Saturday, 11 December 2010

Exercise 15: Black and White

For this exercise I needed to choose a subject, lighting condition or photographic situation that I thought may look better in black and white. The image had to be shot in colour with the black and white version created during processing. In shooting I needed to ignore the colour element.

From NCFE Level 2
Composing and exposure for the black and white version meant I had to pay close attention to other details such as form, pattern and texture.The previous tasks have experimented with the degrading of colour saturation and this exercise moves on to full monochrome conversion. This was interesting for me to undertake. In my previous portfolio I was concentrating on the subject and matching colours/tones where possible.

From NCFE Level 2

In choosing the subject for this exercise I experimented with several images and ideas. Some I thought would make for a good conversion others I was not sure. I looked at some of the photographs I already had and wondered what one of my landscape shots would look like after conversion.

I thought it worked fairly well with the textures and shapes, however this wasn't taken intentionally for conversion. There were several different colours within this image and I was curious to see the result. Although I have seen very effective black and white landscape scenes (obviously Ansell Adams) admiring the work and being able to produce it are entirely different!

Due to the weather being snowy outside the house was scoured for inspiration and  eventually  a series of shots of my bathroom shelf were taken. Quite pleased with the conversion I liked the contrasty/high key effect achieved due to the bright lighting conditions and after during the post processing. However I do have mixed feelings as to if this was almost monochrome from the outset? There were no real strong colour stimuli to ignore but the choice of subject was made because of the form, shapes and pattern. I loved the way the vase refracted the venetian blind, the reflections and shadows in the image as a whole. The colours were not important, despite the fact all the products were from a set and of similar colour, it was the difference in opacity, materials and shapes of the packaging/items that I thought would make an interesting scene.

Due to the bright background and dark foreground, despite using a reflector, I had to make local adjustments to the exposure, this introduces a little noise on the tiled windowsill but the effect is minimised due to monochrome conversion.

My final conversion was of a decoration on my Christmas tree this time taking into consideration the different texture between the prickly tree and the smooth shiny decoration. The pattern of the needles reflecting in the metal angel added interest.

The default conversion was made using a black and white adjustment layer with adjustments made to the colour sliders , manipulating the RGB channels.

Thinking about taking an image specifically for conversion to black and white definitely made me concentrate more on the shapes, textures, form and patterns created by the subjects. I think that the framing and compositional techniques used were not that different from that had I been shooting for a final colour print. The colours could be disregarded. The first image taken in the bathroom was brightly back lit and I used a large piece of white cardboard to reflect some light back onto the bottles and soap box. The Christmas decoration was taken in very low light, with and a fairly long exposure. I could increase or decrease the exposure more as Black and White conversion is more forgiving with the extremes and any introduction of noise/digital artifacts has little or no effect on the final image.

Creative vision for shooting B&W takes a little training and this exercise has helped to show what can be achieved when concentrating on the aspects of contrast, key, geometry, volume and texture.

The course notes mention Cristoforo Landino, a 15th century writer/translator and poet who commented on many famous pieces of Renaissance art/literature, he introduced several terms to describe art and individual artists work which can help artists and photographers alike to view subjects as separate elements of composition, linear design and colour.

- imparting a sense of relief, or the illusion of three dimensions to a two dimensional rendering by virtue of tonality (Cristoforo Landino’s term).

On reflection I rather like B&W conversion ;o)

disegno- judicious use of line (as opposed to tone) to circumscribe forms (emphasis on contour and outline) (Cristoforo Landino’s term).

In 1481, the scholar Cristoforo Landino in the Preface to his Italian commentary on Dante's Divine Comedy, adapts Latin terms such as those used by Rinuccini to the vernacular so that they read ornato and artificioso. But he also uses terms which were perhaps more familiar to his Florentine audience such as prompto and divoto to characterize the individual styles of different artists


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