Photos from Sunday

>> Monday, August 04, 2008

Yesterday, I went with my friends Rose and Scott, and their little one Petal, to take pictures in a garden maintained by Scott's employer, TIAA-CREF. Here are a few of the pictures.

They also represent an evolving effort on my part to be able to create images that look a little like black and white film; some of these images are more successful than others--I'm getting better at it as I figure out which settings work best using GIMP, Linux's version of Photoshop.

Well anyway, that's the idea.


MWT Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 12:17:00 AM EDT  


I clicked all the way over here in wide-eyed breathless anticipation of your photos, AND THERE AREN'T ANY???!?!!!!!11111oneoneoneexclamationpoint!

I feel so horribly suckered. T.T

Eric Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 12:33:00 AM EDT  

Sorry, I was running behind this evening--wasn't even planning on doing a photo entry, but couldn't think of anything else.

Anyway, there are pictures now.


MWT Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 2:13:00 AM EDT  

Ah, much better. :) (Though now my first post makes no sense... oh well. ;) )

Nice work. I like the composition on the one with all the spheres.

Eric Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 7:27:00 AM EDT  

I will save you, MWT, from making no sense!

Oh... wait... yeah, um--I will save you, MWT, from making no sense on this particular issue this time!


MWT's comment refers to the fact I put up a temporary placeholder post that basically said "photos are coming" while I rescaled the images for uploading. (The original-sized images were taking too long for whatever reason.) When the placeholder was replaced with the real post, I discovered MWT had already been by, looking for the pictures promised in the title. My bad.

And thank you, MWT. Myself, I was particularly happy with how the ducks photo turned out.

Jeri Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 1:58:00 AM EDT  

These turned out great! I especially liked the composition on the one with the spheres and the one with the reeds in a row. The black and white experiment was very effective. :)

Ruby,  Friday, August 8, 2008 at 11:47:00 AM EDT  

These are really good shots. Did you shoot in black and white or color and then convert? I know it's digital, but my camera lets me shoot in black and white, but that isn't a good idea. You really lose a lot of data that could help when converting to B&W.

The compositions of your images are great, but your images need a little more contrast and pop. One way is to use the contrast controls in whatever editing program you're using. Photoshop has Contrast/Brightness, but even Adobe thinks it's a shitty tool.

The really cool way to do it is when you convert from Raw. You can then tell the image to make all the reds darker than greens, for example. You can use this way of converting from color to B&W in a variety of ways, from making subtle changes that help clear up a red complexion when shooting portraits to making the sky dark and foreboding in landscape photography.

We old timers used to have to place odd filters on our camera, or use film in ways the manufacturer didn't intend. But now you youngsters just have to click a few times to do the same thing.

Perhaps a friend who knows Photoshop like the back of her hand can help you out. And then you can go back to your gimpy little program and see if you can recreate it. ;)

Eric Friday, August 8, 2008 at 3:01:00 PM EDT  

Thanks, Ruby!

Shooting in RAW format, there is no color/B&W formatting, since the format stores all information about the camera's state when the shutter opens, including all color information received by the detector. If you use other formats, like JPEG, you can set B&W, but as you point out, doing so loses information (it's discarded by the format). JPEG is only recommended for sports photography and event photography (e.g. weddings) anyway; it's a lossy format, but the camera processes it faster and generates smaller files, so a pro sports (or wedding) photographer will use JPEG in conjunction with burst mode to make sure he doesn't miss an important piece of action like a home run (or the bridal bouquet being caught; a photog might go back to RAW format for things like the wedding portraits, since the format records more detail).

Or at least so I'm told.

A suspicion sneaks across my mind as I look over this that Ruby might already know all of this, as it's quite possible she was an art history major with some showings under her belt. Or not. I'm not going to check IPs to see if I presume too much or too little. :-)


I received some contrast advice from another friend as well; it's a setting in GIMP that I'll have to learn to tweak.

In the meantime, my methodology works something like this:

The first thing I do is decompose the image by HSV (hue, saturation, value). There are about eighteen different ways to convert an image to black and white depending on how much noise you want. I like noise, since my ultimate goal is to see if I can produce something that looks like those great old pics from Life and Time back in the '50s. Once you've decomposed by HSV, you discard the Hue and Saturation layers--this leaves you with a very nice (and a little noisy) black and white image.

I then add a flat grey layer. This will become grain. That layer then gets noise, and I can't remember what GIMP calls the setting, but the point is to try to achieve the graniness of film stock. The noise setting does some minor pixel displacement across the surface of the layer. Unfortunately, even with "random" noise, you get a kind of regularity with digital. The initial result is a kind of salt-and-pepper look, but once you add gaussian blur, it starts to look a little niftier.

The next step, per tutorial, tho' I haven't seen much difference, is to copy the original image layer and paste that into the grain layer. Hypothetically this brings out the dark-and-light contrasts you notice in film, but it may be more effective to play with contrast settings in the image layer. The friend who also offered contrast advice mentioned that the greats all use high-contrast even though they teach you not to in photo classes.

Then you make both layers visible. There's a term for this that I just can't remember right now.

My last step is to remap the colors using a set of color swatches available online (an equivalent is available for Photoshop), that adds the visual flavor of chemical development.

And then I hope it's not terrible and put it on my blog.

As a final note, I'm feeling better about GIMP after the other photo-expert friend (I have two in the meatworld) expressed some disdain for Photoshop, informing me that Adobe had really failed to keep up with things. In particular, he was completely unfazed when I mentioned that a friend had trouble loading Nikon RAW files in Photoshop: "Oh yeah, it doesn't do that, I don't know why," he said, or words to that effect, "but that's why people are starting to stop using it."

He made it sound like Photoshop was becoming the Microsoft Windows of the photo world. But then he is a Mac user. ;-)

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