have this light come from the side.

    Experiment with different shade opening sizes. You will probably find that a very narrow slit of light from the window is too harsh, and that a moderate-sized opening is best, because you do want some bounced (non unidirectional) light to display on your subject as well.

    It is OK to expose your picture different ways, including fairly brightly - you can always darken the picture in post processing without any picture degradation, but trying to brighten a too dark exposure won't work quite as well. Or, for fun, you can try to hit the perfect exposure in one go, by using spot metering or exposure compensation.

    But the key is side lighting.

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