If black and white conversion is easy, you are probably doing it wrong

The Cowboy

Black and White Photography

I recently ran across this comment on a discussion thread about black and white photography in the days of digital cameras “these days all you have to do is hit a button”.

Black and white photography
Vintage Old Chevy Classic Black And White Canvas Print by Edward Fielding

Sorry, folks but if all you are doing to create a black and white photograph is clicking a button, you doing it wrong.  Unless you spend time with your image, massaging out all that it can be, you are simply creating a snapshot.

Texas farm barn and silo
Texas farm barn and silo https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/texas-silo-and-farm-house-edward-fielding.html

Black and white photography has such a potential for drama, excitement and storytelling among the highlights, shadows and mid-tones.  There are so many elements at your disposal to tweak out greatness for what might be otherwise ho hum.

Old Typewriter Black And White Low Key Fine Art Photography Framed Print
Old Typewriter Black And White Low Key Fine Art Photography Framed Print

Contrast, exposure, tonal range, vignetting, filters for red, green, blue, dodging and burning and vignettes to name a few.  Losing the color information is just the start even before the color is lost the image can be controlled and developed using the color information.

Pushing the “convert to black and white” button in software is the modern day equivalent of sending black and white film off to Fotomat, which then sends back an envelope of dull photographs all processed the same.  Why? Because the equipment is all calibrated to produce a mid-tone for white skin.  The result is dull prints that provoke no emotion or excitement.

There is no reason not to approach black and white digital photography with all the seriousness and intent shown in the past by the great photographers and their darkroom team such as demonstrated in this marked up photograph of James Dean.  Notice how much thought, care, technique and strategy went in to the creating the final image.

Marked Up Photographs Show How Iconic Prints Were Edited in the Darkroom
The comparison images above show photographer Dennis Stock’s iconic portrait of James Dean in Times Square. The test print on the left shows all the work Inirio put into making the final photo look the way it does. The lines and circles you see reveal Inirio’s strategies for dodging and burning the image under the enlarger, with numbers scattered throughout the image to note different exposure times. https://petapixel.com/2013/09/12/marked-photographs-show-iconic-prints-edited-darkroom/



A Guide to Black and White Conversion in Photoshop

Black and White Vs. Color in Selling Products

Old Typewriter Black And White Low Key Fine Art Photography Framed Print

Photographers have long known that black and white photography is more about the content of the image as opposed to color photography which tends to be more about, the color.   Color photography is style, mood and well, the color where as black and white photography strips the subject down to its essence and allows one to explore the images content.

This is why street photographers prefer the black and white format.  They want the view to focus on the content of the image and not be distracted by color.

Black and white photography has also been considered the more “serious” format as color photography is associated with commercials and family portraits taken at the mall.

“In the ’70s, in Britain, if you were going to do serious photography, you were obliged to work in black-and-white. Color was the palette of commercial photography and snapshot photography.”  – Martin Parr

So photographers knew the power of black and white photography was in its ability to focus the viewer on the intended content of the image and to take the image more serious.  Now a new study on the use of black and white photographs to sell products concurs with this sentiment.

“Black-and-white images can lead consumers to focus on the abstract, essential, and defining components of a product. In contrast, color images can draw attention to the concrete, sometimes unimportant and idiosyncratic features of the product,” write authors Hyojin Lee, Xiaoyan Deng, H. Rao Unnava, and Kentaro Fujita (all The Ohio State University).

Consumers should be aware that colorful, flashy advertising can distract us from thinking about basic product features (a car with high fuel efficiency) and lead us to pay more for products with frivolous or unnecessary features (a car with nice cup holders).


“Color has become dominant in marketing because it attracts attention and promotes favorable attitudes. However, there may be times when companies might prefer to use black-and-white advertising. If a product’s primary features are superior, companies can successfully promote the product by using black-and-white images. On the other hand, if a product’s secondary features are superior, companies should consider using color images to draw attention to these otherwise easily overlooked features,” the authors conclude.

Hyojin Lee, Xiaoyan Deng, H. Rao Unnava, and Kentaro Fujita. “Monochrome Forests and Colorful Trees: The Effect of Black-and-White versus Color Imagery on Construal Level.” Journal of Consumer Research: December 2014.

Ordering a large canvas print from Fine Art America

Iceland fine art canvas print mounted over the fire place.

On Black Friday, November 24, 2017, I ordered a  canvas print of “Take a Seat Iceland”.

Image Size:  24.00″ x 36.00″

Total Size:  24.00″ x 36.00″

Print Material:  Glossy Finish Canvas

Finishing:  Gallery Wrap Stretched Canvas Print – 1.5″ Stretcher Bars – Back Stapled – Mirrored Image Sides

Iceland White chair
Iceland White chair

On the following Monday I received an email notification that the print had shipped, all 11 pound of it, with tracking numbers.  It is scheduled to arrive on Thursday via UPS.

Art PrintsSell Art Online

Take a Seat is a fine art photograph of a white wooden chair with two hearts sitting in the middle of nowhere overlooking an amazing vast valley in Iceland.

On Friday, one week from placing the order, my neighbor called to say he had a package from UPS that was mine.  Turned out it was my print!

The canvas print was carefully packaged in a cardboard box with an inner cardboard protective layer and wrapped in plastic.  It took a little while to get the print out of the protective wrappings but was soon hung over my fireplace.



Photo Gift Books Available – The Quotable Westie

The quotable westie book

The Quotable Westie

Supermodel “Tiki the Westie” stars as photographer Edward M. Fielding’s inspirational muse for this series of dog photographs. Tiki takes on multiple personas including old Broadway actors, Aladdin as in One Thousand and One Nights and Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail.

Sell Art Online
Accompanying quotes from writers, comedians and other notable humans round out the photographs and includes this tongue in cheek gem from Jerry Spinelli: “People who dress up their pets to look like Little Lord Fauntleroys or cowboys, clowns, ballerinas.

As if it’s not enough just to be a dog or cat or turtle.” Tiki does indeed appear as a clown, Little Lord Fauntleroy and a balleriana but Fielding and Tiki seem to know that its enough just to be a dog but they obviously have a lot of fun together dreaming up new characters to play.


Fine Art Photographs of Vermont Cows for Sale as Prints

Black and white photograph of a cow

Fine Art Photographs of Cows – I recently found myself in Stowe, Vermont for a rainy afternoon. My wife had a conference at the Spruce Lodge and I had the afternoon free. Fall foliage had already come and gone with the last leaves being ripped off by a breezy, stormy day. But I was determined to get out and photograph the beautiful country side around Stowe which includes many fine family farms.

Vintage tractor
Vintage Tractor on a farm

I came across a herd of dairy cows gathering near the farm gate, hoping that it was getting close to milking time. One cow in particular caught my eye and I was able to capture a few nice portraits.

Managing to keep my gear dry and shooting wide open in the dark and gloomy late afternoon cloudy sky, I manage to capture this sweet face in the pasture.

Dairy Cow Stowe Vermont
Dairy Cow Stowe Vermont by Edward M. Fielding

This is a Jersey cow or cattle are a small breed of dairy cattle. Originally bred in the Channel Island of Jersey, the breed is popular for the high butterfat content of its milk and the lower maintenance costs attending its lower body-weight, as well as its genial disposition.

They look a lot different than the type of cow typically raised for beef such as this fine fellow below seen on a small micro farm in Etna, New Hampshire.

Cow portrait by Edward M. Fielding
Beef Cow portrait by Edward M. Fielding

These cow portraits in black and white can be found in the extensive portfolios of fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding.  Fine art photographs of cows and farms in New England are available as prints, museum quality framed art, canvas prints, wood prints and more as well as on products such as tote bags and decor items such as throw pillows.

Cow – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/cow

Farm – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/farm

Tractors – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/tractor

Vermont – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/vermont

Art Prints

Keywords – cows, Cows, cow, dairy, cattle, livestock, New England, Stowe, Vermont, black, white, photo, photographs, image, art, artwork, fine art, portrait, animal, milk, farming, rural, agricultural, modern farmhouse, country

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