April 24, 2018

Black & White Photography: Converting your Photo


Rock Creek Lake | Photographer Francois Swart

Rock Creek Lake | Photographer Francois Swart

My first blog post for 2014! A new year and my quest for photographic excellence continues. My wish is that you will take the journey with me.

Black & White photos has a unique place in the art world, and also in photography. It allows more room for interpretation than the color photo.

Earlier today Kevin La Rue (V.P. Marketing for MacPhun Software) and I discussed black and white photography and the ways of converting your existing photos to black and white. I immediately decided that this is a good topic for discussion.

There are several ways to convert your image to black and white, but let’s first start with what NOT to do. NEVER capture your photo in black & white in camera. The color channels will be lost, and that will limit your ability to get the best possible black & white photo – and isn’t that what you want?

Not all photos will grant itself to black & white. When you capture the photo, you may visualize this phenomenal, mind blowing, black & white image. And when you look at it afterwards, you realize that you misjudged the opportunity completely. Maybe it is a great color image, but it is not the same in black & white. If you took the photo as black & white, you cannot convert it back to color afterwards (unless the photo was taken in RAW). The opposite is true for a color photo.

Another advantage of converting the color photo to black & white, is that all the color channels are still available for fine tuning. I.e. you can darken or lighten the blue sky by adjusting the blue channel, or dramatize the contrast in the clouds without effecting any other color (i.e. greens, reds, and yellows) in the photo.

How to evaluate a scene for a black and white photo is a subject to be discussed on its own, and I will get to that in a future post.

I randomly selected this image for conversion. I deliberately did not use Photoshop to do the black & white conversion, as the software is not readily available to everyone. In the stead, I used MacPhun Intensify Pro. It is quite powerful and is available at $59.99.

I have been testing it for some time now, and I must admit that I stand amazed at the possibilities.

It comes with a preset bundle, and then you can use the adjustments to tweak the settings to perfection. If you like the adjustments you made, you can save it as a new preset. How cool!

The photo was taken up above, from Rock Creek Road at Rock Creek Lake in the Inyo National Forest, Mammoth Lakes.


100 Men … America’s Best

This unique picture was captured by Francois Swart at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery late afternoon,
just as the sun was setting on the grassy hilltop of Point Loma overlooking the bay and city of San Diego,
where this historical cemetery is situated.

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While Francois was busy taking this and other pictures it took him back to the words “100 men … America’s best” in the well-known song by S Sgt. Barry Sadler, “The Balad of The Green Berets.” Francois describes this moment, with the last sun rays setting over the last resting-place of these fine soldiers, as symbolic and overwhelming. This picture is his contribution of honoring these soldiers.

Here follows a brief history of this national monument as published on the official websites of The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, The State California Military Museum and Wikipedia.

The origins of this hillside cemetery dates back to February 1852 when President Fillmore set aside the southern portion of Point Loma, about 1,400 acres, for military purposes (which included the cemetery).

The (then) one acre cemetery was located on the crest of the point and first was used in the 1860’s as a burial-ground for the San Diego Barracks –simply known as “Post Cemetery, San Diego Barracks (Point Loma)”. It became Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in 1934 and was placed under the Veterans Administration National Cemetery System in 1973.

The cemetery is now over forty times that size. Today, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery serves as the final resting place for thousands of veterans of the Armed Forces who answered the call of duty in the nation's service. There are approximately 75,000 veterans lying in Fort Rosecrans who, in the course of four great wars, fought for the cause of freedom.

This cemetery is also a California registered historical landmark, first registered on December 6, 1932.

Jeffrey T. Naas wrote a Memorial Day poem to honor those buried at Fort Rosecrans entitled, “On Rosecrans Hill”.

In honor to these veterans and their families.







Exif Data:

HDR: 7 Images bracketed by 0.7; Focal Length 52 mm; Aperture: f5.6; Metering: Matrix; ISO: 100; Camera: Nikon D2x; Lens: VR 18-200

A Landscape in the City

While driving in a neighborhood in San Diego I saw this magnificent view from the city. I wonder where else in the world will you find such a beautiful scenery in the heart of a city?

Towards the upper left of the photo you can see a bridge which is part of the I15, one of the busiest highways in the USA. The average daily traffic on the I-15 ranges from 170,000 to 295,000 vehicles (http://fastrak.511sd.com/GettingStarted.aspx). So busy and yet so tranquil.

This scene just reminded me that I must ALWAYS try to take my camera with me. No matter where I go. If this wasn't the case, I would have missed this lovely landscape photo.