Black and White Photo Challenge

Fellow photoblogger Janice Sullivan nominated me for the 5-day Black and White Photo Challenge. It had been a while since I’d done any serious B&W conversions so I was glad to have this discipline. Below are the photos, with something about each one. Each image was originally posted on my Facebook page.

Ed IMG_1190 Nik Neutral sThis is the interior of The Coffee Pot in Littleton, NH; the old-fashioned interior lends itself well to B&W. I had already processed this in color and chose to make the B&W conversion from the psd file instead of from the jpg to which I had added some Topaz Adjust finishing touches. This conversion was made with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, in which I used the Neutral preset and simply increased the structure a bit as I like the somewhat gritty look that gives.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you know my image Dreamtime at the Ashokan Reservoir, this is another taken on the same day. After preliminary processing in Lightroom 5, I brought it into Photoshop and added a B&W layer, decreased the Cyans and Blues to darken the clouds (and their reflections in the water), and increased the Yellows and Greens to lighten the bridge structure to make it more prominent. I also cropped it a bit from the bottom; without the “dreamy” look of the color image I wanted the bridge to stand out more.


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This was taken at the Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge, Middletown, RI, when sun and wind combined for the right conditions early one morning. Observing the waves and trying to capture “the decisive moment” is a meditative experience. Here I was struck not only by the wave action but also by the play of the rising sun on the edges of the rocks. B&W conversion was simply a B&W layer in Photoshop CS5. I darkened the Cyans and Blues at the top of the image to make the contrast with the wave stand out more.


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This image of a barn and tree in the Adirondacks first went into Lightroom to increase clarity to enhance detail in the barn and the grass. Then I brought it into Photoshop for B&W conversion by adding a B&W layer. I tweaked the Blues to darken the sky but not too dark, then increased the Greens to bring out more detail in the grass.


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Finally, here is the Diana’s Bath waterfall in New Hampshire. I began by working on my processed jpg, but then decided to take the psd file back into Lightroom to increase the Clarity. That worked! Then back into Photoshop where I added a B&W layer, then tweaked the Shadows/Highlights a bit. In the process, I ended up with a better color version as well.

What do you think? Let me hear from you. If you’re interested in purchasing a print as a gift for yourself or a friend, click on the photo to go through to my FAA website. Thank you for looking.

Omaha’s History in Its Buildings

Downtown Omaha is an amazing treasure of buildings that speak eloquently of the city’s history. Pick up a brochure on the Old Market area and you’ll find a collection of historic photographs of old buildings along with descriptions of what they used to be, their current use, and their exact location. It seems that Omaha is into recycling, rather than demolishing, in a big way. The result is a Midwestern city with considerable character and charm.

Armed with the Old Market brochure from the Omaha tourist office and my Canon Powershot S95 (all I could afford to take on this all-too-brief, fly-very-lightly trip), I set out on many walks to locate and shoot some of the downtown sites. The early mornings offered quiet and space for reflection; in the evenings the place was bustling with people out to enjoy the pubs and restaurants, especially those that offer covered outdoor seating (as most of them do in the Old Market). Here is a selection of my photos.

Ed IMG_1534 sThe lettering that rings the upper stories tells the tale of this impressive building’s former life. The ground floor now houses the Spaghetti Works — a favorite Omaha restaurant, especially for families with children — and shops to attract visitors and residents alike. I processed this image in a straightforward way with Nik Color Efex Pro 4’s Tonal Contrast.

From this angle the plethora of signs tells of a variety of incarnations this building has enjoyed.Ed IMG_1543 s Turn the corner around to the front of the building and see the modern businesses it now houses. This picture was taken early morning after it had rained the previous night and I deliberately chose an angle to include the reflection in the puddle in the foreground.  Like the above photo, processed with a simple Tonal Contrast adjustment in Nik Color Efex Pro.

Ed IMG_1537 Top sThis was a complete surprise–I turned the corner off one of the busy Old Market thoroughfares and here it was — a diner, simply called The Diner! I just laughed in sheer delight. I love diners and only regretted that my program for this visit to Omaha didn’t allow me the opportunity to enjoy a breakfast or lunch here. For this image I used Topaz Adjust, tried two different Detail Strong presets and decided on this one, Detail Strong 2, because it’s far more vibrant. I altered the Details settings from the original preset, one reason being that I wanted to show that the splotch of sunlight on the building wall above the diner was left there deliberately–the different colorations show it to be a work of art in its own right.

Finally, this image is quite different from the rest; unlike the previous three, this building isn’tEd IMG_1479 s enjoying a present life. I struggled with how to interpret this image. I felt sorry for the building and for the fact that it had once housed a cooperative of artists who undoubtedly must have worked together, encouraged and supported one another, shared in other members’ successes and failures. And so I didn’t want to give it one of my grunge looks where every little detail is accentuated so that all you see is a somewhat disorganized network of lines more than the building as a whole. After several experiments I decided on this preset, which I found almost by accident — the Color Stylizer in Nik Color Efex Pro 4, with contrast and saturation adjusted and the tint slightly tweaked. I think it’s reasonably gentle on the poor building. Please, won’t you leave a comment and tell me what you think?

GREAT NEWS: Our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour has just been published! Click the book’s title to view the feature on the website of our publisher, Schiffer Publishing and to purchase your copy.

Noon Mark Diner, an Adirondack Gem

The Noon Mark Diner is, of course, named for the mountain that towers over this part of the Adirondacks: the diner is located along Route 73, the road that leads from the Adirondack Northway (a.k.a. I-87) to Lake Placid, in Keene Valley. It’s a mecca for anyone wanting good, tasty, Ed IMG_0362 snonpretentious food and friendly service, whether hiker, local, or tourist. The management also has a sense of humor: don’t you love this photo? (I couldn’t resist buying one of the pens.)

I stopped there to get a take-out lunch on my way home from my most recent trip to Lake Placid, and while waiting for my grilled cheese sandwich to be ready I pulled out my Canon Powershot G15 and made some images for my Diners and Restaurants series. Here is the first one I’ve processed (been busy processing images from my New England trip in October).

This was all done with the jpg in Photoshop–still don’t have Raw processing software that supports the G15. After lightening it a bit in Levels (232, down from 255) I increased the Vibrance, then brought it into Topaz Adjust 5. Using the Spicify preset, I chose Medium Contrast under the Curve Tool in Global Adjustments. Back in Photoshop–sometimes I can get this far and then decide that something is overdone (or underdone). So I decreased the saturation by -10 and increased the lightness by +2. Here is the result.

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A Photogenic Diner

Diners are fun to photograph. I mean the ones with real local character, not those that tend all to look as if cut from the current trendy cloth for diner looks.

I had my eye on Selena’s Diner in the Catskill village of Haines Falls, New York for a while, and a few weeks ago, after leaving a reception for the Twilight Park Artists Show, where I had pictures on exhibit, I pulled in there quite on impulse to grab a light bite before the long drive through Kaaterskill Clove and down the Thruway. The timing couldn’t have been better; nor could the place where I chose to sit, because I was at one end of the oblong little building and the early evening sun was forming these long streaks of light that led my eye from my seat into and through the length of the diner. I had my discreet little Canon Powershot S95 with me and got several images. As I left, of course, I photographed the outside as well. Here is a selection of the images and how I processed them.

I began with Raw processing, as always, and here was fairly generous with the Contrast and Clarity sliders because I wanted to accentuate those sunshine-painted patterns.

In Photoshop I continued the processing with Nik Efex Pro’s ProContrast at 40%. I aimed to keep a reasonable unity of processing styles for this little series and was intending to use the Nik Tonal Contrast for them all, but it didn’t work for this one; this image needed a smoother look. Note how I deliberately included the placemat at the bottom of the picture to establish where this was!

Tonal Contrast from Nik Efex Pro brought out the different textures in this picture. I used Highlights 24, Midtones 30, Shadows 60 (excellent for defining the areas that otherwise might literally remain “in the dark,” and Saturation 20.

This one uses Nik Efex Pro’s Tonal Contrast with Highlights at 40, Midtones 50, and Shadow 62. Saturation 20. I never overdue saturation since I rather abhor that exaggerated eye-candy look so beloved of some.