Critique Black and White Conversion question

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I'm just going to throw in a couple of things to think about for the future when it comes to shooting and converting to B&W: first, a lot of photographers choose a subject specifically with an eye to later converting it. Or, sometimes one will be later looking at the freshly-shot image in the computer and immediately sees that it would be an ideal candidate for B&W. Some subjects and images naturally lend themselves to being shared and appreciated in B&W. Why? B&W particularly shines when the subject is something fairly simple, with emphasis on lines, shadows, textures, shapes.....and not a lot of extraneous other stuff going on in the image. Look at some of Mike Buckley's excellent B&W tabletop images and you'll see what I mean. Abstract images can be really striking in B&W.

As we all know, photography is about the light. In the old days photographers didn't have a choice about presenting their images in either B&W or color, it was all B&W. Sometimes it's hard to "see" B&W when actually taking the shot because, well, our eyes see in color and our cameras usually show us a color image on the LCD screen and in the EVF. B&W is all about exploring the interesting interplay between light and dark, brightness and shadow, hardness and softness..... Simplicity works best in B&W, with two, or maybe three important elements in the scene, the emphasis being on the use of light and the way it affects the scene.

In B&W, contrast plays a big role, too. When many years ago I took a class in PHT 101, I would come out of the darkroom with a freshly-printed image that I'd just worked on at the enlarger and then bathed in the chemicals..... I'd show the print to the instructor. He'd look, nod and say, "nice composition, good interpretation of the assignment, but this needs more contrast." I'd trudge back to the enlarger, put another piece of photo paper under it, get back to work, then once again stand at the trays of chemicals, gently rocking the paper back-and-forth, listening to the chemicals swish softly over it, watching the image slowly coming to life on what had seemingly been a blank piece of paper......... Did I get it contrasty enough this time? By the end of the semester, if I had learned nothing else, I sure had grasped the importance of contrast! (Actually, good use of contrast is also important in shooting in color, too, but that's another topic for a different time.)

This is a cute picture -- it makes me want to rush to my local grocery store to grab a carton of Breyer's Reese's Chocolate ice cream right now!!!! Yummy! Throw in some peanuts and/or more Reese's pieces, add a little extra chocolate sauce, plop a nice bit of marshmallow sauce on top -- Ah, bliss!!! :D. Fun candid shot of your granddaughter and her brother, too. However it's not one which I would have chosen to convert to B&W..... That's not to say that one can't shoot or present photos of people in B&W -- photographers can and do all the time. People portraits, either formal or informal, can definitely be quite effective in B&W.

Keep experimenting with B&W, Terri -- I think you'll really like it the more you work with it!
Thanks for all the type you spent in composing this very informative reply to my post. You have some very great points that I will try to remember!!
 
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Terri...

I think it is lovely....I think your black and white is great.

For my own benefit I tried and for some reason instinctively ended up with a brighter face.....I am happy to post with your permission.


But I agree with Richard...the colour one has such lovely tones it is my favourite....but great work on your part.

Best wishes as always

Ray
I would love to see what you came up with, Ray. Please feel free to share. Perhaps more people than just me are learning a thing or two from this discussion!!
 
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Hope I didn't miss replying to anyone here. I was trying to do it on my phone while taking my mom to the doctor. Thanks all. I'm going to keep working on this....perhaps a different image, since several think that this isn't the best to convert. I'm learning something new, so thank you all!!
 
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Consider converting a photo of the children wearing brightly colored and patterned clothes that look cute (because that's what kids that age wear) but from a photographer's point of view distract from their faces. Converting to monochrome will minimize if not eliminate the effect of the distracting characteristics.
 
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Here we go, Mike. I chose one that had a lot of distracting colors like you suggested, but when I edited it in black and white the skin was blotchy, I tried to reduce that and I think it looks too flat. I liked this photo because it was just after my granddaughter woke up yesterday. She came in and rested on the sofa until she was fully awake. I thought she looked so sweet with the morning light hitting her face.

I was going to use this as my October Meme photo tomorrow, but I will just have to find something else to shoot. :)

These are exported as jpegs in Lightroom.

Original unedited file.
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My Color edit. I love the light on the face but the arm looks a bit dark since it was in the shade.
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My Black and White Conversion.
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Terri...what a great thread you have started...

So interesting and a lot of great feedback and help.

With your permission this was my try...please excuse the rough extraction but time was against me as so busy...

Still love your colour version.

Best wishes Ray
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As noted above- Black and white photography is about the tones. As an old fart black and white shooter, when I look at a scene all I see is tones. Colors do not really matter.
That old school is no longer completely true. Many of the new post processing techniques allow individual color control as well. It is a great time to be a photographer!!
My opinion- burn the hair a little and dodge a quick swipe across the eyes- 10 seconds and you are done.
This would be a good image for you to decide what you want YOUR black and white images to look like. You do not have to just click presets. Take some time, figure out what you like and how to get there. That is your new preset for next time. Do not be afraid to do some local dodging and burning- it really helps most images.
gary
 
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I think the monochrome image of your sleeping granddaughter is just fine. Your objections to it indicate to me that you are already well on your way to determining your own vision about how you want your monochrome images to appear, which is remarkable considering how little time you've devoted to B&W photography.

Your conversion is so nice that I will make my own only in an attempt to attend to your objections in yours. That will happen after I eat breakfast.

By the way, I think this photo is an ideal candidate for conversion because of how the various colors and patterns distract from the subject's plain, sweet face and because those elements go against the peaceful mood of her being asleep.
 
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This post proves, Terri, that if you had asked what time it is, I would have explained how to build a watch. :eek:

I used the following steps in the Silver Efex Pro 2 plugin to Photoshop CC in the following order:
  1. Preset 000 Neutral -- In effect, that preset provides the most control to the user and requires the most decisions to be made by the user.
  2. Hue slider value of 112 -- This slider attended to the tonalities in the face. I compared them to the tones in your conversion with your critique in mind that the face in your conversion looks too flat; my conversion perhaps displays more shape in the face though maybe at the risk of appearing too blotchy to your taste. (It doesn't appear at all blotchy to my taste and your conversion doesn't look too flat to my taste.)
  3. Strength slider value of 174 -- This slider (thankfully) affected the face very little, so I used it to minimize the distracting characteristics of the pattern in the shirt.
  4. Control Point -- Reduced the distracting brightness of the area of the shirt that is to the viewer's left of the chin.
  5. 6 Control Points -- Brightened the dark areas and darkened the bright areas of the pillow to minimize the distracting effect of its pattern.
I then used the following steps in Photoshop CC:
  1. Cloned to eliminate the distracting bright spot on the tip of the nose.
  2. Cropped to 8 x 10 aspect ratio and to reduce the size to one that hopefully emphasizes the face. (In so doing, I shamelessly placed the girl's left eye at the position determined by the Rule of Thirds.)

_DSC5798-REV.jpg
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A few quick notes about using Silver Efex Pro 2:

Hue Slider -- This slider has no effect on the image until the Strength slider located immediately below it is moved to the right. I generally begin by positioning the Strength slider in the middle and then adjusting the Hue slider until it meets my overall needs. I then adjust the Strength slider to fine tune the look.

Control Points -- A tip that was not immediately apparent to me, so I pass it along to you just in case you are not already aware of it -- After placing control points in the image, a pin is displayed for each control point so you can easily find all of them for the purpose of readjusting their settings. Those pins can become distracting. To hide the pins, hover the cursor anywhere outside the main window. To display the pins again, hover the cursor over anywhere in the image. EDIT: After placing the most recent control point, its pin and sliders are displayed. To hide the sliders, click anywhere within the main window but outside the image. (Then hover anywhere outside the main window to also hide the pins.)

Ansel Adams Zone System -- In most images I make, I prefer that all 11 zones are displayed. In this image, I preferred relatively less dynamic range and contrast, so almost all tones are only in Zones 2 through 8. To review which tones in the image are in a particular zone, open Silver Efex's Loupe & Histogram mini panel located at the very bottom of the panel on the right. Hover the cursor over that mini panel to automatically display 11 boxes numbered 0 - 10 with each box representing a zone in the system. When you then hover the cursor over one of those boxes, the tones in that zone will be displayed in that image. This tool can be an invaluable guide because it not only displays which zones are included in the image but also exactly where they are displayed. Armed with that knowledge, you may then want to fine tune existing control points or add more of them to achieve the results that meet your vision of how the image should appear.
 
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Terri...what a great thread you have started...

So interesting and a lot of great feedback and help.

With your permission this was my try...please excuse the rough extraction but time was against me as so busy...

Still love your colour version.

Best wishes RayView attachment 1671912
Thank you for your efforts, Ray. Your result, even though the extraction is rough, give me an idea of what it would look like if I removed distractions in the background.
 
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