Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Alexander 6, V105.

Hello. How are you folks? Hope your day is, or was, better than mine. Not really that bad day, but I hate it when I have to walk in the sun for about 15 minutes with a trolly carrying tank that is supposed to be filled with liquid Nitrogen on a rigid ground and with cars blocking my way so I had to take the long way and then wait up for more than 10 minutes under the sun waiting for one sucker to come along but he never showed up despite my phone call prior to my arrival. As surplus for this day, I have a painful wrist that is never seem to be cured whatsoever.

Away from this fuss, I'll get back to photography here now. Yesterday, and after reading the chapter of the black and white in Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style, it jumped to my mind that I can probably fix some images who really didn't take up much of my time or imagination and try to fix it in black and white and see the reaction from people I know and how they feel about it.
One of the trials I went on with was merging some images of Aughnanure Castle from the outside into a 32-bit black and white. Then I figured out there is no much sense in that in fact, or maybe little sense! I mean, HDR images are supposed to provide an open EV range in a colored image, but in black and white the EV is limited in general by the nature of the system itself. But does that mean that a HDR in black and white would provide more contrast range (i.e. High Definition) more than the usual black and white? One of the definitions of the HD it is a measure of the levels from black to white (or vice versa) that can be seen or viewed by the device. That is, if some device can view White, Black, and 8 levels of gray in between in a precise manner, then we can say the contrast here is 1:9, 1 being for white, and 9 is the total levels that come after white to the final black. At least this is what or how I understood it when Christian Bloch explained it in his book.

The HDRI Handbook: High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers and CG Artists +DVD

I don't think HDR represent a "HD" in black and white though, I've never heard of this term! Anyway, I was doing that for that specific image trying to eliminate the fuss in the moving branches which introduced a ghosting effect (they were moving because of the breeze). Unfortunately, it didn't work out at all in several softwares, and even in PhotoAcute which is supposed to be good (as reported) with removing moving objects.

Image under inspection

Later on, I've just given up with this image and started to look for something else. This time, I've picked one that really inspired me with the strong presence of the light in it. It was also taken for HDR (3 bracketed images), but here, I have to deal with it in black and white.

Second target. Inside the tower in Aughnanure.

Here, there was some shake but it was fixed simply in Photoshop's "auto-align" command. Now, I have 3 images at hand with different shades of gray (remember, they are all converted to black and white). I was hesitated which one to work on. There were some details here and there that I wanted to include in this image, like the branches that show up on the roof of the tower. This gives me somehow a sense of hope in the image. To go around this, I went on doing a manual labor with manual tone-mapping. It is not a HDR toning, but rather stacking your 3 images in 3 successive layers and apply some masks. I might explain in details in some other post maybe? Maybe! However, the result was good (after doing also some contrast and sharpening), and I reduced my choice into two images, that I have to choose from to upload and try my luck with the B&W now! The first was the black and white version of the first image with EV equal to +0, and the second of course was the "tone-mapped" black and white composed of the 3 images altogether.

Left: +0EV black and white. Right: Tone-mapped black and white.

Most people agreed on the right one being the most acceptable, I think mainly because of the dramatic effect involved. The story was not over by then but I thought maybe a sepia tone would be favorable to add some old or ancient effect, since the place is a historical monument.

Left: Sepia version. Right: Regular version.

The response from people that I've tested these images with was just amazing! I've never thought that black and white images can do such things to the imagination! Most people liked the sepia version for many reasons, but there also some people who liked the pure black and white version because simply it is either reflective for purity, or mystery.

This said now, it encourages me highly to dig for more from my old RAW files and try to work it out in B&W in a suitable manner, providing of course a good light and a nice composition at least!

2497. Alexander thought for some minutes about it
2498. and he thought about the ground that she meant
2499. until they passed over a dark land with dead trees
2500. so harsh and lonely it was that Alexander's heart jumped
2501. then he asked: is this the land of the promised Hermit?
2502. and Aramramátáníth answered: yes indeed it is,
2503. but the time to see him is not due yet at this hour,
2504. the night must fall and a moon must rise upon the mount
2505. it is then when you can see your promised man,
2506. because he spends his days in worshipping,
2507. while at night time he takes a rest for his body
2508. Alexander asked then: and why his land is so dark?
2509. it gives the scent of sadness into the soul of a human!
2510. then Aramramátáníth answered: do not blame the man,
2511. verily he is a lonely old man in this spot of Uhir Daynur,
2512. his arms are his companions and his legs are his carriers,
2513. he eats the plants of the desert and barely brings water,
2514. in this dry land only wild animals live and fight,
2515. this is the Hermit's life in Uhir Daynur, poor man
2516. then Alexander asked: but why he has to live here?
2517. I am sure there are plenty of places in this life
2518. thus Aramramátáníth answered: O dear Alexander,
2519. you should know by now that there are some people,
2520. devoted themselves for nothing but to God

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