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

On the road again: Bodie and Mono Lake, part 2

I can’t believe I left my tripod home! I’ve worked hard to become “one” with it, and I left it home. As I post about Bodie and Mono Lake, we are visiting Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks and Fresno, California. I’ll post about this visit back to the parks after a more than 30 year absence next.

So far, I haven’t needed the tripod, but I did need it in Bodie. Why, to get great HDR images, you need to bracket and that’s difficult to do handheld. I’ve done it, but it’s much easier with the tripod. I did a lot of bracketing in the ghost town, because that seems to be a good way to present the decaying buildings and machinery.

Founded in 1876 as a gold mining town, Bodie is a now ghost town in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of Mono County, California.The nearest is Bridgeport,  where we stayed. I talked about the altitude (Bodie is at 8,379 ft or 2,554 m.) and my reaction to it in my previous post. Bodie is also recognized it as a National Historic Landmark, became a California Historical Landmark,  and officially became Bodie State Historic Park in 1962. We were three of the about 200,000 yearly visitors.

Because of the ghost town’s altitude and other health issues, I had a difficult time. However I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just took my time and rested when I needed to. Back home, I had a lot of fun with pushing sliders in Lightroom and processing images in black and white.

Here are some of my favorites in Bodie. Mono Lake will be in my next post. And, I’ll tie a string around my finger regarding my tripod when we head out on the road again!

On the road again: Bodie and Mono Lake, California

Altitude–I guess I can’t do much of it any more. On a recent trip, the weekend of June 26, to the ghost town Bodie which is located east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California and 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, I experienced the effects of altitude sickness.  Now a California State Park, Bodie is located 12 mi east-southeast of Bridgeport, at an elevation of 8379 feet.

So, what does all that mean? Probably when you’re 72, you should take oxygen with you! I went with photo buddies Laura and Marlene. All of us were affected by the altitude. But, it was worth it as you’ll see in the images I’m posting. In spite of the altitude, the two-day trip was fun. Only Laura could coax me out of bed at 4 a.m. to catch a Mono Lake sunrise.

But, let me start at the beginning. The scenery was so beautiful when we were driving to Bridgeport, our home base that I finally started shooting out the car window. Laura would have pulled over, but there was no place for her to park. I did the best I could. We got to Bridgeport, Bridgeport, the county seat of Mono County, California with an elevation of 6463 feet. just in time to get settled and go to dinner. This is a small town and it was decked out in red, white and blue for the July 4th festivities. I do wish we could have stayed.

I’ll begin this multiple post with scenes shot on the way and Bridgeport.