Loweswater, The Lake District

Posted by Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 4 July 2008 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

So....here's the B&W version of yesterday's photo. It's been converted using Photoshop CS3.

Apart from the obvious messing about just to get the B&W, the main difference in processing between the two images is in the amount of contrast enhancement - this B&W version has had a lot more applied to it whereas yesterday's colour version only had a tiny bit using Photoshop's usm tool at settings of 13-50-0.

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Alfredo J. Martiz J. from Tokyo, Japan

I like the b/w conversion more because of the increased degree in contrast, makes it to have more impact and be dramatic, the color version itself is beautiful but this one is a different level of expression!

4 Jul 2008 5:23am

@Alfredo J. Martiz J.: Thanks Alfredo....the reasons you've given are exactly the ones that attract me to B&W photos!

Vincent from Montréal, Canada

I cannot decide which I like best. Both colour and B&W version are awesome.

4 Jul 2008 5:28am

@Vincent: Thanks Vincent!....the light was good so the photo looks good in colour but for me B&W offers more opportunity for interpretation and self expression.

ordinaryimages from KY Bluegrass, United States

i like the concept of presenting a color image followed by a b/w. perhaps the darks in the b/w are a bit blocked. curious that you are using the old usm dynamic range trick. assuming you are shooting RAW, ACR gives better control. best...jf

4 Jul 2008 5:35am

@ordinaryimages: Thanks....I've been posting so many B&W images recently I thought it would be interesting to explore the differences between the two styles in a couple of images that would normally favour colour. Over the last few months I've also been using the curves tool a lot for contrast enhancement.

Michael Rawluk from Prince George, Canada

Terrific but I think I prefer the colour.

4 Jul 2008 5:41am

@Michael Rawluk: Thanks Michael....I agree that this image has good light and is ideally suted to colour but for me B&W often offers more opportunity for self expression and interpretation.

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

Both pictures are lovely but the black and white has a lot more impact for me. What's the usm tool? I can't seem to find that on my CS version.

4 Jul 2008 5:49am

@Mike: Thanks Mike....the usm (unsharp mask) tool is located under filter - sharpen - unsharp mask. It is usually used with a small value in the radius box of about 1 pixel. For general contrast enhancement however I usually use a pixel 'radius' value of 50 and a 'threshold' of 0 and I set an 'amount' value by eye but somewhere between 5 and maybe 15 on a colour photo (higher on a B&W)

Shun from Mühlheim am Main, Germany

Hej Ian, Now I am clicking back and forth and can't believe it is the same shot. Sure, both contain the same landscape and features but both your processings bring out a very special quality in each. I am most impressed today easily you manage to produce such different moods an the same scene. Great work!

P.S. For this image I like the colored version more. Here in Frankfurt it is quite cloudy and grey today. You shot in color brightens up my friday. Thank you!

4 Jul 2008 6:16am

@Shun: Thanks Mirko!....This whole issue of B&W versus colour is a personal thing isn't it but recently I've been exploring B&W a lot more because I think it gives greater opportunity for self expression and interpretation. Also I often enjoy the simplicity that B&W photos can have where the essence of the photo is distilled into something more powerful...the composition tone and texture all become more important without the distraction of colour.

Michael Skorulski from Cigel, Slovakia

I really prefer the b/w because of the added feeling of depth, contrast and crispness. A great image, Ian.

4 Jul 2008 6:34am

@Michael Skorulski: It's a really interesting subject isn't it Michael - I only wish I were better at Photoshop so that I could explore the various possibilities in a more skilled way.

Stephen Phillips from San Francisco, United States

Ian, this is stunning - and has far more dramatic impact than did the color version. The color image conveys a likeness of a place - what our eyes might expect to see once we arrive. The range and tonality possible in monochrome comes closer to providing us the impact of the place. How it feels. Ansel Adams wrote about this - you know this - why am I rambling on?

4 Jul 2008 7:19am

@Stephen Phillips: Thanks Stephen...you put it very well and pretty much summed up why I've been concentrating on B&W so much recently.

I haven't read any of Ansel Adams but I've obviously seen his photos on the www and I'd love to get the chance to see them in real life one day. Of the famous photographers whose work I've actually been to see in exhibitions, Edward Steichen has had by far the biggest influence on me...in fact it felt like a life changing experience at the time (last Christmas)

missparis from paris, France

yours blacks and white are really magnificent

4 Jul 2008 7:50am

@missparis: Thanks....the beauty of B&W is that there are so many ways to approach the way in which the image is processed depending on your memory of the scene, your personality, what you want to say about the photo...the list goes on but I'm sure you get the idea why I enjoy B&W so much!

yz from Budapest, Hungary

Exactly. Much better in bw. (Though it was already great in colour)

4 Jul 2008 7:56am

@yz: Thanks very much yz!

António Pires from Lisbon, Portugal

Well, it's more dramatic in b&w (more contrast, of course). Both photos are correct with regard to contrast, slight contrast enhancing in the colour version and heavier contrast in the b&w. Well done.

4 Jul 2008 10:13am

@António Pires: Thanks very much António!

Ian Smith from London, United Kingdom

Ian, though the B&W image is quite striking at first, I personally would not have burned in the distant hills quite as much, as it loses the 'depth' of the scene, bringing them forward in equal balance to the overhanging branches and its subsequent shadow (which act like a frame).

So for me, the colour version wins.

An interesting experiment though, as the feedback is very diverse.

4 Jul 2008 10:16am

@Ian Smith: Hi Ian....photographically I feel like we've known each other for ever from my first very hesitant steps with my Fuji F31 at Dpr 18 months ago where you and Hugo helped me along so much but it's only really in the last month or so that I feel that I'm starting to properly take my first steps in B&W....it's such a huge thing to try and explore as there as so many different ways of approaching the processing in photoshop.

I know what you mean about the diminishing effect of distance on contrast and definition and normally it's something I try to preserve so as to maximise depth perception....I'm not sure why I went this far with the contrast now....perhaps it was my memory of the brilliance of the light in that spot.

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

I have a feeling I prefer this one. Great shot.

4 Jul 2008 10:20am

@Ana Lúcia: Thanks Ana!

Paolo from Italy

the composition is fine, on the other side I think that both versions (bw and colour) suffer from a non optimal light (clouds passing by?). I suppose that the bw one has been post processed to enhance the sky but this fact has darkened the imagine a little bit and so I prefer the colour one. btw these are only the opinions of a beginner


4 Jul 2008 10:37am

@Paolo: Thanks Paolo....don't worry - I still feel very much like a beginner with all this too. There's so much to learn!

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria


4 Jul 2008 12:28pm

@Stefan: Thanks Stefan!

Ted from South Wales, United Kingdom

I vote for B&W...richer, stronger texture.

4 Jul 2008 12:42pm

@Ted: Thanks very much Ted!

MadScientist from Düsseldorf, Germany

I'd say the colour version is more 'lovely' while this is more 'expressive'. I like them both.
Btw, the composition with that branch on the upper side is excellent, as usual :)

4 Jul 2008 1:01pm

@MadScientist: Thanks....I think that's a very good summary of the differences between the two!

Anthony Lambert from Germany

The B+W does it for me,much more dramatic....

4 Jul 2008 2:02pm

@Anthony Lambert: Thanks Anthony!

hugo poon from hong kong, Hong Kong

To be frank, I had my answer even before viewing this b&w version... Whilst the colour version has captured the majestic scenery very nicely, the b&w is unfolding a timeless beauty to me! Wonderful experiment! (PS. Though I love the b&w much better, I think I incline to Ian's suggestions regarding the hills.)

4 Jul 2008 3:41pm

@hugo poon: Thanks Hugo!....you and Ian are probably right about the contrast in those distant hills.

Scotfot from Kabul, Afghanistan

I DO like the B&W version!

4 Jul 2008 6:46pm

@Scotfot: Thanks very much!

Will from Gainesville, United States

great shot...love the details and tones:)

4 Jul 2008 7:17pm

@Will: Thanks very much Will!

Viewfinder from Bradenton, United States

Yesterday's color is good. Today's BW is brilliant!

4 Jul 2008 9:13pm

@Viewfinder: Thanks for that Glenn!

Cheryl from Texas, United States

interesting to compare the two, what a difference in moods. the color feels soft and cheery & summery. The b&w feels dark and stormy, powerful. I think I personally favor the color

4 Jul 2008 9:17pm

@Cheryl: Hi Cheryl....I'm sure you're right in that colour photos often have more optimism compared to B&W.

amy from Nanaimo, BC, Canada

Hands down today's image in b/w is the best!! Fantastic, Ian!

5 Jul 2008 3:22am

Lorraine from Gatineau, Canada

Well, wow, but the colour version took my heart and flew with it, although this B&W is full of drama and shadows, yesterday's filled all my senses, so colour version for me!!!!

5 Jul 2008 8:25am

Lorraine from Gatineau, Canada

Geeze I had to check it through my laptop 'cause it has fantastic imaging and although I can see that the B&W has more depth, I'm slight inclined to go with the colour although it's so darned close lol

5 Jul 2008 1:20pm

tom from Frankfurt, Germany

I like both. However, the B&W one touches me a bit more.

5 Jul 2008 8:23pm

JM@somedaysomewhere.net from France

Wow, really splendid..love the framing in the composition and the contrasted b&w - simply stunning !

5 Jul 2008 8:26pm

Jeff from Honolulu, United States

Both are excellent, but the longer I look at the color version the more I see and the better I like it. All perfectly subjective, of course, as both photos are very well done. I just think I like the richness of color.

11 Jul 2008 6:32pm

Nikon D40
1/640 second
ISO 200
15 mm (35mm equiv.)

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