Sunday, 8 August 2010

Digital Photographic Practice 1: Exercise 15: Black and White

Black and white photography is not an area I have experimented much in before so I am quite looking forward to the next few exercises and the assignment as a challenge. In the first instance for this exercise I sought an image with some contrasting form, a range of tones that was not too great and an image that was already monotone. This image of sky reflected in a local pond met these criteria. It is slightly underexposed to retain the detail in the clouds – although with hindsight I could have given it an extra half stop.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As noted above this has a limited dynamic range, is essentially monotone, consisting largely of blue-greys, and the spiky forms of the grass in the pond contrasts nicely with the more organic form of the clouds in the reflection.
I spent a considerable time experimenting with the various sliders and the custom curve before settling on the following process. The auto black and white conversion in Lightroom gave an acceptable conversion which I tweaked by increasing the value of the orange slider to lighten the clouds (they are orange in the original colour version) – and I the increased the exposure by 0.7EV to brighten the whole image. I then adjusted the contrast to ‘strong’ and increased the value of the ‘blacks’ slider to silhouette the blades of grass in the middle. Further adjustments were made to the tonality of the image using the custom curves controls, and I followed this by noise reduction to remove the graininess introduced by the processing. Finally I cropped the image to remove the distracting reeds at the top of the shot. The final result is here – note that I have also cloned out one of the bubbles on the mid-left of the image.


Final thoughts
In many respects I prefer the black and white to the original. With the overall blue cast gone and no colour in the clouds, the blue/orange contrast is no longer the most eye-catching part of the shot. there is a pleasing , almost 3-D effect from the range of tomes in the cloud reflections and the contrast between the grass, the clouds and the smoothness of the water is much more marked.
As a slightly different treatment, I also tried the following letter-box crop.


Overall I think this is a slightly better composition, but does not have the same range of tones as my first choice above.

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