Category Archives: B&W
Another favorite abstract from Mesquite Flat Dunes. If you’d like to see more of my Death Valley work, check out my dedicated folio here.
I’ll admit, I have a love affair with the dunes. On our recent tour, we took the group out twice. A few of us found this particular scene and knew it would be a winner. (click to enlarge)
If you’re interested in this type of dune photography, I would suggest you bring a long lens. For this I used my Nikon 70-200 and 1.7x teleconverter. Next time, I hope to have the new Fuji super zoom which will give me even more reach. If you have a 100-400 or something similar, that would be a great choice.
Starting tomorrow, Topaz will be offering a $20 discount on their excellent B&W Effects. For the rest of the month it will be just $39.99. Click this link and use the code MARBW
During our scouting for tours, we drive roads just to see what else might be available. On this particular journey, we happened upon an abandoned hotel. Chuck Kimmerle went to look inside and I decided to follow. I couldn’t stand the thought of what might be. Chuck and I made an image of this abandoned wheelchair. The composition seemed obvious and thus I suspect our images look very much the same. Sorry Chuck…. (click to make bigger)
Repeated opportunity is a good thing. Going back to a place that you are drawn to is a good idea. Awhile back, I posted a shot from Owl Creek Pass that is similar to today’s image. That image was taken during our scouting time before the group arrived. After that wonderful moment I said to Dan (tour partner),”too bad the group was not here for this! The odds of that happening in a few days when they arrive are slim.” Then on the day we took the group, THIS HAPPENED! It was as good or better! So glad we went back. I know I’ll go back again on my next visit, I want to see what else might happen!
If you’ve not read Chuck Kimmerle’s recent thought provoking blog post, you can and should read it here. After you read it, come back and share your thoughts about this image. Is it cliche? Does it matter? I’m interested in your thoughts.
In a recent post, a reader suggested that the Gehry EMP building would look great in B&W as well as color. I think his comment was in response to my saying something like, “some subjects demand to be color”. This is why I love feedback from readers. While I have played with B&W on another Gehry building in LA, I just felt the EMP (Experience Music Project) with all of its color worked better in color. I decided to take the reader to heart and have processed a few EMP images in B&W. Guess what? He was right!
In the most recent issue of Lenswork, I was pleased to see a folio of work from the Palouse. It struck me as odd at first as I see the Palouse (with the exception of a few images) as a place that needs to be photographed in color (see color version below). But the images in the folio and a subsequent discussion with a few friends, inspired me to reconsider my position. So, back to our recent conversation about “why and when B&W.” I said in that post, I tend to think about removing color when I want you to focus on the graphic nature of an image. I remove the distraction of color to reveal the essence of the subject. This image its all about graphic elements. The lines and texture in the barn, only shooting part of the barn, and then the shadow and light play in the wheat field. When I moved beyond my expectation that color is a must and analyzed this image, I realized indeed it does work in B&W. Now to be like Chuck and Cole and learn to see this in the field!
Its time to clean house as I am shooting primarily with my Fuji gear. I have a couple of lenses for sale.
Nikon 28-70 2.8 – This is the predecessor to the current 24-70 2.8. This is a SOLID lens in excellent condition. It comes with the leather case. $600.00 – SOLD!
Canon 180mm Macro in excellent condition. The Canon macro lens to own. I honestly hate to get rid of this lens but its finally time. I thought I had the original box but can’t find it at the moment. Time to clean the basement and find it! $900.00
I’ll pay shipping on either lens.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
This is a a grab shot with a lesson. We were doing our pre-tour scouting when we spotted this scene. Rather than get out a tripod and shoot it properly, I fired off a couple of handheld shots and we moved on. At the moment my head was filled with things like, we need to move on and get the scouting done, eh, its not that great anyway, how do I expose for this type of scene anyway? Seriously my F.U.D. (fears uncertainties and doubts) were creeping in. Then when I got back to the room and took a look, I immediately realized I had made a mistake. I should have stopped pulled out the tripod and taken a few minutes to think through my composition and exposure.
The lesson? STOP and get it while you can.