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Examples of B&W Digital Images with Fitting Tonalities

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
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Michael Nagel: Abstract Landscape with Fissure




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Michael Nagel: Lampe und Schatten[/url]






Fahim Mohammed: Untitled

2015






Fahim Mohammed: Untitled

2015







Robert Watcher: Untitled


Five fine examples of the full range of tonalities available been exploited well for the individual needs of each picture. Very clean, disciplined truthful and non-exaggerated work. Each deserves a place in our community memory.

Note that all the significant features have been revealed and then on top of that, the images have a vitality or, "pop". That means that the processing of the images was finished off with appropriate local contrast and global contrast setting and sharpening to suit that particular image. All of this might be done in the camera with appropriate checking off of choices in the customization menu.

Some wedding photographers are so good at this, that a portion of their jpg pictures out of the camera can go straight to the printer! However, I am one that does everything from Raw. It doesn't matter how it's done, but the camera default settings rarely will match this on its own, as the fellow in Germany or Japan have no idea what we're shooting!

Asher
 

Lee Tracy

New member
Just my 5c worth.


[/url]

Michael Nagel: Abstract Landscape with Fissure

This looks more like wood or paint than a landscape. Interesting abstract. Don't like the title. I feel it distracts.




[/url]


Michael Nagel: Lampe und Schatten[/url]


Nice photo but not my cup of tea. It is the kind of photo that I look at and go why?




Fahim Mohammed: Untitled

2015


As a horse person for me the odd angle of the horse resulting in some very odd conformation really detracts. Getting the right angle on horses so that their anatomy appears correct is much harder than it looks.




Fahim Mohammed: Untitled

2015


I like the subject matter of this one (although not generally hugely a fan of photos of people) but I find the too white foreground visually distracting. If I drag my eyes away from the white path, then the blown highlights on the top of the middle two bags distracting and pulls my eye away from the ladies faces, because your eye automatically goes to the lightest portion of the photo, which is first the path, then the top of the bags.




Robert Watcher: Untitled

This is just too over-processed for my taste. The slight yellow undertone is a little off-putting, there is too much texture in the hair and jeans which would suggest a slight too much HDR and I feel that the grain might have been added to attempt to disguise the fact that the highlights were blown on the knuckles and coffee cup.

Five fine examples of the full range of tonalities available been exploited well for the individual needs of each picture. Very clean, disciplined truthful and non-exaggerated work. Each deserves a place in our community memory.

Note that all the significant features have been revealed and then on top of that, the images have a vitality or, "pop". That means that the processing of the images was finished off with appropriate local contrast and global contrast setting and sharpening to suit that particular image. All of this might be done in the camera with appropriate checking off of choices in the customization menu.

Some wedding photographers are so good at this, that a portion of their jpg pictures out of the camera can go straight to the printer! However, I am one that does everything from Raw. It doesn't matter how it's done, but the camera default settings rarely will match this on its own, as the fellow in Germany or Japan have no idea what we're shooting!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Just my 5c worth.
Lee,

These are not presented to try and match anyone's taste or rules of composition. These are simply shown to illustrate the correct use of tonality and contrast adaptions in processing images to B&W. These are all excellently done.

As far as composition and content are concerned, the horse in the picture is lower in rank than the man in front. It's lack of importance is shown in not showcasing it uniquely.

The sun blazes, pitilessly, directly overhead! Women trudge with their loads! The over-white dusty ground in the group of women image is typical of taking single pictures on such bright roads with cameras available today, if the dresses and dark faces are to be exposed well! We get that feeling of the blinding sun they have to face outside in their laborious journey! Does it need to be done any better? Of course not! Could it have been done differently? For sure, but then it would not have been Fahim's picture as he observed them that moment, struggling against the blinding light from below!

One has to cut all the tethers of so-called, "rules" in approaching other people's photographs, just as you wouldn't insist on speaking Japanese, if you knew it, visiting a jungle village in Nigeria, LOL!

We have to step back beyond the limitations of aphorisms and guides by gurus on photography and art. Each picture is likely to have many aspects that nether you nor I might have chosen. If we filter out these, then we'd be losing out on new experience that sharpens our insights into everything ....and occasionally gives us a breakthrough in our own quest to improve ourselves and our work.

Take Rob watcher's image, for example. It might look "heavy handed, but likely as not it was shot in almost no useful light at all. That's the extra feeling that goes with the picture and helps us, if we're open enough, share and experience that same pensive mood.

The more perfect a picture is, the more likely we have ruined it. "It's the cracks that let the light in!"

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
In case anyone wonders what I'm up to, I am harvesting the treasures and trying to provide others with inspiration for new work, by pointing out, based on my considerable gallery experience, what in my opinion is done well an would likely be recognized as such by those who buy photographs.

Asher
 

Lee Tracy

New member
Lee,

These are not presented to try and match anyone's taste or rules of composition. These are simply shown to illustrate the correct use of tonality and contrast adaptions in processing images to B&W. These are all excellently done.

As far as composition and content are concerned, the horse in the picture is lower in rank than the man in front. It's lack of importance is shown in not showcasing it uniquely.

The over-white dusty ground in the group of women image is typical of taking pictures on such brigh roads with cameras available today, if the dresses and dark faces are to be exposed well! We get that feeling of the blinding sun they have to face outside in their laborious journey!

One has to cut all the tethers of so-called, "rules" in approaching other people's photographs, just as you wouldn't insist on speaking Japanese, if you knew it, visiting a village in Nigeria, LOL!

We have to step back beyond the limitations of aphorisms and guides by gurus on photography and art. Each picture is likely to have many aspects that nether you nor I might have chosen. If we filter out these, then we'd be losing out or new experience that sharpens our insights into everything ....and occasionally gives us a breakthrough in our own quest to improve ourselves and our work.

Take Rob watcher's image, for example. It might look "heavy handed, but likely as not it was shot in almost no useful light at all. That's the extra feeling that goes with the picture and helps us, if we're open enough, share and experience that same pensive mood.

The more perfect a picture is, the more likely we have ruined it. "It's the cracks that let the light in!"

Asher
Actually my comments were entirely just as a viewer, not offering critique. If I was asked - would you hang this on your wall, my reply would be as above - no, because ....

If I offered critique I would be a lot less critical actually - because the object of critique is to improve the picture. In fact of the four images the only one I would offer any kind of suggestion on is the one of the ladies and I would only suggest perhaps looking at cropping some of the path away because although the light of the path balances the dark of the forest above, it is just a little too distracting from the main subject - the ladies with their burden.

FYI as a horse person - I barely notice the people, only the horse
 

Robert Watcher

Active member
In case anyone wonders what I'm up to, I am harvesting the treasures and trying to provide others with inspiration for new work, by pointing out, based on my considerable gallery experience, what in my opinion is done well an would likely be recognized as such by those who buy photographs.

Asher

Just like playing and mastering a musical instrument, the directions the artist can take their craft/sound/style are endless. As a guitarist, it has always amazed me that with the same 6 strings and relatively few notes that are available - and essentially the same design and construction of the instrument - - - hundreds of thousands if not millions of unique sounds and songs can be created. Anything from creamy smooth and soft to hard hitting and clean to grunged up and colourful, to downright appealingly sloppy technically. Not only that but virtually every experienced and practised guitar player could be identified by the unique use in the way he/she goes about playing, the specific gear instruments effects and modifications they choose, the genre, and MOST IMPORTANT HIS/HER VISION, EMOTION, INTENSITY, ARTISTRY, STORY-TELLING ABILITY at the time of presenting their skill/craft/abilities to the public.

Isn't it almost identical to those who wish to take their art of photography to a level where either they have produced what pleases them, or they have produced images that at least some will view as art and maybe even invest in, or they have a unique enough look in one of the common disciplines of commercial photography that people and corporations are willing to hire them and pay well based on that unique look - and maybe they are totally stoked by taking snapshots that keep track of everything going on in their life or in their mind. And there are definitely those whose only motivation is purchasing and smelling the gear itself and/or technical perfection based on charts and graphs (I do believe they consider themselves photographers and many time authorities).

The cool thing too is, that even though I may never choose to process my images in the soft mid-gray toned way that Michael Nagel has on these images - - - it totally appeals to me on his work and I would have no problem displaying such a print as the "Lampe und Schatten" in my home or office. It's not my work or vision and so my thoughts don't matter on how it is processed. It would just be a matter of whether it appeals to me. Fahim's image with the horse is a wonderful documentary shot taken in the streets. I would never expect a formally posed horse in this type of image and so again such an image would work wonderfully in a space, book or magazine where I desired to present this style of photography. I don't have to produce it, Fahim already has. :)

I won't even bother much to going into my shot that you have posted - because I don't fall into the genre of disciplined or caring whether everyone likes what I do. During a fun get together and camp over at a friends house, a bunch of us were sitting around the kitchen one morning just chillin out, eating, talking and telling jokes. I was just snapping a pic here and there for the fun of it - probably trying out a new camera or lens or style that I had in my head and more than likely it was just because I didn't want to have to converse - - - who knows.

Got a question though? Does that mug of liquid with the residue line, the watch, the ring, the length and style of the hair on the arm, way of sitting, belly left in the frame above the arms - - - put a picture in your mind, of what this man looks like, how he is feeling, his age, how many cups of coffee he had, and the general environment of that morning? I'll bet it does! If, so the photo has done it's job because that is how it affected me when I looked at it and chose it as a usable image to spend time enhancing further and displaying to the public.

Doesn't matter much if grain has been added or not, areas are blown out or not, it had movement from slow shutter or not - or any other number of technical presumptions. My strength is spontaneous, seeing what others don't see, finding and trying different angles or compositions, and then if there is an image with potential I process it however I feel when I get the film or file into the darkroom/lightroom. But hey Asher - thanks for considering my photo in the context of this thread theme.

Your level of expertise from the standpoint of exhibiting, is way beyond anything I have knowledge about or even interest in - - - but it's fun to see how that area of photography works, by following posts like this.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Actually my comments were entirely just as a viewer, not offering critique. If I was asked - would you hang this on your wall, my reply would be as above - no, because ....

If I offered critique I would be a lot less critical actually - because the object of critique is to improve the picture. In fact of the four images the only one I would offer any kind of suggestion on is the one of the ladies and I would only suggest perhaps looking at cropping some of the path away because although the light of the path balances the dark of the forest above, it is just a little too distracting from the main subject - the ladies with their burden.

FYI as a horse person - I barely notice the people, only the horse

"Critique" in OPF is not just meant to improve the picture! In fact mostly it's done as a way of evaluating how a picture fits in with that artist's body of work and it's peers in the creative world of the arts. Here's another case of common words having diverse meanings, LOl. When we talk of critique, we generally are seeking just to place in the picture in the context of other art by that and other artists as well as values current at that time.

What I show here, in the 5 pictures I have selected, is not meant to represent the most perfectly engineered photographs, but rather processing that is so fitting with the subject, that it does not call attention to itself, just works so well supporting the significance and impact of the image. I am not so concerned with the actual content of the images here. In fact, to a considerable extent, great pictures are somewhat independent of the meaning of the image. A great part of the working of a picture is the balance ands dynamics of the various shapes and their positions weights and textures.

So I really don't care if the horse is looking the other way! I'm just experiencing the gestalt of the matter in terms of the balance of the work.

Asher
 

Lee Tracy

New member
We were talking last night about 'hanging pictures on the wall' and out of all the photos I have taken I took one this morning I would hang - maybe. I still think it could be better though.

Of Michaela's photos there are about half-a-dozen I would consider hanging, one I would absolutely hang. I'm that particular.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
We were talking last night about 'hanging pictures on the wall' and out of all the photos I have taken I took one this morning I would hang - maybe. I still think it could be better though.

Of Michaela's photos there are about half-a-dozen I would consider hanging, one I would absolutely hang. I'm that particular.
Are you saying that you have identified one picture in monochrome with such good distribution of grayscale that it's a good candidate for printing? Kudos! Can we see it?

Asher
 

Lee Tracy

New member
Harsh comments, but probably worth a bit more than 5 cents.
Waaaay harsher on my own images though :)

I didn't mean to be so harsh. My headspace was - these images are being presented as examples of work I should aspire to - I should have phrased it better. So apologies for the harshness.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Waaaay harsher on my own images though :)

I didn't mean to be so harsh. My headspace was - these images are being presented as examples of work I should aspire to - I should have phrased it better. So apologies for the harshness.
"presented as examples of work I should aspire to" - Indeed they were, Lee, LOL!

(But not for the particular subject matter or compositions, which could very well leave you uninterested), but shown only for demonstrating examples of well chosen exploits of color assignment to different tonalities, such that each picture works as intended!

Without personally controlling the fundamentals of conversion to B&W, either by working with separate color channels, (or by using a pull down set of choices in a custom B&W conversion filter such as Nik Silver Effex Pro), only by chance will the monochrome version do justice to your picture.

Asher
 

Lee Tracy

New member
oh dear heavens Silver Effex Pro should be left on the shelf. Anyone with an experienced eye can see a B & W conversion done with the wretched thing and like HDR is boring as you know what seeing all the images that look the same. Flick through any site and you go HDR, Silver Effex, HDR, HDR, HDR, oh look Silver Effex ... bleh!

Any and all commercial effects, unless applied VERY judiciously (and even then probably not) are better ignored.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
oh dear heavens Silver Effex Pro should be left on the shelf. Anyone with an experienced eye can see a B & W conversion done with the wretched thing and like HDR is boring as you know what seeing all the images that look the same. Flick through any site and you go HDR, Silver Effex, HDR, HDR, HDR, oh look Silver Effex ... bleh!

Any and all commercial effects, unless applied VERY judiciously (and even then probably not) are better ignored.
You can say that about cooking meat or putting on make up, adding spices to food or choosing a partner for life!

Whenever you make a decision, do it thoughtfully, LOL!

As you will learn, I use filters with great care and in each case, (almost never as some "prepackaged", fixed and instant effect), but carefully crafted in darks, shadows, mid tones and bright ranges of the image. Then I might remove some of these changes using a layer mask and allow a percentage of the previous untreated layer in some element to show throw by some percentage limited just to that needed portion of some chosen element.

When NIK or other filters are used judiciously like that, no one can look at it and say, "That's Nik 's Silver Effex Pro" at work!

So the filter, any filter, for any effect, needs to be used every time in a customized way. The overall strength of the filter is chosen and then much of that change is not used when one uses a mask to allow various percentages of the original image to show through by painting with a black brush in the mask, say set at 5% and very gradually negating the filter effect where you wish. In the case of B&W, however, one needs to have below the Silver Effex Pro modified layer, another monochrome version of the original derived from some other method or even a desaturated version of the original.

Asher
 
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