Show me your monochrome!

zitro_joeJuly 19, 2011

Add yours!

I was messing with high ISO to get some grain in the contrast.

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lazypup

This was just an experiment to see how the red toning comes out.....

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 7:03AM
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zitro_joe

nice, has a antique stamp look to it.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 10:28AM
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lazypup

In this age of digital photography nearly all photographs are shot in color, but if one is aspiring to improve their photographic skills B&W still remains the best medium to experiment with.

Any photographer will tell you that color will hide a multitude of sins, but when one shoots B&W even a minor error in exposure control will be obvious as the nose on your face. When critiquing a B&W image we look for two things, crisp brilliant whites and absolutely black blacks. If the whites are even a bit greyed the photo is slightly overexposed and if the blacks are even slightly grey the exposure was slightly underexposed. Back in the days of film processing we could correct up to two f-stops with the enlarger when printing. Sometimes I use that same technique during post processing with digital. I open the file in my editing program, then convert the file to B&W, judge the exposure and use the programs exposure correction feature to adjust the exposure, then convert it back to color.

It is also much easier to see minor problems with focus in B&W. While colors blend and cover the problems, even a minor focusing error stands out in B&W. This is especially useful when first learning the finer points of "depth of field control".

Back in the days of film processing we controlled contrast by switching between low contrast and high contrast printing paper, or sometimes we used Poly-contrast paper and a set of 7 contrast filters which we used on the enlarger to shift the final contrast in the print. If you really want a challenge try making a perfect exposure in B&W with high contrast on glossy paper.

While color photos are common in newspapers today, such was not always the case. Up until the mid 80's newspapers were primarily printed in B&W, but many papers had a special insert in the Sunday paper that covered topics local or special interest and to set that section apart, they printed all the photos in "Sepia tone" which is a monochrome print in brown & white. We also see many old photos from the early 20's to late 30's that were finished in Sepia tone.

To make a sepia tone print they began by printing the photo in B&W, then after the photo came out of the final wash it was immersed in a tray of toner and in a few minutes the image would transform from B&W to brown & white, then the photo had to be washed again and dried.

Actually there were a number of toners that would transform a B&W image to a sepia, blue, red, yellow or green monochrome image.

The most difficult and definitely the most expensive toner was Uranium Toner, which was used to make a red monochrome such as in my print above. Due to the cost you generally could not find Uranium toner in your local photo supply house. Instead we had to special order it and at about $20 for enough toner to process ten 8x10 prints, you can see that we didn't use it very often, not to mention that the stink would run you out of the darkroom...LOL..so you can well imagine, when I found I could create those prints in my processing program I have had fun with it.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:27AM
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zitro_joe

very good read.
I also find it true for the opposite as well. When I have a color that just isn't working for me I will convert it to B&W, thats mostly true with motion blue or unwanted noise... but if you get the exposure wrong in B&W, it rarely works. I was also messing with light spectrum filters to see how it would effect the contrast level gradients of the grays/silvers.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:57AM
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rcnaylor

Not a great technically, but, I kinda liked the look From Thompson Park 8-2-09

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 7:29AM
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lazypup

I see nothing technically wrong with that pic and I also like the overall effect

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:38AM
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zitro_joe

That bokeh us really neat with sun shining off the water.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:58AM
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Konrad___far_north

These are lovely!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 2:20AM
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lazypup

Zitro,

Examine RcNaylors photo very closely and you will see that is not "Bokeh", it is something much more elusive and difficult to control.

"Bokeh" occurs when we are using a wide aperture which minimizes depth of field and causes the background to be out of focus and blended into a nice even pattern & color.

Look very carefully at the upper right hand corner of RcNaylors photo and you will see that the water is in perfect focus all the way to infinity so the overall lighting effect is not Bokeh.

In RcNaylors photo the sun is at a low angle and there is a light chop on the water which resulted in hundreds upon hundreds of indivual light reflections. Note that each individual reflection seems to be a six pointed star. The star effect is actually a form of internal lens flare which is caused when intense light passes through a tiny aperture such as f-16 or f-22.

Generally a photo will note have more than one of two points of intense light reflection and when those little flares occur in the print they are very distracting, but in this instance they seem to make the print come alive.

As I stated before, this is extremely difficult effect to duplicate because most modern lenses have multi-coating to prevent that type of flare.

There is a technique that we used years ago to produce that effect. Get a small square of new & shinny common copper window screen and place it right on the end of your lens. The screen is well within the minimum focus distance of your lens so the screen itself will not be visible in the final print, but as the light reflects off the screen it will produce a similar effect. This works very well when shooting available light at night.

You could experiment with both copper and aluminum wire as well as different mesh size and you will get a number of similar but different effects.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 8:38AM
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zitro_joe

I understand what you saying; totally agree. I usually refer to the framing that is out of the DOF as the bokeh, but I didnt thoroughly look at the photo enough to see that it was pretty much infinity focus.It is pretty sharp all the way through.

Just enough flare have to make it twinkle vs being a massive flared blob, very good work.

RC; I think this would look great on a metallic paper print.
Thanks,

Joe

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:05AM
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alisande

I think everything looks great on metallic paper! LOL That's what I use (Kodak Endura Metallic) for all my framed prints.

Good thread, Joe!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 5:48PM
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rcnaylor

Glad ya'll found some interest in my early morning photo. The water being choppy did provide a million sparkles. I enjoyed the discussion and suggestions.

Love the snow and trees above. The contrast, to the eye, is just perfect.

Here are a few other shots I've taken:

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 7:06AM
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rcnaylor

Two more I had stashed in another album that aren't really monochromatic but kinda fit in with the look:

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 7:14AM
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joan_mn

Beautiful photos!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 6:40PM
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awm03

Late to this thread, but I just wanted to say there are some fabulous photos here. Thanks very much for posting; I really enjoyed them!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 7:56PM
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