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  #1  
Old March 14th, 2009, 12:03 PM
James Newman James Newman is offline
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Default Black and White conversion

I recently posted an image that I made in an interesting thread about old windows in old, abandoned buildings. That thread is here...http://www.openphotographyforums.com...ead.php?t=8528
My image was created first by running three bracketed exposures through Photomatix and generating an HDR composite. I then took the HDR through Photoshop CS4 and converted it to the B&W seen in that other thread. I am not too good at post processing. It is one of my bigger weaknesses and I really think I could do a lot more with my photos that would in the end, make them better. This challenge is just to give those that want to try, access to the original files so you can work on them and come up with your own black and white version of the window and hopefully teach me something in the process.

I have uploaded 4 files to choose from. The first three are NEF files from my Nikon D200 that were bracketed with the intention of making the HDR with Photomatix. They were shot with -1, 0, +1 EV. You can download them all if you want to try another HDR or some other type of blend, or just one or two or even none if you are not interested. You can also download the 4th file which is the HDR that I got from Photomatix. It is straight out of the program and normally I would then take that image into Photoshop for some more adjustments. Do that if you want.

This is more a learning experience for me because if you do try your hand at it, I would hope that you would also give a description of what you did to end up with your final results. That way I can see the different ways people tackle similar situations along with their results. Who knows, maybe it will be a learning experience for some others as well and fun for a few others anyway.

As I said, these are Nikon NEF files which Asher wanted me to inform you that you can convert via Adobe DNG convertor if you have an older version of Photoshop.

I hope some of you give it a try.
James Newman

-1 EV image here https://www.yousendit.com/download/U...SWVUME5jR0E9PQ

0 EV image here https://www.yousendit.com/download/U...U1A1aVpFQlE9PQ

+1 EV image here https://www.yousendit.com/download/U...U1BENlJjR0E9PQ

Photomatix HDR image here https://rcpt.yousendit.com/663914063...e2fc16d9a4f957
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  #2  
Old March 14th, 2009, 01:51 PM
Jack_Flesher Jack_Flesher is offline
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Here's my go at it, but full disclosure is I'm processing it on my laptop while watching the kids, so maybe not my best effort ;-)

First thing I note is of your 3 nef exposures, the one you have marked as under 1 is actually the "proper" exposure from a conversion standpoint -- meaning it has the broadest range of exposure data.

Second thing is I am not a huge fan of "HDR" processing as I find similar results can be achieved much of the time with proper raw conversion on a properly exposed file. (This is one of the more popular processing technique tidbits we teach on our workshops.)

Next, I see the strength of your image in the juxtaposition of the black window frame adjacent to the partially blown reflecting glass panes; then the surrounding plants serve as framing for those key elements. (Note: I might have possibly chosen a slightly different framing to begin with, maybe backed up a bit to include a bit more room above the window and a bit more to the right, but I was not there to say that really would be better -- and we are of course working with what you gave us. I just mention it in case you return for a redux ;-) )

Anyway, that said, this file was processed to B&W as it appears almost entirely in C1 using only your '-1' nef. This required use of many of C1's adjustment tools. First and foremost for a B&W conversion is ironically to get the color balance correct -- without that, it is difficult to get a believable tonal range -- and for whatever reason your nef was several points too warm to render good tonality in the greens. I also applied the C1 portrait profile for your camera as it generally renders a bit more total DR than the standard profile and then chose C1's built in high contrast B&W conversion profile. Working from this base, I adjusted global contrast and overall brightness down, increased gamma, and increased local contrast. At that point, what I had is essentially what you see below and exported it as 16-bit RGB tiff. I then opened it in CS4 where I used the transform tool to correct some of the bothersome (at least to me) skew -- which additionally requires a slight crop -- added a bit of output sharpening and used my basic web action for creating the 900 pixel wide jpeg conversion you see here.

Hope you find this helpful!



PS: I would add that I find Nikon files much more friendly to B&W conversion than I do Canon files. So much so in fact, that if I ever do need to return to a DSLR, the next one will likely be a Nikon...

Cheers,
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  #3  
Old March 14th, 2009, 02:30 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack_Flesher View Post
Here's my go at it, but full disclosure is I'm processing it on my laptop while watching the kids, so maybe not my best effort ;-)


Anyway, that said, this file was processed to B&W as it appears almost entirely in C1 using only your '-1' nef. This required use of many of C1's adjustment tools. First and foremost for a B&W conversion is ironically to get the color balance correct -- without that, it is difficult to get a believable tonal range -- and for whatever reason your nef was several points too warm to render good tonality in the greens. I also applied the C1 portrait profile for your camera as it generally renders a bit more total DR than the standard profile and then chose C1's built in high contrast B&W conversion profile.............




Conversion from single Nef (normally exposed) file by J.F.


Jack,

Your workflow paid off. I like the dimensionality and sense of reality that your conversion brings out and the range of tonality in the leaves, especially. A marked improvement!

One niggle is the inside of the open window and the reflection on the closed window, which if you look at below at James' original conversion from HDR, is evident.



Conversion from 3 Bracketed Nef files via HDR and Photomatix

As you can see whereas you aced the reality of the leaves, (and so much so that I can imagine if gently touched, they'd push back), but James' image has the interior nicely suggested and reflections in the window too. So your methodology using the other 2 NEF layers in PS as well, for selective masking, likely would do even better!

Asher
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Old March 14th, 2009, 03:21 PM
Jack_Flesher Jack_Flesher is offline
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Asher,

I hear (or rather see) your point ;-) But if you look closely at mine, the interior bricks are still visible (even on my laptop) -- albeit barely, but that was by choice -- and frankly, I left enough of the original material in the reflection pane to keep it interesting as a main subject, yet it's bright enough with just enough clip to be "believable" as a reflection. I could have easily masked each of those to closer net values of the HDR, but I prefer the look I rendered. IOW, both of the elements have enough detail at opposite ends of the exposure spectrum to remain the primary elements, yet are better balanced by the overall image contrast while being framed by far more interesting and believable foliage and window siding -- if that makes sense.

Obviously we're now discussing artistic preferences, but IMO the above points account for the added "presence" and "depth" in my version. Again, and speaking as both artist and viewer, I don't happen to like to false look rendered in many HDR comps -- and the above falls into that category, at least to my eye...

My .02 only and respect that YMMV,
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Old March 14th, 2009, 03:37 PM
Jack_Flesher Jack_Flesher is offline
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Update note -- the files as the OP has listed them is NOT accurate, he's got them twisted. If you open them, you can see his labeled +1 is actually the -1; his 0 is actually the +1; and his -1 is actually the 0...
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Old March 14th, 2009, 04:21 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack_Flesher View Post
Update note -- the files as the OP has listed them is NOT accurate, he's got them twisted. If you open them, you can see his labeled +1 is actually the -1; his 0 is actually the +1; and his -1 is actually the 0...
Jack,

I completely agree with you on you attitude to HDR. But with your background in film, I of course expect that! As far as reality of the picture, the leaves make or break the photograph. That's the anchor. If one can't imagine the springiness of the leaves as 3D objects and they seem flat as in the HDR version, then the window open and closed portions are not important.

Now that you have brought a lot of life to the image, I'm not sure that the image wouldn't get tweaked by you as I suggested if this was being printed for a gallery. I depends how that appears. On my laptop I can't see the interior but hey, that just this screen, perhaps.

I do take note of your appreciation of the Nikon file. That's good to know!

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; March 14th, 2009 at 08:10 PM.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 06:53 PM
Jack_Flesher Jack_Flesher is offline
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Tweaked maybe -- but not an in your face tweak -- just enough to insure shadow detail. FWIW, with B&W prints especially, I really enjoy peering into deep shadows and finding subtle yet recognizable detail.

;-),
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Old March 15th, 2009, 08:33 AM
James Newman James Newman is offline
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Thank you Jack for your fine contribution. I do like your version so much more than my pitiful example. Yours does have a lot of depth and detail and mine seems so flat, without any. I will go back and try again.

I first had to look up C1 because I did not know what that was. I do not have it but with your good description of what you did, I have some different things to try, perhaps in Lightroom and then CS4, to see if I can get a better outcome. I used initially the channel mixer in CS4 changing to monochrome and then adjusting the color sliders. That was about as silly as just desaturating completely. I will try again.

Will anyone else try this?

Oh yes...I am sorry that in my haste to upload the originals, I seem to have mislabeled them as to their proper EV. My mistake.

James Newman
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Old March 15th, 2009, 10:40 AM
Jack_Flesher Jack_Flesher is offline
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James,

Sorry, C1 = Capture One processing software and I prefer it for it's UI and excellent quality conversions for every camera's raw file I've run through it.

Try this in LR:

1) Set color balance to a good neutral -- try droppering the curtains in the upper window, or just dial in 5000/ +3 as a respectable starting point.

2) Adjust exposure (on the actual 0 image which is your first) to pump the shadow in the dark window -- try adding about 30%. Unfortunately this is the big disadvantage to LR, it cannot pull shadows like C1, so I suspect you might not get much brick detail from it.

3) Adjust saturation to 0

4) Increase contrast to 50 - 90; try 90 with your image as the mids are flat and good B&W needs punchy midtone contrast

5) Increase clarity slider to between 50 - 100; try 75 with your image

6) Adjust highlight recovery until the window reflection highlight is the only thing clipped; probably about 25 or 30 for your image

7) Adjust fill up to get lower midtones back up to taste; try around 15 to 20 for your image

8) Adjust black point up to insure some visible full blacks -- necessary for believable B&W -- usually around 4 - 8; try 6 for yours

9) Adjust brightness to balance total image -- usually needs a bump to 55 - 75 to compensate for the black point and contrast adjustments; try 60 or so for yours

10) Optional: go back and adjust color temp and/or tint to fine tweak tonality to taste -- you should have a very decent B&W right out of the raw converter ;-)

Cheers,
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