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Posts tagged ‘black and white’

Quiet Thursday

For me this is a great post after a busy Wednesday. I won’t talk a lot, but I have some photos to show you. These were all done in the last week and put up on my Social Media sites. I’ve been trying to use Instagram more. Apparently one of the ones you should be involved in right now. I got some tips from an unexpected guest last week and I’ve been managing to grow my followers. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I get to look at some amazing photography, that can’t be a bad thing.

The first three are from a trip to the coast last Thursday. We went in search of the famous Dragon’s Head at Number 16 beach. We weren’t sure we would find it, but we did.  The third image is from Shelly Beach near Sorrento. It has lots of piers. I had fun doing lots of long exposures that day. It is also where I was walking around in the water with my new Merrell shoes.

The last image is from a trip into the city last Friday. We went into the foyer of a building and took some photos. We did ask if it was okay. This is one of the photos I took.

I hope you have a lovely quiet day. Not sure I will, have to move on with the magazine, but all good really.

Monochrome Madness Returning

Just a short post today to remind those that want to do it that Monochrome Madness will return next week. It is a themed week and the theme is to be Country.

Not many entries have been coming in, so I don’t know if people have forgotten about it, or don’t want to do it anymore, but to get into the spirit of it I thought I would put an image for you.


An image from Yosemite. It seemed a perfect idea to do one of these in monochrome. I’m sure Ansel Adams would have done a much better job, but I wanted to see what I could get from my first view of these famous mountains.

Below are the details if you want to send in an image.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.

Monochrome Madness each week and if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.

Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs: The Magazine is Here

It has been a very stressful time the last few days. I have been sick, and trying to get my website ready for the launch of Dynamic Range. I have spent the last three days trying to get the e-commerce part of my website working. OMG, it doesn’t if they say it is easy, believe me, it isn’t abd wasn’t. I went through about 5 different ones until one of them finally took me by the hand to go through it. It is all up and running now.

Dynamic Range – Get Your Copy Now

We have seven articles for you, and I would like to this opportunity to thank all the contributors, Stacey, Mel, Chris, Loré, Sharon and Emily for their brilliant articles. They had faith in the magazine and wrote for it. Great quality as well and I’ve really enjoyed reading what they’ve written.

I would also like to thank another Chris for helping with the editing and my daughter Klara. She wants to be an editor so it was good for her to get some experience. Her lack of photography knowledge could be a problem at times, but I think she is going to learn.

I would also like to thank Julie for all her work putting the magazine together. Julie came up with the logo and has worked hard putting all the articles together. She has had to put up with me telling her what to, but she handled it well.

It is available to buy and we are selling it for $5. Here is the link to purchase it if you want to read it, Dynamic Range or click on the image below.

Dynamic Range_Aug15-1The cover again and you can see all the articles that are in it, a great range I think. I think there is something there for everyone. It is going to be great to see how it evolves over the coming months.

You can only purchase it with Paypal, but  you don’t need a Paypal account and can just do it with a credit card, there should be a thing at the bottom that will explain that.

There is also a new Facebook page for the magazine as well, Dynamic Range.

Here are some photos that from articles from the magazine. There is also a chance to win a camera bag thanks to Lowepro.

UfD: Workshop Lessons

Today for our Up for Discussion post Susan Portnoy from The Insatiable Traveler recently attended a photography workshop and she has written for us what she learned at the workshop. There are some great lessons here and I think we could learn a lot from this.  

Five Essential Lessons (and One Great Tip) I learned about Photography at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops


As a photographer always looking to hone my skills, I recently went on a unique adventure as the guest of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in New Mexico. I’d heard about the globally renowned workshops for years (the workshops are year round and boast an amazing roster of instructors) from photographers who were students and others who had the honor of being asked to teach.

The Santa Maria building where I stayed and where breakfast and lunch was served

The Santa Maria building where I stayed and where breakfast and lunch was served

The Santa Maria building where I stayed and where breakfast and lunch was served
The trip was a great learning experience and completely out of my comfort zone but exactly the kind of push I needed to up my game. When I told Leanne about my visit she thought you might be interested in reading about what I learned. And while it’s all a work in progress, here goes… ~ Susan Portnoy

When you first arrive at the Workshops, Reid Callanan, the company’s founder, will tell you that no matter what course you take the week is not about creating masterpieces, it’s about learning new approaches to photography, opening your mind and eye to fresh ideas and challenging your skills. It was all that and more.

My instructor was fine art photographer and Sam Abell disciple, Brett Erickson. The workshop: “Visions of the American West.

My fellow students and I (nine of us in total), quickly learned that for Brett, “visions” was the operative word. The American West was a backdrop, a muse for our creativity efforts, and we would explore these visions through black and white photography.

When our workshop began, Brett explained that his main objective was for us to “see” the world differently; to be keenly aware of the textures, shapes, and colors that make up a scene and use them to our advantage. He wanted us to discover the story within the photo, the nuances and the complexities, both literally and figuratively, in order to communicate our vision successfully. In short: to thoughtfully craft images rather than just “take” them.

Below are five lessons (and one neat trick) I learned that I believe will help me (and perhaps you) do just that:

1. Identify what you like about the subject or scene

When you come across something you want to shoot, take a moment to ask yourself what you I like about it? Brett explained, “We choose compositions because of the way they make us feel.” Meaning more often than not, it’s emotion not intellect that directs our eye.

At first I found it difficult to articulate what drew my attention beyond the surface (ie. the light is really pretty, or I love the way that looks), but the more I thought about my reaction, the better I perceived the scene. Taking the time to reflect—even for a few seconds—provided me with valuable insight on how make an image that would convey my feelings more accurately.

Take this very simple example: Minutes before I landed in New York from Santa Fe, I took a picture of the wing and the beautiful twinkling lights below (above left). Then I remembered to ask myself why I was drawn to the scene. I realized it wasn’t just the beautiful lights; I loved the idea that I was privy to an extraordinary view of the city from my own little seat in the clouds.

With that in mind, I composed the next shot to include a portion of the window frame, giving the photo a completely different feel. A person looking at the image now has more context. They become a passenger peering through the window with me which is the essence of what I wanted to communicate.

2. Instill your images with Poetry and Metaphor

What makes an image compelling? Brett says, “Poetry and metaphor.” Since that’s a tad esoteric, consider it a sense of depth and meaning that goes beyond the literal scene. What story can you tell? What observation about life, love, friendship, or society, can you work into your image that will make a viewer connect on a level that stirs the emotions? Everyday Brett challenged us to create images with poetry using metaphor. Below are a few of my attempts.

Example 1:

On our second day of the workshop, we visited El Santuario de Chimayo, a tiny Roman Catholic church built in the early 1800’s. A modern day pilgrimage site receiving over 300,000 visitors a year. Outside the sanctuary, crosses made from pieces of unfinished lumber stood bleakly in front of the iron gate that separated the sanctuary from the parking lot. Behind a row of cars, I saw this small cross with the word “Hope” and the crudely carved phrase “Dear Lord Pray for Us All.” It was a passionate plea for help that I imagined had gone unanswered for “Hope” had fallen over.

Outside the gates of El Sanctuario de Chimayo in Santa Fe

Example 2:

Religion is a big business, even in the small town that plays host to Chimayo. In this photo, I wanted to show how commercialization feeds off of religion by featuring the mural of Mary juxtaposed to the litany of signs advertising local shops and businesses.

Outside the gates of El Sanctuario de Chimayo in Santa Fe

Example 3:

On our last day of shooting we ventured to a beautiful area with white rocks teaming with interesting shapes and textures. Brett’s assignment: use a model as a metaphor for something in nature. I was struck by the large, dark boulders that littered the white-washed wonderland. For this image my model, Diaolo, became another rock dotting the rugged landscape.

Outside the gates of El Sanctuario de Chimayo in Santa Fe

3. Slow down and explore your options

Ever see something that you like, snap a picture and then move on? Yep, me too. Next time, slow down and explore your options. In one exercise, Brett asked us to take five photos of something that made us feel. With each shot we had to move closer (or move back) and reassess the picture anew. Did the light change? Was there something new to the scene that we hadn’t noticed before? Did the intimacy of a close-up better communicate our vision or did everything fall apart? The deliberateness of the process forced us to slow down and really look at what we were shooting thus providing new opportunities for inspiration.

Example 1:

When I walked up to this area of the Chimayo sanctuary (photo on the left below), the first thing that struck me was how the telephone poles in the background echoed the cross of the sanctuary building in the foreground. But as I walked closer, I saw the way the soft curves of the archway framed the rectangle door. Then I became intrigued by the stain of the wet adobe and how its soft lines mixed with the multiple triangles surrounding the door’s frame. In the end, I felt the image to the right made a stronger statement than the wider angle that first grabbed my attention. If I hadn’t reminded myself to move in, I would have missed it entirely.

Example 2:

One afternoon, we went to Eaves Movie Ranch, a location used in countless westerns including the The Ridiculous Six, starring Adam Sandler, currently in post production. Thomas, who oversees the ranch, was one of our models and a perfect throwback to that era with his cowboy hat and garb, long hair and grizzly beard. I took him to an old barn that had amazing light to shoot a portrait. At first, I photographed him close up and straight on, but when I experimented with various angles, I liked this framing the best. Here you can see a piece of the paddock and the supply shed in the background. I found it to be more visually interesting, with its subtle layers and horizontal lines, while adding greater context to the photo.

Thomas at Eaves Movie Ranch in Santa Fe

4. Make the most of compositional tools.

Leading lines, diagonals, repetition, frames, patterns, layers, triads, triangles… these are compositional elements photographers use to move the viewer’s eye through the frame creating a more compelling image. And that’s what we all want, right? It wasn’t the first time I’d thought about leading lines or patterns and the like, but working with Brett in a workshop environment brought my awareness and understanding to a whole new level.

Example 1:

In this image I was drawn to the repetition. First the eye focuses on the crosses to the right that are in focus. Then the vertical columns move the eye to the back where the crosses are repeated in the door and on the column to the left of the entrance. The lines in the ceiling also lead the eye to the back where the arches are repeated in the windows and doors.

Thomas at Eaves Movie Ranch in Santa Fe

Example 2:

This was taken from inside the studio doorway of a rather eccentric, 70+ year old painter I met while shooting along Canyon road on our first day. I first noticed the sign on the door and I couldn’t help but think that it’s semi-schizophrenic handwriting suited the quirky artist. Outside, stood his old school bicycle, another glimpse into the man’s unique personality. I loved the combination of the two together.

From a compositional perspective, the open doorway is a strong visual element that splits the image in two, thus grabbing the viewer’s attention. The horizontal plank below the sign is like an arrow leading the eye to the right to where it finds the bike, while the vertical edge of the door echoes the wood in the fence post.


Example 3:

Two horses snuggle in another shot from Eaves Movie Ranch. Besides the obvious “adorable” factor, the image combines three triangles, two are created by each of the horses heads while together they form one large triangle, keeping the eye fixed on the center and the equine bromance.


5. Wait until the next day to look at your pictures

During the workshop I was struggling. Every day we got a new assignment and every day I was convinced my work sucked. I would do my best to create wonderful images that were exploding with poetry and metaphors and nine times out of ten I wanted to throw my camera against a wall. Intellectually, I knew what I was learning was incredibly valuable. Emotionally, I hated that I wasn’t instantly fabulous. It was hard. Granted, I put enormous pressure on myself. I think most creative folks do, which means if you’re reading this, you probably know of what I speak. Here’s my advice, if you’re not happy with the way a shoot is going, stick it out, do the best you can and then leave the pictures alone. If you keep going over it in the moment you’ll just spin yourself into the depths of emotional self flagellation. When I stepped away and gave myself the opportunity to disconnect from the shoot and my frustration, I usually found that when I looked at the images again they weren’t so bad. In fact, sometimes I would surprise myself and find something I really thought was good. Perfectionism is a dangerous thing. Don’t let it get the best of you.

(The Trick) Try shooting black and white in camera.

When I first read Brett’s description of the class, he explained that monochromatic images would play a big part in our workshop and it was part of the reason I signed up. I love the look and feel of black and white photos but I’ve never felt particularly at ease creating them. Like most people, I shoot in color and then convert in post-production using Lightroom and Nik filters. More often than not, I’m not sure whether the conversion will look right until it’s done. It’s always been a bit of a crap shoot for me.

Brett wanted us to be able to see the world in black and white, to instinctively know how various colors would look in grey-scale so that we could be deliberate in the creation of our black and white images. His trick to train the eye: shoot black and white in camera.

By setting my Canon 1-DX to monochrome and then changing the “image quality” to capture both a RAW file and a jpeg (Nikon users don’t need to add the jpeg), I could see a black and white jpeg on my LCD screen in real time, while simultaneously capturing a RAW color file for use later while editing. (You’ll want those color channels available so that you can tweak tonalities.)

I have a ways to go, but I’m slowly understanding how colors will convert so that I’ll be able to spot compelling contrasts from the get-go. Eventually I’ll be able to see the world in black and white without having to look at it on my LCD. At least that’s the plan.

If you have any questions or comments about the photos or the workshops, please ask in the comments below and I will be happy to answer. If you’ve been to SFPW or other workshop, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Susan will be responding to comments, so please if you have questions please ask. I would also like to thank Susan for writing this for us, don’t forget to take a look at her site, The Insatiable Traveler.

Up for Discussions: Images in Monochrome

The Monochrome Madness challenge has been wonderful, yet I am finding many people feel their own work is not good enough, or they don’t really know, or think they don’t know, how to do monochrome images.  I offered to write a post about it.  I thought why not, but I don’t feel like I am in any way an expert on monochrome images, or black and white, so I am going to get the discussion going, and like we did with other discussions, like common mistakes newbies make, I will talk about what I do and give some ideas and hopefully other people will keep adding to the discussion. What happens, I will start the conversation.  The first part is how to choose an image, and the second part will be about how to convert them to black and white.  The post will remain open and as people, you, make suggestions I will add marysville-steavensons-falls-water-monochrome-100-2them to the post.  So please leave what you want to say in the comments, I will cut and paste them.  Remember this is about helping people who have trouble creating monochrome images. Shall we get on with it.

The Image

Textures and Patterns

Not every photo you take will be a good monochrome image, sad but true.  There are things to look for when you are going to convert an image.  Images with lots of textural elements or patterns are great for monochrome, the patterns and textures can laurent-melbourne-littlecollins-building-monochromereally stand out.


Really what a great monochrome image needs is lots of contrast.  I am going to try and explain contrast because I know a lot of people say they know what it is and they don’t.  I used to be one of them.  People say to me it doesn’t have enough contrast and it took me years to work out what they meant. So contrast is about the difference between the whites and the blacks.  If you have ever used the threshold on an image, and converted it to just blacks and just whites, then you will find an image with a lot of contrast.  Though the image would look crap, but a good image would have blacks, and whites and lots of shades in between.  What you are looking for are lots of tones, or greys from light to dark.  Often images that don’t have a lot of contrast just look grey royal-exhibition-building-reflection-museumand not very good.


If you want to know if an image will be good for black and white, look at the tones in the image, the lights and darks, is their enough of a difference. Remember that some colours will have the same tones when converted. For example red and green will have the same tone, and when you convert they may look the same. Dramatic images often lend themselves very well to monochrome as well.


A couple of people have mentioned how you can take photos in Black and White with a setting on your camera.  One way is to take Black and White photos, but then you loose the flexibility of your image because you can’t make it colour again. The other option is to make your screen show you the preview in B&W. The images are still colour, but you get an idea of what it looks like in monochrome. I don’t do either, but I know people who do.  To be honest, I just don’t think of it.  If you are new to this and learning, then changing your screen to give you the preview could be very beneficial.

Zone System

The zone system that Ansel Adams developed has been mentioned.  I’ve never been able to work it out, but there are others who have read it and used it to get better images.  If you are really stuck, could be good to look at.

Taking Images

It has been suggested that if you have the intention of getting images in black and white, then when you set out to take them, remember that, and look at what you are taking.  Think about whether it will be a good image for monochrome.

From Merilee, her point of view.

The best way to learn the language of black and white is to work only in black and white. And I don’t mean allowing the camera to take black and white images for you. You must go out and take the photograph in color, and really LOOK at what you are shooting. Before you shoot it, you need to train your eye and brain to convert the image from color to black and white in your mind first. After awhile it becomes automatic. You can be looking at a sign that’s in bright colors, but you know instinctively that when you convert that color photograph into black and white, that the colors on the sign will all turn the same shade of grey. You must do this and do it a lot to learn the language. Also, when composing for black and white, it will be different than composing for color. Because your color becomes part of the composition itself. When shooting for black and white you need to SEE the large, dark areas and the large light areas while you are composing. Work like this for two or three years. I’m not talking about a few weeks. This takes years. I know. It’s what I do. All the time…

Chris had similar views as Merilee

Have to agree with Merilee, to some extent. it does help to convert to black and white completely . I did this about 4 years ago and only shoot for black and white images as an end product, unless some one asks me to do specifically colour for family shots or something like that.

I shoot with a Nikon and preview only in black and white when out and about, I use the histogram a bit when out . The images a raw colour images though. Lightroom is the program I use for conversion, just my preference, presets are good to get a starting point, then the B&W sliders , contrast and lights and shadows sliders used a lot, and the tone curve box fro very subtle changes , lights out – to isolate the image on the screen , then export to PS for resizing and a little sharpening maybe .

Sometimes I use PS for doging and burning using layers.

From Dan

As you know, I “convert” several of my seascape images to B&W. Seascapes are difficult due to lack of contrast in water. I find that adding other elements (clouds, sand, rocks, people, etc…) to be very effective. The key is the light… the sun’s direction and height specifically. Midday sun can be too flat, but early morning and late afternoon (just after/before golden hour) can be a great time to shoot. Look for clouds to add drama, shading on rocks, and wet sand for some glimmer. Here in San Francisco, I like to go out in the early morning. It’s typically overcast which softens the light. Remember that the sun is still shining through those clouds adding that much needed contrast. You just have to figure out its direction.

My final tip is to know what your goal is “before” you push the button. Visualize your final image in B&W. It becomes easier with practice, but an important goal, nonetheless.

Converting to Black and White

Simple Editing

There are so many ways of converting images, and it really is an individual thing.  There is no right way or wrong way of doing it.  You can do what works for you. apollo-bay-funghi-rainforest-monochromeThe most common thing to do is to reduce the saturation and take out all the colour in the image.  You can go to the menu and find where you can convert it to greyscale. They are the two most common ways that I can think of to convert your images.

Black and White Adjustment Layers

Photoshop has an adjustment now that allows you to convert them, you can click that and your image is monochrome, then you can adjust the individual tones in the image to make them darker or lighter, according to how you want them.  It is one of my preferred methods of doing the conversion.  I will often give the contrast slider a little push as well for extra effect.

From Judy

On choosing what to convert, I am not sure I do. I think the picture choses. Crazy I know but I just see it and must convert!! For me using Photoshop or taking advantage of such software as Silver Efex, I find the starting point of color very powerful. Once you are in a neutral black and white stage, you can use sliders to lighten and darken various colors in the scene. For example green leaves with lighter yellow areas can be separately lightened or darkened to give highlight and interest to the leaves. Once I like the look of the image, then I can take that composite as a black and white with no more help from underlying color and adjust lighting and contrast in various ways so the final image has a nice mood. If you love nuances of light on just about anything, water, rocks, leaves, trees, birds…then a black and white treatment will always be a wonderful temptation.


From InfraredRobert

However the photographer goes about the conversion, don’t forget that when all is said and done, you can still use one more ‘trick” from the old days of printing on paper – specifically: Do you want a warm tone or cool tone image? Often this final step (by using a photo filter in PhotoShop) really gives a nice finishing touch to a monochrome image.


There is also lots and lots of software that will help you get that black and white effect.  You simply open your image in them and hey presto there is your black and white image.  There are many around, with the most popular one being apollo-bay-treetops-rainforest-monochromeSilver Efex from the Nik Collection. I know Topaz Labs also have one, but I have never used it, so I don’t know what it is like. They usually have a heap of presets, to help you decide exactly how you would like your image to look.


I have also seen some actions that when you apply them they will make your image black and white, however you need Photoshop to use them, though I believe you can also use them in Elements, but I’m not positive about that. You can often pick up an action quite cheaply or a bundle of them.  I am experimenting with doing them, perhaps I should do one for people.

Other Software

From Victor

Another piece of software for Mac uses is MacPhun’s Tonalality. It’s got lot if bells and whistles that make it easy and fun to use.

Conclusion and Photos

I am leaving it there, so I am hoping those that are much better at monochrome will help add more information. What little tips can you give people who want to get better at doing them?  For those of you who want to learn how to get better images, try looking at more monochrome and if you don’t like an image see if you can work out why, or why the black and white doesn’t work. I am not going to put everything in the article, so you should also read the comments, as people might add information to what I’ve already said. All the images today are ones I’ve done in monochrome.  I am fairly certain they have been on the blog before, some for monochrome madness, and some just, well just because I wanted to. If you look at the file names and see SEP in it then it usually means that it was done in Silver Efex.

Quiet Thursday’s: Day Trip to Bacchus Marsh

It was great to see the first Monochrome Madness for the second year, and also good to see that many of you are still enjoying it, I know I am.  It is a day for relaxing for me, and to relax I will be spending the day at the zoo trying out the new Tamron 150-600mm lens that Maxwell International Australia have lent to me.  I thought the Melbourne Zoo would be a great place to experiment with it.  I hope you don’t get sick of the bird and animal photos that I keep taking.

Today I have some photos for you taken last week on a trip to Bacchus Marsh.  I went there with Christine Wilson, it is a place she has been to before, but my first time.  We went to an chicory kiln.  It is a popular photography subject.  We also took a few photos around it.

I am going to leave it there today and just put the photos into a gallery for you.  I hope you get a chance to relax today.

Quiet Thursdays: Giving the Sky More, Something

Last week I sent out the first LCP Newsletter and in it I had a video for replacing the sky, it was something that was important to me last week as well. I went out to take photos to a place I had never been before, saw some amazing things, but the sky was so horrible, that all I got were great photos with a white sky.  I had intended to use the images for a Weekend Wanderings post, but I couldn’t put up photos that had terrible skies.

So yesterday I decided to convert one to Black and White, replace the sky and see what I could come up with.


I did other things to it as well, but the main thing I wanted to do was give it a better sky.  Usually when there are this many trees I tend to put it in the too hard basket, but I had to try with this one,  and it was a good lesson for me.  It took a bit of effort, but I get there in the end.

I also did the reverse processing thing and have put the original image and the colour version of the above image on my other blog.  There is also more information over there on where the image was taken.  If you are interested in that, then please go to, When the Sky Gives you Blah.

I’m off to the Melbourne Zoo today for Social Snappers, the weather is looking perfect for it.  I will try and get some Instagram photos as well. I hope you have a quiet Thursday planned.