Those of you who follow my personal Instagram account may also know that, in addition to participating in this blog circle, I am in my third year of a fun personal photography project in which I take a photo-a-day. The majority of my images for that project are inspired by prompts from Capture Your 365 whereas other days I borrow ideas from the Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day community or venture completely off-prompt. Where the inspiration for the photo comes from is not nearly as important as the act of taking a daily photograph (and I am happy to report that I have yet to miss a day since starting back in June 2014). Through this project, I taught myself how to use the basic functions/settings on my DSLR, how to shoot in manual mode, how to read light, how to improve my composition, how to edit in Lightroom and Photoshop, and a variety of other technical aspects of photography. Over time (and with consistent practice), I developed an awareness of my photography style and editing preferences and I began to notice patterns in my photos.
Like last week. Almost all of my photos with the exception of an incredible New Year’s Day sunset that demanded color have been black and white. (I blame Pittsburgh-in-January’s blah weather.) That said, how convenient it was that this week’s Pet Photography Project 52 theme was black and white.
There are several considerations that determine if I convert an image to black and white in post. They include
- an overly cluttered or overwhelmingly colorful background that takes away from my subject(s),
- a subject(s) clothing clashing with the overall scene or feel of an image,
- my creative vision, particularly if I want to convey emotion, create more impact, or enhance contrast, and
- the desire to reduce the appearance of noise, a type of visual distortion similar to grain found in film photographs.
It’s been a few weeks since I did a before-and-after post so I thought I’d use this theme as an opportunity to show how I convert my images to black and white. Let’s use this snow photo for example.
This image is straight out of my camera with the exception of a quick white balance adjustment in Lightroom. I like how the warm colors of Hunter’s fur pops against the snow, but I do not like all those brown dead leaves. My eye is drawn all over the frame by these dark spots, which meets my black and white criteria number-one: a cluttered background that takes the focus off my subject. I also find myself distracted by his bright blue tag, which clashes with the warm orange and brown tones of his fur and collar. (Black and white criteria number-two: check.) Lastly, I wanted to really up the ante on the contrast of Hunter’s dark markings against the fresh white show; and with that we just met black and white criteria number-three.
Here is a quick side-by-side comparison of my conversion to black and white. You may notice, too, that I did remove many of the clumps of dark leaves (and Hunter’s tags) using content aware in Photoshop.
A few basic tweaks in Lightroom paired with my go-to black and white preset leaves us with this final image. I feel it is much stronger in black and white, don’t you agree?
The Pet Photography Project 52 posts are part of a blog circle. To see what the next pawesome pet photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “Black & White,” start with Elaine Tweedy, I Got The Shot Photography, serving Northeastern PA. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle and you’ll eventually find your way back here.