First steps into the world of Black & White

kurzvorzwoelfkurzvorzwoelf Stuttgart, GermanyPosts: 27Registered Users Big grins

Since I'm a big fan of black & white photography, I've been experimenting with B&W conversion in my post processing. The following images are the first results from stepping into this world.

  1. A Soviet-era public telephone, found in St. Petersburg (Russia)

  1. A side canal to the river Neva, near the historic centre of St. Petersburg.

  1. A falconer arguing with his bird, a Black Eurasian Vulture

  1. Dying plants in autumn

Feedback - especially criticism - is welcome and greatly appreciated.

Wise words from the Dog of Wisdom: If your ball is too big for your mouth, it's not yours.

My SmugMug site -


  • JuanoJuano Major grins Brasilia, BrazilPosts: 2,953Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 29, 2017

    I hope you don't mind my boldness :smile: Good work, keep them coming...

  • kurzvorzwoelfkurzvorzwoelf Stuttgart, GermanyPosts: 27Registered Users Big grins

    Juano, thanks a lot for your straight forward and objective feedback, thus giving me the opportunity to learn.

    For #1, you're very right, there is a little too much brightness on the right side. I have reprocessed the picture a little, and also straightened it to the top of the phone, the result can be found below. I think it indeed looks more appealing that way. I also tried to crop "quite a bit" from the left side, but couldn't do so within the original proportions of the picture without losing too much of what I consider important parts of the composition itself (the phone cord). So I changed the proportions. I do like the uncropped version a little better, tho.



    For #2, the contrast in the lighting of the water was the main "feature" of why I chose to make a B&W version. The colored one looks rather dull, and yes, the composition is not optimal. When I took it, it was more of a snapshot type image. I still gotta learn to take my time taking photos, finding the right spot and moment. I guess this is one of the hardest parts when you're used to "shoot anything and everything" that happens to appear in front of your smartphone :)

    For #3: Oops, good spot. Gotta inspect & clean that lens.

    And finally for #4, yes, where ever my focus went for that shot, I don't know. I know that the lense I used can produce some super crisp and sharp images (I have proof :) Maybe that problem stems from the same roots as described for #2, not taking enough time to get the shot right. Probably I also should take more time with the focus peaking feature of my camera, to see whether I focused correctly.

    Anyhow, again thank you for pointing me to the objective issues and also for the encouraging words!

    Wise words from the Dog of Wisdom: If your ball is too big for your mouth, it's not yours.

    My SmugMug site -

  • CavalierCavalier Life is a Bokeh Foresthill, CaliforniaPosts: 1,748Registered Users Major grins

    Actually, I like #4 the way it is. And the argument between man and bird is well captured. Those two are my favorites. Your crop and editing of #1 looks good and #2 just doesn't do much for me,.

    Spoken as a 'lazy' BW editor (I do as little work as possible whenever I can :) ), your first foray into BW is a success!

  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainPosts: 17,972Administrators, Vanilla Admin moderator

    It looks like you've jumped right in to the world of high contrast B&W. Most newcomers take a more timid approach, so I salute your courage. I'm a big fan of high contrast myself, but it took me a long time to get there.

    Now, then. I think you need to think more carefully about when it's OK to force the shadows to black and when it's not. The question you need to ask is, am I losing anything of interest or not. When there's a strong, well-lit central subject, it's usually OK. But in #1 you are losing most of the detail of the telephone handset, which I would consider part of the subject. It's more important than the brick wall on the right, so I'd open the shadows up some. In #2, much of the shrubbery is plugged, but I'm not sure it really matters as I think it would be boring even if every leaf stood out. Sorry if that sounded harsh, but like Jo and Cristóbal, I can't get very excited about it. #3 is my favorite of the set. It has no shadow detail at all, just silhouette, which works perfectly in this case. The conversion is fine in #4, but I don't much care for the composition. Maybe chop a lot off the left or reduce the severity of the vignetting, dunno.

    Hope this helps.

  • JuanoJuano Major grins Brasilia, BrazilPosts: 2,953Registered Users Major grins

    I like the rework of #1, and prefer the uncropped version. It would be interesting to see the result opening the shadows a bit as Richard suggests. Welcome to the forum!

  • StumblebumStumblebum I shoot, therefore I am Posts: 6,872Registered Users Major grins

    3 is very cool!

  • kurzvorzwoelfkurzvorzwoelf Stuttgart, GermanyPosts: 27Registered Users Big grins

    Thank you all for the feedback, criticism and also the kind words! This is all very valuable for me, and I really appreciate the time you took for review and commenting.

    @Cavalier, I wish I could spend less time editing (although it's rather fun as well) and spend more time on actually taking pictures. So, I guess the lazy editing approach is the better one, but for that one needs a good source as substance. I'll be working on it :)

    @Richard To be honest, I wasn't thinking a lot about categories of approaches to the B&W conversions when I processed the pictures. I do like extremes, not only in visuals, and I just went and created what I deemed to match my likings. Therefore, I wouldn't call it courageous, but maybe rather naivety or simple-mindnesness :) You are right about that it's important to think more carefully about the conversions, especially when it comes to shadows and highlights and what might be lost. Sometimes, lost detail greatly adds up to a given scene, sometimes not. In the case of the telephone, I thought hiding the handset in the shadows would add some subtility to the overall composition. However, upon your suggestion I tried to lift up the shadows to retain more detail on the handset. The result is attached. Because of the lighting in the original and the fact, that the handset is quite black, that was not an easy task. But it was fun and also I learned new ways of handling my post processing tools :)

    Oh and regarding the #2, don't worry about harshness. I ask for honest opinions and I'm prepared to receive them. And yes, also these help me a lot.

    Here's the next rework of #1:

    Wise words from the Dog of Wisdom: If your ball is too big for your mouth, it's not yours.

    My SmugMug site -

Sign In or Register to comment.