I know we've talked about them quite a bit before, but I'd really like to get some different people's take on:
(1) What you look for in a good conversion, and
(2) What you try to achieve when you do conversions yourself.
The reason I'm asking is that I notice there are a few different 'styles' of conversions here; for example, El, Steph and Katie all have different conversion styles, to my eye. They all are great, but to me, have very different feels. I find that kind of interesting, since we all seem to agree on some basic principles of conversions, and yet have such different results sometimes.
Which leads me to the other reason I ask. Sometimes when I have asked for CC on my conversions, I've gotten the comment that the skin looks muddy. But in my case, I find that unless I blow the skin in portions, it always looks a little 'muddy'. What I'm trying to achieve is usually a good contrasty image without blown highlights or clipped blacks; but that doesn't seem to quite satisfy when I get CC. So I'm curious about what 'goals' or basics other people are trying to achieve when they do conversions, that I may be missing.
I don't typically convert unless there is great lighting. That's what I mostly look for. Otherwise I have a really hard time getting the style of conversion that I'm after. The b&w I posted in flashback Friday of Jackson and the dog sleeping is NOT what I usually go for. To me, it doesn't look good. It was fine for me, because it was just a snap and I didn't want the color distraction in there.
I'm on my phone at the moment, but I will come back later an post images as examples of what I like in a b&w.
Great question Tracy. My understanding of muddy conversion is that the image lack contrast or flat/gray. b/w conversion is definitely a matter of a person's taste and design. That's why it's good to have good lighting in a picture you are converting otherwise it will took muddy. Hopes this help.
I'm back with a few examples. First up, is a flatly lit image of Carson in deep shade. I like this one in color alright, but with my normal b&w adjustments, I don't like it. I can't get the look I'm going for without blowing the highlights.
Now for one that I think makes a great b&w:
See the great shadowing on the left side of his face? It allows you to create the contrast without going overboard with the highlights.
Now, Tracy (and anyone who wants to try), click on this one, and download the large size to your computer. Do a conversion of it, and I think you'll be pleased with how easy it actually is when you have directional lighting/a good contrast of darks and lights.
Tracy, I'm watching this with interest. The first time I ever tried converting was for the b&w project 52. I really didn't have a firm grasp on what I needed to adjust to get the results I wanted and I wasn't really happy with the way his face looked in the converted image - it looked dirty to me.
One image I posted recently and asked for CC on the conversion was this one:
which does have good directional light, but some people said it looked a bit muddy. I just find if I brighten it more, I'm blowing it. I know what I like visually, but when I try to keep within the confines of not blowing or clipping, it seems I get this comment often.
I'm following too - bottom line for me is my images look muddy all the time - color OR b&w ... so for now I'm working to try to get my ISO up and get clearer images.
That said, I almost always blow highlights in my conversions. I like the contrast. Which also leads me to darken my blacks (too much) and cause too much "muddiness" -
All that to say I stink at conversions but I totally kwym about the different styles, Tracy and I don't think there is a right or wrong answer...just personal preference. BUT I would think you wouldn't want to completely blow highlights unless it is in the peripheral of a photo...
I think since the digital world - it is not as easy to convert in B/W. Digital sees gray - from what I understand.
I agree with Stephanie. The key is to start with a picture that has good color, contrast, etc. The picture will have to be well exposed. If you start out with an underexposed, poor white balance picture, then your conversion will tend to lean on the "muddy look". I think that is key and again there is not a one way to convert an image to black and white - you can convert to gray scale and then adjust using channels.