Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Some subjects must be rendered in B&W or Monochrome because they simply lack color to begin with and they have excellent texture as well—such as old barn wood—then it’s a slam dunk. When color helps the center of interest or IS the center of interest than a B&W conversion will probably weaken the image. But, how many colors and where should they be within the frame? I’ve found in my studies of art that simplifying your color composition and placing powerful colors in one of the “crash points” by using “the Rule of Thirds” can make an image very powerful and not overwhelm the viewer. The point is when using color you must design the color composition into the image before you trip the shutter. If that not possible and you have a compelling subject, as in my example below, know that you will have some editing to do in “post”.

My Criteria to Convert Images to Black and White:

My basic philosophy on converting color images to B&W or monochrome has not changed since I was “shooting” film; the best B&W images have:
  1. Directional Light; that makes Shadows
  2. Good Blacks and Whites
  3. Texture and or Details
  4. A Strong Center of Interest
I think today’s example image meets my criteria….

f6.3 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 73mm
This image was converted to monochrome using NIK’s Silver Efex Pro-2. NIK is one of my favorite methods of conversion because it offers a lot of choices and styles as well as emulations; and it has 38 preset styles and 18 film emulation modes. 

My Process for this image:
  • Brought down the highlights in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) and made a jpeg.
  • In NIK Silver Efex I selected the Antique Plate1 preset because I wanted a warm-tone monochrome not just B&W.
  • Lastly I put a vignette on the image to darken the corners.
Here’s my original color version….

Original color version
This is a great example of color chaos! With this much uncoordinated color in a scene the viewer’s attention just bounces around all over the frame. In addition his lime green cowboy shirt was just not the classic, old time, cowboy style of image I was looking for!

That’s it for this week…Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask…’Til next week…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

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