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Problem with Monochrome / B&W photos

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by rossi46, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    I love B&W photos, I seen alot of beautiful work of others, some in vintage / rustic style, some modern style, some monochrome works looks so lovely, soft and gives you those romantic feelings.

    But I have a problem, everytime I have a decent photo, I tried with B&W processing, then I think it looks quite decent, but after comparing a few times between my color version processing vs the B&W processing, I ended up making the decision to use the colored version.

    I don't really know what my problems are -
    - is it because I am bad in processing B&W photos?
    - or my shots naturally look better in color, I don't take good B&W photos?
    - or is it just a mental barrier that things look better in color for me?

    Anyone has the same problem?
     
  2. nsd20463

    nsd20463 Mu-43 Regular

    116
    Apr 30, 2011
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Maybe you aren't being heavy handed enough with B/W. Questions about problems are much easier to answer when there's a photo or two included.

    Myself I've found processing for B/W is different than color. In B/W I push areas right to the black or the white limits, or stretch the range occupied by the important parts of the image, without making it look bad. If I do the same to a color image it often looks wrong.. Maybe since B/W is already different from what the eye sees I find all sorts of differences acceptable, but color is close enough to what the eye sees that even medium sized differences look wrong.
     
  3. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    Caimi caimiphotography.com
    Show us a couple of examples in b&w and color. Could be the subject isn't right for b&w. Could be in your processing. Hard to tell without examples.

    Here are two examples of a recent image of mine. The color is close to my memory of what I saw when taking the shot of this field of butterweed and advancing storms clouds. Then I processed it in Silver Efex4.
    butterweed.

    rte156.
     
  4. bleachingpixels

    bleachingpixels Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    May 2, 2013
    New Hampshire
    +1 on this. Very well stated. Honestly, you might just not like black and white, which is perfectly cool. (I feel like that sounded a little snarky, which was not my intention. Sorry if it did.)

    I find myself feeling the same way about ultra wide-angle shots. (not fisheye but the wide end of a wide angle lens). I love when I look at people's work with a wide-angle and am taken in. Then about 99% of the wide angle shots I take I look at and go "Meh. Boring."

    It's strange how our minds work.
     
  5. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    609
    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    rpamparo
    I like B&W with a wider tonal range without looking overly process. There are photos that just looks better with colors.

    But as someone has suggested, maybe post a few samples of your color/bw versions.
     
  6. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    For me, most of the photos I do in BW are because that specific photo works in BW. Different reasons (color doesn't add anything to the shot, want a grittiness that is harder to add in color, etc). Very very few of my photos are processed as a BW and a color (usually only if someone asks for both). For any of my BW photos, when I switch it back to color, it is usually way off (WB is crazy, various levels of saturation/darkness, etc).
     
  7. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    414
    Dec 6, 2012
    Netherlands
    Jan (John) Kusters
    I have to agree with Cruzan; it usually asks for a different approach from the start to get the most from B&W. I do not have an example at hand, but imagine a red car in a green field on a cloudy day with little shadow; in colour; the red car will jump out between all that green. Imagine that same view in black and white; basically the red will be a middle shade of grey, and so will the green. A dull picture.
    Heavy post processing might help; turn the red into light grey, turn the green into dark grey, and it might work. But when I am taking black and white pictures I know I'd better wait for a white car, and try to get it against a dark, shaded background... No heavy PP needed, just think from black and white.
     
  8. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    609
    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    rpamparo
    or use a colored filter, just like old times :smile:
     
  9. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Chrome
    I concur with bleachingpixels: Maybe you aren't being heavy handed enough with B/W. The great thing about digital is it doesn't cost anything to experiment as much as necessary.

    I find B+W offers so much more allowing me to push contrast to the extreme. It greatly reduces the prominence of visual clutter generated by the millions of hue values in an image, allowing the subject full dominance.

    Claw_416_sm.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/91846136@N04/8955846746/" title="Claw b+w sm by MyCrome, on Flickr"> 8955846746_ab5d7ec94b_o. "912" height="687" alt="Claw b+w sm"></a>
     
  10. daimos

    daimos Mu-43 Veteran

    288
    Jun 23, 2010
    Ottawa,Ontario,Canada
    richard
    Have you tried turning your LCD to B&W , and still shoot in raw ?
    that way, you compose in B&W, and if you don`t like it, you can PP in color.
    no need to imagine a subject how it would look like in B&W.
     
  11. Al.

    Al. Mu-43 Veteran

    372
    Jul 3, 2010
    Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
    Alan
    For stunning Black and White you have to see in Black and White. Not literally, but have to see past the colour, like the old days of Black and White film.
    For your example a red car against a green field, with B@W film a green filter would lighten the green and darken the red. A red filter would darken the green and make the red car appear white. You can do the same in photoshop in the Black and white adjuster, apply colour filters.
    I take all my pictures in colour, but when I am shooting I already know which I am going to process in Black and white at the taking stage
     
  12. cuegeee

    cuegeee Mu-43 Rookie

    15
    Apr 18, 2013
    California
    I love b&w because I'm color blind. Processing color images present me with problems between reds & green. Monochrome = no green skin.
     
  13. cuegeee

    cuegeee Mu-43 Rookie

    15
    Apr 18, 2013
    California
    I completely agree with Al. I shoot in B & W from the get go so that I'm not swayed by the colors. Sure you can also set to jpg+raw incase you have a need to see the full color file as well

     
  14. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    Hi guys, I am just putting an example here.

    Look, isn't this type of shot with obvious wall texture, with some shadowy figure, are all the criteria of B&W photo?

    When I compare against the colour, I somehow think it looks nicer.
    I am not sure if it is because of poor BW processing technique.

    What do you guys think?
     

    Attached Files:

  15. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    141
    Mar 1, 2012
    I do not look at BW screen display, perhaps that's my problem? Another one example which I think color looks better
     

    Attached Files:

  16. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    You have to pick and choose. And that is a matter of experience. The more you process the better your processing will become and the better your picking and choosing will be.

    You nail the first with the security/scout leader/whatever guy. The second image you were too heavy handed with the contrast. Remember the eye is attracted to light colors, the brighter the light color the greater the attraction. Unfortunately in the B&W you the blouse is too white losing detail and has become a distracting element. It the second image looks great in color and should not be converted.

    Also remember that when removing color the form(s)/subject(s) contained in the image have to stand on their own to be successful. The stronger that subject, the better the success in a B&W conversion.

    Citrus-Picker-UE-XL.

    IMG_1467bz-X2.

    Color can add drama and impact in subjects which ordinarily lack said drama and impact.

    IMG_2944-01-X2.

    Pt.%20Mugu%209-X2.

    And there are some images that work in color or B&W:

    GRAA0680.

    GRAA0682.

    GRAA0414.

    GRAA0408.

    The difference between the photographic skills of a pro and the skills of a hobbyest is time behind the camera.The more shooting experience the greater your skills. So to for processing. Don't get so frustrated that you give up, but also be your own worst critiquer. Being able and being tough in self-critiquing will get you up that learning curve quickly.

    Gary
     
  17. the_traveler

    the_traveler Mu-43 Veteran

    204
    Sep 12, 2011
    Columbia, MD
    Lew Lorton
    You have to fix tonal values before you convert.
    Afterwards is too late.

    mu-43-colorlllll.
     
  18. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    I think the dark shadows lacking details of the OP's image convey's far more impact and drama the the second image. The ability to lighten dark areas is a very good tool and one should scan every image to see if this tool should be applied. While the_traveler has shown a very good presentation of what can be achieved by lightening the shadows, I think the final tonal quality and textures of the image looks unnatural and is distracting causing to the viewer to concentrate on the tones and textures of the image rather than the primary subject as a whole.

    Gary
     
  19. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    Caimi caimiphotography.com
    The traveler's conversion adds depth and life. Impressive.the man's face comes alive.
     
  20. the_traveler

    the_traveler Mu-43 Veteran

    204
    Sep 12, 2011
    Columbia, MD
    Lew Lorton
    I don't think it's a question of which conversion has more impact, the OP was concerned that he wasn't getting 'good' conversions.
    My point was intended to be that the original image needs to be prepared first, to manage the luminosity and the contrast so that the impact of the B&W will go where one intends.