Just around the corner from Bryant Park is the main branch of the New York Public Library – the one with the lions out front! Inside is a nice small cafe – it was a lovely place for a couple of tired street photographers to rest their legs for a few minutes and enjoy a bit of liquid refreshment.
While we were waiting there, this lovely young woman came in and sat down across the room from us. The final image above – in black and white – was edited in Lightroom on my iPad, exported to the Camera Roll, imported into Snapseed, tweaked a bit further using Snapseed’s vignette and framing tools and then exported for posting on Instagram. This workflow took about 5 minutes start to finish.
Below is the original image in color straight out of my camera. It’s lovely on its own – and the slight tilt actually adds a bit of drama to the image. But I prefer the more portrait look of the black and white image.
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.
One of the things I’d like to do better is to remember (!) what kind of editing I’ve done to take a photograph from the original in-camera capture to the “final” posted image that I’ve shared or published. I’ll often finish editing and image – publish it – and come back across it months later only to wonder how exactly did I edit this photo!
In the spirit of trying to do a better job remembering, I will share some examples of the process I’ve used for photos that I’ve recently edited. The first two posts use photos taken in New York City – over five years ago – during a workshop I was fortunate to take with the great photographer Jay Maisel.
I was very fortunate to be able to take on of the last workshops taught in New York City by the great Jay Maisel. Jay drilled a lot of things into our heads during our week with him – and one of them turns out to be “light, gesture, and color”. For Jay, the best images had all three: great light, a human gesture captured at a moment in time, and beautiful color.
Since I’m doing more and more work in black and white, I often settle for light and gesture – without the beautiful color.
What’s interesting though is that the best black and white images usually also start from beautiful color images! In fact, using color to help separate the tonality of the grey scale in a black and white image is critical to adding “presence” and depth to a monochrome image.
This image is an example – it was shot from some distance away – so it’s been cropped quite a bit and isn’t very sharp. But the dappled light was beautiful and the gesture is really great with his fingertips lit by the light. Plus the color in the original image was lovely – making for good tonal separation in the monochrome version.
During my recent Santa Fe workshop on black and white photography, we made a field trip to Plaza Blanca – also known as the White Place. The location is near Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico home and was one of her favorite places to visit and paint.
I was handicapped a bit – hobbling around with a cane resulting from breaking one of my legs a couple of months earlier. The sandy soil was challenging but also provided a good workout – and, hooray!, I didn’t fall down!
I had brought along a brand new camera – a Sony RX100M6 – which turned out to be the perfect camera (along with my iPhone Xs Max) for my photography that day. I couldn’t have handled a heavier bag of gear nor a heavier camera around my neck. I mostly did one-handed shooting – and the zoom lens of the RX100M6 turned out to be perfect for my needs – as “zooming with my feet” was not much of an option that day!
As we were finishing up late in the afternoon, the sky darkened in the distance with these striking clouds – and the sky seem highlighted most dramatically in this image shot in portrait mode. The image was post-processed in Lightroom, Photos (iOS 13 Beta) and Snapseed.
Here another portrait image from my recent workshop in Santa Fe on “The Language of Black and White”. Our group worked with model Puja Goel I several settings. In this portrait we took advantage of her standing in a corner window with a curtain behind and an open window to her left. The light was magical!
This image was taken using my Sony RX100M6, edited in Lightroom, Photoshop, Portraitureand Snapseed.
I wrote earlier about the recent workshop I took in Santa Fe taught by Cira Crowell. One of the best parts of the workshop was being able to work with several excellent models during our photo shoots.
Aubri Zamo was the first model my group worked with – and we had a great time photographing her in several different settings. This is one of my favorites – outside on the deck overlooking Santa Fe in the distance. Shot with my Sony RX100M6, edited in Lightroom, Portraiture, Silver Efex Pro 2, and Snapseed.
Here’s another photo from a recent walk along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. I came across this fellow obviously looking to rent one of the two scooters behind him. He seemed a bit frustrated – going back and forth while poking at his mobile phone – undoubtedly trying to activate one or the other.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of him in front of the two scooters and the layers including the railing behind, the pier and then the bridge in the distance. Shot using my Sony RX100M6. Post-processed from the original RAW file using Lightroom Mobile and Snapseed.
Along San Francisco’s Embarcadero is an outdoor sculpture titled Cupid’s Span by married artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. According to Wikipedia, it sits in Rincon Park and was installed in 2002. The sculpture is made out of fiberglass and steel. The artists said that the piece “was inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home port of Eros.” See the artists’ website for more information.
As I was walking by on this particular morning, the fog was just beginning to break up and the sun beginning to peek through. I looked for an interesting angle to try to catch the sun just behind the bow – and took this photo with my Sony RX100M6. Post-processed in Lightroom and Snapseed (to darken the image and add some drama) before posting to Instagram and here on my personal blog.