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Black And White Wildlife Photographers.

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 cooperative when you want to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter could be used to reduce reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, view taking two or more shots with different 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, could also be useful for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of her opposite colour while lightening objects of their own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green one will lighten foliage.

Shoot RAW + JPEG. The greatest monochrome conversions are got as far as 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. many 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 course of action 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 may also do this if they kick in her camera’s live sneaking suspicion pathway , but the usually slower responses mean that numerous will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.

Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a fashion 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 dream of because you should target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you could use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to perk up them to grow local contrast. It’s a great system of giving a sense of greater sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you could set the opacity of the tools, you could build up her effect gradually so the impact is crafty and there are no hard edges.

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 place than they would with a short exposure and this should help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If necessary , use a neutral density filter such as Lee Filters’ Big Stopper or Little Stopper to reduce exposure and extend shutter speed (by 10 and 4 stops respectively). classically , when exposures extend farther than apropos 1/60 sec a tripod is required 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.

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 now 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 featureless straight from the camera. happily , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours discretely 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 strong blacks and whites. This may 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.

Take Control. Although coloured filters can still be used to manipulate contrast when shooting digital black and white images, it’s more prominent 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 strong 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 one 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 crafty gradations may become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or pinkish 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 should also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create delineation between objects of the same brightness but with different colours.

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The black and white processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 in this image converted the green foliage into a dark background.  Now the emphasis is on the deer and the texture of its coat.

In this image, the harsh mid-day sun still produced a dramatically lit portrait of a Bison.

Tips for Culling Your Photos – How to Throw Away the Worst and Concentrate on the Winners

As illustrated by the photo of the grazing zebras below, high-key processing creates a cheerful or upbeat image, while a low-key interpretation of the same image reveals a more somber or mysterious aspect to the image. Though a high-key image is very light, it should still have black areas; and conversely, a low-key image is mainly dark but should also contain some white areas.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a deer standing in a forest. Was the image you imagined in color? Most people will visualize the image in color. But are the colors necessary to produce an image of the deer? Let’s take a look at some advantages of wildlife photography in black and white.

There are too many ways of converting images to black and white to mention them all. But Photoshop, Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2 are the three processing means I use the most. Whichever program you use for your conversion, you must learn to take control of the process. Instead of stripping the color out, use the tool in your editing program to turn colors into controlled shades of gray. Different processes applied may produce different emotional reactions to a single image.

Photoshop: Use a black and white adjustment layer to fine-tune how each color tone is converted to a shade of gray. This is a great starting point, but you may also want to adjust contrast, and dodge or burn areas to dramatize the subject.

If you use Photoshop to convert your images to black and white, don’t be afraid to experiment. Never just use the Image Mode – Grayscale to convert your image, that is like “throwing away the baby with the bath water”! You will throw out too much useful color information that could be used to create the mood you are looking for in your image.

Lightroom: Using the black and white tab, similar to Photoshop, you can also adjust how each color tone is converted to shades of gray. Nik Silver Efex Pro is a very powerful black and white software.

One of its greatest features is the preset effects already preloaded into it. Use one of those presets as a starting point, and follow up with the powerful adjustment panel to really fine tune your images.

Color, though admirable, may be a distraction that interferes with the viewer’s ability to see the textures, lines, patterns, and contrasts within an image. Often your wildlife subjects are surrounded by lush green foliage and blue sky backgrounds, and in color photos, the trend is to saturate them. With black and white photos we take the attention away from those colors, and draw it to the wildlife subject. Colorful images may tell a story, while black and white can reveal a more emotional portrait of the wildlife. Color may show the actuality of a scene, black and white is a perception of the captured reality. Black and white can add drama to your wildlife images that color will hide from the viewer.

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It is important to note that not every image will make a great black and white one, some images and subjects will require color to make an impact. If color is the purpose of an image –  say, for instance, your subject is a red-headed wood pecker, then black and white may not work for that subject. Some photographers hold the opinion that an image lacking color is a good candidate for black and white conversion; however, even very colorful images may be hiding a dramatic black and white image.

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Without color, the key ingredients to shaping your image are light, composition, contrast, and tones. When photographing for black and white, lighting can transform an image. Black and white works well in all ranges of lighting conditions. Even the harsh midday sun, (difficult lighting for color shots) can products some fantastic results. How many times on a gloomy, rainy day have you grumbled about terrible lighting? Well, maybe for color photography it isn’t ideal, but the great thing about shooting for black and white results, is that even overcast days can produce some great images. It can allow you to capture the tones and textures of your wild animal subject, features which may be hidden in a color image, shot on a bright sunny day.

BACKGROUND INFORMATIONThis Gallery shows an exclusive selection of pictures produced in black and white and they are all available as Limited Edition Fine Art Prints. Each picture has been chosen for its graphic character and then carefully processed to optimise its individual tonal qualities.

The next time you are out photographing wildlife, look for opportunities to shoot black and white images. What wildlife do you like to photograph? Get out there and discover some stunning black and white wildlife opportunities!

Low-Key processing in Lightroom creates a more mysterious effect.

High-key processing in Lightroom creates a cheerful image of zebras grazing in a field. The same image was then opened in Photoshop and the layer was duplicated adding a motion blur.  The layer blend mode was changed to Overlay and a layer mask was added to keep the zebras from being blurred. This gives an artistic effect to the grass.

Composition is even more important in black and white than in color. While a colorful image sometimes hides poor composition, black and white enhances and brings out the composition of your wildlife shot. Use shallow depth of field to isolate the subject, making a dramatic portrait and bringing out the textures of the fur or skin. Remember to use the KISS theory of composition. (Keep It Simple Silly)

Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a week full of features on black and white photography. Look for 5 Simple Ways to Create Expressive Photos in Black and White earlier today and more daily over the next week.

The textures, lines and contrast of the feathers create a dramatic portrait of this Broad-winged Hawk.

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Without the distractions of color this image becomes a moody and detailed portrait.

When exposing this image to keep the detail in the swan’s white feathers, the background was exposed to nearly black. Converting to black and white required very little processing.

South African photographer Heinrich van den Berg once said, “I believe that if black-and-white photography is done correctly, it can convey much more emotion and a deeper meaning than color ever could. It’s as if by subtracting color, the viewer is forced to add his own emotion to the images. Color photography is like a novel that spells everything out in detail, whereas black-and-white photography is like poetry—its strength isn’t in what’s said; it’s in what’s left out.”

Of course, the morning and evening glow hours are going to work great when the low angle of light brings out the textures and lines of wildlife. If you are just starting to develop your skills shooting for black and white wildlife, or you are having problems visualizing your images as you shoot, here is a helpful tip. Most DSLR cameras with allow you to set your picture style to monochrome when you are shooting in RAW. The preview will appear in black and white, but your RAW file will still contain all the image’s color information, that you can use later as you convert to black and white. Stripping out all the color from the preview will help you see the forms of the image without the distractions of color. Use this process to help train your eye to see in black and white.

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