Nik Silver Efex Pro

Ferrari F430 Spider Tampa Florida Car Photography black white or yellow??

Ferrari F430 Spider with black & white filter from Silver Efex Pro 2 entirely changing the look of the car - Tampa Car PhotographyConverting a color photograph into a black & white photograph is not a one result affair.  There are many, many possible results of black & white conversion.  A program like Silver Efex Pro makes this conversion process easy in addition to producing the best results.  Starting with a yellow Ferrari F430 Spider, applying a pinhole black & white filter makes the Ferrari appear white while darkening the entire background and foreground.  The supercar appears to now glow in its setting.

Using a different filter in Silver Efex Pro 2 makes the Ferrari F430 Spider look black - Tampa Car PhotographyStarting with the same yellow Ferrari image, choosing the full spectrum inverse filter in Silver Efex Pro flips everything, so that darks appear light and vice versa resulting in the yellow Ferrari looking like a sleek black exotic car.  The neutral colored existing background is little changed with this filter, especially since no vignetting is applied either.

The actual yellow color of this Ferrari F430 Spider - Tampa Car PhotographySo starting with the yellow HDR image of a Ferrari F430 Spider seen above, it is possible to make radically different looking black & white versions of the car photograph.  Which is your favorite look--white, black or yellow?

High Contrast Red Filter turns blue sky to night in Silver Efex Pro

Signature Place in downtown St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/320th with high contrast red filter in Silver Efex Pro appliedWhen 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.  

The Nik Silver Efex Pro interface with high contrast red filter applied to the imageFirst 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.

Dreaming in black & white portrait of a young woman

Dreaming in black & white portrait of a young woman - Nikon D80 Nikkor 50mm @ f/2 ISO 200 1/200thSome 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?

One factor for making a photograph a black & white final image

I chose black & white processing for these tires as the subject matter lacked colorIf 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.

The original color image on the left was not very colorful, so I decided just to remove all the colorIn 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.

Film Noir Model Portfolio Shoot St. Petersburg Florida with Alexandra

These are actually post office steps! The neon in the background is real, though modified - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/160th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/4 power in 43" brolly to frame left & Nikon SB-600 Speedlight @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap to frame left

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.

Using long shadows created by a speedlight outside the gates - - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 400 1/160th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/8 power in 43" brolly to frame left & Nikon SB-600 Speedlight @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap to frame leftI 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.

The 43" brolly creates soft shadows, I love it - - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 400 1/160th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/8 power in 43" brolly to frame left & Nikon SB-600 Speedlight @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap to frame leftThis 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.

A single strobe setup with intentional background shadow - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4.5 ISO 400 1/160th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/8 power in 43" brolly to frame rightThis 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.  

Thank you again to Alexandra.  You can follow her work on Model Mahem and Facebook.

Look for repeating patterns in architecture shots

Using balconies as a repeating pattern composition - Signature St. Petersburg tower - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/500th - black & white processing using Silver Efex ProFinding 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.

Once again using leading lines and repeating patterns to create interest - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th - black & white processing in Silver Efex ProI 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.

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  • Porsche 911 GT2 RS white with black rims St. Petersburg Florida

    Porsche 911 GT2 RS in white with black rims - Vinoy Park - St. Petersburg, Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro @ f/4 ISO 200 1/2000th - black & white processing in Silver Efex Pro, white background digitally inserted in PhotoshopSitting at my desk now, before me on the wall is a large poster of the new 991 generation Porsche 911 Carerra.  I found the poster in with an edition of the Wall Street Journal.  To my left on the wall is a custom photo of a Cayman S made by Porsche specifically for me from a Facebook promotion they had last year.  In the photograph above, is the current apex Porsche, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS.  I made this photograph in Vinoy Park where the Porsche was one of several others waiting to be part of a car show the next day.  

    The problem with photographing cars at car shows is that it is very hard to get a clean shot.  Choosing the angle I did insured no other cars appeared in the shot.  The background bokeh of trees and condos was busy.  In my post processing of the image in Photoshop, the final step I took was removing the GT2 RS itself from the frame and placing it upon an empty background.  I then created a new layer and inserted it behind the Porsche layer.  I painted this layer white thus removing the background distraction resulting in a clean image.

    The original color photograph on left; The black & white digital white background image on the rightIn the above comparison you can see how removing the background (also in the windows too) puts the focus on the GT2 RS.  Also notice the optical illusion created by using a white background.  Doesn't the color image make the Porsche look much bigger in the frame?  However, they are the exact same size.