Continuing the Journey into Black and White

Recently I’ve been exploring the realm of black and white photography, specifically the conversion of digital color images to B&W.  I went back to Del Mar Point and also to one of my other favorite Sea Ranch haunts, Walk-on Beach to capture a few more images of this rugged landscape.  The multi-textured rock formations really provide a great canvas to play with B&W imaging; they’re highly textured and the deep crevices provide ample shadows for artful contrast.  I wanted to stay with B&W again because I realized it’s really a very different aspect of photography than color and I wanted to try to at least work through some of the basics of B&W conversion.  In general what I’ve been doing in terms of workflow is to first shoot in color and do the basic RAW image conversion in Photoshop CS5.  I also decided to fully process each image as if it were going to be a color image and then do the conversion to B&W using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro2 for the B&W conversion.  I felt that getting the color (tone and contrast) right first helped get the B&W image I wanted.

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The first four images above were taken at Del Mar Point using a 10-Stop ND filter (“Black Glass”) to allow for an exposure long enough to smooth out the moving surf into a nice smoke-like fog.  As I mentioned in my prior posting on this subject, these rocks exhibit some color variation, but I think there is somewhat greater variation in the texture of the rocks making them more suitable for B&W.  It’s still difficult for me to “See” an image in B&W when I’m out on the rocks looking at a scene, but with practice I’m getting a little better at it.  The old large and medium format Land cameras were good for B&W because the image was displayed upside down in the view finder making it easier for the photographer to just focus on shapes and shadows.

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The last five images above were taken at Walk-on Beach and were shot using a standard circular polarizing filter.  The coastline here is really a case study in coastal geology as well as a visually exciting place to shoot.  Even though the rocks don’t change much day to day, every day is different in terms of light, clouds, wind and surf conditions. All these factors work together to make for a wonderful place to photograph and to just hike around for hours on end. The journey continues!

Equipment: Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens, Oben Tripod

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