Entries in Nik Silver Efex Pro (14)
When teaching photography at night I often tell my DSLR photography lessons students that with long exposures you can turn night into day. Well, with a high contrast red filter, you can do the harder reverse of that, which would be turning day into night! It is actually not hard if you have the awesome Silver Efex Pro plugin, which I have been raving about for years.
First I went through my normal digital photo editing workflow on this architecture shot of Signature St. Petersburg. I made a duplicate and sent it into Silver Efex Pro. From there all that needed to be done to change the color image to black & white and the blue sky into a night one was to click on the high contrast red filter preset. No mess, no fuss.
Some photos you edit immediately, some you get to years later, others you put aside because you know eventually you will want to edit them. The latter is the case for the above photograph. It was made two months ago, but it was not in the right mind frame to edit it until apparently today. Occasionally I would look at it in my Random folder in Aperture 3 and think, do something with this photo now? No, not yet, but keep it here, I will do something someday.
I wanted the image to have a dream-like feel to it, so the choice to process it in black & white was natural. I chose a push process filter in Nik Silver Efex Pro and to that applied a yellow filter to really soften the whites and leave just a few shadows for contrast. I used the glamor glow filter in Nik Color Efex Pro to also soften the image.
In composing the shot I did not want the young woman's face to be seen directly, as that would lead the viewer away from vague dreaming and more to wondering who she was. The profile view shows a little, but leaves a lot a mystery, especially what might she be looking at or what is the expression on her face?
If someone asked me how do I decide to process a photograph as black & white, rather than leaving it as the original color image, I would say the main factor is the amount of color in the original. If the original image itself lacked a wide color pallette, or virbrancy, then I would start to consider converting it to black & white.
In the side-by-side comparision shot above, the origianl color images of the tires was nearly devoid of color, save for a little green coming through the fence. Also, the main subject, the tires, were already themselves black, thus the photograph presented itself as a good candidate for black & white processing.
So if you have a photograph without much color pop in it, think about converting it to black & white as a way of best presenting the image to the viewer.
I cannot say I explicitily intended for my model portfolio shoot with Alexandra to turn into a film noir style, but through editing of the images it certainly turned out that way. We were shooting in the late evening from about 7:45pm to 8:25pm mostly around the Arcade in downtown St. Petersburg. The Arcade is a great location offering a variety of shot opportunities, especially at that late time of day with all its shadow opportunities. The above shot was actually the very last shot of the shoot. The background features the neon sign of a cafe across the street with the contrast selectively turned up so that only what is illuminated by my speedlights and the neon remain visible.
I chose the Arcade as a shooting location because of the great, very tall, ornate, iron gates. I knew they would make for a fantastic background and/or prop. For the above shot I placed a speedlight outside the gates to frame left in the alley to help cast long shadows in the foreground. I composed so to accentuate them. Alexandra came up with a great pose taking my one small suggestion to create space between each arm and her body, something I always make sure is set otherwise the model will appear to have a lumpy body or strange attached arm. Alexandra in fact did a great job overall allowing me to focus on creating mood and atmosphere with my lighting and composition.
This shot features the same gates and lighting setup. Without the speedlight outside the gates providing backlight, the gate on frame right would appear dull and lack the reflective light on it. Additionally, the same speedlight provides rim light around the model, especially her hair, right arm and right side. A photographer can do a lot with just two speedlights positioned in key spots. I could carry all my strobist and photography gear that I used for this shoot myself, following the "lighten up and shoot" philosophy.
This shot is different than all the others in that it features only one speedlight positioned to create Rembrandt lighting (nose & cheek shadows touch leaving a little light under the eye) on the model. I wanted to include one soft feeling image in the shoot as most of the others were really strong from a posing and overall feel perspective.
Finding and using repeating patterns in your photographs is my photography tip for this week. In the above photograph of Signature St. Petersburg I composed the shot to exaggerate row after row of balconies so that they came to form a repeating pattern. I also held my camera off-angle to create a leading line with the far edge of the skyscraper and also the interior contour that leads the viewer's eye from lower right to upper left. Thus, in this architecture shot I combined repeating patterns with leading lines in an attempt to produce an interesting photograph.
I used the exact same techniques in composing this architecture shot as well, just put into portrait orientation. In composing and later in cropping, I paid special attention to make sure each leading line ended exactly at the edge of the frame. Note how the lower left the line ends right into the corner, and for the small line in the upper right, just before the roof went upwards to the right, I cropped it there to keep the line straight.
Lastly, I chose black & white processing for both these images because there was cloud cover and the building itself lacks color, so no reason to leave what little color was left in the image.