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In this Foundations of Photography, Ben Long shows photographers how to develop a black and white vocabulary and explains the considerations to take into account when shooting for this medium. The course follows Ben as he goes on location and explains what makes good black and white subject matter and how to visualize the scene in terms of tonal values and contrast rather than color. Along the way, he demonstrates some exposure strategies for getting the best images. Back at the computer, Ben demonstrates techniques for converting the resulting photos into black and white using Photoshop and other imaging tools, and offers tips on printing and output.
I have been really concentrating on the good light situation here, on this trestle with the sun going down and the long shadows and the nice highlights, but here off to the side, there is something very interesting, which is an area of really bad light, but there's something that I think that I can do with it, and there it's something tonal. If I look here, I've got this green lawn going out to the sea and cutting across is this winding path of sand, which is very light, and then I've got those backlit bushes back there, and then the ocean and the sky-- all of it in shade, so I've got no contrast on it. But if I'm thinking like a black-and-white shooter, what I'm seeing, if I remember, any color here can be any tone that I want.
So I've got all this green, and I've got some blue. What if I toned this green really dark, so I've got this dark field with this white line snaking across of it? I've also got the stone circle that might light up, and then I've got the blue sky behind those bushes over there. The blue sky might be able to be toned dark to really bring out the highlighted vegetation over there. Again, I don't have great light here, but I've got very interesting tonal relationships: the tonal relationship between the potentially dark grass and the potentially light path, the tonal relationship between the sky and the backlit plants.
I'm not always looking for light when I'm shooting black and white; sometimes I'm just looking for interesting tone. So I'm still here in aperture priority mode, because I want to be sure this is all good depth of field. I cranked my ISO up to 400, because this is pretty dark. Now, actually, that's even going a little slow. Well, now I'm okay. I'm at 200th of a second. So what I am doing is I'm trying a few different framings, and this is a purely graphical construction here. I've just got these lines that I'm playing with. I like the idea of the path going right out of the corner of the frame. We want to maybe try and play around with the circles, centering it, maybe pushing it off to the side following my rule of thirds idea, and all that kind of stuff.
So I'm just working the shot a little bit, and we're going to see what we can do with these tones once we get into post-production.
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