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Trying to find my style...

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by fransglans, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    991
    Jun 12, 2012
    Sweden
    gus
    Hi folks!
    Its been a while ago since I shared some of my stuff in a dedicate thread. I´ve been doing some work for a friend of my mine. he´s about to make a book and im going to give him the photo illustrations to it.
    I love B&w, but have been struggling a bit to find my style and what i like in monotone. You could give me your opinion and tip if u see something! // Gus

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    • Like Like x 7
  2. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Hey Gus.

    Mate, you have your own tastes so what YOU find pleasing is really the only thing that matters, so what I can add is only going to be true and relevant only as far as MY taste is concerned...in saying that, the only thing I would add is that for my tastes I feel as if your B&W conversions here are tending a little too strongly to a 'middle grey'. Admittedly I like my B&W a little on the extra contrasty side, with the images you've shown here I feel like you could amplify the whites a little...I feel the 'greyness' here dominates.

    Nice images btw, they just need a little help to make them pop a little. Just my 2 cents.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  3. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    991
    Jun 12, 2012
    Sweden
    gus
    Thanks joe! its nice to use your fresh eyes to point out the obvious. i will work with the White... i want them to pop more:)
     
  4. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    100% agree - you like what you like. I also prefer a more dramatic B&W processing, but to be honest, I know a lot of people that would love the way you processed your images here.

    One of the hardest things to do is to find your unique style....and even that may not be a permanent thing. Just flow with it! :D
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    The problem with "trying to find your own style" is that it's impossible to not have a style, there is always a style there from the first time you pick up a camera. I think initially it's evident in the choice of subject and over time it starts to become evident in things like choice of angle of view, composition, processing and so on. I think when we talk about "finding our own style", what we're actually saying is that we're not happy with the proportion of shots we're happy with in the shots we take, and we're uncertain about what way to go in order to increase that proportion.

    I think Livnius is right when he said "what YOU find pleasing is really the only thing that matters" so my advice is to pay attention to what you find pleasing. Find out what contributes to that, not only in your own photographs but in the ones you respond strongly to made by others and consider that in terms of everything: subject, composition, and processing. Try and bring out more of those things in your images and watch how your tastes change as you work with that process. We get better at things by doing them over and over so simply do more of the things that please you and less of the things that don't. That's the way to get better at the things that please us and if we do that we end up being happier with a greater proportion of shots we take, and that means our style is more evident.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I very much like the examples you posted. I myself like dramatic B&W and all of your pics fit it well, the first two and the last one the best. Keep experimenting and eventually you will find your exact fit.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    They're great photos, and while it's true that they look about -2 EV on the forum from my LCD at least, they might take on a whole different look printed, or from a brighter monitor. I do like the subtlety of shades, which is not as common as it used to be with digital photography.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. blindinglight

    blindinglight Mu-43 Regular

    37
    Jul 24, 2014
    Thailand
    Rommel
    Go with what you think is best from your own emotions. The first two photos are stunning and I can imagine all your B&W photos working quite well on glossy pages.

    David was right that Livnius has made a fundamental truth here: what YOU find pleasing is really the only thing that matters.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    If you're looking for more "pop" without changing the fundamental exposure balance of the image try adding micro-contrast.

    In Photoshop that can be achieved with Unsharp Mask at 20%, Radius 30 pixels, Threshold 0.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    USA
    I like these a lot. I understand what other people are saying about more contrasty images. I think your processing style works best, for me anyway, on photo 3. Maybe other places can use a different style.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    991
    Jun 12, 2012
    Sweden
    gus
    oh so many great thoights from all of you. thanks!

    i guess that im talking bout the pp in b&w when im saying that im trying to find my style. there is so many ways to render b&w and ive tried alot of presets in lightroom. both vsco and maxims but like vilnius and some other stated, they look a bit grey. and dark... maybe its time to raise lightness in my lcd monitor and working with the whites in general.

    thanks so much for the advices and nice words :)
     
  12. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    Mike
    Very nice compositions! I would go for more contrast. Keep shooting and you will find your style. You might want to consider purchasing a calibrator for your monitor especially if you are going to do much printing. Keep up the good work!

    Mike
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    Seems to me you have a style. You've managed broad tonal range without strong whites and blacks. That took both technical and compositional decisions and skills. The tonal ranges don't just support the feel of the images, they're key. I see excellent use of different tones to convey depth which are as least as strong as the depth creating compositional elements.

    Pop and Contrast are tools. Like all tools used by those who create visual images, just because something is in the tool box doesn't mean is should be used. The tools that allow one to create the vision in their mind's eye are the ones to use.

    It wouldn't surprise me if your knowledge of the elements of style is equal or greater than a visual arts college student who survived the first year.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  14. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    991
    Jun 12, 2012
    Sweden
    gus
    such kind words. im humbled.
    im quite happy with my processing. but a little disturbinh that ive troubles to get those distinct black and whites. without destroying my style. i want that gritty dark atmosphere. maybe silver efex pro will help? or just more presets in lightroom. or maybe just more dodge and burn :)

    another trouble is how the final image will look like. i guess that a monitor measuring tool will help. but to fund it is another trouble...

    /g
     
  15. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    991
    Jun 12, 2012
    Sweden
    gus
    Hi again...

    been trying to complete my 6 photos thats going to be published. Its hard to make final decisons. But I tried to make them look more standard b&w. More contrast as we been speeking of. Thanks everyone for your thoughts.
    and now it looks like this...

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    any thoughts or tips!?
     
  16. Terrier

    Terrier Mu-43 Regular

    31
    May 6, 2014
    Denver, CO
    Andy
    This is nicely stated, I'll add two points from my own personal perspective. First, drama in photographs is good. It can be especially compelling in black and white. However, I don't want to "force" drama onto a scene that's inherently subtle. There are compositions where subtlety is far more important than drama.

    My second point has to do with the various systems we're all viewing in our homes and offices. It's not the same as comparing two prints under the same lighting conditions. For example, when I viewed your images on my home systems (a Mac Mini with Samsung HD monitor and a non-retina Macbook Pro), the first 3 were quite lovely. I really liked their tonal range and subtlety so, from my perspective, I wouldn't change much. Viewing them now on my office system (a Dell laptop and monitor) they look a bit flat. So, rendering any sort of critique is kind of pointless from where I'm sitting. Don't take this as a negative though, it's simply the way it is. And again, on my Macs at home, they were beautiful.

    I'm not a big fan of the presets in Lightroom. If I'm having difficulty with an image I'll apply presets on an experimental basis just to get an idea of what broad-stroke changes might look like. I'll seldom keep those presets though. Typically, I'll get close to the look I want by applying different presets. Then, I'll edit out all presets and get to work with the adjustments on the right side. One thing to always keep in mind when processing color images into B&W is the individual color adjustments for saturation, hue and luminance. While I seldom do anything with the first two, adjusting luminance levels of individual colors can offer some real insight into gray scale tonality. Again, just try experimenting with those sliders. It's always easy to revert to the untouched RAW original.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  17. dancebert

    dancebert Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Jan 18, 2014
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    0
    Thank you. A simple, easy monitor check is a graphic dpreview includes with all (most?) of their reviews. Obviously, it's just a first step.

    26 B&W shades.PNG

    I can see the differences between between ABC and XYZ on my laptop monitor - when it and my glasses are clean :)

    I'm new to B&W post processing. So far I like two tools. First is two multiple JPGS from a single RAW. The 'Lights' one stretches the histogram to spread the tonal range at the bright end while compressing the darks into uselessness. The 'Darks' is the opposite. Load as layers in your editing software. Combine, which is easier said than done. This is a single image HDR technique.

    Second are luminosity masks to enhance the bright or dark end. I'd say more about luminosity masks but I use GIMP so it's not likely to be helpful.

    Both techniques may be combined. Final product goes into Exposure 5 from Alien Skin Software to add a film look because I started with B&W film so long ago.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Do some test prints on paper similar to the final product.

    I'd also say with a similar process, but that's probably impossible as most books are printed using plates & presses.

    Barry
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    991
    Jun 12, 2012
    Sweden
    gus
    thanks everyone! i have printed alof of color and learned to compensate with my monitor. but its harder with b&w. theres a risk that these turn out to dark in print. arghh.. its hard. maybe i will print them at work, if that is helping i dont know...
     
  20. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    The image with the pole at the edge of the water has some pretty strong halos going on, so you might not want to submit it for publication like that.
     
    • Like Like x 1