Thursday, January 23, 2014

Curves, Curls, and Customization

Simple subjects and simple compositions can result in some of the most powerful images. This single lotus leaf at a small pond is a good example. The simplicity of the subject is enhanced even further by converting it to black-and-white.

The leaf was angled by tipping the camera slightly. Oblique angles or diagonals generally add interest or visual tension in any art form, and if your subject is straight up and down, a simple tip of the camera can enhance the most basic of subjects.

A variety of shapes and textures can also add visual interest to a simple image. This leaf has nice curves at the edges, straight lines in the veins radiating from the unseen center of the leaf, and branching veins visible on the underside.

The background is darker than the leaf with minimal detail, allowing the leaf to take center stage. A busy background would have detracted from the power of the main subject.

The conversion to black and white is successful largely because of the difference in tone between the top of the leaf and its underside. The lighter green of the underside becomes a very light gray in this version, and the darker front of the leaf becomes a much darker gray. Those tones are enhanced by the very dark background.

This entire conversion to black-and-white was done in Lightroom. There are several different ways to convert a color image to black-and-white. My personal favorite is Lightroom since it provides quick and easy options and controls. There are pre-sets that come standard with the software, and there are also sliders that you can control individually to get the exact range of tones you want. This image was done by using the sliders, which enabled me to make some areas darker and other areas lighter. Control and customization are the key elements that allow you to make rich, deep, black-and-white images.

Shutter Speed 1/320 sec.  Aperture f/5.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L IS.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.”  --Dorothea Lange

[There are still some spaces available in the upcoming Lightroom Unleashed workshop to be held in March in Richmond, Virginia. Information here  The deadline for the special discounted rate has been extended to January 30.]