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Dennis' thoughts on toning and black and white.

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#1 Dennis


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Posted 30 October 2015 - 11:41 PM

As request, and I know this has taken me a bit, however I want to have samples. 


These are my thoughts, and my processes. I came to these thoughts over time, via; trail and error, looking at others work, asking questions, working on my vision. This is not gospel. This is not stone, this is one person's view on the subject, which is still evolving as time and abilities move forward. Your milage may very. You can disagree with anything I say. Feel free to add your nuances or your thoughts. I'm still learning, and can use more outside thoughts.


I like black and white to have nice smooth transitions. I don't want to start with a grainy image, as the process will just make that worse. If I'm going for grain, I will add it later. As I mentioned in another post, you need to see in black and white. I'm guilty of shooting an image, with no intention of it being black and white. And deciding later to make it black and white. While, these can turn out really great, it never has (for me) the same feel as me knowing and planning for it to be black and white.


I have always thought of toning as an enhancement for something; mood, feeling or enriching the tones. For Portraits, I will go warm and find a shade that makes the portrait work. Like, if the person had great, large brown eyes. I will mix sepia to be on the brown side, so that I can keep the eyes with the same feeling.


I don't, or more correct, go heavy handed. I like to try and keep the image monochrome, with some hint that makes one wonder; what  is differant. For example;


Attached File  Bran-Edit-3.jpg   400.96KB   0 downloads


When I first started with digital conversions, I liked this a lot. I thought it gave a feeling of the dust bowl years, even though that is snow. I have sold a few of this images as well. But, now, when I look at this, I say, what was I thinking. It is strong. Remember, this is me thinking this way, you might like strong tones. That's ok. I no longer like this presentation because it is harsh in my eyes.


So, I then change the tone.


Attached File  Bran-Edit-1.jpg   376.76KB   0 downloads


I lived with this one for a while, I was still not 100% on board with it. It's on the cooler side, but still misses the dust bowl feel I wanted. These changes has happened over time, as I learned stuff, or used differant software. It started out in PSE, and then lightroom. I finally like this;


Attached File  Bran-Edit-2.jpg   420.77KB   0 downloads


But, I'm still not 100%. The tone is closer to my vision, but the image needs to be redone, as I feel it is over processed. So, to really try and fix this up in my mind, I will have to start from scratch. I'm just not willing to put the time in it yet. Here is another one I started in one direction, and ended up in another one.


Attached File  _DJS4081_2_3-1.jpg   239.01KB   0 downloads


I had asked a friend that we were visiting if there was places I can take pictures. I took this one and then started processing it on my laptop at his home. He's not a photographer, but as he watch he was amazed as how it changed the feeling. After all, he knows where this place is, who lives there, and why it is a bit neglected. It's hanging on his wall as a thank you for taking me around to a lot of places that day. But, when I got home, I looked at it and though, it just too strong. And I changed it to this.


Attached File  _DJS4081_2_3-2.jpg   235.8KB   0 downloads


I also took these and worked on them, but not as a set.


Attached File  _DJS4198-Edit-1.jpg   383.63KB   0 downloads


Attached File  _DJS4293-Edit-1.jpg   295.57KB   0 downloads


I tend to look at the image, and let it "guide" me. Sounds silly. It doesn't make for a good set of common images that have the same look and feel. I'm working on that.


So, here is a start to finish process.


The color version.


Attached File  _DS41053-1.jpg   193.55KB   0 downloads


I fixed the colors, made them how I wanted. I did push them a bit, but it will calm down. All the initial changes was in LR. Taking it to PS CC, I cleaned up some stuff. One note, I took this over as a smart object. this way, I can go back to ARC (that's the way it works as a filter) and make corrections and not lose anything. It's pretty neat way, as LR settings translate to ARC, and vis versa. It's nondestructive. That is how I cleaned it up, not in PS. Also, the process I will do is nondestructive, and I can go back and tweak as I will not lose my settings, even if I use plug in.


I noticed the highlight, and thought I like what it was doing and wanted make it more pronounced, so I took it into Color efex 4, and added a glamor glow messing with the highlights.


Attached File  inside-color-efex.jpg   63.97KB   0 downloads


Then, into silver efex pro


Attached File  SEP2-1.jpg   57.19KB   0 downloads


This is the neutral version with small global changes to structure, as you can (or may not) see. I wanted to smooth out the shadows. And add some details to everything else.


Attached File  SEP2-2-Yellow-filter.jpg   56.34KB   0 downloads


Here I applied a yellow filter. Why not orange, for the skin? Orange filters are used for skin, well, look at her skin tone back in the color image. She doesn't have a lot of warm tones in her skin. Also, look at what happened to the straps from the neutral BW to the yellow filter. Also, the grass is a tad lighter. And the bottom of her swim suit got darker. If I want to work on her skin; under film types, there are several color channels I could use. At this point, I like where the image is at, so I'm not going to mess with it any more. I was concerned with the background getting in the way, but we have good tonal separation, so I'm not concerned. I'm happy where the tones are. Now to tone it.


Attached File  SEP2-2-Toning-copper.jpg   60.78KB   0 downloads


What I want from toning, is to deal with the coolness of the gray tones. Since she has a soft tone for her skin, I want to be able to give some pop to the grays and blacks. Without bothering with contrast changes. I like the soft mood, but I need something to bring some life to it. I went with a slight copper. I reduce the setting for paper (highlights) and bumped the silver (shadows). I didn't have to mess with the balance. This is where I like the image. This turned out a lot simpler than I first thought. The tone goes well with her hair. The parents would have a familiarity with the image, even though it is monochrome.


And here is the final results.


Attached File  _DS41053-Edit-3-1.jpg   123.84KB   0 downloads


There is a dirt spot on her head. I could have fixed it before the process, or I could fix it now. But, I usually would have picked before. You don't want to do it in the middle of the process, that will leave artifacts at time. Either go in clean, or fixed it after it is done. Sometimes, the monochrome brings this out, so fixing after might be in order.


Again, this is my thoughts on a process. I'm open to suggestions.

Thanks, Dennis.

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#2 Gary Worrall

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Posted 31 October 2015 - 12:12 AM

Your getting amazing results,

I wouldn't know where to start


- I have a photographic memory but never got it developed -

#3 Art


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Posted 31 October 2015 - 12:45 AM



WOW, really great post.


Your first three images are all amazing, the detail in the wood, the different treats... stellar.


The work flow with your grand daughter is close to what I typically do.  I really like Silver FX Pro.  Not only do you get a large variety of settings, each setting can then be adjusted to taste.  In fact, the entire NIK Creative Suite is amazing.


I greatly enjoyed the examples, the read and the work flow.  Well done, Dennis, thank you for sharing this!


#4 james23p


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Posted 31 October 2015 - 01:05 AM

Dennis what a masterful post I enjoyed it so much! Should be in a photography magazine.

Again wow thank you so much for posting.


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#5 RickH


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Posted 03 November 2015 - 04:27 PM

thanks so much for this. Incredibly helpful!

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