When and why B&W?

At the end of my recent Topaz webinar, someone asked a good question. How do you know when to convert an image to B&W? I gave an answer, however, since then I’ve been thinking more about it. I have an answer, but, I’d like your input. I’m curious to know your thoughts on this subject. Here is my current answer, which I’m sure will morph and change over time. B&W needs to be a purposeful choice. One does not just tap the “V” key in Lightroom to convert it and then walk away. It should be done with a bit more purpose. Typically I ask myself, what role does color play in my image?  If it is important, I will most likely keep it color. The image below is a good example. For me, the color is a very important part of the story in the Palouse. The yellow canola, the red barn, blue sky, green wheat.  All big players in the overall composition. Yes, this is the same red barn seen in the distance in my last blog post.

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 Here is another, where color plays an important role. I just don’t see this Gehry building in B&W, however, the building in LA is a different story. The panels are all silver making for great conversions. See below.

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If color is getting in the way of what I am trying to portray, express or show, I will remove the color so the design, graphic, or emotion is more discernible. These images come to mind as examples. The door at ESP does not have much color to begin with so it makes sense to remove it. And the B&W choice does a good job of drawing the eye to what is important, the shadow. The “god-rays” scene is all about the rays and the conversion makes that clear. The dunes are all about line, rhythm, shape, shadow and light. As such, the color just gets in the way. With people, when we remove the color we see into the soul of the person.   

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Sometimes an image works in both color and B&W and simply creates a very different emotion/reaction. I posted such an example this spring from the Smokies. I share it here again to make my point.

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My suggestion is to make your B&W conversions with purpose. Don’t make B&W images for the sake of creating another B&W image. Not all color images convert succesfully to B&W.

Enough from me, I’m interested to hear what you have to say.

“With color we look at the photography, with B&W we look into the photograph.” Anonymous 

 

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Classic Palouse

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Make sure you click on this image to make it bigger.  I looks better bigger and you’ll be able to see all the details. This has become one of our favorite spots in the Palouse. It really has all you would want in a landscape from the Palouse. A leading line, a tree catching the sun, (yes, I waited for this to happen) a peek-a-boo barn, a red barn, a field of yellow canola, lush green fields of grain, cloud shadows, blue sky and puffy white clouds. It does not get much better than this! You can imagine our surprise when we rounded the corner and saw the red barn sitting in a field of yellow! I can promise you, there were some high fives going on. 

A reminder that we have a couple of spots available for our fall (late September into October) color tour.  We’d love to have you along. It was tremendous last time.

 

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More on “Whose Vision are you Chasing” – New Topaz Webinar June 17.

I’ll be doing another Topaz webinar on June 17th.  You can sign up here but hurry, when I checked with Nichole, 1,300 are already signed up! I will be doing two more this year, you might want to mark your calendars for August 26 and October 28. Thanks for your support.

I can’t stop thinking about the vision conversation. Today, I was listening to music. It was on random play, up came the band Fictionist. Fictionist is a band I love and have a connection to, the lead singer is a friend. I was thrilled when they made it to the final four in the “Rolling Stone” cover contest.  Then they got signed by Atlantic records. The ultimate goal, signed by a record company. Many months went by and still no album. I began to wonder what was going on,Stuart promised it would be coming soon. Nothing. What happened? I finally found out. Atlantic assigned a top notch producer to the project and they started to change their sound. They encouraged modification of the music, new instruments, lyrics, etc.  Today it dawned on me, essentially they imposed their vision on the band. They wanted them to be something other than what they were. What they signed. They wanted something more marketable I guess. At least more marketable according to them. What I love is that Fictionist decided they did NOT want to change. They wanted to stay true to their vision! They approached the management team and came to an amicable agreement to part ways and leave the dream behind and regroup for the moment.  How cool is that?!

When someone is critiquing your work and imposing their vision, I suggest you remember Fictionist and fight for your vision. Feedback is fine, but remember it is coming from their paradigm, their vision. They do not have your vision nor do they know what you are trying to create. As such, be careful not to let them move you too far from what you see and feel.

The blog image today is another from the Palouse. Since my first trip there, I’ve been drawn to the grain elevators dotting the region.  I love this simple graphic image.

 

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Experience Music Project, Seattle Layover

For the first time in my life, I made a mistake in my travel plans. I thought I had picked a flight which would get me home at 6:30PM, however, I picked one getting me home at 6:30AM the next day. Yup, a RED-EYE!  You can imagine my dismay! All was not lost though. Ed, a new friend I met on the last Cuba tour, lives on the outskirts of Seattle. I remembered his invite should I ever be in the area and made a call. He and his lovely wife Kathey were kind enough to take me in for the afternoon. I asked Ed if he might take me to the EMP building that I so enjoy photographing,he obliged. Thank you Ed!

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This image is from my favorite side of the building and a new and different composition from the images I posted last year at this time.  Below is me totally oblivious and having a blast shooting the Fuji X-T1. An image Ed made and sent along. 

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The Palouse Tours come to an end

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We just finished with our second group who was an amazing, and creative bunch.  I love the Palouse and hate for my time here to come to an end, but I’m anxious to get home to my family.  Here is a parting shot for now.  Its from another magical evening at the iconic Steptoe Butte. This time with a wide angle lens. The sky cooperated and the light was golden.  THANK YOU!!

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Morning Glow

Yet another favorite scene from Steptoe Butte in the morning. Not much time to post as we are finishing up our 2nd tour and the days are long. We LOVE the Palouse!

 

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Double Barn Drama

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On one of our scouting days, we went out to check on a favorite double barn scene. The sky was pretty gnarly, so I took a grab shot thinking I might be able to work with it in post. After a fair amount of work in Lightroom and then Photoshop and Nik Color Efex Pro, this is what I ended up with.  

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Swiping the Palouse

And now for something a bit different.  Not all images from the Palouse need to be tack sharp.  Sometimes its fun to try “swipes,” a technique where you move your camera while depressing the shutter.  Oft times you will need to shoot a number of them to get one “keeper,” but its worth it and they are fun to do.  If you’re lucky you’ll have an unknown photographer near you wondering what on earth you are doing.  If this happens, just smile and tell them you’re creating art!

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Whitman County Growers

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I love the rolling hills that surround this great grain elevator. This was made the other night when the light was magical.  It had just rained so the air was very clear and the light golden. We are finishing up the first tour and getting ready for the second that starts on Monday. Exhausted would be a good word!

 

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Magic on Steptoe

After a day of chasing some challenging weather, we were treated to an amazing display of light on Steptoe Butte.  It simply does not get better than this.

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