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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Go B&W In Winter

More than just a solution for bleak scenery, converting your images to black-and-white can give winter landscapes and sports action tremendous impact

This Article Features Photo Zoom

How To Properly Expose For Winter Monochrome Images
Perhaps the most important aspect of monochrome imagery in winter is nailing your exposure at the time of capture. It’s vital to have accurate image information across the tonal range to properly process your image on the computer.

Naturally, your camera’s meter will underexpose snow. You’ll most often have to overexpose a ½-stop to 1 1⁄2 stops to accurately render the snow as white instead of gray. The camera’s histogram is your best tool in assessing whether you’ve captured an accurate exposure.

Push those right-side highlight values as far to the right as you can, without overexposing or blowing them out. Pay attention to your left-side shadow detail as well, ensuring that you have adequate information to pull as much shadow detail as you like. If the dynamic range is too great, either consider which part of the image you’re willing to sacrifice (shadows or highlights) or crunch that dynamic range through the use of filters or HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing for exposure blending.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that shadows are there for a reason! There seems to be a bit of a trend in this digital age to pull detail out of every last dark area of an image, resulting in an unnatural image that’s over the top in detail and utterly void of defining contrast. Monochrome images rely on shadows to separate significant compositional elements, as well as give them substance and depth. Resist the temptation to overuse that Shadow/Highlight tool in Photoshop and embrace this natural compositional tool.

Additionally, don’t forget your landscape filters when capturing that monochrome keeper. Tried and tested since the days of film, the grad ND filter is an incredibly useful tool in keeping the hot parts of your image in check and capturing dramatic skies at their finest. A polarizing filter also is exceptionally useful in deepening skies and adding a little extra pop and contrast to puffy clouds.

How To Convert Your Monochrome Image
There are countless software programs and methods to convert a color image to monochrome, all valid in their own right. As a user of Aperture, I’ve become well acquainted with its RAW conversion, and I’m a huge fan of the monochrome mixer for monochrome conversion. A simple click converts the image to monochrome. The user then has latitude to manipulate the image further by adjusting the red, green and blue channel sliders.


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