Last week I participated in a Facebook Black-and-White Photo Challenge. Since I mainly use black-and-white to mask exposure mistakes, I thought I’d share these pictures, before and after editing, and divulge my methods to improve a challenging shot.
This corner of my tablescape was an easy subject given the high contrast of the LED bulbs against the metallic garland strands and then both reflecting off the tabletop. It was very dark so I set my camera on the table to reduce shake/blur.
Canon 7D f4.5/125/ISO3200
This is the original picture. I wanted to boost the detail of the garland so using my software (Aperture), I lifted the shadows and reduced the highlights. I also applied the sharpening tool upon which I have become all too reliant.
If least-editing is the measure of a good photograph, this my best of the batch.
Farrah Star in the rays of light bouncing around my heavily mirrored bedroom. This is exactly the lighting I cannot correctly expose for – the shadows, the glare, the extreme contrasts – so I use black-and-white to mute some of the headache potential: color. Farrah’s hair caught the light and with the static electricity it made me think “firecracker!” so I shot it. Cute, huh?
Canon 7D, f4.5/80/ISO3200
The original. Cropped, straightened, retouched her chin, removed all the spots – and that’s just the clean up. Wanted to capture the sparkle in her eyes and like the garland, define her hair so I lightened her pupils and sharpened the entire photo. I also used a recovery tool to decrease the glare off the side of her face. This is exactly the kind of picture I cannot capture with just my camera; I need my software and time to make it happen, but it’s worth it. I really love this portrait.
The underside of our fire escape on a gray, gray day. That’s also when I shoot black-and-white – when there’s an absence of color anyway. Not terribly inspired. Just that kind of day.
Canon 7D f5/10/3200
The original shot is dull. Short on time, I kept it, cropped it and added drama by cranking up the mid-contrast.
Shadow No 5
Again with the rays of sunlight bouncing around my bedroom. I’m not sure this was best served in black-and-white as the perfume is gold and the feather in the forefront orange; they both added a nice pop to the whole vignette, but since this a B&W challenge I decided to focus on the vintage bottle label.
Canon 7D f5/80/160*
Not too bad. Slightly cropped and straightened, shadows lightened and label heavily sharpened. Effect garnered.
Playdate. See? It’s funny because we were alone. *sigh*
This was unplanned and hence shot with my iPhone 4S. The light, the space and the effect of all those lonely toys made me click the button.
Aperture thinks this is the original but I did have the B&W setting on my phone before shooting. The reason this appears in color has to do with things like science and technology. Or sorcery. Anyway, I cropped it, straightened it, probably sharpened it. This is an example of using mood to shoot in black-and-white. These scene looks too happy in color. I had to drain it.
Before/After (sorry, this one will give you seizures)
Hope you enjoyed these before-and-afters. BPS – Lifting the Veil of Secrecy!