nik collection · photography

Before and After: Camera Studies Camera in Black and White

From Black & White Photography: The Timeless Art of Monochrome by Michael Freeman:

“Black-and-white film photography, its image qualities and processes, have a great deal to teach us…. What sets black and white apart from colour is that it is not the way we see the world, and it does not pretend to represent reality. It is a translation of a view into a special medium with very particular characteristics.”

On Wednesday, I posted a series of photos of a vintage camera, a No.1 Pocket Kodak. While working on the photos, I accidentally converted one to black and white in Lightroom, briefly thinking “Well, that’s kinda cool” but then flipped it back to color and continued processing the batch. I hardly ever work in black and white, you see, because I’m so colorful, but I still thought it might be fun to come back to this set of photos and give black and white a shot, especially since most of the color in the photos came from the background or from the slight blue cast emanating from the camera body. I also got a bit of inspiration from a Christmas gift a friend sent me…

… a series of books by photographer Michael Freeman — including the one I quoted above — that I’ve been reading from nearly every day since I got them.

I took the color photos with two of my favorite lenses: a Minolta 50mm f/1.7 lens that’s about 25 years old (that even has its own Wikipedia page) and a Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens that I’ve had for a few years (that has no Wikipedia page but gets used for many of my closeups and macros). Both lenses do well in low light and even intentional under-exposure, so were ideal for the camera photos: taken on my dining room table lit by a single window, with supplemental lighting from a small LED flashlight (yes, you read that right) that I normally use for finding things in the depths of dark closets. I did use a high ISO when taking the photos — because I forgot to check my camera’s ISO setting before shooting (oops!) and it was set to 1600 — but Lightroom and the Nik Collection did a suitable job of ridding the photos of what little noise was captured.

So I made copies of the color images that I’d processed and posted — having done mostly saturation and contrast adjustments — and ran them through Nik’s Color Efex Pro, applying these filters:

  • Black and White Conversion, where I made brightness, shadow, highlight, and contrast adjustments;
  • Tonal Contrast, to soften the images slightly and create smoothness in the backgrounds;
  • Darken/Lighten Center, to accentuate lighting on the camera and shift the eye’s focus to the camera body;
  • Detail Extractor, to reveal the structure and texture of the camera’s bellows and leather case, recovering a bit of detail that was lost by the Tonal Contrast adjustment.

The first gallery below shows the black-and-white versions of Wednesday’s images. Personally I think they’re interesting, but what I really liked was experimenting with the same tools I’ve been using for color photos for a while now, in the world of black and white. I avoided special effects — like applying warming filters, converting them to sepia-tone, or adding grain for that aged look — and concentrated on how to make the primary subject appealing without color.

In the second gallery, I’ve set the black-and-white and color images side-by-side. You can select the first image and page through a slideshow to view them as before-and-after versions. Thanks for looking!




Note to Readers:

If you’re following this blog … first of all, thank you very much! Second … since I started blogging again in 2018, I’ve been posting the same content here and on my self-hosted site, DaleDucatte.com. By the end of January, I plan to simplify my workflow and stop duplicating posts here. I’ll migrate followers from this site to DaleDucatte.com, but you may want to anticipate that change and switch to following DaleDucatte.com, where you will see a “Subscribe by email” option and a “Follow on WordPress.com” button in the site’s right sidebar. Thank you!

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photography · wordless wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Camera Studies Camera

new york state · photography · quotes from my library

Winter Scenes: After the Storm (Set 3 of 3)

From the essay “House-Warming” in Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau:

“The snow had already covered the ground … and surrounded me suddenly with the scenery of winter. I withdrew yet farther into my shell, and endeavored to keep a bright fire both within my house and within my breast. My employment out of doors now was to collect the dead wood in the forest, bringing it in my hands or on my shoulders, or sometimes trailing a dead pine tree under each arm to my shed. An old forest fence which had seen its best days was a great haul for me….”

“At length the winter set in in good earnest … and the wind began to howl around the house as if it had not had permission to do so till then.”

The gallery below contains the last of three sets of photos I took in the days following a snowstorm in northern New York.

The previous sets in this series are here:

Winter Scenes: After the Storm (Set 2 of 3)

Winter Scenes: After the Storm (Set 1 of 3)

Enjoy the photos!

Bye for now……………….. 🙂

Note to Readers:

If you’re following this blog … first of all, thank you very much! Second … since I started blogging again in 2018, I’ve been posting the same content here and on my self-hosted site, DaleDucatte.com. By the end of January, I plan to simplify my workflow and stop duplicating posts here. I’ll migrate followers from this site to DaleDucatte.com, but you may want to anticipate that change and switch to following DaleDucatte.com, where you will see a “Subscribe by email” option and a “Follow on WordPress.com” button in the site’s right sidebar. Thank you!

new york state · photography · quotes from my library

Winter Scenes: After the Storm (Set 2 of 3)

From The Old Straight Track: Its Mounds, Beacons, Moats, Sites and Mark Stones by Alfred Watkins:

“The winter, with its light of low elevation, and with an absence of leaves, is by far the best season, and the lovely December day … gave an opportunity long hoped for.”

“[The] absence of leaves on trees, winter is by far the best time of year for a certain type of exploration….  Sun shining on one side and very low down is an ideal condition.”

The gallery below contains the second of three sets of photos I took in the days following a snowstorm in northern New York.

The first set in this series is here: Winter Scenes: After the Storm (Set 1 of 3).

The irresistible Ford truck partly buried in the snow made an earlier appearance on this site, in a different season, here: Before and After: Swamp Things.

Thanks for taking a look!

Note to Readers:

If you’re following this blog … first of all, thank you very much! Second … since I started blogging again in 2018, I’ve been posting the same content here and on my self-hosted site, DaleDucatte.com. By the end of January, I plan to simplify my workflow and stop duplicating posts here. I’ll migrate followers from this site to DaleDucatte.com, but you may want to anticipate that change and switch to following DaleDucatte.com, where you will see a “Subscribe by email” option and a “Follow on WordPress.com” button in the site’s right sidebar. Thank you!

new york state · photography · quotes from my library

Winter Scenes: After the Storm (Set 1 of 3)

From the short story “The Long Rain” in The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury:

“The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and the ton, it hacked at the jungle and cut the trees like scissors and shaved the grass and tunneled the soil and molted the bushes. It shrank men’s hands into the hands of wrinkled apes; it rained a solid glassy rain, and it never stopped.”

Part of Bradbury’s themed collection The Illustrated Man, this short story was subsequently adapted and included in the 1969 film by the same name, then later featured in the television anthology The Ray Bradbury Theater. The power of the short story, and the film adaptations, came from Bradbury’s ability to take something typically benign — rain! — and turn it into a malevolent force that pounds a group of space travelers marooned on a distant planet. Spoiler alert: the men go insane.

I’ve thought of the film often over the past couple of weeks, when Atlanta’s version of the long rain continued with barely a pause from a few days before Christmas before finally stopping just yesterday. You know that soothing feeling you get from listening to the rain when you’re just barely awake in the early morning? It turns into something else, much less pleasant, on the fourth or fifth day in a row that rain beating on the roof wakes you up at 4:00 AM! 🙂

I suppose it’s only marginally interesting to write about the weather in a blog post; but with above-average temperatures, the rain and clouds clearing away have revealed how nature’s reacting. Irises in my front garden are pushing out a few buds (stay tuned for macros!), normally dormant holly ferns have generated large new fronds, and even perennial lantana and hydrangea stems are dotted with the beginnings of new leaves. But of course it’s not spring yet and unless the temperatures remain above freezing for the next two months, most of this early growth could get crushed later in January or February.

The relentless rain, day after day, did give me a chance to pack up the holiday decorations and sweep out the Christmas glitter, jazz up the theme on my self-hosted blog, and work through the rest of the 200 archived winter photos that I started posting here. I often thought while working on the images that it would have been a hoot if, instead of two weeks or rain, we’d had two weeks of snow … so I guess I was treating myself to a vicarious experience of a snowstorm to blot out the sound of the pounding rain.

From the winter photos I processed, I’ve selected 51 to post here on my blog; below is the first of three sets that were taken in the days after a snowstorm some years ago when I traveled to northern New York around the holidays. Enjoy the photos; as always, thanks for reading and taking a look!

Note to Readers:

If you’re following this blog … first of all, thank you very much! Second … since I started blogging again in 2018, I’ve been posting the same content here and on my self-hosted site, DaleDucatte.com. By the end of January, I plan to simplify my workflow and stop duplicating posts here. I’ll migrate followers from this site to DaleDucatte.com, but you may want to anticipate that change and switch to following DaleDucatte.com, where you will see a “Subscribe by email” option and a “Follow on WordPress.com” button in the site’s right sidebar. Thank you!

amusables · new york state · photography · wordless wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Snow Puffs???

holidays · new york state · photography · quotes from my library

New Year’s Day 2019!!

From Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human by Daniel J. Siegel:

“Sunrise, New Year’s Day. The oranges, blues, and greens of daybreak along the shore at the edge of North America fill the sky with luminescence. The sound of waves gently unfolding now, as they have for infinite nows, in patterns beyond imagination, creates a gentle soundscape enveloping my mind in a lullaby beckoning me back to bed. This body needs more rest after last night’s New Year’s Eve festivities…. But I am up, here with you, wanting to express something of this journey in words we can share, together, in these nows that forever wrap us in existence, life, and the journey of these lived moments we’ve come to know as mind.

“Are we the sunrise? Are we the lapping waves? Are we the creation of time, the denotation of a passing of something marked as a day, month, year…? The hooting and hollering of celebration for this mind-created edge of a year across the world, the display of fireworks in the skies across Earth, the screens shared among billions of humans across the planet: are each of these some shared construction of our collective mind?

“We create meaning from an infinite set of energy patterns and make information come alive. We are the sensory conduits enabling bottom-up to flow freely in our awareness; we are the interpretative constructors, making sense of and narrating our lives as they unfold. There is in reality no ‘new year’ anywhere beyond our mind….”

From Essential: Essays by The Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn:

“Whatever you want to do, do it. Pursue your passions. You deserve to do so. So, what do you want to do?”