Before and After – Ping Pong in Bryant Park

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One of my favorite places to photograph people in New York City is in Bryant Park. Over in one corner of the park there are a couple of ping pong tables which are usually occupied by enthusiastic players. Just watching them play can be mesmerizing! Trying to capture a good image from the scene can be challenging.

In this before and after sequence, the final black and white image above was created from the original below by editing in Lightroom on my iPad. I converted the image to black and white, adjusted the color sliders to get the tonality satisfactory to my eye, and then cropped and straighten the image to eliminate the distracting elements and focus in on just the player and his intensity – about to hit the ball back across the net.

Cropping is often criticized but it’s something I do frequently as it helps remove the distractions from an image. The purists suggest that you should “get it right in the camera” which is always my objective but often I fall short and fall back to relying on the crop tool to remove distractions.

Similarly, color in some images becomes just “noise” – in the sense of distracting from the overall image. Converting to black and white removes that color distraction and helps add a timeless quality to an image. Increasingly, I favor black and white images for that reason. I’ve come to almost always try an image first in color but then try the monochrome conversion to distill out the essence of the image – lights and shadows, etc.

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