Saturday, January 28, 2012

Black and White

Black and white photography isn't for everyone.  For some, if it's not in color it's just not very good.  Or they may think that it looks old.  I have to admit that I've been interested in black and white photography since the first time I laid eyes on Ansel Adams work.  There's just something about those wonderful, rich tones that can add such a sense of drama to an otherwise ordinary image.  I feel the same way about black and white movies.

Even with all of the special effects of present day film making, the original black and whites just can't be beat.  Examples - King Kong, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.  The originals have such depth, character, and mood.  Due in my opinion to those fantastic tones.  The sense of drama is amazing even without all of the graphic special effects they throw at the movies of today.  I'll take the originals over these re-makes any day.

Back to photography, when I want black and white, I actually shoot the image in color.  Why?  Because it's easy to convert the image to black and white in many different programs.  Unfortunately, if you switch to black and white in your camera and take the shot, it's virtually impossible to convert it to color.  Lets take a look at some examples:

This is an image from Montana De Oro State Park.  This is an amazing place located just south of Morro Bay on the Central Coast of California.  I was walking along the beach watching the cloud formations.  It must have been windy up high as the clouds were moving fast and quickly changing shape.  I took my Canon 60D that morning, and used a polarizing filter on my 18-55mm lens.  While I'm pleased with the original, I couldn't help but think that it would look great in black and white.

Here it is again, this time converted to black and white.  I used Photoshop and applied a red filter to darken the sky and add some contrast to the clouds.  To me, this version is much more dramatic than the original.

Let's look at another one.  Again, this is an ok shot.  There are some interesting clouds and rock formations, and the incoming wave adds a little bit of action.  Same set up as in the previous photo, Canon 60D, 18-55mm lens and a polarizing filter.  A couple of minor differences are a longer shutter speed to try and slightly blur the water, and this was a few hours later in the day.

The black and white version is more dramatic and interesting to me.  I love the contrasting tones and the clouds just seem to come alive.  I used Photoshop again for the conversion, although there are many other programs that will do this such as Photoshop Elements, Picasa, ACDSee, and Gimp.

I'll go into more detail on how I use Photoshop to convert an image from color to black and white in another post.  Thanks for reading!

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