Back Modifications (6)
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Calm After Storm

By ZenTony
This was a stunning morning on the Sands at Folkestone with the sky still angry and beautifully reflected in the reflections on the wet sand.
Again taken in colour and modified to mono which for me fitted the mood at the time. I have looked at some cropping and maybe making the image square, but I can't justify it ! For me it all seems relevant.
( I have one more photo for tomorrow and I will leave you all alone for a bit )

Tags: Seascape Black and white Storm clouds Beach scene

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mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2268 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2020 8:40AM
I can see what attracted you, this is about wide empty space and the majesty of the sky. So I am happy to go along with landscape format here!

'Being there' will have felt wonderful, the light dancing on the water, the cloud reflections moving across the wet sand, a 360 degree view to turn through; the wind on your face, the gulls calling... How to turn that into a flat rectangle on a small screen, that someone who was not there can relate to though... That's the problem. So a couple of caveats.

Wide angle has the effect of making the view seem distant, risking a big empty space in the middle.

And a 50/50 horizon split can be tricky, because it divides attention equally between sky and land/sea. Normally a horizon on the upper or lower third will indicate quite clearly what the photographer was most interested in... But 50/50 can work with reflections. Here the split is not quite equal, though, and that is somehow unsatisfying. So my first thought was a small crop from the bottom of the frame to equal the two halves.

The subject here is the drama, and that's not really coming across, because the mono processing is a bit flat, fifty shades of grey. I'm not seeing drama, particularly in the cloud reflections, and I'm not seeing light dancing - and it's needed there if the lower half of the frame is going to stand on equal terms with the sky. B&W works differently to colour, it needs true blacks for a sense of depth and substance, and true whites to give vitality.

Here I really would like to see the colour original, you can add it as a modification. Click on that blue Modifications button and follow the instructions.

The modification that I have added has greater contrast, and a boost in Levels to darker tones.

I raised two points rather late in the day on yesterday's upload, it would help if we have your answers:

How do you convert to b&w? Does your software include the colour channels? Do you check the light after conversion?


Do you refer to the histogram?
27 Jul 2020 8:46AM
Hi Moira
I use paintshop pro and the flick to mono is a simple switch. However I do use the histogram after and try and create the balance I am looking for.
Interestingly prior to uploading here my first mods were very similar to your modification. I changed it to reduce the contrast in the lower left hand element of the picture, but the consequence of that of course was to flatten the whole image as you have pointed out.
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2268 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2020 8:58AM
Thanks for coming back. And if you are achieving the result that you want, that's the main thing.

I would add though that mono conversion is not necessarily a simple switch. As evidence, different types of b&w film would produce very different images of the same scene!
DaveRyder Plus
6 4.6k 7 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2020 9:06AM
I've tried to level, take the horizon off centre and warm the image a little as steps below;

All done in Affinity;
Cropped and levelled Moved horizon from centre retaining the sky as a little more interest there.
Dropped Black level by 5%
Gamma to 0.95
White Balance to 4% to warm the image
Upped contract 10%

Then a border in FastStone
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2268 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2020 9:08AM
PS I have no experience of PaintShop Pro, but I located this article on EPZ. It's very elderly and no doubt out of date, but there may be some use in it.
capto Plus
8 6.4k 21 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2020 9:22AM
Some priceless advice from Moira. I always feel that the mind often sees more than the camera does. So a little help from software is needed. I modded in P.S. recovered highlights in the clouds and darken the top and bottom of the image with a grad filter. Finished off with a little dodging to accentuate the suns rays.
27 Jul 2020 9:43AM
Thank you Moira. Very interesting indeed.
27 Jul 2020 9:48AM
And here is the thing Ivor; as I mentioned to Moira, my first adjustment into the mono with this image had several of the elements you have introduced. I expected criticism that the contrast was too much in the lower section of the image so consequently modified it to reduce the contrast. I should have stuck to what I really was aiming at and not what I was anticipating from you guys. So yes. I love your mods........all of them. Tony
chase Plus
15 1.8k 445 England
27 Jul 2020 10:13AM
Thanks for the info you have given, why you took this frame is very important and you have justified that very well.
Again, a little flat as far as contrast goes and I think that would be far more noticeable if this was printed.

I did do a mod...
Increased contrast to improve the blacks and the whites.
Leveled the horizon which lead to a small crop from the top and bottom.
Improved the rays with a levels layer to brighten them a touch, then putting the effect where I thought it was needed.
I must admit to cloning out the buoy ? on the far left of the horizon.

'Scapes' don't always have to be in a panoramic format, but drama is a difficult one to convey, especially when the viewer was not there to see what you saw.
The drama is in there, just needs pulling out.
27 Jul 2020 11:30AM
Thanks Janet..................LOVE the mod.
dark_lord Plus
16 2.6k 696 England
27 Jul 2020 11:35AM
I like the scene. There is a calmness about empty space despite the stormy look, and it is all about the sky texture and reflections.

Your first thoughts were clearly on track, and while amount of contrast will vary from photographer to photographer it's generally accepted you need the deep blacks and some white whites. That will depend on the scene too, a foggy scene will have more grey, but this seascape does benefit from that crispness.
It is worth taking a little time to look at the other ways of mono conversion. You have some god start images that work very well in mono so getting the most out of them is a good idea. Rather like making your own curry rather than going for a ready meal.

But, and this is important, is that there's not one 'best' result when creating a mono image. In that vein, the mods given are just some examples of what's possible.

dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1701 England
27 Jul 2020 12:40PM
I love Janet's mod, too, Tony. Coming along late, I won't bother trying a mod of my own, but I will say that I think Janet's mod works so well because she's managed to enclose the scene with dark areas all round the central brightness: a subtle sort of spotlight effect. And she's upped the contrast, which always adds drama.

I'm really enjoying the conversations on your pictures, Tony: you know what you want to do, and you are open about it, and everything people write. There's no need to give us a rest, as long as you've got questions!
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2268 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2020 1:42PM
OK, as an afterthought I have added a further modification, which is more extreme. High contrast, dark vignette, and a frame. I also added some texture to the very bright cloud at the top.

It may be a bit OTT, but I think it demonstrates that high contrast works very differently in b&w to colour.
banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4164 Canada
27 Jul 2020 3:45PM
We have no exif data here, and it would be great if we could get it.

The sea is extremely soft in places, almost in strips, and the sky has noticeable noise. Leave a comment with the missing data if you still have it?

Tried a 16X9 crop sacrificing a little on the top and bottom, with deeper blacks and increased exposure on the beach.


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