Lens Artists Challenge #156: Black and White

I am delighted to be your guest host for this week’s LAPC. Thank you John for getting us into/onto the water last week.

As much as I enjoy photographing water, I also love black and white photography! I don’t process a lot of it, but when I do I enjoy the texture and depth it gives a scene. It reaches a place in your soul that color can’t. Some images cry out for black and white.

This post is not a “how to” or history lesson, but a vehicle to get you excited about processing in black and white. As photographers, we all have our own unique way of doing that. Some shoot in black and white while others shoot in color and process in black and white.

I’ve watched many videos and attended workshops on black and white photography only to realize there is no set way to create a good black and white image. I have, however, settled on a workflow that produces the results I like. This is my workflow.

First, I always shoot in RAW and in color. That gives me more flexibility and more tonal range to work with. Very rarely do I see the image in black and white before I shoot it. I mostly see color until I get it into Lightroom.

This fog landscape I saw in black and white as I shot it. One of my rare moments.

Once I get my images into Lightroom, I process them in color. If I see an image with a lot of contrast, texture, and tonal quality, I finish the color processing and then look at it in black and white in Lightroom. If I see a possibility for a good black and white, I transfer the color image into Nik Silver Efex. This is where the fun begins.

Here’s a lily in color and black and white. Look at how the various colors, contrast and lighting transfer in tonal quality to the black and white.

Although Photoshop and Lightroom have improved in their ability to process black and white, I still prefer Nik’s Silver Efex. I guess I’m just used to it and I like their presets. Better yet, I need their presets! I’m not an artist. I choose a preset and work on it from there. Nik also has the ability to use more than one preset on a single image. You can use the control points to dodge and burn (darken and lighten). I rarely do this but work more with the contrast and tone of the image. If you like different film effects, there are many film types and tones from which you can choose. Honestly, I don’t change film types but, sometimes, will give an image a different tone color.

This is the color version of Waterton Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada. A foggy day and not much color.

The same image processed in black and white. Adding texture and contrast, created a more inviting image.

While in Silver Efex you can also add texture and do other editing that I prefer to do in Lightroom.

Sometimes the venue calls for black and white photography. One of my earlier black and white images taken while at Bodie a ghost town in Northeastern California.

Here’s another where I think the black and white conversion accents the splash of the wave on the platform. Taken in Pacifica.

Once I’m done in Silver Efex, I then export the image back into Lightroom for the finishing touches. I sometimes continue working on the contrast and light. I love how Lightroom’s tone curve helps with that. For me I like images to have some “pop!”

Also figures in shadow are accented in black and white. This image was taken at the Marin Headlands during one of my first Meetup outings.

Back to the present, my latest black and white conversion is a lotus in the William Land Park pond. It’s beautiful in color, but how do you feel (Yes, feel it not think it!) about it in black and white? For me, the curves, contrast and lighting are accented.

So, this is my method for processing an image to black and white. I’m sure you have your own workflow for black and white photography, and I’d like to know what it is and see your images. This week’s challenge invites you to dig through your archives for black and white images or process color images in black and white. You can also take new pictures and process them in black and white.

As you post them, please explain how you processed them. This will help all of us learn new ways of doing what we’ve been doing for a long time. I hope you are now ready to see the black and white possibilities as you shoot and/or process.

Thank you, Tina, Amy, Ann-Christine and Patti, for giving me this opportunity. I do appreciate it!

Remember to link this post and use the Lens Artists tag. Next week’s challenge will be presented by Rusha Sams of Oh The Places We See: Getting Away.

She will be followed by:

July 24: Beth Smith of Wandering Dawgs: TBD

July 31: Ana Campo of Anvica’s Gallery: Postcards

Fog, trees and pond! Boulder Ridge and Coyote Pond parks

I’m not too fond of fog when I’m driving, but when I have my camera in my hand, I love it. On one foggy morning we (Marlene, Linda, Ray and I) ventured out to two local parks hoping to get foggy images.

The fog was lifting when we arrived at Boulder Ridge park in Rocklin, but still thick enough to block the visual of most of the park. This time of the year, the trees are bare and stand tall against the fog.

This large park is popular with locals. But it was damp and cold while we were there, and the hillsides weren’t visible. When we couldn’t see the rest of the park, we left and followed in our cars to Coyote Pond in Lincoln. The fog had lifted there and the beauty of this small neighborhood park was waiting for us.

It’s great that we have such beauty easily accessible in these COVID days.

Hunting with a camera: Effie Yeaw

We were hunting deer when we went to Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael. The nature center is about 15 minutes away and is on the American River. It’s a beautiful natural wooded area surrounded by the river and a golf course. It’s rutting season for the deer and we were hoping to shoot some–with a camera!

While we didn’t see any males rutting, we did see a lot of deer that were close enough for me to get with my 55 – 200 mm lens. It was a great morning. When I complained that I was out lensed with my photo buddies’ 400 mm or more, one said that I shouldn’t complain since they were so close! But, I like to complain!

Here are some deer shots from that successful morning.

And Effie Yeaw never disappoints with its beautiful environment. We got there early enough to watch the last of the fog glisten in the sunlight.

Just a few more!

And finally some log art.

It was great fun hunting with my camera!

In search of wine and color: Napa Valley

I wasn’t enthused, but I do enjoy shooting with Laura. In fact I haven’t been enthused about many shoots this year. It’s not been a wonderfully healthy year for me, so I’ve stayed close to Sacramento. And, I haven’t been overjoyed with my images either. I may be just too critical, or it might be that I haven’t traveled any distance to shoot something different.

So when Laura suggested we look for Fall color in Napa, I said the vines are turning brown. She said they were changing color! She also wanted to pick up some wine. Off we went down the Silverado Trail where many wineries and vineyards are found.

She was right. The vines did give us some color. The fog gave us some drama. The eventual sun gave us some good lighting. And, Laura got her wine!

I’m glad I went on this outing. All I had to do was sit and enjoy conversation while she drove.

This and that: Two Mandarin ducks and lunar eclipse

It’s not that the duck and lunar eclipse have anything in common–except for me and my camera. Oh, it could be the fact that one was planned and didn’t turn out well and the other wasn’t planned and turned out successful.

First the Mandarin ducks at Elk Grove Regional Park in Elk Grove. This was a planned outing for 9 a.m. By the time we got there and I drove around to the other side of the lake, the ducks needed to nap. It seems they like swimming in the fog! Those of our group who got there about a little earlier and parked in the right lot, got beautiful shots of them swimming.  I still got some of them napping and standing. And, I did get some fog shots. We get the Tule fog in Sacramento. I love the moodiness of fog.

These are some of the ducks and moody fog images:

For the lunar eclipse, I decided to sleep in if I could; but if I woke up in time, I would just shoot the triple lunar event from my backyard. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. (Darn my internal clock) and tried to go back to sleep. At 4:15 a.m., I got out of bed, gathered my camera gear, set up and opened my back door. Now this is the way it should be done–in PJs, bathrobe, coat, drinking tea and set up right outside my back door! I didn’t get cold!! I did try several lenses before I ended up with my fixed 300mm. These were the best of all the shots:

So there you have it. Planned or unplanned, I had fun!

 

Getting the sun’s glow: Cosumnes River Preserve, Galt

You’ve got to love Laura’s enthusasim when it comes to photography. I do. So, on a recent weekend morning, about 8 a.m., when she suggested we go down to Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP), a nature preserve of 46,000 acres, to catch the tail end of the morning’s golden hour, I scrambled. I always need that push to get up early, stay up late, etc. Laura gives me that push.

In my rush to get out, I left my backpack that contained, snacks, hiking shoes etc. at home. Another truth about me: I will shoot in Birkenstocks whenever I can because my feet don’t like to be confined (a bad arthritic toe). Luckily, we were walking on the dirt paths around CRP.

But we weren’t lucky enough to catch the last of the golden hour because there wasn’t any! Fog! This was the second time we caught the morning fog at CRP. The last time we were able to catch glistening spider webs on plants. That morning there were none. The rains had washed away the webs and the spiders hadn’t returned yet.

Because of the fog, I decided to use my Sigma 2.8, 17 – 70 mm lens; but, that meant I didn’t have the ability to catch the birds out in the distance. When the fog lifted, I switched to my Nikon 55 – 300 mm lens so I was able to catch a few birds.

In the end, we did get the sun’s glow and the moody fog. All in all, it was a fun morning.

Weather or not: Point Reyes, part 1

This was a first for me–shooting in dense fog. I learned a lot in a recent Meet Up shoot to Point Reyes National Seashore on the coast. It was my first time and I truly wasn’t prepared for the totally socked in adventure I was about to have.

At first I thought, “What moody images this will make.” I had no idea that the fog would make focusing difficult! Auto focus had its problems, so I tried to focus manually. Even that was hard.

In addition, I wasn’t well during the week and only did part of the trails, meaning I didn’t reach the beach where it wasn’t so foggy. I basically concentrated on what I could do rather on what I couldn’t.

Today, I’m posting some images so you’ll get an idea of the fog. It was an amazing first for me.

When Mother Nature makes shooting tough: Gray Lodge and Sacramento National Refuge Wildlife areas

Sometimes photography can be a challenge, especially in fog and overcast skies with only a 300 mm lens! That’s what we were shooting in when we went up north to the wildlife areas to catch the birds in action. Not only was the weather bad, but there wasn’t much water and the bird population was way down.

Usually at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, you can see a few bald eagles. We didn’t see one! One photographer in the meetup did capture one and his image was great. I’m thinking that he was using a longer lens. It was very disappointing.

Further west, the Gray Lodge Wildlife area was not much better. There were enough birds for the hunters to shoot, but not the numbers we normally see. But we did have fun.

When you travel to these meetups with other photographers, they don’t mind stopping and shooting something ineresting that may have nothing to do with your original purpose. We made a couple of those side trips–three of us in the car. Plus we had the extra joy of having the GPS get us lost.

All in all, it was a fun 12-hour day. I hope you like these fogged and overcast images! This will be a two-part post.