Friday, 6 July 2012

Exercise 26 : Colour into tones in black and white

I was intrigued in Assignment 2, Elements of Design, at the impact that removing colour from an image actually had in terms of changing the focus of attention within an image.  All my London shots were obviously taken in colour and I converted a good many of them to black and white once I had decided that this was the best way to explore design elements without getting diverted into colours and altering the perception of an image.  Exercise 26 explores this same concept to a degree and calls for a still life image composed of red, green, yellow and blue to be converted to black and white and then digitally filtered to explore how each colour changes and can be emphasised or suppressed by tonal control.  The options here are vast given that each colour can be adjusted over a huge range of shades of grey.

Although I have so far avoided using the same examples as are used in the OCA course notes, I have on this occasion chosen to work with a collection of peppers of red, yellow and green colour, set on a blue background, much the same are used in the notes.  I initially set up the shot with a grey card (not shown) exposed to appear about 18% grey and took a single image under natural lighting with a simple white foamcore reflector placed to minimise shadows around the peppers.  The camera was on a tripod and the exposure taken at f/22 to maximise depth of field of the subjects.  The image was converted to black and white in Lightroom 4 and then replicated to generate the other images upon which to perform the colour ‘filtration’.  The replicate images were processed with the Lightroom presets
The initial colour version and unaltered black and white conversion are shown below.
Original colour image
Default black and white conversion

The simple conversion has preserved the ‘strength’ of the original colour image, with the yellow appearing as the lightest colour and green the darkest. 
The red filter preset radically changed the tonality of the red pepper and caused it to become a lighter black and grey subject whilst darkening the tone of the green and yellow peppers (yellow is not so obvious in the compressed blog image, but is very clear in the original).

Green filtration significantly darkened the green pepper and lightened the red and yellow, and the blue preset lightened the blue background whilst making all the peppers go dark grey.

Application of the yellow filter made the yellow pepper go almost white whilst the similar green pepper became much darker in tone.

I’m really getting into black and white and I’m fascinated by how easy it is to completely change the character and impact of an image by simply converting to mono and then using the colour sliders to adjust the tones of the greys in the resultant photographs.  It’s certainly something that I will try much more of in the future.

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