Back Modifications (3)
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By lesstow
Trying to capture something colourful in Black and White

Tags: Flower Black and white Macro close-up

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dudler Plus
15 861 1489 England
25 May 2019 4:16PM
Welcome to the Critique Gallery, Les.

You say you're trying to capture something colourful in black-and-white, but you don't say why - or whether you think you've succeeded...

For my money, it's not quite worked - the result is somewhere between very subtle and contrasty, and so it's neither one thing nor the other. I can envisage a John Blakemore poem in light greys, or possibly something harsh or contrasty, but i feel it needs to be one or the other.

I'm intrigued as to why you want to remove the colour, as most togs would relish the variations that full colour gives. Please tell me more...

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lesstow 8 77 United Kingdom
25 May 2019 6:30PM
I was trying to capture the image so it still has an impact even though the colour wasn't there so that the viewers imagination added the colour back. If that makes sense. I do see what you mean about contrast.
dudler Plus
15 861 1489 England
25 May 2019 6:43PM
Thanks for the response: I've belatedly uploaded a vaguely-Blakemore-like version.
pamelajean Plus
13 1.1k 2080 United Kingdom
25 May 2019 8:27PM
I fully understand your aim here, but don't feel that it has the impact you were hoping for.

Our eyes see in colour, but to be successful in black and white photography, you should try to train your eyes to see the world in tones of grey. Developing an eye for mono photogaphy takes time. You may already have the ability, or you may need to practice it. It's a good idea to pre-visualise your subject as a mono picture.
If you can, try to see the colour image in your viewfinder as a mono image. How will it translate to black and white? Will it be successful? Does it have enough different tones?
Some subjects will rely on colour for mood or impact, so converting that type of picture might not work well.

With the colour stripped away, your image becomes reliant on tones, texture and contrast. You need contast in order to show the tonal differences in your photo. You also need good light and distinctive shapes.

Choosing a single flower, as here, makes it simpler. You have set a fairly bright flower against a fairly dark background, and have automatically achieved separation. However, I feel that you need to have more in focus, clearly showing the texture of the petals and some clarity in those hairy parts underneath. I suspect that this looked quite nice in colour. Shooting the buttercup from the top would allow you to have more of it in focus because most of it will be in the same focal plane. But how much is sharp is a personal choice.

Keep practicing, this is a good start, and you will inevitably develop an eye for a good mono picture.

banehawi Plus
15 2.0k 4006 Canada
26 May 2019 1:27PM
Its always good to experiment. Even when converting to mono, experiment with different techniques, and filters, - some will surprise you.
Theres good petal detail here than can be exploited.

If you still have the colour original, can you upload it here on this page as your own mod? Click modifications, then upload, and select the colour version.


dudler Plus
15 861 1489 England
26 May 2019 6:13PM
Thank you for the colour versaion.

And it definitely shows one motivation for going to a B/W version - the colours don't particularly inspire one - the yellow is lovely, but the background isn't quite a contrast, and the overall effect is a bit weak. Did you feel the same about it, I wonder?

So maybe there's somethign about finding both colour and tonal contrasts i nthe background.

Pamela suggests more sharpness - you've focussed on the underside of the nearest petal, which is lovely, but there are other areas (notably the hairs that Pamela mentions) that sort of cry out to be sharp.

So, a couple of thoughts - go even closer, and make it all about that single petal? Or increase depth of field to get more sharp, possibly using focus stacking? (Please ask if you aren't familiar with the term.)
26 May 2019 10:16PM
As Pamela says, black & white photography is all about tonal variations, textures, and contrasts, and I think the single biggest improvement you could make here would be to take the brightness way way down while boosting the contrast. That will dispense with the bland background and show up what texture there is in the flower petal. A simple adjustment that can make a big difference to the final result.
I'll upload a mod to show what I mean.

dudler Plus
15 861 1489 England
28 May 2019 6:48PM
Alan's provided a mod which takes things all the way in the opposite direction to mine.

There's a Bibilcal criticism of things that are lukewarm: maybe the same principle applies in pictures...

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