ExtremeBW

 

Extreme Black and White

When we talk about black and white photography we really understand it as covering the full range of shades of gray from totally black to fully white. The monitor screen on which you are most likely to read this shows just 256 distinct shades. For this article I am presenting some extremes that cover a much more limited range.

The absolute extreme, of just black and white, is normally called “silhouettes”, showing a form totally black or white against an opposite background. My “Bird on a Fence” here is an example of that.

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Another genre is “low key”, photos that are predominantly black. My “Two Glasses” is of that type. In fact, this is a color photo.

Two Glasses

There is much that can be done with “extreme black and white” that fits into and outside these categories. Here are some examples.

Musician - Members Only Band 

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Seagull

'Lion in the Clover

Birch

As you can see, many of my images here are strongly manipulated to take the image to the “extreme”.

And now just a little help here to get you started making silhouettes and similar “extreme black and white” images. Start with a photo that has strong shapes and contrast. The example here uses leaves against the sky. I will use my favorite tool, Photo Gallery, here. Of course, more powerful editing software will allow you much more creative control.

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An ideal photo will have a lot off light areas and a lot of dark areas and few middle tones. You can see this in the histogram that shows the tonal values from black to white. There is a “hole” in the middle of the data showing the scarcity of mid-tone values.

The first step is turning the image into a B&W. Photo Gallery has tools for that in the Effects area of the Edit ribbon.

The slider under the histogram can be used to turn this into an “extreme black and white” image. Move the white slider, on the right under the histogram, to the left until all parts of the image that are light in color are now fully white.

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Then bring the black slider up to turn what remains black, or mostly so.

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LK_000490-X2If you put the black slider right up and over the white slider you will have a pretty good silhouette. If you stopped short, you have a pretty extreme black and white image.

Some photos lend themselves to being turned into such graphic black and white images, but it is best if you have that idea in mind when taking the picture so you can make sure you have the contrast and strong figures to start with.

Have fun!

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

Happy New Year!

My “Happy New Year” Images

Happy New Year 2015

My most frequent posts in 2014 have been photos to Gallery Ludwig and “café art” to Silver Canvas. I wanted a colorful, cheerful image for my well-wishes. One that would be appropriate for the photo gallery and that could also be made into a delightful art piece for Silver Canvas. I found some butterfly photos from Florida. The flowers seemed to overpower the gulf fritillary so these photos remained “asleep” in my archive. See what I mean:LJK12615-P1-1024

There were several in the series, some with the butterfly in flight. At a 1/125 second shutter speed the butterfly was “no catch”, way too fast. But it kept coming back to that flower. What attracted it? Nectar? Oh, maybe the hot Florida sun had started a bit of fermentation? He, he, chuckle. So that lead to the cropped and manipulated images shared on the other blogs.

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Drunken Butterfly

All the best wishes to my friends and visitors for a prosperous 2015!

Happy New Year!

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Hawk

The making of my hawk photo-paintings

Hawk

We keep a bird bath low in bushes in our front yard. It attracts visitors large and small. Our chipmunks and squirrels join all kinds of birds. When the weather is dry even deer come around for a drink and a nibble on the liriope. As can be expected predators are attracted too. Our neighborhood hawks usually sit high in the trees and are hard to photograph, especially in the warm part of the year when the leaves make a dense canopy.

So when my wife noticed a hawk low and close to the house I saw a chance. My first shot was through a dirty window – better to get a poor photo than none at all. Then I gingerly stepped out the front door. The hawk was cautious but tolerant. I moved closer and around for better light. In all I got 15 exposures.

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Hawk

One of the shots seemed quite suitable for a close, “portrait”, crop.

Hawk

A nice enough bird photo, and the one that got the most “plusses” on Google+. Folks are just drawn to close-ups.

I wanted more out of this photo and it became the basis for my first manipulation. PaintShop Pro is my preferred tool since it offers a vast array of utilities, layers and layers of selected portions. This allows using plug-ins in a very customizable ways. Topaz plug-ins, especially the recent Impression and Glow are amazing tools. Here are a couple of intermediates leading to my final version that primarily uses Topaz Glow.

Hawk Hawk

You can see the evolution of the image. The PaintShop Pro cloning tool came in handy for removing some extraneous elements and for the final vignetting. This version made it to my  Fine Art America portfolio.

Hawk

The photos of the upright hawk appealed to me. The “good” ones are flawed by small twigs in front of the bird. The clearest shot was the first one through the dirty window. The problem with screens and dirty windows in front of your camera lens has been the topic here a long time ago. Much of the effect is a haze that results in no deep blacks in the photo. This can be quite effectively eliminated with the histogram sliders and the other exposure adjustments available in editing tools. I like to use Photo Gallery as my primary management and quick-edit tool. Here are views of the original frame and the first enhancements.

Hawk

 Hawk

So next a tight crop and a journey through the effects tools.

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Hawk

The final version is here, this too made it to my for-sale print collection.

Hawk 2 

The original “sitting” of the hawk was just four minutes, first to last exposure. The photo editing, manipulations, and “photopainting” was more like four days.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

The Runt

The Runt of the Take

The day was a pretty good one for me, 102 photos. There is still that old “Kodachrome habit” in me – be frugal with exposures and make every one count. So this was a lot of exposures for me. Of course, it was a special day, a trip the the Botanical Garden of Georgia, in Athens, Georgia, U.S.A. There is always a lot to enjoy there and it is a gorgeous and rich environment for photography.

But back to the subject: Runt – smallest, weakest, least likely to succeed. Every “take” of photos has these, some get thrown out without another thought, some just form the detritus in the archives. Every so often I take another look and ask myself, “is there something in that photo?”

The “subject of this post” is one of those “runts”. Sometimes I do a lot of fancy processing, sometimes I take them into “art effects” tools, sometimes, when I have time on my hands, I try all of these.

OK, here is one of the results. I post this first so it will show in the links to this post in the various social places. If I showed the original first, you, my dear reader would most likely have passed it by.

Opium Poppy

This is a photo of an opium poppy from the International Gardens. This one taken from the side, slightly below the flower. I liked the light on it at the time. The result didn’t impress me nearly as much. So it landed in my “make art of this” corner when I came around to it.

I needed to run some tests on the latest improvements to Windows 8.1. I have it in a VMware virtual machine. Drag and drop works beautifully in this system. I opened Microsoft Word 13 in the guest machine and dragged over the thumbnail from Photo Gallery that I had open in the host system. A bit of manipulation and I had a pleasant image. Yes, the Photo Tools work nicely in the current version of Microsoft Office.

Opium Poppy

Then I took the image into PaintShop Pro to work on it. After some of my ideas did not work well, I wondered if maybe a black and white version could bring out the lively, light, and vibrant aspects of this blossom. Making a B&W of such rich and intense red seemed like sacrilege unless I could retain the feeling of purity of the color. I decided that “purity” is best evoked by white, so I used full red filtration for the conversion and make it into a high key image. Some sharpening and a bit of contrast adjustment and I was satisfied that I was doing justice to the flower.

Opium Poppy

Opium PoppyThe images above are three of my attempts to give this runt of a photo a chance. I guess I would be amiss if I did not show what I was starting with. The original photo here is shown smaller than the others to allow it cower shyly in the corner. It gets its chance of limelight in the costumes of “artistic effects” above.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck