Back Modifications (3)
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Gateway to Blaskets

By cnooba
Iíve decided to try my hand at black and white photography. I am quite the amateur at this so I would really appreciate any advice anyone can give. I took this photo this evening, under hazy and overcast skies, taken using the cameraís black and white function.

Tags: General Black and white Landscape and travel Wildlife and nature


dark_lord Plus
16 2.6k 683 England
15 Mar 2015 8:57PM
It's good to have a go at black and white imagery.
I'm interested as to why you decided this scene would be a good candidate?

Good monochrome images rely on shape, tone and texture for their impact. You have a nice rocky foreground and that figure on the hill is a strong focal point.
however, the dull conditions mean the overall result is grey and not exciting (to view). A dull scene is dull in colour, too. What can be done in mono is to boost contrast, something that would make a colour image look unnatural but in mono would be appealingly punchy.

The best approach is to take the image in colour and convertt to mono using software, the Channel Mixer being a good start. That's what it's called in Photoshop and I think Elements too, though other packages may have slightly different names. This allows you to vary the amounts of red, green and blue in the image so you can differentiate tones.
For example, someone in red clothing with a backdrop of green foliage woul dbe very similar in grey tones. Using the Channel Mixer you can vary the amounts of red and green so the person stands out from the backlground. Even then, you may need to boost contrast using Levels or Curves.

Shooting in colour allows you to capture all the image information for a better end result. Letting the camera create a mono image throws a lot of information away before you start.

There is a little texture in the sky here, Yu can selectively darken and boost contrast here too to bring back some mood.

By all means shoot a mono image in camera first and review the image on the screen, as this will help you 'see' in mono. then shoot a colour image and play later.

Back to the figure. It's very strong visually so I'd make more of it. It's a very dominant position being on the hill and high in the frame.
If the person was under your control you could try different positions - the middle ground or the shoreline would be good places to try too.


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banehawi Plus
16 2.2k 4149 Canada
15 Mar 2015 9:26PM
How is the weather there in Kerry on this Mothers day!

Its a nice scene, and always a good idea to try b&w.

I agree with Keith, - start with a colour image. The use this to convert to mono, using any editing programme. You will have a lot more control over the final product. There are also special programmes that can convert colour to mono automatically, or with lots of control, - your choice.

If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, bottom left, theres a strip that goes from white to black in 16 steps; a good mono or b&w image will contain a range of these topnes, from black through to white, or very close.

The image has tones that are in the middle of that range as mentioned, - a range of greys, or mid-tones.

But its a start, and you have to start someplace.

lets know what software programme you use and we can give you more specific advise.

Mu version of this is different than Keiths, - so you have a lot of options.

In general, when you take a shot that contains the sky, the lower part will be underexposed. So I have brightened the lower area, made the darkest spots = black, and sharpened quite a bit. Its cropped a little to get the horizon on a third. The horizon is straightened, very slightly off, and Ive corrected the barrel distortion that makes the horizon curve upwards.

Take a look, and see what you think. Try converting some of your existing colour shots to mono for practice.


mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.2k 2247 United Kingdom
15 Mar 2015 9:44PM
As above - avoid using in-camera b&w, you are simply limiting your options.

But I see why you wanted b&w. I cannot even imagine this in colour.

It's the figure, on that precipitous edge, that grabs my attention. I've worked my own modification - I think portrait format conveys the height better. Plus a Levels adjustment and a bit of dodging and burning on the land textures.
paulbroad 13 131 1289 United Kingdom
16 Mar 2015 9:00AM
There's not much to add. This image is flat. It lacks impact and contrast. Compositionally the figure is the focal point but could do to be bigger.

As above, steer clear of in camera mono and convert in software that allows each primary colour channel to be manipulated. Red, green and blue. If the complementaries are there, so much the better. magenta, Cyan and yellow.

As a guide, there should be a solid black at one end of the tonal range and a pure white at the other. The problem with digital mono is you only have 256 tones to go at reduced from the millions in colour. Thus tones can easily look wrong.

cnooba Plus
7 357 Ireland
16 Mar 2015 9:19PM
Keith, Willie, Moira and Paul Thank you all so much for feedback. Your feedback confirms what I already knew I do have a lot to learn. I like what you did in the modifications, I definitely will try this scene again but in colour this time. I dont know if I'll be so lucky to have someone walking on the cliff edge this time (that was not planned) so I may have to bring along a volunteer. Smile I have coral paint shop 6 for editing I'm fairly new to these editing tools as well so I just need to practice using these a lot more.

The weather here in Kerry is overcast cold and hazy, but at least no wind, hoping March will go out like a lamb and some warm sunny weather in on the way.
Thank you all again for advice and help I really appreciate it.

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