Tag Archives: Black and White

Mono Lake Drama

Mono Lake is one of my favorite places for photography.  My wife, 3 small dogs, and I make an annual trip to the Eastern Sierra for Fall colors and I always try to make the short trip to Mono Lake.  This year was no exception.

As usual, I brought along several cameras.  The lineup included my Olympus E-M5, Sony RX100, and Panasonic FZ1000.  So far the FZ1000 has seen the most use, followed closely by the RX100.  Sadly the E-M5 has seen no use (the trip isn’t over just yet).  Why the FZ1000?  Because it is the most versatile camera I have ever owned.  I used it to make photos of everything from the Alabama Hills and Eastern Sierra under nothing but moonlight, and to take quick snaps of a herd of deer passing through camp, handheld in low light.

Getting back to Mono Lake. I had a lot of fun with the FZ1000.  The clouds were really dramatic on the day of my visit.  They were so dramatic that they almost didn’t seem real.  I’m sure Mono Lake has had millions of photos made of it.  One of the things I like to do is see if I can find something different, something unique to set my photos apart.  The stormy sky was a big help with that!  The other thing I did was try out some of the different artistic modes available in the FZ1000.  I did shoot normally (RAW, aperture priority, ISO 125/200), but also made quite a few photos using the “Dramatic Black and White” mode.

Here are the results in Dramatic Black and White:

And just for fun, here are some in color (edited from the original RAW files):

I know there are some of you that are wondering if a camera like the FZ1000 is for you. Nobody can answer that question for you but you. But based on my experience using this camera, I can say with confidence that it is an amazing camera! Yes, it is considered a bridge camera (not a DSLR), and it has a 1″ sensor vs cameras with larger APS-C and M43 sensors. And one more thing, it really isn’t that small. In fact, it’s quite large compared to my E-M5. On the plus side, it is quick and easy to use. And not having to change lenses is huge! I carry it and a few other supplies in a small messenger bag. I think the image quality is excellent, and I’m able to tweak the RAW files as much (or little) as I want. Don’t count this camera out (or one like it) just because of its sensor size!

That’s it for this post, until next time Happy Shooting!

Tell a Story

Wow, I just realized how long it’s been since I posted last.  Sorry, it’s almost shameful!  This time of year isn’t my favorite and I usually just work though it, hide from the heat, and wait for Autumn!

One of the good things I have going for me is a library full of images that I can go through, deleting some, and trying new editing techniques on others.  If you’ve followed any of my other posts or have seen my work on other websites, you know how much I love to post process my images.  To me, that RAW file is like a film negative, waiting to be developed.  I’ve gone from not processing an image at all, to over-cooking them with too much HDR!  As time goes on, I’ve tried to cut back on that and have gotten much more into black and white and the aged/antique look.

Another thing you probably know about me, if you’ve read any of my previous posts, is how much I love air shows.  Over the years I have shot literally thousands of frames of planes doing everything from sitting on the ground to high-speed passes and stomach churning aerobatics.  Like so many others I hang out with at the air shows, I’m always after that perfect shot (whatever that is).  What constitutes the “perfect shot” is a good question.  It would also be different for different people.  For some, it’s a shot of a Blue Angel’s F-18 frozen in air and tack sharp.  And for others, it may be a P-51 Mustang making a pass with the propeller nicely blurred and the body clear and sharp.

I think for me it’s a variety of shots.  Yes, I do want those tack sharp images of planes in the air, but I noticed that there are a lot of those floating around out there.  How do I know?  Because I frequent quite a few other websites and photo sharing communities and see them.  Some are quite good, but after a while I find myself wanting more, at least for my photos.  I want more than just another shot of a plane in the air, no matter what kind it is.

During the last air show I attended (the Planes of Fame Air Show), I talked about this with some photography friends and acquaintances.  One of the guys was taking pictures of some of the action on the ground, and others were playfully teasing him.  He said he was looking for shots that would tell a story.  When I heard this, I understood what he meant.  There’s a lot more going on at an air show than just the planes in the air.  This is something I’ve had in my head but hadn’t put words to it in this way.  I just called it a variety of shots.  If you look at my galleries you will see a mix of images.  Some may be better than others for many reasons, but in a few cases I’d say it’s because an image can tell a story.  It makes you want to know more, or just wonder what it would be like to be there.  Maybe it just makes you stop for a better look for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on.

Like I said, there are a lot of great shots of planes in the air out on the web, and maybe even a few from me.  But I believe it’s worth thinking about, or trying.  Look around, maybe there’s a picture waiting for you to frame and press the shutter that tells a story.

 

 

In the two examples above, you can see that there are air planes.  But there are also people, and activity.  What are they doing and where are they going with these planes?  Are they just moving them across the yard, or are they getting ready to put them in the air?  And doesn’t the black and white make you wonder when these were taken?  Are they recent or were they made back in the 40’s and 50’s?  Those are the types of things I mean when I want a picture to tell a story.  There’s more to it than just a plane against a blue background.  Don’t get me wrong, those are great too and I have plenty of them.  But I think it makes a gallery or collection much more interesting to mix it up with photos that tell a story!

That’s it for this post.  Hopefully it won’t be so long before the next one!  Until then, Happy Shooting!

 

One Photo, Endless Possibilities

Warning – if you are one of those photographers that thinks photos should be made in the camera with no post processing, then this isn’t for you!

If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I really enjoy post processing my images.  I love getting the camera out and making what I call my base shots.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a landscape or airplanes at an air show.  But to me that’s only part of the process.  Getting the images into my computer and finding new ways to “enhance” them is part 2.  If you like to post process your photos, it doesn’t really matter if you just tweak them a little bit or go hog wild.  The important thing is that you enjoy it.  Don’t get caught up in the debate about whether or not to edit, it’s entirely up to you!  It also doesn’t matter if  you use Photoshop or Picasa.  Use whatever you have or are comfortable with!

There are a couple of things that I like to do to my images.  One is to convert them to black and white, and the other is to give them a vintage treatment.  How do I know when to apply black and white or vintage?  I don’t know, at least not until I try it.  There are some types of photos that have the potential to look better in black and white or vintage.  For me, they tend to be older things such as WWII aircraft, or antique automobiles.  Old buildings like those you might see at a ghost town also work well.  Landscapes are a little harder to visualize.  If a scene is very colorful, such as a forest in Autumn, it might not make sense to convert it to black and white.  The best way to find out is pick one of you photos that you think might look good in black and white and convert it.  If it doesn’t work, then all you have to do is cancel your changes and close the image.  No harm – no foul.  Pick another photo and try again, and pretty soon you’ll start to develop a sense of what is a good candidate for black and white.  This may even carry over to when you are with your camera and looking at a scene.  Try to visualize it, not only as you see it, but also in black and white.  Keep trying, and if you do this enough, it should start to happen for you.

Here’s an example.  This is a WWII Focke-Wulf FW-190 (a.k.a. the Butcher Bird).  The original shot is from my Panasonic FZ1000, and was taken at the Planes of Fame Air Show earlier this year.

It’s not bad in color, and I did some post processing.  But when I look at it, I get the sense that it could be better in black and white.  Here’s what happened.

Not to bad, but it still seems like something is missing.  My next thought was how it might look had it been taken with a film camera in the 1940’s.  This is the result.

Most of the WWII (and earlier) photos that I’ve seen are faded, or just plain worn out.  The paper they were printed on has texture, and there are a lot of imperfections.  That’s what I love about them, all of the imperfections.  Personally I think it gives these photos character, something that a lot of technically perfect photos from todays cameras lack.  Just because a modern photo is tack sharp and has optimum bit depth and blah blah blah, doesn’t mean it has character, or in the case of a WWII era photo, a sense of history.  I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of todays perfect photos have no soul, some of mine included.  It’s something I’m working on with my post processing.  Every once in a while I think I’m getting close.

How about you?  Is there a type of photo that moves you or speaks to you in a way that others don’t?  If so, get your camera and favorite editing software and get busy!  Go over to my Facebook page and share some of your work – upatdawnphotograpy (just click the link).

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!