Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Study In Black and White Pt. II

So I've been trying to work on two specific aspects of my photography:

1) Shooting more/Taking my camera everywhere
2) Getting good looking black and whites

When I take my camera with me I take my 5D and my trusty 50mm 1.8 lens Read about The Most Important Lens here. I figure if I mess up the lens, its only $90 bucks...wish I could say the same for my 5D...but if that gets broken or stolen, its the perfect excuse to go get a 5DMKII :)

Most importantly, the setup is light and for the most part, people aren't intimidated by the small lens. Its the weirdest thing...people see a big lens on a camera and 1)ask questions 2)run from the field of view and 3) notice you (see #'s 1 and 2). These are all bad things when you're trying to get candid shots of whatever's going on around you. You don't want people to notice you and your big ass lens/camera because when they do, people get self conscious or they want to jack your gear.

So I took my camera with me to get coffee with my buddy Tyler this morning. We got caught up and then made way for Guitar Center...what else do you do on a Saturday?

Sure enough, Tyler started wailing away on one of the guitars and checking out some prospective amps...needless to say, the strings were smoking when he was done and all the other customers gave up and left the store knowing that they might as well give up having heard Tyler.

Prime picture taking session-

1) Dude is in his element and having a good time
2) Something is HAPPENING...there's the feeling of action and excitement
3) Cool backdrop that adds to the situation and help tell the story (when you see the wall of guitars, you know he's shopping around for a new axe)

These things add up to help make the ordinary a little more interesting.

A couple final notes -

I've been experimenting with not looking through the viewfinder. I tend to prefer what I get when I guess on my composition. In this instance, I held the camera out with my left hand and roughly pointed it at Tyler and took the shot. I used the light meter just prior (I shoot manual mode) to get the exposure about right and then reached my arm out and snapped the pic. It gives me a cool imperfection and an angle that I couldn't have gotten without making a fool of myself and being noticed and in so doing, missed the shot.

Finally, I dropped the shot into CS3 and used about 9 different layers to get this final product. Chanel Mixer/Dodge and Burn/Contrast/Liquefy/Exposure/Chanel Mixer2/Levels/Curves/Sharpen. Now I'm not saying this is the best method to getting killer black and whites...I know this still needs a lot of work but I figure it may help some of you. I spent a lot of time fiddling with the channel mixers and the levels/curves layers to get what I wanted. Here I was looking for a good balance of white and black (well duh - but seriously, looking for 'punch') and to minimize any 'muddiness' in the mid tones.



  1. Nice post! I do a lot of shooting without the viewfinder just to get interesting compositions. This is another very clean B&W and the guitars in the background look very cool.

  2. More nice work Rick! I do a similar thing somethings out on the street. Put on a wide angle set to f8 or so and walk around with the camera at my side popping away. No looking until you get home! Interesting sometimes.