I kept driving by these abandoned bungalows in the middle of nowhere. At sunset they can look quite striking but no image ever seemed to capture their drama quite satisfactorily. Then it dawned on me (pun intended) to try it in b&w. Here is the result of my work. I’m sure I can improve this by showing up on different days. But, I’m so excited about this that I wanted to see what you think. I hardly ever shoot in b&w yet many of my favorite photographers shoot only in that medium.
C’mon Igor – you must have copied this from an Ansel Adams calendar, or any one of about ten other incredible B/W photographers! I think this is wonderful and the sky is so perfect! The almost-centeredness of the buildings works so well, in combination with the angle from which you shot them! I want more!!!
Thank you, Diane. As you can imagine the sky was greatly modified. The sky was so bright that those clouds were barely visible. The freedom b&w processing gives you is truly liberating. I am really a novice in working b&w. My b&w processing is usually just a conversion or a Silverfox profile.
This one works really well for me (and I don’t do much B&W myself). I think you nailed the tonality of the sky. But what also works really well is the darker tonality of the sagebrush (or whatever it is) against the bright sand and building . The light on the sage is processed perfectly for me. The right half of the building looks like it is bordering on clipping, I would pull it down ever so slightly. And I also noticed the weird shape in the sky that Harley mentioned.
Thank you for the feedback, Ed. I did more local processing on this one than normally so it’s not surprising that there are issues. I wanted the white of the building to really blast in your face so I went too far with the whites. The ‘strange thing’ on the left is the result of sloppy work, brushing in this case.
The challenge for me in this image was to properly balance of darks in the sky vs the land and to have the house really jump out. For me the interest here was to show opposing and contradictory subject: a building in the midst of desolation. I find that such contradictory subjects can make for interesting viewing.
I agree, the building leaps off the screen due to the surrounding darks. And I think the dark sage plays almost as much of a role in that regard as the sky does. Having strong darks both above and below the building matters a lot.
Bill, I shot in color and processed to b&w. I probably should have shot in camera. Like I said, I’m not experienced much in b&w but both Cole Thompson’s and Chuck Kimmerly’s work have peeked my interest lately.
Ed, I don’t know if you recall this. Decades ago Life magazine did a picture article of Noel Coward near Las Vegas. Noel Coward was shot in a black tuxedo standing on a salt flat. Done in b&w, they were striking photographs because of the incongruity of the subject. And b&w was the perfect medium to demonstrate this. Even as a kid I was fascinated by them. This image harks back to those memories.
Lovely. I agree with Ed on the importance of the sagebrush. I think part of the effectiveness is the start contrast between the organic shape of the bushes (and the wispy clouds) vs. the inorganic shape of the building.
I think it is better to shoot in color (raw), then convert to b&w afterwards. You have more control over the tones that way. Although, I suppose if your camera allows you to emulate filters (like a red filter to get that dark sky), that would work. Maybe use a real filter on the lens? Not sure if that would work, though.
Magnificent Igor. I spent about half my life in the desert, and this is an evocative image for me. It especially reminds me of traveling in Sonora, Mexico, and the open spaces where life has to really be resourceful. And, even then, it doesn’t always work out.
Good eye to see the possibilities here and fantastic title. It works great in monochrome. The bright wall on the right maybe seems a bit bright and lacking texture, but overall I like the shapes, textures, and tones throughout the scene.
Outstanding, Igor. You’re really into Ansel Adams territory with this one - but an homage rather than copying. I do find the left side of the building a little on the distractingly “hot” side but, man, the sage brush and the sky are so beautifully under done - I admire your restraint.
The imact of this on me is that the person who woulc make his place in the wilderness worked at least two different years toward th dream. The bright white side of the building and the arch made that clear.
I doused the bright whites a bit and dodged the bright whitees and dodged the tops of some of the brush, to add some variety … but maybe the atonality of the environmen is also the message.
I made the changes you suggested dealing with the whites on the building and the weird shape. Not that it matters much but this isn’t sagebrush. This is at an edge of a salt flat where sage could not tolerate the conditions.