Archive for the ‘Black and White’ Category


Saturday, December 27th, 2014


I was all excited the other day because it was sunny and I was finally going to get to go out and shoot. Then the fog rolled in.  So I decided to just do a camera walk around the neighborhood and see what I could do with the fog. The first thing I saw where these birds on the power lines so I just went to do a grab shot and one of the birds started to fly away. Well, there is a school of thought that photography is about capturing a moment in time and this image surely does that.  Since it was already close to monotone I went ahead and took it to full black and white by removing the saturation.  I also cropped it to put the flying bird at the power point and eliminate some other birds.  I like the simple graphic look of this image. I like that the two birds on the wires are facing in opposite directions and I like the diagonal lines. But it is the bird in flight that makes the image for me.

Day 53 – Mailboxes

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014


It’s been awhile since I’ve seen old school apartment mailboxes like these and I was especially happy to see that they actually had mail in them.  The mailboxes had been painted the same green color as the building so I thought a black and white treatment might be best.  I chose Topaz BW effects for processing and went with the tea green fall off filter which has just a hint of color left in.  I also had to do a little perspective adjustment first in photoshop.  I was on the fence about adding a border but in the end I thought this one would look good printed with some good space between the frame and matte.  Can’t wait to get into my new house so I can go full bore on mastering the fine art of printing!

Day 29 – Rogue River Bridge

Sunday, July 27th, 2014


One of the unsung wonders of the Oregon Coast is the beautiful bridges that were built in the 1930s to connect the coastal towns and complete Highway 101.  This one graces the Rogue River in Gold Beach.  I loved the idea of this image when I took it but the result was kind of ho hum.  It finally occurred to me to try it in Black and White and that did the trick.  I first cropped it a little and added a smart sharpen filter in Photoshop.  Then I took it into Topaz Black and White Effects and used a preset from the brown collection.  Then I added a vignette and a border.  Can’t wait to complete the collection with more pictures of the iconic bridges.


Friday, March 14th, 2014


Bored, bored, bored. Unsettled weather, nothing in bloom, winter subjects exhausted.  I have been looking for a three day window of decent weather (i.e. no snow) so I can get up to Colorado and try to find some Sandhill Cranes doing their mating dance.  It looks like I may finally make it Sunday through Tuesday but in the meantime I have been trolling the files again for something new to process.  This old phonograph just looked sad in the original color version but I wondered how it would look with a monochrome treatment.  I used Topaz black and white effects which offers a whole range of options.  I have to say I forget which one I chose and one of my beefs with Topaz is that when you go back in they show you your “Last used setting” but don’t tell you what it was if it was  predefined.  Note to self… “WRITE IT DOWN!” Anyway, I like the monotone (or was it a duo tone or quadtone?) look which gives it more of an air of abandonment.  I also like the texture and tones of the boards in the floor and walls which stand out more in this version.  I do remember that I then took it into Nik Color Efex Pro to add a scruffy border which seemed appropriate here. I have been scratching my head about whether Analog Efex Pro might also have something to offer here but I think the dust and leaves tell the story well enough without adding a lot of artificial scratches and stains.  I’ve also been trying to figure out what to do for my virtual gallery show next month and this one inspired me to lift up some of my museum finds and do a nostalgia theme collection.  Should be fun but I’d better get cracking ’cause the next couple of weeks are pretty full and then it really will be spring!

Cottonwood Tree

Saturday, January 4th, 2014






I originally planned to post my favorite image from 2013 as the first image of the year but I am getting bored with best ofs and recaps and 2013 in general so I decided to move forward and start with something new. (If you really want to see my pick for best of 2013 go to   Besides, after a month of cold weather, roof repairs and holidays I needed to get out of the house.  So I headed on over to Las Vegas (the one in New Mexico) National Wildlife Refuge to see what I could find.  Now, I have to say that one of my best wildlife photography days ever was my first visit to LVNWR back in January of 2008.  I’m not sure what is going on but the last few trips I have come up completely empty handed.

So, I decided this trip that if the wildlife weren’t showing up (and they weren’t) I would just be open to seeing what else I could find to photograph.  I did see a couple of hawks roosting in trees but they were not in places I could easily pull over and set up without scaring them away.

I had taken an interest in this old cottonwood tree the last time I was there but, intent on photographing raptors, I passed it by.  Unfortunately, this time it was about a half mile down a road behind a locked gate.  Fortunately, there was a hole in the fence big enough to shoot through with my telephoto lens.

When I got the image home the first thing I did was crop in to get more tree and less road in the picture. The clear blue sky didn’t really suit the mood I wanted to portray so I decided to go with a sepia toned monochrome. I used the Wet Rocks filter in Silver Efex Pro and added some contrast and structure.  I have to admit I didn’t really notice the tumbleweed in the road when I made the shot and I think it tends to overbalance the image on the right side.  But there really wasn’t much I could do about it given the locked gate and technical limitations (or maybe I should say economic since I just can’t afford a 600mm lens).  Anyway, I do rather like the shadow it casts into the road.

I added a lens falloff vignette which really helped to focus attention on the tree.  I can never resist the frames in Silver Efex Pro though I do have some concerns about how to make them work with a window mat but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.

Coquille River Lighthouse

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

coquille_river_light_3  Before    coquille_river_light_bw  After

This week I spent some time honing up my black and white conversion skills.  This image is one where I always liked the composition but it just didn’t work for me.  When I was cruising through the files looking for something to convert to black and white I saw this one and went “Ahah!” I think that the greys of the driftwood just clashed with the off white paint on the lighthouse especially in the warm early morning light.  So I took it into Silver Efex Pro and converted to black and white using the high structure filter.  Then I used control points to tone down the light on the front of the lighthouse and open the shadows on the darker sides.  Finally I added a warm coffee tone and a border.  Now I am happy.  The monochrome version I would hang on my wall.  The color I would not.


1923 Nash Roadster

Saturday, October 5th, 2013


As I was driving around Colorado last week looking for fall color I kept thinking to myself “you know, I’m really not a landscape photographer.”  And the truth is I had way more fun shooting the old cars at the Pioneer History Museum in Gunnison.  Though I added a lot to my hood ornament collection I really liked the lines and curves in this car front and decided to convert to black and white in order to focus attention there.  Nash, by the way, merged with Hudson in 1954 to form American Motors which was bought out in 1987 by Chysler.

Deck Chairs

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013


I took a workshop with George DeWolfe last fall.  He had been a student of Ansel Adams and he said that Ansel thought it took about seven years to get a print just right.  Well this image must be about there because it has been about six years.  I shot the image in color but the warm tones of the wood and the grasses all blended together.  I tried several versions of black and white but I still could not get the look I wanted.  Finally I found a treatment in Topaz Black and White effects that made the shadows cyan and the chairs a warmer almost yellow color.  Finally the chairs don’t get lost in the grass.  I added a light vignette and a grungy border around the edges.  With the right matting and framing this should be a winner.

Color Splash

Saturday, April 6th, 2013


This week I learned a new trick in Photoshop called color splash.  It allows you to convert an image to black and white while still retaining a splash of color.  In this case there is nothing quite as dramatic as a black and white landscape.  But in this image the flowers fade out in the conversion and we are left with a not very interesting image.  On the other hand keeping the yellow in the sunflowers gives us the best of both worlds.

Easy enough to do.  In Photoshop choose Selection/Color Range.   In this case I was able to just choose yellow from the dropdown image to select the sunflowers.  In some cases it works better to use the eyedropper tool to select your color or range of colors.  I then inverted my selection so that everything except the sunflowers was selected because I wanted to make everything except the sunflowers black and white.  I then added a black and white adjustment layer and voila!  That easy.  In this example I also adjusted the black and white layer by darkening the blues to bring out the mountains and the sky and adding a high contrast red filter to help bring out the clouds.