My first CC - Attempt at B&W

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marymoonu's picture
Joined: 03/15/08
Posts: 2183
My first CC - Attempt at B&W

Okay, here's my first pic for CC!! I took this last night while my DH was changing my DS's diaper. The color was a bit rough because my DS is young and still has a lot of red to his skin, so I tried to do a B&W (I'd love any helpful hints for converting to B&W, if you happen to have any... I'm using PSE right now).

ISO 800
50mm
f/1.4
SS 125

I was hoping it would be a little better in focus, but I assume it's because I used f/1.4? It was bedtime and pretty dark in here. It's cropped tightly because I wanted to cut out his little boy parts. Is it too tight?

Joined: 04/23/06
Posts: 485

The conversion looks good, and your hubby's hand looks to be where the focus fell instead of the sweet baby's feet. I would like to see the feet less centered, too.
Good job posting for CC, it's the only way to grow!

JDBabyHopes's picture
Joined: 02/16/09
Posts: 1149

Such a cute shot, Mary! As for it being OOF (which it looks like it fell on your DH's fingers), I've read it's best to try and keep your SS above 200 when shooting that wide open (please correct me, ladies, if I am wrong!). That being said, that's not always something doable (take my 3 month CC pictures... my SS was never above 1/160 I believe!), and I think it's just a matter of steady hands! Or, unless there is some other trick I don't know about (tripod aside). Wink

As for converting, I have absolute zero schooling on this! I basically desaturate (in Lightroom) and then tweak my brightness, contrast, blacks, etc. until I like it. That is probably the wrong way to do it, though, so listen to the others! Smile Haha.

Cute, cute pic, though!! Love the tiny little toes!

marymoonu's picture
Joined: 03/15/08
Posts: 2183

"JDBabyHopes" wrote:

I've read it's best to try and keep your SS above 200 when shooting that wide open (please correct me, ladies, if I am wrong!).

I didn't know this... Is there any sort of "guideline" to follow for this, like f/? should have a shutter speed of at least "x"??

Yeah, it does look like the focus is on my DH's hand, boo!

sadieruth's picture
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 6219

To be completely honest, the conversion does not work for me. I am a fan of a high key black and white. That's just me though. It looks a bit flat to me.

Joined: 10/20/07
Posts: 480

This is cute. Yes OOF and a bit muddy, but sweet. I use LAB conversions for my black and whites and then adjust curves. I created an action so it isn't as tedious...

1. Image needs to be "flattened" to a single layer
2. Go to the dropdown menu Image-Mode-Lab Color
3. Go to Layer/Channels/Paths palette and chose Channels. Right click channel "b" and delete channel. Then right click alpha 2 and delete channel.
4. Go to the dropdown menu Image-Mode-Grayscale
5. Go to the dropdown menu Image-Mode-RGB (or whatever you usually use)
6. Add a new curves layer and adjust to taste Smile

All I have to do is play my action and adjust curves, so SUPER simple for me!

CJWilkes's picture
Joined: 01/04/09
Posts: 880

Hope you do not mind my play. I will take it down as soon as you like. Your crop would do better even cropped more. Baby feet are cool, but it does not look so great up in baby's face. You want to draw attention to the feet and hand alone. So I took it in to a very tight crop without chopping fingers:

Opened it in ACR (as camera raw) played with curves.
opened in Photoshop. Did bit of playing with the blacks and tone.

The concept would have been stronger had both feet or the forward foot been in focus. Great job though Smile

marymoonu's picture
Joined: 03/15/08
Posts: 2183

"maricopamom3" wrote:

1. Image needs to be "flattened" to a single layer
2. Go to the dropdown menu Image-Mode-Lab Color
3. Go to Layer/Channels/Paths palette and chose Channels. Right click channel "b" and delete channel. Then right click alpha 2 and delete channel.
4. Go to the dropdown menu Image-Mode-Grayscale
5. Go to the dropdown menu Image-Mode-RGB (or whatever you usually use)
6. Add a new curves layer and adjust to taste Smile

I couldn't find these options in elements (particularly #'s 2 and 3)... Do you use regular photoshop?

Thanks for all the feedback!

sadieruth's picture
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 6219

I hate admitting this, but I use coffeshop's B&W action and tweak it to make it more for more. It's way too high key at times. I use PSE too.

JDBabyHopes's picture
Joined: 02/16/09
Posts: 1149

"marymoonu" wrote:

I didn't know this... Is there any sort of "guideline" to follow for this, like f/? should have a shutter speed of at least "x"??

I'm not sure if there are technical aspects like that!! There may be (perhaps more for film than digital cameras), but I don't know them!! I do know that most people suggest shooting babies/toddlers/kids no slower than about 1/160. I try to stay above that, considering how fast Owen is, but it's pretty impossible indoors in the middle of winter. Wink But, shooting at 1.4 leaves a lot more room for focus error than shooting at, say, 5.6, so I would try to keep it above 1/200 when shooting that wide! The faster the better!! But really, I'm not sure if there is a technical formula for it. I just think: wide ap needs fast shutter! Or, take 1000 shots and hope that one is in focus! Lol

La123's picture
Joined: 04/11/08
Posts: 815

Hi Mary! Smile Great to see you "over here"

As far as a 'guideline' for shutter speeds in relation to aperture (someone correct me if I'm wrong) I think you need to have your shutter speed 160 or higher for children, no matter which F stop you are using. If you are shooting with a low SS, you are more likely to get camera shake, or motion blur from the moving subject, no matter what your F stop. Personally, I like to keep my SS at 200 or higher all the time (if I can) Smile

Cindy pretty much said everything I was thinking about this pic. It's a great shot, but I agree that it would be much stronger if Cal's feet were not covering his face.

I'm pretty sure PSE doesn't have curves. I would suggest going on to youtube, and looking at some tutorials on using levels. You can do a lot of the same things with levels. Youtube can be great for learning how to use certain tools in photoshop.

Also, I just want to add that getting B&W's down has been one of the HARDEST things for me. It took me well over a year of trying before they stopped looking 'muddy', and I'm still not totally satisfied with them.

mlark1128's picture
Joined: 05/09/07
Posts: 742

Yep, what Lauren said. With children I always stick to at least 1/160, if not 1/200. It's just that focus is hard enough to nail when shooting wide-open, you don't want to throw in a curve ball of also shooting with a slow shutter speed. If you have just the tiniest bit of camera shake shooting wide-open and close to your subject, your photo will be soft.

I like Cindy's play--you're doing great!

CJWilkes's picture
Joined: 01/04/09
Posts: 880

Sorry - I was sick and am dealing with health issues so not on here too much.

I use CS3 photoshop. Again, sorry.

Muddee's picture
Joined: 03/13/08
Posts: 2119

I think you captured a beautiful memory, not much to add to the CC. My personal thought on the conversion is that it could have a tiny bit more contrast.