Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing images with the right composition for black and white, part of Creating Black-and-White Landscape Photos with Photoshop.
Before we dive into all the tools and techniques for converting our images in Photoshop to great-looking black and white landscape images, I want to talk for just a few minutes about image composition. because if you want to achieve really good-looking results for your final black and white landscape images, you need to choose some good images to start with, images with good composition. This is true with all kinds of images, but particularly when we're talking about black and white landscape images, good, effective image composition is critical. So I want to start by asking a question.
What makes an effective image? An image that communicates, an image like this one that says power. This is a powerful image. Or an image like this that relates calm. Or this one that's just plain interesting. What is it about these images that makes them work? Why are these images effective? And these, not so much. And you'll notice that I've got three images each and they all have similar elements, all right? We have a waves image, we have an ice image, and we have some sea star images. So, why do these work and these don't so much? Well, it comes down to really effective image composition.
And here are the elements that I think about and I'd like you to think about when you're choosing your images to convert to black and white landscape images. First and foremost, the most important thing is simplicity. Keep your images simple. And part of that simplicity is having good separation of your image elements. Also, asymmetry is very good to have in your images if you want good, interesting compositions. And then finally, for a lot of landscapes, eye lines are important as well. Eye lines that encourage the viewer to look across the image, the eye to move across the image.
Let's compare these quickly, three sets of images to see how we can choose one composition over another. This top image, and this is an image you'll be working with in this course, and this is also a wave in Alaska on Cook Inlet, same waters, but boy, really different looking images, all right? And just quickly, notice this image has one, two, three basic compositional elements, all right? And this has one, two, three, four, five. And notice that this has excellent separation of tonal areas in the image. Where here, lots of overlap and the contrast is not good, not very good separation of elements, or tones, or colors.
And this is a beautifully asymmetric image, changed from left to right, and top to bottom, where this is very centered. And because of this nice asymmetry and the good tonal separation, this has nice eye lines that encourages the eye to move across the image, where this one does not. All right. Let's compare these two images. Both images, in fact, taken at the same place, but one's much more effective than the other. Again, simplicity. There's basically two elements, maybe three in this image. One, two, three. And this one has so many different elements, maybe five or six different elements.
And here, notice all the images are separated tonally from each other, where here, everything is overlapping. This has some beautiful asymmetry zigzagging back and forth, which creates nice eye lines, and here, everything is overlapping and pretty much centered. All right, so these compositional elements really make a difference in terms of the final images that we end up with. And then finally, here we have two sea star images. The left is clearly more effective and more interesting to look at than the right and all the same things apply in terms of composition. This is simple. There's two elements, beautifully separated, very nice asymmetry left to right and top to bottom.
And of course, we have some gorgeous eye lines, whose eye can't move across here, whereas you don't even want to look at the one on the right because it's way too complex, no separation, no asymmetry, and just no eye lines to speak of because there's so much overlap. So, paying attention to choosing images that have good simplicity, are going to have good separation of tonal elements when we get done, some nicely asymmetrical images with some nice eye lines are going to be really helpful for choosing the proper images to get started. So, don't start with images that look like these, but start with images that look like these.
It's all about effective image composition for your starting place, simplicity, separation, asymmetry, and eye lines.
- Exploring different methods for creating grayscale images
- Measuring grayscale values using the Histogram and Info panels
- Adjusting highlights and shadows to improve brightness and contrast
- Enhancing foreground-background separation
- Creating contrast with masks
- Enhancing contrast with gradient masks and clipping-masked curves
- Sharpening with nondestructive tools