Incredible black and white underwater photography
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Underwater photography of scuba divers coral or wildlife can sometimes seem commonplace regardless of the remote destination or subject but indonesian
Black and white underwater photography
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Black and white underwater photography by wayne levin

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Black And White Photography Underwater.

Shoot RAW + JPEG. The most excellent monochrome conversions are attained by editing raw files which have the full colour information, but if you shoot raw and JPEG files simultaneously and set the camera to its monochrome picture Style/Picture Control/Film Simulation mode you get an indication of how the image will look in black and white. As numerous photographers struggle to visualise a scene in black and white, these monochrome modes are an invaluable tool that will help with composition and scene assessment. most cameras are also capable of producing decent in-camera monochrome images these days and it’s worth experimenting with image parameters (usually contrast, sharpness, filter effects and toning) to find a look that you like. Because compact lane cameras and compact cameras show the scene seen by the sensor with camera settings applied, users of these cameras are able to preview the monochrome image in the electronic viewfinder or on rear screen before taking the shot. DSLR users can also do this if they kick in her camera’s live funny feeling strategy , but the usually slower responses mean that numerous will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.

Try Long Exposure. Long exposure shots may work really well in monochrome photography, especially where there’s moving water or clouds. During the exposure the highlights of the water, for example, are recorded across a wider area than they would with a short exposure and this could help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If compulsory , use a neutral density filter such as Lee Filters’ Big Stopper or Little Stopper to decrease exposure and extend shutter speed (by 10 and 4 stops respectively). classically , when exposures extend beyond in respect of 1/60 sec a tripod is wanted to keep the camera still and avoid blurring. It’s also advisable to use a remote release and mirror lock-up to minimise vibration and produce super-sharp images.

Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a avenue that comes from the traditional darkroom and is usually used to burn in or darken highlights and hold back (brighten) shadows. Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools allow a level of control that film photographers could only thought of taking a degree of because you should target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you should use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to brighten up them to increase local contrast. It’s a great plan of sharing a sense of better sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you may set the opacity of the tools, you can build up his effect gradually so the impact is subtle and there are no hard edges.

Take Control. Although coloured filters should still be used to manipulate contrast when shooting digital black and white images, it’s more common to save this work until the processing stage. Until a a couple years ago Photoshop’s Channel Mixer was the preferred means of turning colour images monochrome, but now Adobe Camera Raw has more powerful tools (in the HSL/Grayscale tab) that allow you to adjust the brightness of eight individual colours that make up the image. It’s possible to adjust single of these colours to make it anything from white to black with the sliding control. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the whole image when adjusting a particular colour as subtle gradations should become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or pink shirt with the red sliding control, for instance , will have an impact on the model’s skin, especially the lips. The Levels and Curves controls may also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create discrimination between objects of the same brightness but with different colours.

Use Filters. Graduated neutral density (AKA ND grad) and polarizing filters are simply as advantageous in monochrome photography as they are in colour. In fact, because they manipulate image contrast they are arguably more advantageous . An ND grad is collaborative when you require to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter should be used to reduce reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, evaluate taking two or more shots with unique exposures to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite. Don’t be anxious to use a ND grad with a standard neural density filter if the sky is brighter than the foreground in a long exposure shot. Coloured filters, which are an essential tool for monochrome film photographers, should also be useful for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of his opposite colour while lightening objects of her own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green single will lighten foliage.

Look for Contrast, Shape and Texture. The complimentary and opposing colours that bring a colour image to life are all decreased to black and white or shades of grey in a monochrome image and you have to look for tonal contrast to make a shot stand out. In colour photography, for example, your eye would right away be drawn to a red object on a green background, but in monochrome photography these two areas are likely to have the same brightness, so the image looks flat and lackluster straight from the camera. providentially , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours separately to introduce some contrast. However, a good starting point is to look for scenes with tonal contrast. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule look for scenes that contain some powerful blacks and whites. This should be achieved by the light or by the brightness (or tone) of the objects in the scene as well as the exposure settings that you use. The brightness of the bark of a silver birch tree for example, can inject some contrast (and interest) in to a woodland scene. Setting the exposure for these brighter areas also makes the shadows darker, so the highlights stand out even more. Look for shapes, patterns and textures in a scene and move around to find the best composition.

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Black and white Kelp scene from Australia. Photo by Cal Mero. Oly SP350, F11, 1/90th, ISO 200. The high degree of contrast helps make this a nice black and white photo.  

Squid and other pelagic invertebrates make excellent black and white subjects. F8, 1/200th, ISO 320, 60mm+1.4x teleconverter, Anilao, Phillipines.

Adjust the image’s tones by adjusting the color sliders Or, select the Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) and your cursor will change to a crosshair.  Grab a tone of the image you want to change and as you move the mouse the TAT tool will move the sliders up and down for you

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Converting Color to B&W Use the B&W command in photoshop, under image, adjustments, black and white Alternatively, shoot in Raw and using the convert to grayscale command in Adobe Camera Raw / Lightroom

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Further Reading Wreck Photography underwater Silhouette compositions underwater Taking your underwater photography to the next level Taking underwater photos with ambient light Artistic underwater compositions

Images with ambient light only.  Wide angle works a bit better, but this doesn’t mean strobe-filled photos are bad Simple compositions with a minimal amount of elements.  This sea lion image has two, the sea lion and the background Serene compositions that emphasize a clean negative space and where a subject is clearly identified.

  In the image with the sea lion, the negative space is the background water B&W photos emphasize shapes, textures, patterns, structures, and tonality.  Look for images with these elements.

Image Toning Split toning is an effective way to either sepia tone or cool tone images.  You can also do this non-destructively.  Here are the steps: Select the split toning tab Slide the Saturation to about 20 as a starting point so you can see the color changes you are about to make For sepia toning, slide the Hue to a numerical value between 25 and 35 in both Highlights and Shadows until you get the desired effect.

To dial in the final result, slide the Saturation up or down to emphasize or deemphasize the color effect Slide Balance left or right to accentuate these tonal changes in the highlights or the shadows—if it needs it.

  Usually sliding toward the shadows is the way to go. To cool tone, do the same as above, but adjust the Hue to a numerical value between 210 and 230

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Ultimately, art is subjective, and the best way for you to start figuring out what images are going to convert best from your collection is to get your feet wet.  Start playing with your images in post production and spend time with them.

  Convert them to B&W, and then bring them back.  Play with the contrast, brightness, and tonalities throughout your images and you will discover what works and what doesn’t work with your photo style, but the criteria laid out here is a great place to start.

  How to Convert Your Images There are many ways to convert images to B&W.  There are a dozen methods in Photoshop alone and there are all sorts of Photoshop plug-ins and 3rd party programs. Depending on what tipster you talk to, their method is the right one.

  So again, where do we start?  I suggest starting with a RAW workflow—like in color photography.  Although most cameras have a B&W mode, you’ll ultimately have more control shooting in RAW and doing your adjustments in post production.

  When converting images with a RAW converter, the adjustments you make are “non-destructive.”  To use simple English, by using a RAW converter like Lightroom or Photoshop’s ACR (Adobe Camera RAW), you can do a whole series of changes without compromising the integrity of the file.

  Each time you change the color or contrast to a JPEG opened up in Photoshop, you are degrading the underlying quality of that image.  Since this is not the case with RAW images first edited in a RAW converter, your net result is a better quality file.

  I suggest using Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) for your B&W conversions, which is the same RAW converting engine found in Lightroom, and it’s the method of choice for most pros.  Additionally, you can perform simple tonal adjustments to your B&W images before actually opening them in Photoshop.

  Here are the basic steps to follow in ACR.   Step One: Open a RAW file in Photoshop, and it will automatically open in ACR. Select the HSL/Grayscale tab Check the box to Convert To Grayscale Select Auto to have Photoshop control your adjustments or select Default to adjust tones manually

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Black and white (B&W) photography always seems to have an interesting mystique surrounding it.  Although good black and white photography is often of simple subjects and compositions, it’s usually reserved for those turtleneck wearing, chardonnay sipping, fine art types.  Well I convert a lot of images to black and white, which I think look okay, and I drink more beer than chardonnay.  So you can do it, too.

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Beyond this, we can spend hours, days, or weeks talking about B&W as it’s a subject that’s almost as big as photography itself. Digital imaging has opened up so many doors for underwater photographers, and black and white shouldn’t be left to the chardonnay sippers or the museum curators.

  As I mentioned, B&W is a great format for highlighting patterns, textures, shapes, and tonalities in the aquatic world, which is a stage that has no shortage of these elements.If you want to learn more about postproduction, read DivePhotoGuide.

com’s Mastering Digital Workflow & Editing, or look me up at  Admittedly, I like geeking out on this digital stuff more than I probably should, and I also teach workshops on digital workflow, Lightroom, and Photoshop for nature and underwater photographers

There are many benefits to digital technology and it has made a lot of underwater photographers happy.  Today, we digital divers aren’t limited to 36 frames per dive.  We can proof our images immediately while underwater.

  We don’t have to wait for our E-6 processing to come back from the lab, and we can decide on the final look of our image after the actual shoot. Creating black and white photos is one of the big benefits of digital.

If your hair is gray, or starting to gray like mine, you may remember the wall-o-film.  Some photo stores still have them, but they are nothing like they were five, ten, or fifteen years ago.   I remember going into my neighborhood photo shop and seeing that wall behind the counter with dozens and dozens of film types.

  There was black and white film, color film, slide film, tungsten film, fast or slow film, Polaroid film, neutral tone film, film with brilliant color, and the list goes on and on. During this time photographers had to decide on a color palette and general look of their image as they bought their film and far before putting on their first fin or snorkel.

  Consequently, once a film shooter was on their dive, they were locked into that look, that color, or that grayscale.   Today’s underwater digital photographer gets to be more spontaneous and decide later if they want color or black and white, or even other looks.

  Accordingly, and in my humble opinion, our ability to settle on a look in postproduction is the biggest and most misunderstood benefit that has emerged from this technology.   If you like high saturated Kodachrome or Velvia-like color, create it in post.

  If you want to make images black and white or sepia tone and add grain to your photo to create and antiquated look, do it in post.

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Black and White Underwater Photos   A creative approach to your underwater photography

Peter Pinnock started his underwater photography career 25 years ago. What began innocently as a hobby soon lurched out of control and turned into a career that has spanned 2 decades and 5 continents. Peter’s pictures of…

Black and white photos have always been a favorite form of expression for artists. Without color to distract the viewer, form, lines, and shades can be emphasized. Shooting black and white will place more emphasis on the creative side of your photography, and less emphasis on the technical. Wide angle lenses make the best B&W photos, especially rectilinear lenses that can emphasis lines. Use your own ideas for B&W photos, but here are some ideas for your black and white photography:


Finding the Right Image I think some images simply look better in B&W.  The reasons are complex and a bit subjective, but I think there are some basic principles we can follow.  Take this image of a solitary sea lion as an example.

  I was actually going to throw this away.  I had a certain kind of sea lion shot in mind during this shoot, and this shot was not it. But before hitting the delete key, I converted it to B&W and was pleased with the results.

  Looking back, it is clear why I didn’t like the color version.  The color is dull, it has no warmth and it has no contrasting color, which is often useful to separate subjects and background or other elements of a composition.

Keep details in the shadow areas. Frame a composition without any blown highlights. Keep the photo tack sharp and in focus Emphasis details – fill the frame with sharp details and texture Emphasis shape – choose a fish or shark with a well recognized shape Emphasis lines – wrecks are perfect for leading lines Go for the old, grainy look with a high ISO.

Wrecks can work well with this concept. Try to think in black and white before shooting. Imagine what the photo will look like in B&W, find subjects that will best show off the motif you are striving towards.

Good black and white photos have lots of detail and contrast. F10, 1/160th, ISO 400. nikon d300, Tokina 10-17mm at 10mm.

With that said, and by analyzing other parts of this image, we can start to get an idea as to what works when choosing an image to convert to B&W.  Here are some criteria for choosing:

So, for those of you who have been content thus far with your ability to come back from your dive in one piece and with some properly exposed images, let me encourage you to branch out.  Despite what your puritanical film-shooting friend is telling you, to use Photoshop is NOT cheating.

  This is where digital has a leg up on film.  Let’s go over how to convert to black and white, which will hopefully make you a hit at your local chardonnay and arugula-serving fine art parties.  

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