Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spending time with my camera

Storm clouds

I have been spending time with my Nikon D90 and my newest version of post processing software: Corel Paintshop Pro 4X Ultimate. So much time you would think I was enrolled in a post graduate level photography course. And in a way I am. I am using other photographers I know as my instructors and dissertation committee. I consider the things they post as assignments and take to the street or computer.

Terry Atkins Rowe has posted several very illuminating links on our D90 Ladies Club page on Facebook. And they have served as my text book. A recent one she posted was on achieving good black and white photographs. Frankly since I left my darkroom at college I have not been successful with B&W. And having my sister and friend, Terry, excel at it has been a bit intimidating.

My natural tendency is to quit the table when I don't like the game or lose a lot. But this is about me, my camera and my computer. It is an inner competition with self and not just about photography. So armed with camera I set out. The really great thing about the digital era is photography becomes a really cheap activity once you have the camera, lenses, and software (and ignore the I-really-want-this-list).

The above picture was really fantastic in color. I tried it in B&W because very active skies are suppose to be very good for B&W and a photograph I saw at a Taos art exhibit this weekend proved clouds could be just as stunning without color as with. The picture leaves just a hint of lilac in it and the one below with just a bit of blue.

Then there was the raven. I have finally managed to lure one close enough to get a picture but it was through thermo pane glass which was anything but clean. The grass it was standing on was anything but brilliant green and ravens are black. The composition of the photo was solid so why not. I am a believer you cannot save an awful photo regardless of what you do in the darkroom, dry or wet.

It is necessary for B&W I have read to have light from one direction. This picture was taken in the early morning and light was coming from the direction of the bird's tail and gave great definition on the feathers because of it.

Textures are also suppose to be a good thing for B&W so when I downloaded this picture of a ram at the Taos Wool Festival I was immediately drawn to the textures around the face and neck of this beast. This photo is good in color in its entirety but the sun coming from the butt of the sheep washed out all contrast on the rest of the picture. So I cropped down to the most interesting textures before taking out color. Totally B&W in this and the raven.

So in conclusion I have learned a lot. In part that those that do a lot of B&W post processing are quite likely considering that when they take the picture: Texture, active skies, strong light source from an oblique angle, etc. That in and of itself gives them a huge spring board for black and white photographs. It isn't just something you do with a bunch of pictures you took which failed in color. But the same things that make for a good black and white photograph also add to a good color photo.

Next lesson is to go out with camera and shoot specifically for black and white.  Lesson after that is shoot for color pictures and find out if my black and white experience as improved the shots I get.

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