Thursday, August 7, 2008

Black & White

Brett Trafford at 365 to 42 got me to thinking about some of my landscape photos. His are extraordinary (check out Brett's August 7 post - OMG!) Brett has been a generous teacher in a short amount of time. He's not aware of that of course, but probably will after this post ... should anyone even read it.

Brett talked this week on his blog about how desaturating landscapes into black & white can make them really pop. Me being the purist and all hadn't even thought about that. I'm not crazy about my landscapes. To me my landscapes seem to be flat and uninteresting. Too, sometimes I count on Photoshop to correct my blunders so I tend to think of Photoshop as doctoring. Intellectually, I realize that Photoshop is much more than a tool for doctoring photographs. It's great for cropping, sharpening and enhancing images. Even Ansel Adams tinkered with exposures during the development process. Those black blacks and white whites of Yosemite were not that crisp out in the field, and obviously his landscapes were originally in color. Ahem. Photoshop is basically a digital darkroom. Ansel used many of the same tricks, just not with a computer.

I wanted to give Brett's techniques a try, so I turned off my brain and simply played. For my subject matter, I chose some recent shots I took of a dried up swamp. While these are not stellar shots of anything, the exercise proved Brett right. Even the most mundane of photos - mine - can be made more interesting using the technique.

Above is the original shot - close-ups of tree stumps in the middle of the swamp far away from my perch by the roadside. To me, the original lacks a certain ooomph. It's flat and simply...dull

Here is a more of a true landscape shot of the swamp. Dull, dull, dull. I do hope you are able to enlarge each photo to see them more clearly.

The black & white version is far more ethereal, with black stumps amid silvery grasses and behind the white tree trunks have a darker backdrop. Still not a perfect shot by any stretch of the imagination but clearly indicates that even so-so shots can be made better in black & white. If nothing else, this exercise frees up some backward thinking on my part and has given me the license to play and experiment with some shots that have always left me wanting.

You be the judge.


Michaela said...

Great job! I love black and white and you seem to be getting close to perfecting it. Black and white definately enhanced you shot. Can't wait to see what else you do!

jodi said...

These are terrific, absolutely marvelous! What fun you're having exploring the wonders of photography, aren't you? I'm glad it's blossoming all the more for you.

Blessing Counter said...

You are absolutely right. My favorite part of photography in my youth was the darkroom experience. Oh the fun we had! And that is what I love about digital...we can have the darkroom again, right on our computer! Love these shots -- you do a beautiful job with all your photography. Don't sell yourself short, my friend!

wcgillian said...

Black and white photography is at times the only way you can provide the true beauty of the moment and it is the best way to capture emotions of the soul and not just the subject.



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