Tag Archives: Alberta

Presentiaon by Olivier Du Tre about Black & White, and my case

I am helping organizing speakers for a small camera club in Calgary. I invited multiple award wining photographer, Olivier Du Tre as a speaker for the club meeting in May. Oli is landscape/fine art photographer, residing in Cochrane, Alberta. He shoots only black and white, and furthermore, he totally switched to film recently. He mentions “zone” while others are referring Nike Silver Efex. He will cover many aspects of B&W photography in the presentation. Please check his website. Also the info about his presentation is here.

So about my story how I started B&W and why I like B&W. When I became interested in photography about 20 years ago, I was suggested to try color slide film because it was considered to be more advanced compared to negative print film. One day, I took BEAUTIFUL sun rise shot on my trip. I thought it was glorious shot and showed to everybody at work. But one person said the photo was not remarkable. His reasoning was “Color dominates the image too much. Besides color, nothing to see”. And he recommended B&W film. I was pissed off, but anyway, I tried B&W. My first roll…I quite like images. But 2nd and 3rd rolls…I didn’t get good images. Usually, I got quite interesting or so disappointing images. Not so much between. Then eventually, I realized good composition made difference in photography. Color comes next to composition.

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Then I started printing by myself. I read many books about printing in darkroom. I could obtain prints by following text book. But I could not tell if they were good prints or not. I found a kind of the mentor and I showed my prints. I kept visiting him. I gradually learned “tone” or tonality was really important in prints and each master photographer had signature tone in his/her prints. Photography is picture by light. I realized light comes always first, even before composition.

This is an image from Vermilion Lake in Banff in snowy day. I knew I could not expect gorgeous scenery including well-photographed Mt. Randal since the sky was still so grey. But I tried and I found this composition. All elements were line up vertically. When I grabbed my camera, the sun was a little off from the center so I waited about 20 min for the sun moving to the center.

Actually, now I found I could apply more burning and dodging to this image to enhance the story I saw at the scene. No wonder many B&W photographer stay in a darkroom for months.

Anyway, please check out, Oli’s amazing B&W photography in his website. You will see what I was talking about.

It is not “beautiful” sunset but… – Overlapping Memories

As I mentioned before I sometimes have precise vision of final image before I press a shutter button at the scene, but also I often just capture a scenery without particular idea of final image. Occasionally, images are just only “beautiful” and did not speak to me regardless of how process the image, but occasionally my imagination grows while I am editing the image.

This is one of the such type of my photos. I took this photo in Jasper last year. I was shooting sunset on the mountains and reflection. While I was waiting for the sky turned to beautiful orange, this scene came to my eyes from the position I stood to different angle. I changed to long distance lens and took some shots. Even I did not use a tripod for this image.

I edited the “beautiful” sunset shot but it did not speak to me even though I took hours for processing. Then I looked at this image. It somehow appealed to me. Although I needed some trials and errors before I got an idea of editing map to the final image, I like this image much better than the sunset image….maybe because this reflect my personality? The sunset image is staying in a hard drive; this image was exhibited at my Wabi-sabi wanderlust show in February and sold.

 

Overlapping Memories

 

By the way, I am on process of rebuilding my business and my business name will be changed to Wide Bright Sun photography from Wide Bright Pass Photography. I hope I can announce my new web site before long.

 

My photographic exhibition at Framed on fifth in February.

It has been 2 years since Framed on Fifth, lovely framing and art gallery booked me for a gallery show. Now it is happening.  Although 2 years seems long enough to prepare images, it passed very quickly. I must be a rain man and I got bad weather whenever I go to big trips. I end up to get many subtle, gentle almost melancholic images. Then I went through all landscape images I have taken since 2009. I realized I am getting more subtle images because my style may have been changing. 

So I titled this gallery show,  “Wabi-sabi wanderlust”. Wabi-sabi is Japanese term, in part portrays a true sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing.

My show will be at Framed on Fifth (1207 – 5th Avenue N.W., Calgary) from Feb 1st to Mar 1st. The opening reception will be Feb 8th from 5pm. Also I will have artist talk, ” Meet the artist” on Feb 15th from 2 pm to 4 pm. I will have a photo critiquing session as a part of the artist talk.  Please bring a couple of your photos.

image

By the way, this show is part of Exposure Photo Festival 2014. Many gallery shows are listed this year as well. You should check the out.

Lastly,  I will share a time-lapsed video, I made for fun. Just check it out.

Black and White conversion to the image “Island” (3) – Technique from wet darkroom

In my last blog, each parts of the image were looked after and vignetting was applied. It is getting close to what I imagined. But I felt the island, the woods at the center, was somewhat still weak as a main subject. So I need to spice up a little bit. I used “Curve” layers to modify contrast and brightness. But it did not give delicate control over the intricate patterns of the woods. So I used a different technique.

Before showing the process, please allow me to talk about a little bit about conventional dark room process. In darkroom processing, can contrast be adjusted LOCALLY, like I did in my previous post? Originally, contrast was determined by a GRADE of the paper (#1 to 5, #1 is lowest contrast and #5 is highest) so the contrast can’t be adjusted locally. Then Multigrade paper was developed. With the MG paper, contrast was determined by different density of filters, placed between enlarging lens and the paper. The darker filter, the more contrast. By applying different density of the filter to particular part of the image, contrast can be adjusted locally. This is same as I have done in my previous post. As a more advanced technique, different densities of filters are applied to the SAME part. The principle of enlargement is same as shooting with a camera. It requires certain exposure time; it is just longer than shooting. Now please imagine you need 30sec to get proper exposure to a particular part of the image. With a moderate contrast filter, you get a result with lack of punch. Now, you need more contrast but you don’t want to lose gradation of the tone. So what you can do is divide the exposure time (30 sec) to different filters. E.g, High contrast filter for 8sec, medium one for 15 sec and low contrast one for 7 sec to preserve the gradation. I use this technique for the wood part in digital processing.

Step 1. Create a mask on the woods as precise as possible.

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 Step 2. Create a Curve layer for high contrast. Please take a look a curve and the image below.

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Step 3.  Create a Curve layer for low contrast.    

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Step 4. Change opacity of the each curve layer. The high contrast curve adds edges of lines but it will sacrifice tonal gradation. The low contrast will recover the tonal gradation. I find this technique is effective to clouds or hair.

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It is done. I saw bluish toning would suit this image so I added selenium toning by Nik SilverEfex. This is finally competed image.

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Black and White conversion to the image “Island” (2)

In the last post, my photo, “Island” was converted to B&W by B&W conversion software, TrueGrain. This time, I will share how I edited the converted image. As I mentioned in the previous post, my inner vision I imagined was that the woods at the center was floating in the air, like floating Island. Now I have to make changes to achieve the concept.

At first, short grasses are growing around the island. I brightened this area to separate from the outer part (photo 1).  By the way, I used “Curve” layers of Photoshop for this type of changes.

Photo 1

Photo 1

Next, I looked at the forest at the other side of the river. The forest on right side of the island is brighter than left one so I darken the right side to make even (photo 2). It is a subtle change.

photo 2

photo 2

Then although the river is visible, it is too white and not noticeable. So I darkened the river (photo 3).

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Although the Island is main subject (center of interest) in this photo, the summits of the mountains are also an important element since they are acting as a complement of the main subject. So I wanted to enhance the edge (snow line) of the mountains. In this case, the brightness of the snow line was kept at same level, and the rocky aprt around the snow line was darkened (photo 4). It is subtle change but it is significant on print.

photo 4

photo 4

 Lastly, a tree was too white so it was darkened.

Let’s leave dodging and burning process at this point and see what will happen if I apply vignetting (Darkening or whiting corners). Before this process, I usually crop an image to appropriate composition and aspect ratio. For portrait works, I often use automatic vignetting tool equipped in Adobe Lightroom or Nik Color efex. But for landscapes, especially this case, I manually added vinetting. This is the original just after cropped.

L1050414-2 HP5 cropped copy

1.       Left bottom corner.

2.       Right bottom corner.

3.       Right top corner.

4.       I felt still not quite effective, so I darkened about 1/12 of the entire image from top edge.

5.       I see texture on a mountain on the left side. I Do Not want to see the detail. So the area was whitened.

6.       More vinetting on right top corner.

7.       Then mild vignetting was applied at all corners by Nik Color Efex to add retro mood.

8.       Still I did not see the impact of my inner vision so I added gradual neutral density digitally to darken the sky. Vignetting looks okay now. This is the result.

L1050414-2 HP5 cropped copy 08

Hmmm…it is getting closer but I still the Island is not standing out as I imagine.

So I tried another trick. It will be next time.  Stay Tuned.

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Black and White conversion to the image “Island” (1)

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I will share how I edited the black and white photo, “Island” posted in the previous blog.  First of all, I should talk about B&W conversion software I am using. Many photographers use software to convert a color image to monochrome image. It is very convenient since the software allows adding an effect of the color filter, (such as red filter for darkening sky or green filter for pleasant skin tone), mimicking many different types of B&W film, controlling grain level and adding toning such as sepia or selenium. Currently, I am using following three B&W converters.

Nik Silver Efex is the most popular B&W converter. It has many functions and some parameters can be locally adjusted by NIk’s famous “control points” method. Many types of film are listed for film mimicking. But I see “digital flavor” still remains. I would say It gives contemporary B&W image so I use the Silver Efex predominantly for my portrait works.

Topaz B&W effect doesn’t have film mimicking but is has many fancy toning so I occasionally use the software for toning at the end of process.

TrueGrain is very simple B&W converter; only I can do with the software are selecting a film type, adding an effect of the color filter, and controlling grain level. It allows modifying characteristic contrast curve of the selected film. It doesn’t have local adjustment or toning. Possibly, this is why nobody use (or knows) this software. But its film mimicking is very close to real film; it gives a kind of Lo-fi feel of the film. I use TrueGrain for my landscape photography since I would like keep natural feel to the images.

The original image was taken in foggy morning so the contrast of the entire image is somewhat low for B&W image.  I tried the B&W conversion with TrueGrain and I applied red filter but the sky is not dark enough and the “Island”, woods in the center of image was not standing out well. (photo 1)

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Photo 1

So I had to apply some preparation to the color image before the conversion. Now I should explain how the color filter works for B&W photography. When a color is mixed with a particular different color, the mixed color will be black (or white but ignore at this point). This is called complementary color. For example, the complementary color of blue is yellow; that is why a yellow filter darkens the sky. On the other hand, when the same color of the filter exists in an image, that part will be brightened. I use this idea to enhance certain parts of the image. This time, I planned using orange filter, complementary color of the orange is between blue and cyan.

First of all, I needed to darken the sky. So I have to select (mask) the sky and change its color to more blue / cyan (photo 2). Please click the image for larger view.

Photo 2

Photo 2

Next, I wanted to add a little more contrast to the trees in the island to enhance the drama and separate the island from its surroundings. Again I applied mask to the trees (Photo 3). Then the color of the trees were change to blue/cyan but the intensity of the change was not as high as the sky since I expected a little more subtle changes of the contrast (photo 4)

Photo 3

Photo 3

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Photo 4

At the same time, I felt trunks of the trees needed to be more distinctive, so orange (yellow and red) was added the trunks to lighten them (Photo 4).

Photo 5

Photo 5

Lastly, I brightened the whole island by “Curves” (photo 5).

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Now all preparation is done. Save the file as Tiff and convert the image with TrueGrain. I chose Ilford HP5 as film mimicking and applied orange filter. I added grain as well.L1050414-2 HP5

So this is the result. Please compare to the photo 1. Now the B&W image has more contrast and drama. Getting closer to the concept when I shot the image at the scene.

Actually, this is not done; real cooking will be done on the B&W image. It will be shared in the next post. Stay tuned.

Related post: Black and white photo – “Island”

Black and white photo – “Island”

This photo was taken in August, 2013 in Banff national park. I knew it would be foggy in the morning, so I prepared my camera gear for the next morning to shoot waterfowl lake. When I woke up, my tent was surrounded by mist. I rushed to the waterfowl lake. Well, usually, when I plan a shoot for a particular scene and am aiming a specific image, I don’t get images “I” feel wow. I sometimes say landscape photography is like Symphony but I have been thinking lately I still improvise a lot of time like playing jazz.
After I left the Waterfowl Lake, I drove up to Saskatchewan crossing. Then this scenery came to my eye. I stopped my car and snapped some shots. I didn’t apply any special techniques but I had particular final image in my head. The woods in the swap looked like floating island. Possibly, the idea was come from Japanese animation, unconsciously. I see it in black and white.

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Please click the image for the larger size.

Although the shooting was easy and quick, post-processing was a difficult delivery. I needed to start from scratch for 3 times to meet my inner view “Floating Island”. I am planing to share the post-processing I have applied to this in the next post.

This photo will be exhibited in my next gallery show titled “Wabi-sabi Wanderlust” in February at “Framed on Fifth” in Calgary.

A happy new year!

Sunrise in the Abraham Lake,

I have been going through landscape photos I have taken since 2009. I have to select some images for my upcoming exhibition in February, 2014 and hopefully, I am planning to publish a book at the same time. Then I realized the images I think interesting were taken in bad weather….can be cloudy, raining, snowing or very cold.

When I took this photo, it was warmer day, -6C! But it was windy and cold enough to have made my camera stop working. (I had to keep camera batteries warm and switch them frequently). But when the moment comes like this scene, adrenaline is pumping in, and I just keep clicking a shutter.


Sunrise in the Abraham Lake by Hiroaki  Kobayashi on 500px.com

Sunrise in the Abraham Lake
by
Hiroaki Kobayashi

I like this photo but I don’t think I will put this one for the exhibition in February. This image is a little too dramatic to meet the title of the gallery show, which is “Wabi-sabi Wanderlust”. The photos at the show will be more melancholic and kind of spiritual. They could be said “Oriental mood”.  More details will be announced. Stay tuned.

Wedding photo in the beautiful ranch

It is now winter and already snowy and cold, but I have not shared images from the wedding I photographed in this summer. I was so lucky to photograph such a perfect couple and nice people in beautiful ranch. It was sunny but also I had nice cloud patterns that are best photographing condition for me. I wish their happy long life. Please click the images for the larger sizes. Also please book wedding or portrait session for 2014. You will get some deals.

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Gentle Beast – Beautiful Horses

Some of the readers here may have already known my project this year which is photographing my friend’s horses. They are so gentle and friendly so specific techniques are not required to photograph horses. But I realized that I have to pay attention some aspects capture their beauty and intimacy. Even a horse turns his head only a couple of inches further; his handsome face will be lost. I had to visit the ranch several times and learn a lot. Just recently, I feel I have become able to capture some good images from a visit.

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I want to capture some dynamic action shots, but also I really like to see their friendship and affection.

This photo will be exhibited at my next solo gallery show in February. Stay Tuned.

Related Article: Animal Portrait – horses – Such a gentle animal