Photography by J.D. Magers

To Convert or Not to Convert?

Added on by J.D. Magers.

One thing I have noticed in analyzing the website is that I tend to get a lot of traffic to my Black and White gallery.  Over the years I have had a lot of friends ask me about my black and white images.  I've even sold a few black and white prints.  There is just something appealing about black and white to a lot of people.  I like shooting for black and white, and it is something I consciously think about when I go out.

When I first saw the hoar frost on the frozen lake a couple of weekends ago, I had in my mind's eye that I wanted to shoot for black and white.  I was careful in how I composed my frame, making sure on my histogram that I had a good tonal range, since that's important for conversion.  When I got home, a couple of test conversions looked promising.  Later on though, when I did it for real, I wasn't too impressed.  All of my presets and filters seemed to make the image too cluttered, or too dark, and I wasn't happy with how they looked.  They weren't representing how I was feeling when I was taking the images, and the emotional response I was feeling inside was not a pleasant one.

As you can see below, I processed this particular shot in color.  I love how sharp these starbursts are, and how nice the contrast is between the lighter tones and the darker ones.  The photograph has excellent detail in both the highlights and the shadow areas.  I love how these little bursts of frost are sitting on top of each other, which is keeping my eye moving on the frame without getting lost.  This gives the appearance of height, which is important on a 2D photograph. Also, there are essentially two colors here.  One is obviously white.  The other is the deep dark blue of the frozen lake surface.  The dark blue is so dark that it appears almost black, so this is sort of like a black and white with a blue tint.  I like it.  This image resonates with me.


As I was writing this post though, I took one more stab at processing as a Black and White. Staying within Lightroom, I clicked on the B & W header.  Just one simple click and this is the result.  Thinking it looks pretty good, I finished the photo with a quick Vignette preset.  This image kind of has a different mood than I was seeing before.  The vignette that I put on blocks out most of the out of focus areas, keeping me locked on the sharp subject.  This image is now speaking to me differently than those previous black and white conversions.

Black and White Starburst

Before doing this, I didn't like any of the previous black and white conversions, and I had my mind set on the color one above.  Now though, I'm torn.  I kind of like them both.  So...which one do you like?  Make sure to let me know what you think.  Black and White...or Color?