Old 12-23-2008, 03:29 AM   #1
Heymon
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Default Using B&W to rescue poor lighting

Greetings,

I was victimized recently by a high cloud that followed me and the front of this train for several miles. Normally, I would not try to submit this, but I tried going black and white and thought the image looked good. My first two submissions were backlit rejections that I found somewhat curious, and now I got the poor lighting/cloudy rejection, which is quite understandable.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...1&key=44548114

I can accept the rejection, but my question is regarding the use of black and white in situations like this. I initially tried the black and white based on what I've read here, so I was curious what others thought about this shot and perhaps some thoughts on properly using black and white to "save" shots that might not otherwise work.

Thanks,
Andre
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Old 12-23-2008, 03:47 AM   #2
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B&W should not be used to 'save' a shot. If a shot looks bad in color, it should look bad in B&W.

A cloud followed a train? Welcome to railfanning.
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Old 12-23-2008, 03:48 AM   #3
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You should adjust the color channels seperately when converting to b+w.
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:01 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
B&W should not be used to 'save' a shot. If a shot looks bad in color, it should look bad in B&W.

.
I shoot many shots knowing that it will be used as black and white and knowing that they will not work in color. Usually backlit and/or high contrast.
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travsirocz
I shoot many shots knowing that it will be used as black and white and knowing that they will not work in color. Usually backlit and/or high contrast.
Your comment does not completely contradict Mike, in good part it raises a separate point. Aside from the creative, anticipated uses of BW, certainly there are any number of instances where people try to save a shot with BW. And for that matter, any number of recommendations in this forum to try to do so. (I just did it a few days ago with a shot by Charles, but at least it wasn't a sky issue, it was an odd coloring issue, so I would say it was appropriate rather than a cop out.)
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Your comment does not completely contradict Mike, in good part it raises a separate point. Aside from the creative, anticipated uses of BW, certainly there are any number of instances where people try to save a shot with BW. And for that matter, any number of recommendations in this forum to try to do so. (I just did it a few days ago with a shot by Charles, but at least it wasn't a sky issue, it was an odd coloring issue, so I would say it was appropriate rather than a cop out.)
You may have tried, but I didn't accept...

Actually, the image in question was not one that I personally liked in BW, so I didn't try it. (Nothing against J's recommendation, just not something I was personally interested in, so I didn't want to go that route.)

Last edited by Freericks; 12-23-2008 at 04:44 AM.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Your comment does not completely contradict Mike, in good part it raises a separate point. Aside from the creative, anticipated uses of BW, certainly there are any number of instances where people try to save a shot with BW. And for that matter, any number of recommendations in this forum to try to do so. (I just did it a few days ago with a shot by Charles, but at least it wasn't a sky issue, it was an odd coloring issue, so I would say it was appropriate rather than a cop out.)
I wasn't trying to, but I'm glad you pointed it out.

A bad color shot isn't a good black and white, and a good black and white shot isn't always a good color shot.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:14 AM   #8
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I'll fess up. Of my (few) BWs, this is the one that had a "rescue" element in the decision process.

Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 181288
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek


I will always think of it as an oddball in my collection; I keep it in large part because it was a really cool setting (one no longer accessible to me), although this was the best I could do with it. (Well, I have one I think is better, but RP vehemently disagrees! )
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:57 AM   #9
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I use B+W to rescue bad colours, not bad lighting.
The first shot, you were in an amazingly scenic area, couldn't you do anything more than a wedgie?
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Old 12-23-2008, 06:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trainboysd40
I use B+W to rescue bad colours, not bad lighting.
The first shot, you were in an amazingly scenic area, couldn't you do anything more than a wedgie?
All the scenery is in the background and it looks like where he is it's just flat. So, the best thing to do IMO is to do a zoom shot to bring out the background which is what he sort of did.

Doesn't bad light cause bad colors?
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Old 12-23-2008, 06:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
All the scenery is in the background and it looks like where he is it's just flat. So, the best thing to do IMO is to do a zoom shot to bring out the background which is what he sort of did.
Yep:

Image © Chris Paulhamus
PhotoID: 178055
Photograph © Chris Paulhamus
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Old 12-23-2008, 07:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Yep:

Image © Chris Paulhamus
PhotoID: 178055
Photograph © Chris Paulhamus
Nothing a little clockwise rotation won't fix, even almost two years later.
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Old 12-23-2008, 08:17 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Nothing a little clockwise rotation won't fix, even almost two years later.
Probably, but there are so many things that are leaning opposite to one another that it would still look crooked even if leveled...

BTW...if I do edit and re-submit, people will wonder what the heck you're talking about!
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:03 AM   #14
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Harsh side light as in Ween's shot do make the best B&W, Dark to light. Flat light is the hardest to make look good. I would go heavy on the RED slider in Levels and see if that will help? To much mid tone across the photo.
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Old 12-23-2008, 02:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
Doesn't bad light cause bad colors?
Usually, but not always.
Image © Mike W.
PhotoID: 140029
Photograph © Mike W.

On this shot (one of my first few), the camera screwed up the exposure on Aperture priority (I hadn't moved over to full manual yet) and the colors came out really weird. I couldn't seem to fix the colors, despite my best efforts. The solution: B&W.
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Old 12-23-2008, 07:14 PM   #16
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Andre,

Your shot also brings out one of my pet peeves. BNSF's paint scheme, especially the H1 and H2 versions, do not look good in black and white. The colors and the amount of lines are not visually appealing at all. The cigar band logo on the nose gets lost in the muddy gray and does not pop like it does in color.

Image © John Ryan
PhotoID: 190083
Photograph © John Ryan


This is probably one of the best black and white BNSF shots in the database (no surprise noting who the photographer is), but it has a dramatic sky and scenery to add to it. Even still, the engine still looks drab and distracting.

The newest scheme, with the swoosh, is a little better, as seen here in Thomas Johnson's shot:

Image © Thomas Johnson
PhotoID: 246911
Photograph © Thomas Johnson


The BNSF logo on the front is more defined in the new scheme and therefore stands out more.

I'm sure someone will find a knockout BNSF black and white shot now, but for now, I stand by my statement (until I'm forced to edit this post later).

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Old 12-23-2008, 07:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cblaz
Andre,

Your shot also brings out one of my pet peeves. BNSF's paint scheme, especially the H1 and H2 versions, do not look good in black and white. The colors and the amount of lines are not visually appealing at all. The cigar band logo on the nose gets lost in the muddy gray and does not pop like it does in color.

Image © John Ryan
PhotoID: 190083
Photograph © John Ryan


This is probably one of the best black and white BNSF shots in the database (no surprise noting who the photographer is), but it has a dramatic sky and scenery to add to it. Even still, the engine still looks drab and distracting.

The newest scheme, with the swoosh, is a little better, as seen here in Thomas Johnson's shot:

Image © Thomas Johnson
PhotoID: 246911
Photograph © Thomas Johnson


The BNSF logo on the front is more defined in the new scheme and therefore stands out more.

I'm sure someone will find a knockout BNSF black and white shot now, but for now, I stand by my statement (until I'm forced to edit this post later).

- Chris
I think it depends on what color filter you run it through. I usually run my B&W pictures through a red filter, though I used to shoot with an orange filter on my camera, which also produces some pretty interesting BNSF colors. Personally, I always thought it was cool that the orange turned to almost a white under a filter.

Now, if you want to talk about boring in B&W, look at Phase V Amtrak engine under cloudy skies (it "pops" a little better in the sunlight):
Image © Mike W.
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Photograph © Mike W.
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Old 12-23-2008, 07:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cblaz
I'm sure someone will find a knockout BNSF black and white shot now, but for now, I stand by my statement (until I'm forced to edit this post later).
Other than some of Martin Burwash's shots, John's photo is the only one that I could think of where B&W with the BNSF scheme works. This one of Martin's stood out to me but still I'm dying to see it in color:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©

B&W should not be used to "save" shots...if you didn't see or think of the shot in B&W originally, there's a good chance it will not work. Think any BNSF or UP photos.

Now, most people use B&W to "save" backlit shots because they tend to pop because of the lighting. Cloudy is not the same as backlit.

Can there be surprises? Sure. Sometimes playing around with a shot in B&W will yield something cool and unexpected. Greyscale is not B&W; there is no contrast.
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Old 12-23-2008, 07:46 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
Can there be surprises? Sure. Sometimes playing around with a shot in B&W will yield something cool and unexpected. Greyscale is not B&W; there is no contrast.
Agreed on both points. As of late, I mostly use the channel mixer to do B&W conversions.
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Old 12-23-2008, 07:51 PM   #20
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Not a great shot let alone a good black and white shot but shadows can help create some contrast.

Image © Travis Dewitz
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Old 12-23-2008, 08:26 PM   #21
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While I sometimes I save shots by using B&W, I think that most of them come out looking just fine, even if I did "save" the shot. Like this one, which I would have been screwed if I kept the color.

Image © Alec Holmes
PhotoID: 193117
Photograph © Alec Holmes


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Old 12-23-2008, 09:25 PM   #22
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True B&W, is not a replacement for bad lighting. In fact B&W requires a different kind of light than that of lighting for color to make a successful B&W photo. Tonality, contrast, shadows and depth, usually play a critical roll in making a successful B&W image, where this is not always the case with color.
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Old 12-24-2008, 01:59 AM   #23
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Texture and contrast really shine with black and white.

My favorite contrasty shot:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


Texture:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


Saving a shot from terrible, terrible light:
Image ©
PhotoID:
Photograph ©


None of those shots, with the possible exception of the last, would work as well in color.

Also, BNSF orange aggravates the hell out of me - it's very, very, very sensitive to any saturation adjustments.
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Old 12-24-2008, 04:07 AM   #24
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This one started out as color and it looked pretty good, but once I saw it on my computer screen I felt compelled to do it in B&W. The white snow without a single footprint, the clouds, and the stark bare trees combined with the older standard cab locomotive on the point made the shot IMO. It wasn't that I wanted or needed to save the shot, but rather the scene dictated the choice to lose the color.



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Old 12-24-2008, 04:43 AM   #25
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That's some funky looking black!

Also, I doubt it would get accepted in color since the whole nose isn't lit and it's not a scenic shot by any means.
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