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View from bridge 37

By AlanJ
I am suffering from post processing paralysis preventing printing!
I have printed very few photographs up to now.
I am leaning heavily towards B&W.
My daughter, an artist, often makes art for myself and my wife for our birthday etc and she wants me to produce some B&W prints of the village we live which is where she grew up to hang in her home.
My problem is I struggle to accept a "final" version to print. I naturally want the final piece to be as "good" as I can get it. I want it to be my work as much as possible so will mount the photo but have decided to have the frame made by a gallery in the village.
When converting to B&W I normally favour a contrasty look but also like the lighter touch some photographers have. I am always worried that a "softer" look will appear to the viewer as out of focus. Of course the possibilities with PS Elements and Nik are endless (which is another problem)
So I have attached my latest version, a version I had printed (which I now feel is too dark around the building) and the OOC.
Looking forward to your comments thank you in advance

Tags: Black and white Parbold

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Version 2 is my selection. Very nice presentationGrinGrinGrin
24 Jul 2017 3:02PM
Beautiful image *****
SC_Photos 4 4 England
24 Jul 2017 4:14PM
Definitely the second version in my opinion, more punch to it! Like the composition too.
Don't forget that when printing you normally need to boost brightness and a good tip i received is to duplicate the background layer and change that layers setting to screen then reduce the opacity to about 30%. Mostly due to monitors being backlit and so brighter than white paper Smile
banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4311 Canada
24 Jul 2017 6:34PM
How a print actually looks compared to how it appears on the screen is an entire topic on its own, and its really work flow management.

I assume youve printed successfully on this same printer previously? Can I assume youve printed B&W well?

First, for best results, you need a printer than is capable of printing B&W. Many are not, and though the prints appear sort of mono, they cannot be compared to a printer capable of printing an entire range of blacks, midtones, greys and white. So if you have the former type, you will have to compromise.

What programme are you using to print? The best one is not the one that came with the printer, it likely best to print from Photoshop, and allow Photoshop, on the print dialogue to control the printer 100%. Also make sure you are using the correct paper profile.

In Photoshop, there is a View option to Proof the image before printing. This uses the paper profile and shows what the printed version will look like, a but more accurately that the screen version. You can then adjust the image for printing before its printed, e.g if the proof looks too dark, lighten the image on screen. Its still worth printing a couple on cheaper paper before using a final paper to make sure you get what you want.

I loaded a mod of the colour and a very light mono


AlanJ 9 1.0k England
24 Jul 2017 9:42PM
Thank you all for taking time to comment.

Keef - is there any particular reason for your preference?

Scott - thanks for the tip. Not sure how having other layers affects this ? Would a brightness layer have the same overall effect?

Willie - thank you for the detailed response and mods. I don't try to do my own printing after having disastrous results with weird tints etc. I order online from DC Colour Labs. It just means I have to try and get a good few sorted for print to get better value from the postage. I have to say I cannot fault them and they are so helpful when I call them to pick their brains. Of course you don't know till they come back if you should have perhaps brightened the image as Scott advises. No, my issues are with firstly taking an acceptable photograph and then processing to achieve a work that people will enjoy looking at. My ambitions are fairly modest. Right now they are to produce B&W images requested by my (very talented) daughter to a standard that she would be pleased have hanging in her home for many years even if they were not taken by her old dad Smile
When it comes to the processing, because I lack the in-depth knowledge of the software ( although with the help of YouTube I'm getting there) and generally being a fairly newcomer its a bit of trial and error and sometimes it's easy to keep tweaking when I should probably stop.
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
25 Jul 2017 11:52AM
Alan -

I thnk this may be yoru first visit to the Critique Gallery - if so, welcome: if not, my apologies!

There wil lbe a bit of trial and error in printing: until you establish yoru own way of doing things, there wil lbe things that don't work, and soem wasted paper. As a darkroom worker (still) I really appreciate this - digital users are sometimes optimistic that it all works first time. It doesn't, necessarily!

I endorse your view that you should not just keep tweaking. Less is often more. Unless the picture needs a special effect, or you are specifically exploring so you knwo what is in there, find one or two reliable conversion options, and stick with them. Special effects that obliterate the subject are not a big help.

I agree that the original post is a bit dark - I'd suggest the simplest thing is an adjustment in Levels, which is part of Elements, Photoshop, and most of their rivals.

AlanJ 9 1.0k England
25 Jul 2017 1:02PM
John, thank you.
I learn two big things from your answer:
1 I have just watched a levels adjustment explanation ( which makes things clearer for me. I'll try it out when I get home (not quite retired Sad )
2 I hadn't even noticed the verticals until I compared with your mod. Thank you so much, I will pay that more attention.
Edit: looking again it's actually very pronounced! Particularly noticeable at the left edge of the frame.

dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 819 England
25 Jul 2017 9:10PM
Your V1 is the better image as the shadows are not so muddy. The image has some 'bite' or 'punch', which is all down to the contrast and tonal range.
You can have a full tonal range and still have a flat looking image, as it's the relationship between tones that's important. Conversely you can have a contrasty image but few individual tones but that may not look good either (some subjects may respond well).

Use of Levels is key, but for any image, not just monochrome. i don't want to confuse things at this stage, but suffice to say when you're confident with Levels, take a look at using Curves.

Consider too using local djustments if necessary. A feathered selection of one area can be altered without affecting the rest of the image. Just like the darkroom workers shading part of the paper under an enlarger.

A lot also depends on your method of conversion to mono. In Photoshop, Image>Adjustments>Black and White will give you access to adjusting the tonal relationships of six different colour channels, as does the Nik software.
Even then after conversion a Levels and/or Contrast adjustment may be required.

I agree about sending your images away to be printed as the lab should be able to get you the right result especially if they know the image should be mono. Cheapr labs, certainly a few years ago, would print onto colour paper and you'd end up with a colour cast, just as you can when printing yourself using colour inks.

I also take it that your monitor is calibrated so you are seeing accurate colour (and tonal range) to start with. And Willie's mention of profiles is important too.

There is a lot to take in, but one step at a tme and you'll get there.
AlanJ 9 1.0k England
26 Jul 2017 12:56PM
Thank you Keith
Yes, the monitor is calibrated using Spyder4pro

I will absolutely have a try with Levels and curves as you suggest. Recently when converting I've done little in LR4 and jumped straight into NIK software (within PS Elements) which I find very intuitive.

There is indeed a lot to take in (and too little time to do it!)


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