The Elements of Effective Photographs
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The Elements of Effective Photographs

with Natalie Fobes

Video: Black and white in post

Most imaging software programs give you a couple ways to convert to black and white. I'll be demonstrating in Adobe Lightroom, but the techniques will apply to others too. The first thing I do is go into the Develop Module. I really like the control it gives you. You have much more control than when you're working in the Library alone. One simple way is to go over here and click on the Black & White, and you immediately get a nice conversion. Once you've done that, you can adjust it a little bit by using the sliders.

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Watch the Online Video Course The Elements of Effective Photographs
1h 36m Beginner Aug 30, 2011

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In this course, Pulitzer-nominated photographer Natalie Fobes takes viewers into the studio and on location to explore the many elements that combine to make an effective photo.

The course explores compositional elements that guide a viewer's eye, including the rule of thirds; leading lines, patterns, and curves; and depth of field. Natalie then details the roles of color and light in a photo. She shows how to work with the natural light in a room or outdoor location, and how to enhance it using reflectors, newspapers, a T-shirt, or whatever might be handy. She also shows some simple indoor lighting setups that can replicate the look of natural light.

The course continues with a look at movement and how a photographer can convey a sense of motion by blurring part of the image or freezing a fast-moving subject. Next, Natalie explores the concepts of peak action and the decisive moment—those split seconds that capture the essence or emotion of a subject or scene. The course wraps up with a discussion of the roles of planning and research in creating effective photos.

Subject:
Photography
Author:
Natalie Fobes

Black and white in post

Most imaging software programs give you a couple ways to convert to black and white. I'll be demonstrating in Adobe Lightroom, but the techniques will apply to others too. The first thing I do is go into the Develop Module. I really like the control it gives you. You have much more control than when you're working in the Library alone. One simple way is to go over here and click on the Black & White, and you immediately get a nice conversion. Once you've done that, you can adjust it a little bit by using the sliders.

Increase the Exposure, decrease it. I like to add blacks. I like a beefy print, so I pull that over a little bit. Another way is to go down to Saturation and pull the slider all the way over to -100. Again, at that point you can go back in and adjust your Blacks, your Brightness, whatever you want to do with this particular photograph. Now, Lightroom has all sorts of great presets.

Watch the preview up here as I scroll through them. It gives you an idea of what that kind of technique is. Which one you choose will really depend on your preference. Let's take a look at the High Contrast. Now this one, to my mind, is a little bit too contrasty. So I am just going to go over here and I am going to adjust it a little bit, drop down the Contrast, and I will brighten it up a little bit too. But the best way for me to convert is to go down to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance panel.

I go into Saturation and I pull each of the colors down to -100. The photograph is still in color, but I'm just taking the saturation out of the colors. After that's done, I go to the Luminance. And this is a wonderful tool, the Target Adjustment tool. Click on that, go over to the area in the photograph that you want to darken or lighten, and it will catch only the color that is the dominant color there.

So in this case I want to darken the blue, so I am clicking and holding and pulling down, and see how that's darkening the blue up there in the sky? If I want to lighten it, I can just push it back up and it's lightened up. So let's take that back down. We'll pull it down, pull it down. Yeah, that's where I want it. Now I also want to darken this area. This was a day where there was a little bit of smog in the Seattle skyline, so I'm pulling down this a little bit to kind of bring that down in value.

Now, down here, the greens, I want to raise them up just to give a little bit more detail in them. So I am clicking and holding and pushing up, and it is just very subtle, what I have done down here, but I think it adds to the photograph. Okay, that looks pretty good. Now, I am going to go back up and take the Adjustment brush and darken the sky even more. So I will go in here. I have got -.61. I'm going to bring the Contrast back to 0, because I like to adjust individual brushes.

That way I can mess with them a little bit later, as far as the intensity. I am going to do the right bracket to increase my brush size and then start painting the sky a little darker. So I think that's just a little bit heavy. I am going to pull it back up just a little bit. Now I want to increase contrast. So I am going to go to a new brush, and I am going to increase that contrast. Again, I'll put it up to 46, 51, see what it looks like.

Using the same big brush, I will go in and paint the sky. Increase the contrast a little more, and the clouds are really popping out from that nice blue sky. All right! That looks pretty good. At this point, I think that I'm going to just go back and do a little bit more adjustment on the Exposure. That looks pretty good. I'm going to go in and beef up the blacks a little bit. That looks good.

So I like what's happened here. This is going to look really dynamic as a print. Let's take a look at where I started and where I finished. This is the started. This is the finished. Compare them side to side. Pretty nice! I like the black and white a lot better than I like the color. There are a lot of ways to convert to black and white, but in the end it really boils down to what works for your creative eye.

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