Pet Photography Project 52, Week 2: Black & White

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.

sooc_snow_color

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.

comparison

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?

edited-snow_bw


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.

19 thoughts on “Pet Photography Project 52, Week 2: Black & White

    1. Thanks, Kim! Committing to a photo-a-day was the most beneficial thing I could have done when I really wanted to start learning my way around my camera as I learn best by doing. I love being able to look back and see a snapshot of my everyday life over the years; each photo triggers a memory or feeling from the particular day it was taken and that is so meaningful to me.

    1. Kathie, a photo-a-day is a definite commitment, but it has become such a part of my daily routine, I can’t imagine not doing it!

  1. I love both of your images – I think it is Hunter’s eyes! The black and white version is really striking, while the warm tones of the color version draw me in. I really enjoyed reading and seeing your thought process too!

    1. Thanks! Hunter certainly does have some intensity behind his eyes. You can always tell what he’s thinking.

  2. A photo a day – good for you – that’s awesome! I love that you posted both the color and black and white. I admit, though, I love Hunter’s coloring (the different browns) and those amber eyes, so I am drawn a bit more to the color version 🙂 Your connection with Hunter in the photo is amazing! The eyes are in perfect focus! Great post, Jessica!

    1. Darlene, thank you! You totally nailed it about his coloring; that’s why it was quite the challenge to choose.

  3. I love that you showed the before and after – it really shows the full effect of it this way and I have to agree, it’s a much more striking photo in black and white!
    Also very impressed that you’ve managed the photo-a-day challenges for so long! The longest I’ve ever been able to stick to it is a week haha, life always has a habit of getting in the way unfortunately but I do definitely need to start picking up the camera for personal projects more often!

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