Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

black and white-- monochrome

One of the things I enjoy doing with the computer is turning color photos into black and white. The possibilities are endless. A black and white photo often changes the whole feel of an image. You see shapes where none appeared before. The whole meaning of the photo can change. A failed photograph can become something new.

When I was growing up, black and white was what almost all photos were until somewhere in my childhood where color film became more available if more expensive. After awhile color was all there was; and if I wanted to buy black and white film, which I still liked for interesting geometric shapes, I had to find a specialty photo shop to develop it-- if more expensive.

Today with digital, anybody can take photos in color, then easily transform them to black and white when it will improve the photograph. To illustrate, I am using one photo of how it can work.

In mid-July, I decided to take some self timed photos with my Canon Rebel. I had bought a new top that was peasant in feeling. I thought if I set the composition right, I could have nature, Kwan Yin, and Buddha in the background representing male and female spirituality with the woman in foreground representing physical life. Interesting concept, right?

Although I took several of these, the color actually proved a distraction. This one was the best composition but as you can see, way too dark. Still, it had all those highlights and seemed worth fooling with it. When I lightened the picture, the color wasn't accurate. Besides in a way, I did not want this to be a photo of a person but rather an idea. That's when I decided to turn to monochrome.

Most photo software has such a tool. I use Corel PHOTO-PAINT 7. With it, you go to Effects--> Photo Lab--> Monochrome.

As a black and white, it seemed to me it would be stronger yet if I cropped it tighter which is the top photo. I still wanted one of the spiritual influences to be in the background. Kwan Yin being female seemed best. I needed to move her closer to the woman to link them together. This can be done with the free-form mask tool, copying the new object, bringing back up a new, enlarged picture, pasting the new object where it's wanted it. This seemed to me to create a whole new emphasis from the photo-- all from what was a failed photograph.

If a photo is washed out, there isn't much you can do about it but if it's too dark, often there is enough information, to salvage something-- or create something totally new.


Sylvia K said...

Always enjoy seeing what you do with photography and I'm so impressed with your results. Hope I can do half as well when I finally find that digital camera that I'd like to have and can afford!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

OY! Blogger did something to my comment...AND it was long and complicated...lol!
I'll try again later. Hope it "takes" this one!

Paul said...

You are a beautiful woman Rain!!! :-)

Dick said...

Digital photos are much like color slides in that underexposure is far better than overexposure. Overexposure gives you blown out highlights and there is no way to bring them back.

I hope to be able to take a class at the local college this fall on using Photoshop. Somehow I do better if given specific deadlines than when I try to follow some of the do-it-yourself type books. I just use Photoshop Elements but much of what works with the full program will also work with Elements.

Parapluie said...

What a wonderful job you did on the photograph. I did not notice the paste job until I read your blog.
Black and white photography is by association an art form.

Kay Dennison said...

I love black and white photograophy! And this is a great photo!