Archive for Black-n-White Photography

The Weekly Photo – November 14, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, Image Processing and Software, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2011 by Darwin
Where's the Fire?

©Darwin Wiggett

Here’s the Ice, Where’s the Fire?

This photo was taken on the last morning of the Fire and Ice Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies which ended yesterday. Unlike most November tours, this tour we were given cloudy and snowy conditions. But even with the lack of ‘fire’ (sunrises and sunsets), the group of intrepid photographers made some great images.

One of the tricks I use in ‘bad light’ (e.g. overcast, grey days) is to set my digital camera to ‘monochrome’ so that the LCD of my camera shows B+W photos. I find it helps to strip away the colour to see compositions in B+W. Often there will be great images out there that speak to be taken even in the ‘crappy’ light. The image is a case in point. In colour it had no life but when I saw how it looked on the LCD in monochrome, I decided the photo was worth taking. If you shoot in RAW format the camera will display a B+W image on your LCD but record a full colour image in-camera which you can use to make B+W conversion later in post processing. I use Silver Efex Pro 2 as my default B+W conversion program (for a 15% discount on the software just enter darwin as the discount code on checkout). Stay tuned for great shots from participants in the following weeks most of whom used the monochrome setting on their cameras to mine wonderful B+W images in the moody light

For anyone wanting to see the new ice in the Rockies and hopefully to get a bit of fire to boot, there is one spot left starting this Wednesday (November 16) until Sunday (November 20). Contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge (info@aurumlodge.com) to for more information.

Inspirations – The Victorian Printer by Phil Morgan

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , on November 13, 2011 by sabrina

© Phil Morgan

Canon 5D II with a 17-40 L lens @ 26mm.  1/50 sec @ f/4. ISO 400

This image was taken at Blists Hill Victorian village, in Ironbridge (Shropshire UK) It’s an amazing place, recreated exactly as it would have been in the Victorian Era. I chose a slightly unconventional lens for portraiture here, due to the tight confines of the shop. I do however like the effect the wide angle lens has had on the foreground printing plate, and his hands in particular. Shot wide open at F4, in attempt to make the printer ‘pop’ from the background. The shot was composed to have the printer fairly dominant in the scene, while still allowing the viewer to see the ‘tools of the trade’ in the background. I am fairly pleased with the way that the final image turned out. The image was initially processed from the raw file in Adobe camera raw, and finished off in Photoshop. The mono conversion was carried out with Nik Silver Efex, which I find a superb piece of software. ~ Phil Morgan

Beyond the Trophy

Posted in Art of Photography, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2011 by Darwin

Samantha and I just got back from the SNAP! Photography Seminars ‘Weekend Workshop’ with John Marriott which, based on the feedback forms was a great success. We had a wonderful group of talented photographers ranging from absolute beginners to semi-pro shooters. Because our location was based in the heart of Banff National Park near Lake Louise it was hard for photographers not to wish for ‘good light’ for the sunrise and sunset shoots. Good light to most of us means richly-coloured skies and warm light skimming across the peaks. Well, the weather did not co-operate with these expectations and we were mostly met with overcast skies.

The problem with expectations is that they blind you to other opportunities which can lead to thrilling images. On the last day of the workshop we all went to Lake Louise at sunrise. Of course, there was no sunrise but instead it was cloudy, then fog rolled in, and then it started to snow. There was some grumbling about the ‘crappy’ light but where some people saw a curse of bad luck, others found inspiration. There really is no such thing as bad light (just bad attitudes ;-)). Below are two images made from the ‘crappy light’ that morning at Lake Louise that show that photographers with an open mind can create amazing images no matter what the conditions.

These two photos were the images that John, Sam and I felt were the most compelling of the weekend (all made in the ‘worst’ light by the way). To us these were refreshing and novel images of Lake Louise. How many more pink alpen-glow images need to be made from here anyway? To see more work by each photographer simply click on their photos. Watch in the future for new workshop offerings from Samantha and myself and new offerings from John Marriott.

©Wojtek Zlobicki

©Rosana Ramos

Inspirations – Gary Mitchell

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , , on October 23, 2011 by sabrina

© Gary Mitchell

This image of Adrina among the roots was made with my Canon 50D and 16-35 2.8 back in June of 2009. It was f8 at 1/100. Sounds great, right? Well, it’s also shot at 1600 ISO, because just prior to arriving at this location, the model and I had been trying to shoot in an abandoned space that was very dark. So I’d cranked up the ISO to try to get a workable shutter speed under those conditions — then forgot to adjust it back to my usual 160 or 320 before resuming outdoor shooting. For various reasons, a tripod was not practical for this location, so the high ISO actually worked out well. It did allow me to shoot at a an optimal aperture for sharpness and depth of field, plus a high enough shutter speed to get very good sharpness hand-held, so a little noise is a trade-off I can live with. I’ve exhibited a 16×20 inch print of this image and the noise does not detract in my opinion — being properly exposed and not having heavy shadow or solid areas makes noise less of an issue. Converting to monochrome in Lightroom, adding a little vignette, and some secret herbs and spices completed the picture. I frequently shoot RAW with monochrome picture style because it gives me a good preview of what the image will look like in B&W, which is pretty much my “native language” when it comes to photography. Of course, the RAW file gives me the option to use color when an image calls for it.

About the image, we were in pursuit of a purported waterfall in an area south of Dayton, Ohio, but I’d not had a chance to scout this location ahead of time. So it wasn’t until we were on the scene after a 20 minute walk into the woods that we saw the stream was nearly dry, and nothing even resembling falls in sight. But the roots of these two trees on the shore of the stream bed provided a lot of visual interest and possibilities. Adrina tried some poses in the little cubby hole on the right side of the trees — I like those shots, but finding the spot where she could stretch out among the roots was a clear winner. As serene as this image looks, she was contending with the usual spiders and insects, while still managing to look graceful. We worked the scene a bit more, as well as some other spots near there before we headed back to the car, but I was confident that this frame would be the standout from that location. ~ Gary Mitchell

Fall in the Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results – John Smeeton

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2011 by Darwin

Below are John Smeeton’s six favorite photos from the 2011 Canadian Rockies Fall Tour. Great having you on the trip John!

©John Smeeton

Abraham Sunrise

The adage “f/8 and be there” was surely intended for this shot. One of the many great things about a photo tour is that a skilled guide, like Darwin or Alan, can interpret the local weather conditions and take the group to where they can get the most out of it. Half-awake I hiked by headlamp with the rest of the group to the shore of Abraham Lake, set-up low looking eastward and came alive as the underlit clouds progressively exploded with colour over the next 20 minutes. It was a pleasure to stand there, cable release in hand, and admire nature’s artistry. Canon 5DMII, TS-E 24 f/3.5L II, 100 ISO, 0.8s, f/11.

©John Smeeton

 Aspen Impression

A long exposure captured the leaves’ and branches’ motion in the light breeze at this aspen grove near Preachers Point on Abraham Lake. I remember thinking at the time that a landscape painter would surely find this vista every bit as irresistible as did this landscape photographer. Thanks to some post-processing, I met the painter halfway. Canon 5DMII, 24-105 f/4L, 100 ISO, 65mm, 0.4s, f/11, Singh-Ray 5-stop ND.

©John Smeeton

 Aurum Vista

We walked down the hill from Aurum Lodge to capture the sunrise over Abraham Lake. I twiddled about and made some OK shots but I just wasn’t feeling the love. I decided to head back to the Lodge for a hot cup of coffee. I shouldered my tripod, took a dozen steps up the hill, glanced up and over to my left and voila! The majesty of the trees standing witness to the fog-shrouded mountains was not only a scene I just had to capture, it also energized me for another great day of photography in the Rockies. Canon 5DMII, 70-200 f/4L, 100 ISO, 200mm, 0.3s, f/11.

©John Smeeton

Canyon Study

This was taken under an overcast sky in the late-afternoon at the Kicking Horse River in Yoho National Park. It’s a three-shot HDR that looked pretty good in colour but the black and white conversion really emphasized the incredible texture in the rock formations. Canon 5DMII, 24-105 f/4L, 100 ISO, 40mm, +/- 2 EV bracket mid 1.3s, f/8, Singh-Ray 5-stop ND.

©John Smeeton

Mistaya State of Mind

I’ve lived in Calgary for 17 years, less than three hours drive from the Mistaya Canyon. I’m at a loss to explain how, until now, I was unaware of this photographer’s treasure trove that lay just a short walk beyond the tree cover along the Icefields Parkway. This was taken on the Mistaya River just upstream from the Canyon. Getting a bracketed three-shot capture while keeping the lens surface dry of the wind-blown rain was a challenge. Canon 5DMII, 24-105 f/4L, 100 ISO, 28mm, +/- 2 EV bracket mid 1/15s, f/11.

©John Smeeton

Waterfowl Confection

Even in the pre-dawn shadow the silent vista that greets you as you emerge from the trees to the edge of Upper Waterfowl Lake is awe-inspiring enough to almost make you forget to capture the images you came there for. Then, like a kid in a candy store, the challenge is to choose something to savour from amongst the limitless (but, at sunrise, time-limited) visual confections offered-up by nature. I like this shot, taken on a frosty morning, because it combines the serenity of the reflection and low-lying fog with the nobility of the sunlit mountain. Canon 5DMII, 24-105 f/4L, 100 ISO, 40mm, +/- 2 EV bracket mid 1/8s, f/11.

Inspirations – Independent by Matthew Connors

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , on October 12, 2011 by sabrina

© Matthew Connors

Canon Powershot S95 (1/320s, f-5.6, ISO 100)
edited in Apple’s Aperture 3
converted to monochrome in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2

I took this image during one of those fleeting, but frequent, moments of unpredictability common with children. My daughter was sunning on the driveway and the incongruity of her lying next to rather than on her towel was, at first, merely humorous to me. Then tonal contrasts in the scene caught my eye. The black concrete, the striped towel, and her shadow cast by the late-day sun would all be accentuated in a monochromatic image. I grabbed my nearest camera, a 5-foot step ladder, took the image, put everything away, and went back to whatever I had been doing.

I believed that I had documented a nice moment, but little else and was surprised with the positive response I received when I shared it. What I thought was a personal moment that exemplified an independent, non-conformer streak in my daughter – that I was all too familiar with – actually spoke to a wider audience than I predicted.

I was reminded by the response to this image that everyday there are unexpected moments and scenes in our lives that, if caught on camera, can typify a moment or share a story. These moments are easily overlooked because they are typically routine to us, but it’s hard to predict how what is ordinary to one person will be interpreted by others. ~ Matthew Connors

Winner of the Canadian Rockies Photo Contest

Posted in Monthly Photo Contest with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by Darwin

I asked five photographer friends, Mark and Leslie Degner, Alan Ernst (from Aurum Lodge), Royce Howland, and Roy Ramsay (from Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine) to judge the Canadian Rockies Photo Contest. Each photographer is intimately familiar with the Rockies and I wanted their opinions on the images. Of course anytime you judge art, you are going to get vastly different opinions and this was certianly the case where four different images were chosen as the ‘best’ by the five judges (only one image was chosen as best by two different judges – the winning image below). Nine images ended up placing in the top three spots. Of the images selected by multiple judges, the following images garnered the most votes:

Third Place:

Congratulations to Ian McGillvrey for his fine abstract image of Rampart Ponds in Banff National Park – see this link:

Second Place:

Two images tied for second place; Karen O’Grady for her wonderful image of Elbow Falls in Kananaskis Country – see this link.

And an infrared image made of Vermilion Lakes by Michael Jamessee this link

First Place:

And the big prize winner for a two night stay at Aurum Lodge and a portfolio critique by yours truly is Nigel Roberts, for his wonderful abstract of a forest burn in Kootenay National Park – see this link. Congratulations Nigel!

Inspirations – Jack Yong

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , on October 9, 2011 by sabrina

© Jack Yong

  1/250 secs f1.8 at ISO 200

Waking up in the morning with the sun’s ray streaming on my face, I was definitely an opportunity to look for something interesting to shoot. I found some green apples that my mum bought from the market and used it as my subject. As the kitchen window had a decent amount of sunlight, I’ve decided to use it as my light source. I used a wood plank for my background, and placed it on the kitchen table. Since the apple looks rather dull besides its interesting colour, I sprinkled some water over it to add some details and a bit of reflection on it. I used my prime lens, the 50mm f1.8 , with an exposure time of 1/250sec , and a wide aperture f1.8 . I set the ISO to 200 to avoid any harsh grains on the apple.

I processed the image to black and white and a little touch up to give a different perspective view on the apple and also to enhance the beauty of it. ~ Jack Yong

 

Fall in the Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results – Doug Keech

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2011 by Darwin

Below are the six favorite images from Doug Keech. Doug kept us in stitches with crazy stories of his dad beating him with a Globe to cure his travel urges.

©Doug Keech

Autumn’s Elegance

This image was shot into a very bright sky with a telephoto lens. I isolated this aspen branch that was being magically backlit by the sun. Canon 5dmii, 70-200 f2.8L at 115mm, 400 ISO to stop motion, 1/800s, f5.6, Singh-Ray LB Warming CPL.

©Doug Keech

Emerald Lake

I’d never been to Emerald Lake before, but as soon as I saw it, it looked like a pano would be nice. Since we only had 20 minutes at this location, I worked fast at getting the tripod level and secure. I took 9 exposures bracketing plus and minus 1 ev at each position. Canon 5dmii, TS-E 24mm f3.5LII, 100 ISO, 1.0s (base exposure), f11, Singh-Ray LB Warming CPL and 2 stop hard edge ND grad.

©Doug Keech

Mistaya

The Mistaya River above the canyon with the large rock for a foreground looked like a pleasing composition to me. I added the graduated fog in post for the effect, to add to the overall mood of the image. I think it works here. Canon 5dmii, 17-40 f4L at 23mm, 100 ISO, 30s, f16, Hoya 8 stop ND.

©Doug Keech

Preacher’s Point

This was an extremely windy morning so I wanted to use the motion to my advantage. I shot a 3 exposure vertical pano then blended them together in post. Canon 5dmii, TS-E 24mm f3.5LII, 100 ISO, 30s, f11, Singh-Ray LB Warming CPL and 2 stop hard edge ND grad.

©Doug Keech

Wind & Water

This was another very windy morning. I wanted to capture not just the skyline, but the waves crashing in on the shore. In post, I decided to go a little more monochrome adding to the feeling of coldness and the grey morning it was walking along the lake. Canon 5dmii, 17-40 f4L at 17mm, 100 ISO, 0.3s, f16

©Doug Keech

Man & Nature

This impressionistic image represents man’s unbreakable connection to nature – a solitary photographer walks the shoreline of Abraham Lake as he experiences the vastness and beauty of a wilderness. I used the out of focus highlights and the contrast of shape against shore to depict what I was going for here. Canon 5dmii, 70-200 f2.8L with 2xII (400mm), 100 ISO, 1/500s, f5.6.

Inspirations – Ratcliffe Power Station Study 5 by Mike Spriggs

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , on September 21, 2011 by sabrina

© Mike Spriggs

Canon 40D with 17-85mm Lens, Focal Length: 85mm
60 secs @ f/25 ISO 100, Manual Exposure

During the winter months I quite often head out to photograph cooling towers of coal fired power stations. The cloud formation created is always greater during the colder winter months which makes for a much more dramatic image. In England, there are very few coal fired power stations still in commission and I think it’s important to document them whilst they’re still here. More recently I’ve been photographing them a lot more using a 10 stop neutral density filter. I like the calm surreal feel that a long exposure brings to moving cloud. I love the hyperboloid shape of the cooling towers too. It’s fascinating how the light and shadow changes on them at different times of the day. As the sun moves round, one cooling tower might start creating lovely curved shadows across a neighbouring one. These shadows can move quickly, but with patience and observance the resulting photos can be well worth the effort.

With this particular photograph, I opted for a tight crop using all of the available 85mm zoom. The strong afternoon low light played a key part in the visual strength of the final image. In post processing I made a curves adjustment to increase contrast and did a small amount of dodging and burning. ~ Mike Spriggs