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  #1  
Old September 10th, 2006, 03:45 PM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Default B&W RGB Digital: a realized Adams dream or a fix-all.

How about a little controversy, the forum lately bacame a bit "homely" to my taste:

B/W is the easy choice to make a dull (or even bad) photo interesting. People are used to colour, most of us see in colour, most published and taken pictures are in colour, this b/w captures us simply be being different. There are uses to desaturation - personally I like portraits in contrasty b/w - but most of the time it's just a way for a surefire contest place.

Curiously two of the more creative entries I have seen lately in a DOP contest were two b/w photos, one showed a puffin [no, it was not by Russell Brown] with the beak left in colour, the other was a picture of the word 'red'. Of course, the contest's theme was Red.

And then there's the current b/w entries for the LightZone contest ... (see*)

Special effects are another of my pet hates in photography; perhaps it is just because my forming years lay in the 70s but ... seriously starbursts, shines, oversaturation, almost anything added to Photoshop's filter menu is only worth it for graphic designers working on unsubstantial photos trying to create uncontroversial advertising material.

Any photo taken - not every frame! - was taken because it meant something to the photographer. The more a photographer has learned or experienced the more personal and universal his images will be. Which is actually the essence of art: Exhibiting ones personal view of universals. It's the difference between 'Look, that's my niece; isn't she cute?' and 'You really have grabbed the playfulness of 10-year olds!'

With the throwaways of amateurs the point often is to find what originally incurred pressing the shutter. The difference between pros and amateurs - on the content level [the formal level is simple: one has to pay his rent by taking pictures, the other not] - is that the pro has to deliver good photos every day all year round. The amateur, as the name tells, will photograph only what he likes - and when he likes.

Dierk

* To be sure, they don't come near the two mentioned images of which only one I found really good.




9/11/06, A postscript by A.K. on moving this and the following post to start this new thread.

Yes, indeed, the age of full Color Digital is here right now.

No struggles and disappointmets with the darkroom processing that always needed further tweaking of the filter dials.

No hunting for the very best color shop and getting to know your favorite technician.

Today, color photography processing and printing is just a service and with a calibrated workflow, perfection whatever that is, is prety well close to be assured even for the dedicated enthusiast.

So why the interest by perfectly capable photographers in Black and White when color is what we see?

I will not answer this yet, but this and the following posts in the discussion on Rainer's B&W vacation photos opened a debate that I couldn't believe was occuring. So the posts were moved here from the original thread,

http://www.openphotographyforums.com...p?t=856&page=2

Asher





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Last edited by Asher Kelman; September 11th, 2006 at 09:58 PM.
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  #2  
Old September 11th, 2006, 01:16 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dierk Haasis
How about a little controversy, the forum lately became a bit "homely" to my taste:
B/W is the easy choice to make a dull (or even bad) photo interesting.
I'll plunge on this one.
And I feel the controversy will be on soon!!! <he said with a large smile and big pleasure>

Yes Dierk I do agree with you about B&W and its supposed artistic "inherent" properties. But easy.

B&W was used, AFAIK, in the old times when the technology was not able to produce color photography.

Later on when technology did permit color reproduction in photography, most of photographers (and movie makers as well) couldn't afford color tech price.
They then, learned how to master the light and it was the great times of photography à la Jean Renoir or Orson Welles and of course many, many others.

And we would like to compete witht hem with desaturating or filtering our 16 bits images?
How prentious! I've even seen B&W books being offset printed in 4 colors (CMYK)!

Color is now full part of our life, why go back to B&W...? (I, there, feel no need to repat or rewrite Dierk post. I'm with him.)

However, I do agree with the principle of using all modern tools à la PS.
They can/may help/contribute to the birth of a new artistic medium.

BUT different than photography.

Something new. Like a new way of painting, like a new mode of expression.
New and different. Therefore not to be mixed.

Come on guys and ladies, I know a lot of you (specially US friends <he said with areal pleasure for controversy>) will react to this, we need opinions and strong but fair advices and why not subjective...

Cheers, I'll go for a rhum drink now!

[EDIT] Among many others, I forgot Marcel Carné. Shame on me and sorry for the others… <he said with apologies in mind>
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  #3  
Old September 11th, 2006, 02:32 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Claris
I'll plunge on this one.
And I feel the controversy will be on soon!!! <he said with a large smile and big pleasure>

Yes Dierk I do agree with you about B&W and its supposed artistic "inherent" properties. But easy.

B&W was used, AFAIK, in the old times when the technology was not able to produce color photography.

Later on when technology did permit color reproduction in photography, most of photographers (and movie makers as well) couldn't afford color tech price.
They then, learned how to master the light and it was the great times of photography à la Jean Renoir or Orson Welles and of course many, many others.

And we would like to compete witht hem with desaturating or filtering our 16 bits images?
How prentious! I've even seen B&W books being offset printed in 4 colors (CMYK)!

Color is now full part of our life, why go back to B&W...? (I, there, feel no need to repat or rewrite Dierk post. I'm with him.)

However, I do agree with the principle of using all modern tools à la PS.
They can/may help/contribute to the birth of a new artistic medium.

BUT different than photography.

Something new. Like a new way of painting, like a new mode of expression.
New and different. Therefore not to be mixed.

Come on guys and ladies, I know a lot of you (specially US friends <he said with areal pleasure for controversy>) will react to this, we need opinions and strong but fair advices and why not subjective...

Cheers, I'll go for a rhum drink now!

[EDIT] Among many others, I forgot Marcel Carné. Shame on me and sorry for the others… <he said with apologies in mind>
Nicolas, Dierk and others bewildered by the apparent shortcut to "good photography" by conversion to B&W,

Ben Lifson, Sean Reid and Rainer Viertlböck do not really convert to B&W.

They have no color images to start with. At least not in their heads where all their creative work starts. They believe, as I do that Ansel Adams was correct in say an image is made, not captured. That process, at its best, follows "An arc from intent and vision to technical excellence, meaning and beauty"©.

It is at least an error (and at worse even, disingenuous) to suggest that these photographer's planned considered and particular B&W works are merely "nostalgic aesthetic shortcuts" (using monochrome), to transform "the ordinary" to "interesting" or "the great" to "magnificent".

Their path starts with the trained eye to think in B&W. They imagine and compose from the textures, tones, shapes, compositions, shadows, meanings, significance and ideas not the colors. They are aware that colors have to be remapped too, but that is merely a tool for their work and part of their style.

Color? No! I'd wager they'd prefer a simpler camera that had no filters and with every pixel just measuring luminosity with the greatest dynamic range.

Asher
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  #4  
Old September 11th, 2006, 10:01 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default B&W RGB Digital: a realized Adams dream or a fix-all.

To me, B&W photography is not an art that is now an artifact of another age, rather one that is set to reach new possibilities of expression hardly imagined even decades ago! However, seeing that several guys, (that I do respect) raised this surprising question in all seriousness, we need to address it in depth.

So let's open this up to thoughtful discussion. Do you see B&W photography (three choices)

1. as crass manipulation in pretence of fine art?

2. as stubbornly keeping alive fine art of another age and now just a mere conceit?

3. a form of art, perhaps the finest in all photography that is now released from many technical restraints. So now B&W is entering a bright new age of artistic expression uninhibited by time, cost and technical restraints of fine work with previous media. Further some capabilities of the new processes perhaps even allow artistic expression undreamed of hitherto fore.

Asher

Last edited by Asher Kelman; September 12th, 2006 at 02:03 AM.
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  #5  
Old September 12th, 2006, 01:35 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Let's try to get this a little bit into perspective: My original post was a very direct response to some "enhancements" done in b/w to perfectly reasonably colour photos. Some of them I saw in this forum [several threads], some I saw on other fora or contests. Furthermore, my response was to the large number of immediately posted b/w renditions of pictures, particularly in the context of contests [this one is deliberate; I like wordplay].

It is not that I don't like b/w in general, as I point out in my original post, I do like [classic] portraits in greyscale. There are a lot of photos from editorial to landscape and architecture in b/w which I find brilliant. Look at some [definitely not all, he tended to make a worthwhile technique into a mannerism] Ansel Adams shots, or Man Ray, Helmut Newton, the Capas ...

Adams, Ray and Newton - from those I cite - deliberately used b/w, prying into it, looking for the boundaries of the material; the Capas and all the other editorial photographers had to use it because colour was expensive, complicated to handle, not reproducible on pulp, and not sensitive enough. Curiously it is moving pictures really showing the differences between b/w and colour, many classic movies from the late 40s till today use b/w to great effect. But they set out to do so.

There has been a great debate about colorisation of old b/w material. Some purists believe you should not take any changes to old films [disclosure: I think George Lucas was right to work on his original vision instead of letting Star Wars become the property of his fans] but the old Laurel & Hardy pics show very clearly the difference between those movies having been made in b/w because colour was too expensive and those films using b/w for effect [even if often dictated by cost].

Asphalt Jungle in colour? Some Like It Hot? Dr. Strangelove, Down by Law? Unfortunately the opposite way is in now way controversial. We take, as Asher notes, colour for granted, don't think much about it. The purely technical aspects of "accurate" colour, of colour management, of getting the same colour from the scene onto the monitor and then on paper [BTW, physically impossible]. But very few think of colour timing, of using colour for dramatic effects - not the big ones, advertising does that.

Anybody but me ever having to work on Elizabethan Theatre? Directors of the time had to come up with a lot of creative ideas to make the plays work for the audience, no curtain, actors whose characters just died stood up and walked off stage in full view, no open fire allowed, very little special effects or backstage machinery. One way to cope with the restrictions was dialogue, just let your characters say everything, perhaps over and over again. Another way was colour, just use appropriate colours throughout scenes to convey an emotion.

Many film makers still do it, it is especially obvious in horror and fantasy movies, subtler in drama and comedy. Sure, most films are done without considerations of colour but we are not talking the umpteenth teenager summer camp comedy here, are we?

My point about use of colour, b/w, or special effects* is that it has to be deliberate, it has to add omething to the menaing of the image. Let me rephrase that: the technique used has to bring out the specific menaing the photographer or [graphic] artist sees.

This thread originated in another one, where a pictorial discussion on the merits of blurring happened. In that thread I posted, without further comment, three photos, a musician, a joy ride and a bicyclist. All three had a certain amount of movement blur in them [as opposed to out-of-focus blur]. According to the typical rulings of style manuals two of them are rubbish and one is borderline.

Short analysis:

1. The joy ride photo has blurring in some people in the foreground as they move rather quickly. It is very blurry in the ride itself but tack sharp in the background thus providing a sense of motion in a static world, where the sharp elements give the viewer a reference point.

2. There's virtually nothing sharp in the musician's photo, everything is in movement, the subject, the camera, the photographer. Thre's no reference pont whatsover since even the colour is totally off.

3. Composition and blurring in the cyclist shot are abysmal; the photographer couldn't decide on what his subject is, the moving cyclist or the standing audience, both are blurry although the face of the cyclist seems to be superimposed from one blurred and one sharp image. The colour is a bit bright but the use of one basic (yellow) and one main supplementary (blue) lends the photo a superficial interest.

In all three cases the special effects - mainly motion blur - are part of the subject matter, they are not there for their own sake but to get out the esence of what is happening. And contrary to the classic analysis I have done above, it is not the cyclist I consider rubbish but the joy ride. It simply does not work - colours are alright, blurring is ok, composition is not bad. It just doesn't work, it's too bland.

The cyclist, OTOH, gives us exactly the emotional content of the scene because it shows both, the sportsman and the audience in motion - physical and psychological. [Aside: I used a sceond special effect for that, in camera.] I won't go into further analysis since any artsist interpreting his own works should be hanged. Let's just say that I like the music image very much.



*Since 'effect' has two meanings I use special as a qualifier here. Any work of art goes for effect, in the broad sense of 'aimed result' - anything has a result but not necessarily one aimed for. It may use effects, in the sense of special effect, to achieve this result.
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  #6  
Old September 12th, 2006, 02:47 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Hi Dierk,

I thank you for such a detailed response. I'll wait for Nicolas to give his responses. This is a good area to explore between you Nicolas and others.

I hope we'll get input from more B&W photographers, including people who have no issue with only trying a B&W version as a creative afterthought.

Does one have to have visualized the image in B&W from the outset?

Asher
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Old September 12th, 2006, 06:22 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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So who is shooting with B&W in mind?

Who shoots in color but sometimes just goes for color in the processing?

Asher
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  #8  
Old September 12th, 2006, 10:18 PM
Erik DeBill Erik DeBill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman
3. a form of art, perhaps the finest in all photography that is now released from many technical restraints. So now B&W is entering a bright new age of artistic expression uninhibited by time, cost and technical restraints of fine work with previous media. Further some capabilities of the new processes perhaps even allow artistic expression undreamed of hitherto fore.
I wouldn't say it's the finest form of art, or even that it qualifies as a separate art. However, if part your job as a photographer is to distill what you see into a coherent image, then isn't removing colors a perfectly valid technique for removing extraneous (distracting) information? Imagine a picture of a crowd. Everyone in the crowd is wearing different brightly colored shirts. If you want your viewers to pay attention to their facial expressions, it may help to remove all that color.

Also, because B&W has much simpler information, it makes it easier to manipulate. If you completely remove the green colors in an image, the B&W version will have dark foliage. The color version will look very strange. You can manipulate the relationships between the colors/levels of various things in the image with much greater freedom when you don't have to worry about making sure your skin tones look natural.
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Old September 12th, 2006, 10:25 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Eric,

When you make B&W photographs, do you plan them as B&W when you shoot or is this an afterthought generally or just as in your example, as the only solution to that multiple color shirt distraction?

Asher
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Old September 12th, 2006, 10:29 PM
Erik DeBill Erik DeBill is offline
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(the below was written while Asher wrote the above reply)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman
So who is shooting with B&W in mind?

Who shoots in color but sometimes just goes for color in the processing?
Sometimes I see something and think it will be best in all B&W. Usually, that means there's not much color to begin with. (example)

Sometimes I take a picture and later realize that B&W is the way to go. Some pictures don't work in color, but turn out very nicely when simplified into greyscale. (example)

And sometimes I can't see a picture in anything but color, from start to finish. (example)

I generally default to thinking of everything in color. B&W is something to pull out for the more exceptional cases. There's nothing noble about black and white. Sometimes it just makes a better image, and I'm grateful to the B&W afficionados that have helped me see that.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 06:59 AM
Erik DeBill Erik DeBill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman
Eric,

When you make B&W photographs, do you plan them as B&W when you shoot or is this an afterthought generally or just as in your example, as the only solution to that multiple color shirt distraction?

Asher
Sometimes I see something and think it will be best in all B&W. Usually, that means there's not much color to begin with.

Sometimes I take a picture and later realize that B&W is the way to go. Some pictures don't work in color, but turn out very nicely when simplified into greyscale.


And sometimes I can't see a picture in anything but color, from start to finish.

I generally default to thinking of everything in color. B&W is something to pull out for the more exceptional cases. There's nothing noble about black and white. Sometimes it just makes a better image, and I'm grateful to the B&W afficionados that have helped me see that.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 08:41 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik DeBill
Usually, that means there's not much color to begin with.
Which reminds me of a conversation I had as a child with some grown-up who wanted to tell me that winter photos - snow was the theme - are best shot in b/w. The only motive springing to my mind never to be shot in b/w.

Just reminiscing.
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  #13  
Old September 13th, 2006, 03:56 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Quote:
Today, color photography processing and printing is just a service and with a calibrated workflow, perfection whatever that is, is prety well close to be assured even for the dedicated enthusiast.
Asher
Sorry Asher, but I don't agree with you on this point.
Yes calibrated devices do help and are absolutely necessary.
However, for some photogs as me, that does not have an in house printer (you've seen those large prints produced from my files), the right man at the lab is still necessary.
I can tell you that the man who does the printing for me on the Lambda machine, knows (now!) how I like the blues… and the reds! he knows what kind of contrast I like and knows also how I do prepare my files. I never saw him, but we had long talks on the phone and years after years, no more speak is needed, just a call sometime to give him a particular indication.
And I'm not easily happy with a print! I can be tough with my judgements!

On other printing like offset CMYK, no photogs can even dream to have a printer in the studio! so you have to rely for book or brochure printing, on the prepress man (or woman) and the offset machine "driver" as well.

You may remember some of my posts about calibration in the early times of OPF, the all story proves that machines are great but when you need super qualtity, you need a man to drive them to your expectation.
And I'm happy with that!
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Old September 13th, 2006, 04:08 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Quote:
Erik DeBill
Imagine a picture of a crowd. Everyone in the crowd is wearing different brightly colored shirts. If you want your viewers to pay attention to their facial expressions, it may help to remove all that color.
Erik,
please do not see any personnal "attack" below :-)

maybe there is the real challenge for the photog to keep these colors, but to find the right lense and the right angle to drive the viewer to the facial expressions.
The one that knows how to do that is a real photog.

Converting in B&W would be a trick, why not just erase all except the faces then...

The color is inseparable of the life. Color *is* life.

I feel your mountain very well framed but with a great lack of c.l.rS
I love your photo of the insect in the red, the blue and the purple.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 04:28 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Just wished to say that, for me, Dierk, in his above long (!) post has say it all.

Understand me, some B&W jobs done contemporary may be very impressive and truly arts.

I do react to the "easy way" of converting to black and white or angle reframe (i.e. horizontal not to be horizontal anymore) AFTER a picture has been shot and when the photographer do find it too "poor" and try to add a little drama to it with the above mentionned tricks.

Want to do a B&W portrait? better know how to light your subject!
Want to turn a picture into B&W because colors are distracting? turn around your subject, tame it! change your lense, change your shutter speed (hear Dierk)! do something! don't wait for an easy redraw aka a photo you've seen before.

I am talking here about photography.
If you want to experience computer designing, this is a completely different thing.
But this is a different medium - as paint of course is - and all my comments wouldn't be the same.

We DO have to know in which category we're boxing!

Sleep well my friends <he said while falling from his sofa>
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Old September 13th, 2006, 09:11 PM
Erik DeBill Erik DeBill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Claris
Erik,
please do not see any personnal "attack" below :-)
No offense taken. This is actually a point of view that I held in the past, so it can hardly be offensive.

Quote:
maybe there is the real challenge for the photog to keep these colors, but to find the right lense and the right angle to drive the viewer to the facial expressions.
The one that knows how to do that is a real photog.

Converting in B&W would be a trick, why not just erase all except the faces then...
And if you don't have a different lens with you, don't have the time or opportunity to move to change angles, yet still want to make a moving image of the event?

To me, the goal is to make the best image possible. Doing that starts with equipment choice and ends when a "final" print hits paper or computer screen. Everything can't always be perfect at every step of the way. Maybe you can't afford the absolute best glass, or you can't carry the most stable tripod. Maybe you can't afford to spend hours processing and have to limit how much you manipulate the final file. You have to work with what you have available and make the best of it. Once an image is captured, you still have to make the best print out of it. The best processing, cropping and printing that you can. Sometimes, for a given RAW file, that means converting it to black and white.


Quote:
The color is inseparable of the life. Color *is* life.
I'm trying to make the best pictures I can. Sometimes the color is integral. Sometimes it detracts. I'm not going to insist on leaving the color in if I like the result better with the color out.

The only exception is when I'm trying to make a cohesive body of work. Mixing color and B&W can interfere with that, so sometimes it's best to stick to all color or all black and white when selecting images to be shown together.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 09:56 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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I don't believe any one avenue to great B&W photography is more valid then any other.

Certainly, neither color nor B&W photography are "true" or the "truth"

Unless one is photographing for documentary purposes, how one represents actual colors is an artistic choice.

The content, form and effectiveness of the picture makes it to some extent or doesn't.

I am not concerned with how easy it was to be produce, except to relate to the asking price, (a futile amusement in itself).

To respect workmanship to the nth, I'd look at photorealistic paintings instead. After all we could say that portrait photographers just don't have enough talent or time to paint their clients!

However, that is not our debate.

I am interested to know about the path to the creative end product. If the result is great, I'm intrigued to learn about the cognitive part of the creative process.

In this regard, it is interesting that Sean Reid, Ben Lifson and Rainer Viertlb&#246;ck all "see" and plan in B&W when they photograph for a B&W series. That impresses me since, although miracles of spontaneity do visit us, the planned execution of a vision is what Ansel Adams taught all his life.

Still, digital photography allows us to restart the creative arc at any point.

We are not in the darkroom but now looking at a screen, a window into a new world.

What I think now happens is that we get sidetracked. As we look at the screen, we can imagine new possibilities. In doing so, we may be starting a new but virtual shoot.

With my Eizo screen, that is a vivid world to get lost in and believe everything is "real".

So, when someone finds a desaturated version of a colored image more impacted, fine.

Just show it and put it next to a picture made with a vision from the outset and we might be surprised. I have no idea, at this juncture that would work for me best.

I do know that I'd have a good chance of appreciating the pictures released by the guys I mentioned, site, unseen, because they show great images.

Still, I'm not prepared to disrespect out of hand anyone that goes the rescue or impulse route in the middle of processing a color image. It is probably harder to excel this way, according to my gut feeling.

Asher
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Old September 14th, 2006, 04:03 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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We should differentiate a few things. What I - and presumably Nicolas - attack is the 'easy way' to "rescue" a poor image [or come up with an easy solution to a question probably not even asked]. At least I, and I do read Nicolas the same way, have nothing against a fine b/w image. Actually I do not care the least bit of how it was created as long as b/w is right [not as an absolute but for the subject and intention involved in a particular image].
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Old September 14th, 2006, 09:25 AM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dierk Haasis
We should differentiate a few things. What I - and presumably Nicolas - attack is the 'easy way' to "rescue" a poor image [or come up with an easy solution to a question probably not even asked]. At least I, and I do read Nicolas the same way, have nothing against a fine b/w image. Actually I do not care the least bit of how it was created as long as b/w is right [not as an absolute but for the subject and intention involved in a particular image].
Yes, I sign with Dierk
Not to forget also the kind of "à la mode" B&W pictures that are nonsense to me.
Shooting/printing B&W cannot be an easy way to give value to a poor pic, in that case, for me this is a non creative way.
Erik misunderstood me (well, my english) when I said to change of lense, or shutter speed or whatever, I was not reffering only about equipment but rather more to behavior in front of a subject.
When I don't feel the shoot, I move around. Body and brain, I try to forget the rules and find the way to frame what I see. I see colors everywhere. That's may be the reason why I'm so dubitative about modern B&W...
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  #20  
Old September 14th, 2006, 10:26 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Claris
Yes, I sign with Dierk
Not to forget also the kind of "à la mode" B&W pictures that are nonsense to me.
Shooting/printing B&W cannot be an easy way to give value to a poor pic, in that case, for me this is a non-creative way.
Erik misunderstood me (well, my English) when I said to change of lense, or shutter speed or whatever, I was not reffering only about equipment but rather more to behavior in front of a subject.
When I don't feel the shoot, I move around. Body and brain, I try to forget the rules and find the way to frame what I see. I see colors everywhere. That's may be the reason why I'm so dubitative about modern B&W...
No, Nicolas, your opinions and those of Dierk are not quite congruent.

As far as I can tell, Dierk has "nothing against dine modern B&W prints".

By contrast, you say

Quote:
Shooting/printing B&W cannot be an easy way to give value to a poor pic, in that case, for me this is a non creative way.
So there's a difference already. You appear to show rather less tolerance and admiration for even shooting B&W, albeit, by necessity today, with a full color camera.

As far as getting rid of colors at the time of processing, I would argue that if the end result is impressive, artistic, desired, carries emotional weight and presence it still can be a fine picture, rescued from rubbish or not.

Sometimes horrible colors, like the harsh shadows of noon sun need to be overcome. The latter with flash or reflectors or of course a light diffuser, the former by removing hideous distractions by removing the color. As I was driving along one street yesterday, almost everywhere I looked, the colors of stores were awful, yet the tones and shapes we interesting. I see nothing wrong with a sepia or platinum hue monochrome.

You are photographing the most beautiful blue and green seas and the skyscapes of God, The wood of the interiors are siennas from Italy. So why would you shoot in B&W?

Asher
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  #21  
Old September 14th, 2006, 10:27 AM
Nicolai Grossman Nicolai Grossman is offline
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Truly, no offense to anyone, but: who cares? Making and viewing art are completely separate things. This is all a matter of process, only relevant to the maker, and therefore irrelevant to everyone else. Why not just leave people to express their own vision? You can then like it or not based on yours. But this is like debating whether the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is good or not based on the fibers of the brushes used to paint it; to me, it misses the point entirely. Why not do what works for you and leave others to do what works for them?
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Old September 14th, 2006, 11:22 AM
Guy Tal Guy Tal is offline
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I treat color same as any other element in my frame (including form, tone, contrast etc.) - if it's a distraction from what I want to achieve - I leave it out. Simple as that.

I'm sure anyone can relate to issues resulting from having too much in the frame - one element distracting from another. These are resolved by careful composition, creating a visual relationship within the frame that leads the viewer to the element(s) the photographer wishes to portray. Now apply the same at a more abstract level - if your goal is to draw attention to form, lines, tonal relationships etc. then color is as much as distraction as a rogue branch peeking into your frame and should be judged by the same criteria. If your image needs it - keep it. If it distracts - leave it out.

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Old September 14th, 2006, 11:42 AM
Alain Briot Alain Briot is offline
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I thought long about where B&W fits within a digital workflow since almost all digital captures are color (except for the handful of digital SLR's that capture B&W files directly and digital scanning backs although even then it is really infrared) . Eventually I concluded that B&W is a unique step in the process of creating a fine art print, both from the technical and from the aesthetic perspective.

I have included B&W conversion in the 28 steps process that I follow and which takes my images from a Raw file or Scan to a matted and ready to display or sell fine art print. This 28 steps process is the focus of my new Printing Mastery Workshop on DVD which will be released either this week or next week.
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Old September 14th, 2006, 11:52 AM
Guy Tal Guy Tal is offline
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I have visited this tree several times over the last 5 years, always attempting to capture its unique and strance surrounding in color. I finally realized it's the lines and patterns that make the image, not the red rock. In my mind this, my first and only B&W version, is my best effort to date. Perhaps even my final as it relays exactly what I had in mind.

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Old September 14th, 2006, 12:01 PM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Tal
If your image needs it - keep it. If it distracts - leave it out.
No. I think this is far too little - for both kinds, Country and Western ... sorry, got carried away: Reducing the decision about colour or greyscale to 'does it distract?' does neither a good service, which is why I came up with some, hopefully universally known, examples from moving pictures.

I am not a big fan of Stanley Kubrick the film director [thinking about it, I don't even like Dr. Strangelove that much] but his career shows how colour and greyscale are much more than just distracting or needed. Look at the different ways of lighting within the cited movie, some parts are 1920's German Expressionistic horror, others use b/w to convey a documentary feel. Or look at the rather cool tone of the first half of Full Metal Jacket with blue and green dominating, in contrast to the much warmer orange tonality signifying passionate feeling [feer, anger etc.].
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  #26  
Old September 14th, 2006, 12:12 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolai Grossman
Truly, no offense to anyone, but: who cares? Making and viewing art are completely separate things. This is all a matter of process, only relevant to the maker, and therefore irrelevant to everyone else. Why not just leave people to express their own vision? You can then like it or not based on yours. But this is like debating whether the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is good or not based on the fibers of the brushes used to paint it; to me, it misses the point entirely. Why not do what works for you and leave others to do what works for them?
Nicolai,

My interest in this is from the standpoint of the creative process. I would like to know where intent starts, and what motivates creative decisions. It has been asserted that this is best done before the shutter is pressed. Then one is processing to "make" the image one is visualizing.

Or do people equally find they just rely on developing the vision from the pictures they took and if throwing out the color is part of that, so be it.

I, myself only care about the result. It either "works for me" at that moment or it doesn't. Sometimes I return to find that now "I get it" or now it has lost it's impact and that happens too.

However, when something does work, I am intrigued to know the why's and hows and what's of the very creation process, because it is instructive and interesting.

In no circumstances would I rank a photograph by how it was taken or processed, only by the actual feelings and thoughts it induces when I observe it.
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Old September 14th, 2006, 12:58 PM
Guy Tal Guy Tal is offline
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Quote:
Reducing the decision about colour or greyscale to 'does it distract?' does neither a good service, which is why I came up...
Sorry, but I take offense to the declarative tone here. You don't get to tell me how to make my creative decisions :)

If this is more of a complex issue for you than indeed you should give it due thought in your own process and come up with your own criteria. You should also accept that for others this may not be such an involved decision.

Not all artists think the same way or worry about the same nuances. If nothing else art is about freedom to express in whatever subjective mode chosen by the artist.

For me the decision is so simple that most times it is implicitly made in my mind before I ever trip the shutter. Some times, as I mentioned above I will try something in color and fail. To me that's a learning experience.

Guy
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Old September 14th, 2006, 01:15 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Curious.
I wonder why I can't remember about any artist that have made black & white paints (except abstraction and all kind of drawings of course).
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Old September 14th, 2006, 01:31 PM
Guy Tal Guy Tal is offline
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Nicolas - think pencil, graphite, chalk, charcoal etc.

Guy
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  #30  
Old September 14th, 2006, 01:47 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Claris
Curious.
I wonder why I can't remember about any artist that have made black & white paints (except abstraction and all kind of drawings of course).
There are many many B&W oil paintings, Nicolas. When you visit you'll see that we some locally to show you!

Durer, BTW, used B&W since he was good at it in the medium he used, the fine etching. That was an artistic choice and not matched by oils.

You have a particular issue with B&W and I definitely think it is due to your love with the sea and skies that without the wonderful colors would be a great disappointment to you.

You are obsessed, in a beautiful way with color like a lover, for his love who can see no other in the same way.

I am, I think, you must admit, more open, and perhaps it was because as a boy, B&W was the medium I knew and as a young man that followed in to spending days in the darkroom. I have come to admire B&W photography for itself, not for its representation of anything, necessarily, but for the feelings and thoughts it induces.

Asher
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