Week 1/52 ~ Lesson 1: Slow and Steady

by Heidi Egerman January. 05, 2019 360 views

'Something out of nothing' - Black and White

I know it is only week one, and although I would like to be further along in my studies, I have decided to take it slow and enjoy this journey. In the past, I’ve moved to fast and ended up overwhelmed and paralyzed. Not this time.

The book that I’m reading (Black and White Digital Photography, Photo Workshop) starts out with photography basic fundamentals. I already know this basic information about exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and composition. Nonetheless, I decided to go ahead and read through the first few chapters in hope of finding a nugget or two that is new or that I had forgotten or not used.

True to form, this workshop book ends each chapter with an assignment. I figured for now that this was a good place to start for now.

Assignment 1 | Something Out of Nothing

Look at the things around you and create a new black-and-white image. The only requirement is that the subject be something nearby that you see often. Use tone, shape and contract to locate things right under your nose that would make interesting photographs.

The Shoot. The two image below were shot here on our property with my Canon Rebel T3i, using my 50mm lens. I have decided to start shooting in raw although I'm not yet proficient in using and editing raw files so I set my camera to shoot in raw, + .jpg. I will work with the raw files at a later date.

After taking the first set of images I decided to set my camera to 'picture mode: monochrome'. I thought I would be able to see (in the view finder) how each image worked as a monochrome before I took the photo. I still have the raw file for converting to black and white in Photoshop later, but the actual .jpg file is black and white.

The Results. I found it difficult to determine if an image would work by looking at the viewfinder before the image was taken. Although, after I shoot a few shots, I can scroll back through the pictures in my camera to review the results as well as look more closely at the histogram in the viewfinder. Check out Helen's post: How to Read the Histogram in Photography and Why You Should

I plan to keep shooting jpgs in color and monochrome for the time being. The monochrome image is not for processing, but for evaluating the image as a monochrome picture. Keep in mind, I have to change the picture styles when switching from 'standard' to 'monochrome'. I will also be saving the raw files for future study.

The images below were processed from color .jpgs and converted using a filter in Nix Collection/Silver Efex Pro 2. This is my fallback monochrome image converter for now. My goal is to eventually be able to convert a raw file to a monochrome using Camera Raw. Then I can start making some comparisons. Stay tuned.

I would love to hear from you as I journey through this year - slow and steady. Feel free to send me your critiques, thoughts, ideas, tips and questions.

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There are 7 comments , add yours!

#1 - yes, Bethany is right. The texture is incredible!
I read, that it's better to take pictures in color in the first place and change it into monochrome afterwards - of course shooting in RAW.  As I'm no specialist in phtoshopping my pictures, I often use the "dynamic monochrome", when I'm photographing with my Panasonic TZ 91. Of course there is no way back, but why on earth always doing the "right thing" instead of tbeing spontaneous?

1 year ago Edited
Bethany Plonski 1 year, 3 months ago

Texture in #1 is really eye-catching! I haven't worked much with monochrome editing, but I took a quick workshop on Lightroom a while back, and they showed us that if you shoot in color then convert later, it has a tool where you can select and tweak a specific color range within the original image (like toning down a red shirt in a portrait to change contrast etc). It's interesting to play with and can make a big difference depending on the image.

1 year, 3 months ago Edited
Heidi Egerman Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 3 months ago

Thanks Bethany,
I use Photoshop which also has a plugin call ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) to convert raw images to black and white. It is challenging and often time consuming to learn, but I'm determined.

You can also convert them directly in Photoshop, much like Lightroom. I also use Nix Collection/Silver Efex Pro 2, which has some great profiles and filters for black and white. My primary goal is to be able to nail the setting in the camera so that I have minimal post processing. 

After I understand this a bit better I'll start working on the best post processing software. I know it is different for everyone. Black and white photography is so subjective. What I like, others might not and vice versa. This will be an interesting year for me. Thank for your comments and checking in.

1 year, 3 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Heidi Egerman 1 year, 2 months ago

Photoshop is something I haven't gotten into yet - I didn't realize it could convert raw files, but it seems to have a ton of capabilities - an overwhelming amount, actually. But you're right, always best to get it right in the camera first! Thanks for sharing what you're learning.

1 year, 2 months ago Edited
Russell Smith 1 year, 3 months ago

#1 I love the shape and texture of this image. I enjoy using nik for b and w conversions sadly or more like to be honest I use lightroom or camera raw to convert 90% of the images into black and white or at least give me an idea of what direction I want to head with the image. I find by tweaking the color channels I can pull a bit more tones out of the images sometimes. Other times (like today ) it does not work like I planned .  Do you have Lightroom or just Camera Raw and Photoshop?

1 year, 3 months ago Edited
Sherry Hill 1 year, 3 months ago

Heidi, i am very interested in your journey.. as a spectator and as a student.. i have forgotten so much of the fundamentals and i need a boost not only in my imagination but in my learning.. i have the same camera as you too.. soo, s'il vous plait, i shall take the journey by proxy of you.. 
i LOVE your photos.. 
i actually NEED to start shooting my photos in b&w because [for me] if i take them first in colour, i seem to find they lack when editing them to b&w.. if i look at my subjects only in b&w, i can imagine seeing the shadows and textures better..
i'm rambling
but you inspire me..

1 year, 3 months ago Edited
Heidi Egerman Replied to Sherry Hill 1 year, 3 months ago

Sherry, I am so glad you are going to journey along. I actually love my camera and when I first got it I bought an online class from Creative Live that I love. I watch it every now and again when I think I've forgotten just about everything or just need a refresher in one area or another. I think the instructor is one of there is. The class is $29 and worth every penny. It often goes on sale as well. Here is the link if you are interested: https://www.creativelive.com/class/canon-rebel-t3i-600d-dslr-fast-start-john-greengo
creativelive.com has these classes for many different types of cameras. 

If you have specific questions, just message me and I'll let you know if I have the answer. This photography is certainly 'life long learning'. 

I so want to be proficient in black and white and am determined this year to learn as much as I can. I often cannot see what would make a good monochrome image until I have it up in photoshop and do a little testing with filters and adjustments.

1 year, 3 months ago Edited
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