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Mountain in the Lake

By Bajob3
I am entering some exhibitions and am having reasonable success with colour but am struggling with Mono. In the darkroom days I would have been stronger in Mono. Any tips/guidance criticism welcome both in processing and in what to look for in mono images when submitting to exhibitions would be welcome.

Tags: Black and white Exhibitions 2020 Exhibitions2020



Alffoto Plus
8 320 1 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2020 10:34PM
I really like the image you have posted here, but if you are struggling with mono, then I suggest you try Nik Silver Efex processing, it has some really great effects, and also there is a section where you can simulate different types of film. As for submitting to exhibitions I have no experience of this so I can't offer any practical advice.


banehawi Plus
19 2.9k 4354 Canada
30 Oct 2020 11:26PM
NIK is a good product.

To help you with your image software, what programme do you use?

This looks good to me on my iPad, I will view later on a monitor. Can you tell us specifically what it is you struggle with. And, if you have the colour original, please upload it here for comparison. Simply click the Modifications button under the image, select Upload, and select the original image. It will appear alongside the mono as a modification.


hobbo Plus
12 1.8k 4 England
30 Oct 2020 11:59PM
A stunning view with bags of potential still locked in there...

Could I suggest that you look-up.....Contrast Grading..... on YouTube....this can be done in both Lightroom and Photoshop....I am guessing the method works in any good photo-software...Ref;Martin Hanson .

Put simply, it is the art of using a soft brush, in....CURVES.... to lighten, or, to darken targeted areas of a mono study....on Layers.....I flatten each layer as I finish it....but, they can be left, adjustable if wished, you can be as subtle as you like,
Essentially you will be doing what Ansel Adamís did, with...Dodge and Burn in film days....

Exactly the same brush on layers method can be used to target areas of colour adjustment, or even sharpening....once the basics are mastered in yiur particular software it is a very powerful tool.

I have examples in my Portflio.... explore my earlier pages, I used Photoshop CS6 then.

Now, I use my iPad Pro for editing, using, mainly...PIXELMATOR and PICELMATOR-PRO...

banehawi Plus
19 2.9k 4354 Canada
31 Oct 2020 3:50AM
Rotated a little ccw in mods, Also, make sure the colour profile, although a mono image, is sRGB,
Bajob3 2
31 Oct 2020 6:21AM
Thank you for the feed back. I use lightroom and also NIK. This is the last image that I have converted to mono and find that my images can be greyish rather than black and white, or when burning in areas they go muddy instead of darker. On this image I did very little manipulation other than mon conversion, detail extract and darken lighten center in NIK a slight crop and sharpen. I was just wondering what else I can do to make it a stronger image, or is it just the wrong image to be entering in exhibitions.
hobbo Plus
12 1.8k 4 England
31 Oct 2020 6:26AM
Please see a demo of ....CONTRAST GRADING....on YouTube from the inventor/initiator of this process.... it has been about for sometime now.... but it really works.
Martin Hanson is a Master of Black and White Photography.....

dudler Plus
19 2.1k 2018 England
31 Oct 2020 10:04AM
I have a much simpler suggestion.

The problem with conversions from a colour original (which is what we do with digital, and emphatically not what we do - or did - in the darkroom). An OK contrast range in colour can go very flat with a conversion to black and white, so you need to check that it looks the way you want, and adjust it, after conversion.

Curves are wonderful when handled well: but the Levels adjustment is so much simpler. You can adjust highlights, shadows and midtones separately, and that is often enough.

Ten-second edit coming.
mrswoolybill Plus
16 4.1k 2606 United Kingdom
31 Oct 2020 10:05AM
Strong low sun has given you great textures, still water has given mirror-like reflections, what's not to like? I reckon you have done pretty well, but I note your comments. My mind still goes back to dark room days, to the desire for true black and white. I reckon Nik gives the nearest to that.

I've added a modification, worked from your original in Nik, with a few suggestions that I shall come to in a moment. I think you have explored a number of possibilities there, but there are others that you may have overlooked. In particular, do you look at the colour channels? Here, lightning on the yellow and cyan channels will help. (Re cyan - clear deep blue skies are difficult in digital b&w, they tend to go muddy. You opted for a black sky, I wanted to lighten in order to get some clarity there).

Anyway, I first of all rotated a smidgen - reflections always drop straight down from their origin), and cleared quite a few dust blobs from the sky. I think your sensor probably needs a clean!

Then in Nik I can remember the following: Brightness +10%, Contrast +35%, Structure +8% (go easy on that one... ); Film effect Fuji Neopan ACROS 100, but with yellow adjusted to +10%, cyan to +50%. Then Burn edges with just 10% strength and size on all four sides.

I was struck by your comment:

Quote:[I] find that my images can be greyish rather than black and white, or when burning in areas they go muddy instead of darker.

B&W generally needs true white and true black. A tweak in Levels, moving the outer sliders inwards will help, in Lightroom this is done with the Tone Curve. But with the burn tool I find that it works best used in conjunction with the dodge tool. Set dodge to highlights, burn to shadows, I used a large brush on this with just 3% exposure for both. Build up the effect gently.
dudler Plus
19 2.1k 2018 England
31 Oct 2020 10:11AM
Extra thought, while editing - the little fringe of stones on the right is untidy. A bit more of the shoreline would be great.

And while I love Nik Silver Efex and use it a lot, it's not necessary: Adobe's RAW converter includes a number of monochrome looks, and I've used the most basic to convert a version from your colour original: it's pale and wishy-washy. I then used Levels on it - this time, pulling the shadows slider right, and the midtones slider right.
chase Plus
17 2.5k 676 England
31 Oct 2020 12:58PM
Some great advice above, sometimes something just needs the odd tweak here and there.
Nik Silver is always reliable, a drop of levels and you are away.
I always struggle with mono, especially in areas of low contrast. Think about how you would approach a mono in the darkroom and try to apply your knowledge to digital manipulation.

I must add though, this is really nice in colour.
pamelajean Plus
17 1.8k 2289 United Kingdom
31 Oct 2020 3:39PM
I have to agree with Janet, Trevor, that original colour version is very nice, especially with the golden and green trees, but then it's probably that contrast that makes it into a good mono.
banehawi Plus
19 2.9k 4354 Canada
31 Oct 2020 3:58PM
Thank you for uploading the original colour image.

Starting with that, theres quite a bit of noise and spots in the sky that will become very obvious when converted to mono, so deal with them first.

Then the level of black needs to be lower, and exposure a bit brighter, this combination will increase contrast which is good for a mono conversion.

A little sharpening helps. Dont forget rotation;l you can check level be drawing a line from the to of a tree in the centre of the image to the top of its reflection, then you will see the need to a CCW rotation.

Then you have a base for conversion. You have loads of good information above, and have already used NIK, and to be honest, your conversion looks ok to me.

I have uploaded the colour modified as suggested, and then a very basic mono conversion in photoshop using the colour channels to get the result shown.

Hope all of this is helpful



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