About half of my work is film, and while I don't expect black and white film to completely disappear from the market during my lifetime, lately I have been experimenting more with creating the type of black and white images I love with my digital equipment.
Creating a pleasing black and white print is not as simple as setting your digital camera on gray scale or desaturating your jpg images in Photoshop.
Both of those techniques usually yield images that are flat and unappealing.
When creating black and white images with your digital camera, it's best to think of the image captured by your camera as just a starting point, like film negatives.
It's also best to save the images in RAW format, not jpg, to give yourself the maximum latittude in adjusting the image overall, but that's another discussion.
My image this week was shot digitally and color corrected in Photoshop's RAW program.
Afterwards, I opened the photo in Photoshop and used the black and white dialoge box. I chose the built-in High Contrast Red filter. Then I further adjusted the image with Curves to create some additional contrast.
The original color image is shown below. The preference for color or black and white images is emotional. I prefer black and white in most cases.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Over the last two weeks I have replaced two galleries on my website. This image is from the gallery I added last Sunday, called "coupling".
If you frequent this blog, you have seen other photographs of these models.
This particular photograph was shot with Ilford black and white infrared film, scanned into Photoshop from the negative, then taken through the Orton effect steps I have experimented with on other images in this blog.
All the images in the new gallery were processed the same way.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
This weekend I have been experimenting with HDR photography. If you are interested in looking at other HDR images, there are dozens of sites that feature them. This one http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/03/10/35-fantastic-hdr-pictures/ provides some excellent examples. It also provides links to other sites that explain what HDR images are and how to create HDR images using Photoshop.
In layman's terms an HDR image is a merger of two or more separate photographs of the same subject, usually taken with a tripod. They work best when photographing objects that do not move, such as buildings. The separate images are shot with different exposures. For example you might shoot one lighter than normal, one normal and one darker than normal. Merging three such images together allows one to create an image with detail in the shadows and highlights as well as the mid range.
By way of illustration, if you have ever taken a picture of a room inside a house on a sunny day, you realize that you can either expose for the daylight scene outside the window, in which case the room is dark, or you can expose for the room, in which case the scene outside the window is almost completely white. This is because film and digital sensors have a limited range of perception. The human eye can perceive both the inside and the outside, but the equipment we use cannot.
Photoshop will merge two, three, four, or more images of different exposures to produce one image that shows detail in the highlights as well as the shadows.
In the case of the image in my blog today, I cheated a little. I shot the image in camera raw. Then I created three copies of the raw image and took advantage of capabilities of raw files to alter the exposures after the fact, so that one was light, one was dark and one was normal. Then I merged the three raw images into one HDR image. You might think you could do the same thing with jpg images, but you can't really. Raw files are basically all the data captured by the camera with a sidecar data that tells your computer what exposure settings you used. Your computer applies those settings at the moment you open the file. So, with some limitations, it is as though you hadn't actually made the decision of where to set your f/stop until you open the file on the computer. Most digital SLRs allow you to shoot raw files. Most point and shoots do not.
I haven't read of anyone doing this before, although it seems like an obvious after the fact short cut. In all likelihood shooting three separate images from the get go produces superior results since the camera is more likely to capture additional detail, but people don't stand perfectly still, so cheating this way allows me to use this technique on photographs of my models when this might not be otherwise possible.
I don't usually show before/after images of my work, but in this case I am posting the original image below so you can see the HDR effect. It's sutble, but there is a smoother gradiation of tone on the model's skin in the HDR photo at the top, and a little more detail in the shadows. The unretouched HDR image from Photoshop showed much more detail in the shadows near the door in the background, but I opted to darken the shadows a little more with curves after the fact.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I am not very pleased with most of the images I created long ago when I look back on my early physique work, but this image is an exception.
There are things I might do differently, but what I like about this photograph is the model's position and the lighting.
Also today, on my website -- link to the right on this page -- I have posted a new gallery of photographs of Eric from my recent photoshoot. Some of the photos have been published here, but most have not.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
This image is from a photo shoot two weeks ago with a local model I found through an ad on Craigslist. The image was shot digitally and transformed into a black and white in photo shop.
I love the smooth texture of Mark's body in the this image.
This is an image from several years ago, scanned today and reinterpreted.
Originally I printed this in bright reds and blues. This time I desaturated it, darkened it somewhat and flattened the tonal range.
The result is something close to a black and white image.
I have always liked this image -- with model's back turned to the photographer, walking from the set, and cropped so that his head is not visible -- maybe because it strays from the usual, or maybe because it reveals the reality beyond the edge of backdrop.
This pose, which I have used with a number of models as a starting point for other, similar positions, is based on a statue by Rodin.
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