I usually know when I snap the shutter if an image is destined to be a color or B&W image because of how I compose a scene. In other words when I’m doing Civil War Re-enactments I will design some to be in color when there is a compelling color feature in the scene. When there’s little color in a scene, if I want an historical look, and I can see good contrast between what will be blacks and highlights then black and white usually wins out.
This image had those features….
|f5.6 @ 1/640 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 142mm|
In addition this image had the posed look that we see in much actual civil war photography. Of course back then that posed look was necessary because their cameras’ film (coated glass plates) was so slow that every image was a time exposure (with the camera on a tripod) where nobody could move or they’d get motion blurred photos. That’s why there are no action photos of the Civil War!
I designed this image to be color….
|f4.5 @ 1/640 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 200mm|
Backed-off, using my lens at 200mm, I carefully composed this image to PLACE that flag EXACTLY where it is relative to this soldier while he was moving around unaware of my presence. I purposely chose the aperture of f4.5 to blur the flag and background enough that the flag would not dominate the scene.
This scene had to be B&W….
|f5.6 @ 1/640 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 155mm|
This image of the gun crew, taken seconds after they fired a cannon, was visually polluted by the colorful crowd in the background. That’s why I waited for them to fire giving me that cloud of smoke to help obscure the background.
- To further obscure the background I converted the color image in NIK’s Silver Efex using their Antique Plate 2 preset, which not only creates a nice warm tone monochrome, but also adds a white vignette around the image effectively increasing the smoke in the scene.
Another image designed for color….
|f8.0 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 200mm|
Again using my lens at 200mm I layered and compressed these elements: the flags and a model of a civil war cannon are on a table while in the background, some 25 yards away, are some full scale cannons.
- I focused on the Union Flag to make it really stand out and used an aperture of f8.0 to blur the Confederate Flag and the background cannons, but still make them identifiable.
Back to a more historical look….
|f5.0 @ 1/1600 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 40mm|
I have two layers of processing on this image.
- First, I put the color original into NIK’s Single Image Tone Mapping using their Dark preset to really enhance the cannon smoke.
- Second, I converted in NIK’s Silver Efex using their Antique Plate 1 for a straight warm monochrome.
Here’s the original image….
The color original is just way too colorful and cheerful a setting for a Civil War Re-enactment! In addition I had a sign on the left side that had to be removed.
Sometimes enhanced color is called for….
|f5.0 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 47mm|
Our Civil War volunteers here in Idaho always have their blacksmith there doing authentic iron work of the period. For this image I wanted to enhance the red hot steel, the sparks, and the textures in the anvil so I processed this in NIK’s Tone Mapping using the Structured 2 preset.
I’ll finish with a classic B&W candid….
|f4.5 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 200mm|
Since the Union’s uniforms make nice clean black when converted this was a natural for B&W. This old soldier in the shade of a tree, with dappled light filtering on him in this introspection, was also done with my lens set at 200mm. I used my favorite portrait aperture of f4.5 to create a nice bokeh background enhanced by the lens’ shallow Depth-of-Field.
That’s all for this week. ’Til next time…
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training Site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client Site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com
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