Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is how I roll.

Here's the thing. I love black and white photography. It reminds me of the days I was tucked away in a darkroom and was trying to master the dodging and burning technique. One part of me is missing those analog days a lot these days. Another part of me just loves recreating those times in Photoshop. When I look at it without getting all melancholic about it, I know with Photoshop I have a lot more control about the look of my shots then I ever had in the darkroom.

For me monotone shots go a lot further then a straight conversion in Photoshop and adding some curves. I love to make something out of nothing. Using those same dodging and burning techniques. Sure it takes practice to do this and it is hard to explain why I do certain things but I believe that if you've never had the chance to work in a darkroom, you have no clue what it takes to get a great print. Shoot some film, develop it yourself, enjoy the fun of darkroom printing.

So enter this photo that I took on Wednesday.
When you look a the original RAW file (above) you see that it's just an avarage shot. Nice foreground detail, ok-ish sky with a nice pink cloud in the sky. But I instantly knew I wanted to convert this to black and white. Don't ask me why. It's a gut feeling. I think it was partly because I had a lot of details and textures to play with. I liked the light on the distant hills. Although I knew I would have to tweak this shot a fair bit to get to the end result I wanted.

After the black and white conversion in Photoshop Raw – this time I used a lot of brushes and local tweaks for this shot, directly in the raw convertor – I started the selective dodge and burn process.

I usually work in Aperture, but for black and whites I often switch back to Photoshop. Because I feel I have more control over the shot that way and it is a lot easier to manipulate sections of it quickly. In the end I had about 22 layers rocking this shot. Everyone of which was tweaking little sections at a time.

Stubbled Pasture

So this was the final result. What do you think? Am I a cheater? Am I over processing or over thinking this black and white thing? Tell me,make a comment I want to know!
I know my printing style is kind of hard. But I like deep blacks and pure whites... and most of all, drama! Yep I'm a drama queen ... eh king, I mean king!


  1. Nice shot, Olivier--I'm always inspired by your eye for the ordinary, and the way you make these plain (no pun intended in this case) scenes into these great final images.

    Since you asked though, I do think the processing is a little heavy in this one. I'm all for creative interpretation of a scene, but in this case it seems to me that some of the character, or feel, of the landscape has been lost.

    Living, myself, in Edmonton, I am very familiar with these extremely "subtle" spring landscapes which can be really difficult to make an interesting photo from. But it's that subtlety that is the essence of these landscapes, and by pushing the range of midtones in the original capture to full black and full white, that essential subtlety--in my opinion--is missing from the final image. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's a great image, but I think it could be even more, with just a little less processing.

    Thanks for sharing--

  2. Thank you so much Jonathan for your sincere feedback. It is very much appreciated!

    Like I mentioned in the last paragraph, I like contrasts. I am aware that my vision is not necessary in line with other peoples black and white vision. And that is ok. This is the way I roll, not the way other people roll. ;)
    Sometimes I can get carried away. Subtleness is not in my nature. :)
    Take a look at my black and white album on my website and you will understand. :D

    One of the photographers I am deeply influenced by is Cole Thompson. Check his work out! It is AMAZING!

    Talk to you soon!