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Black and White Photography Photography - Black & White Stanford

Inside Community Court – Stanford Graduate School of Business – 2011

Community Court - Stanford Graduate School of Business

Earlier this year, Stanford opened the new Knight Management Center campus for its Graduate School of Business. This new campus is quite large – much larger than the old GSB building – with some very interesting design features. Here’s a set of my initial walk thru photos from June 2011.

This image, a black and white conversion from the original, caught my eye – the shapes, the repeating shades of grey – almost like the old green bar paper! It might be cleaned up a bit further by cropping out the “noise” at the top edge – what do you think?

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Black and White Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 San Francisco/California

Water Jugs – San Francisco – 2011

Water Jugs - San Francisco - 2011

These water jugs were shot at one of the restaurants at the Ferry Building in San Francisco while I was waiting for a friend to arrive. I took the image with my tiny Canon PowerShot S95 using macro and post-processed it using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. I love how they have that glow!

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Alcatraz Black and White Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 Textures

Another Look at The Rock – Alcatraz – 2011

The Rock - Alcatraz - 2011

This image is a composite of two images taken on my recent photo walk to Alcatraz with my good friend Doug Kaye.

Here are the two images used to create this one:

Guard Tower - Alcatraz - 2011The Rock Texture - Alcatraz - 2011

The guard tower was shot on a beautifully clear (and boring sky!) day – and a bit of The Rock itself captured up close – both images were taken using my tiny Canon PowerShot S95.

These two images were blended in Photoshop using a combination of Luminosity and Soft Light blend modes along with Nik’s Viveza 2, Color Efex Pro 3 and Silver Efex Pro 2 filters. I first converted the guard tower image to black and white – the blue sky was just too overwhelming and taking it to black and white neutralized it. Similarly with the the rock texture. At the very end, I dropped a little bit of light into the spot light on the tower using Viveza 2 – trying to create a small point of interest. Finally imported the resulting JPEG back into Lightroom 3 and applied a vignette.

If you’re ready to make a movie about Alcatraz, this just might be the movie poster shot!

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Black and White Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Stanford

Moonrise Over Stanford – 2011

Moonrise - Stanford - 2011

Last night, I went over to Stanford to try to capture the full moon rising near Hoover Tower just as the sun was setting. I had figured out (using the great TPE application) that a good spot for trying to capture this might be the roof of the parking structure at the corner of Panama St. and Via Ortez.

Turns out that this particular parking structure isn’t an ideal location – because of the new buildings in the Science Quad that block the lower half of the tower from this vantage point – but it was good enough for tonight and, most importantly, properly aligned with the path the moon was going to take as it was rising. Unfortunately, the tower itself was in less than perfect form with the scaffolding still remaining up top! So, this was good practice but didn’t produce a perfect image!

The moon began to appear out of the haze around 7:10 PM and then slowly rose up and to the right. This particular shot was the last shot I took – about 7:30 PM – handheld as I was putting everything (tripod, etc.) back into the trunk of my car. It was far and away the best shot of the night! Post-processed in Photoshop using Nik’s Color Efex 3 and Silver Efex Pro 2.

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Black and White Nik Software Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Yosemite

The Valley in January – Yosemite – 2011

The Valley in January – Yosemite – 2011

We’ve all seen photographs of this particular vantage point – Tunnel View as you enter Yosemite Valley on Wawona Road. When the valley opens up in front of you as you emerge from the tunnel, it’s stunning. And photographers love shooting the valley view from this site.

This January we spent a few days in Yosemite – and, naturally, we stopped at Tunnel View to snap a photo or two. As I was relaxing this Labor Day, I went looking through those photos to see if one might have potential. I chose this one taken in the late afternoon – because of the expansive view – and also because of how the sun shadow swept across the valley from upper right to lower left.

In the original image (see below), the shadow area in the lower right quadrant is almost completely darkened. I wondered what I might be able to accomplish with post-processing and first did a single-image tone mapped HDR of the original RAW file taken with my Canon 5D Mark II. Photomatix Pro did an amazing job of popping the details up out of the shadow area – including beautiful Bridalveil Fall. But, the rest of the image was very busy – a cluttered mess. I wanted something that was non-traditional – a different kind of perspective from this iconic location.

First, I used Nik’s Silver Efex 2 to convert the image to black and white. I adjusted the toning a bit, added a vignette – but was still unhappy with the result. After trying a couple of other filters, I settled in on the combination of the Low Key filter in Nik’s Color Efex 3 and Topaz Simplify. The toning is the result of Low Key, the reduced complexity/busy-ness of the image is the result of simplify. I used a tweak in Viveza to drop a control point on Bridalveil and brighten that up just a touch before pulling the image back into Lightroom for final noise reduction.

The result is different from the traditional valley view photos – hope you also enjoy the difference! Click on the image to see the large version.

Yosemite from Tunnel View - January 2011
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Black and White Mare Island Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Textures

Another Look at Building 680 at Mare Island

Building 680 - Mare Island - 2011

Here’s the exterior view of Building 680 at Mare Island. In this treatment, I’ve added a texture effect along with a bit of Pixel Bender’s OilPaint filter to stylize the image – definitely into the “grunge” category! Makes the place look ancient (it is!) and the photo too!

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Black and White Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II San Francisco/California

The Rack

The Rack by by Scott Loftesness

I’m heading up to San Francisco this afternoon to meet up with Doug Kaye for an afternoon of exploring and photography. Thinking about it last night, I remember this photo taken at the first photo workshop I attended in 2009 with Chris Honeysett.

During the workshop, Chris had us set our cameras to display our images in black and white – and I remember feeling how different the feedback was when in that mode vs. looking at the usual color display on the back of my DSLR. There’s something about seeing the results in black and white that focuses on the quality of the light and not the noise of the color.

As we were leaving Embarcadero Center, I happened to notice this circular bicycle rack – which had exactly one bicycle in it – you can barely see it at the far end. I loved the symmetry of the circles in this rack – and bent down very low to take this shot. I post-processed it (an original JPEG) using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 and added in just a bit of color to set the mood.

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Black and White Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Yosemite

Young and Old – Half Dome in Yosemite

Young and Old

I’ve posted an all black and white version of this image before – “The Real Yosemite” – taken in Cook’s Meadow looking at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. It’s one of my favorites – with big Half Dome in the distance and the young family playing in the snow in the meadow below.

Lately, I’ve been re-learning some tools and techniques for post-processing images and decided to take another try at a slightly different approach to this particular image – you see the result above. This has a very minimalist use of selective color – on the child’s jacket – along with some subtle toning that, for me, adds a bit more depth to the image versus my earlier black and white treatment – included below.

Which version do you prefer?

Half Dome with Family from Cook's Meadow - Yosemite

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Black and White Photography Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 San Jose Selective Color

Using Selective Color at San Jose’s Historic Park

Engine No. 5 by Scott Loftesness

I’ve been playing a bit with the use of selective color in some recent post-processing I’ve been doing. The image above is one example. You’ll find a few more examples in this Flickr set of mine.

The technique here involves using Photoshop with several filters to first get the image looking great in color and then to convert it to black and white – in my case, using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. Once I have a great looking black and white from that filter, I’ll add a layer mask to that layer and then pull back the colors from layers below – along the way adjusting opacity and blend mode as appropriate.

Below is a sister image to the one above. Both of these were shot from my car window at San Jose’s Historic Park at Kelley Park as I was heading south through San Jose this morning. I used my tiny Canon PowerShot S95 for both of these shots. For more images of the Historic Park, see my earlier set from four years ago on Flickr.

Hope you enjoy!

Trolley No. 143 by Scott Loftesness