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08-21-2008, 04:11 PM   #1
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Still trying for the "Leica look"

I'd welcome comments/criticism on this image. In Photoshop, I'm cropping, then Image>Curves>Medium Contrast, then converting using USM(60/20/1) to punch up the contrast, then cleaning up the edges with Smart Sharpen(50/1/Gaussian). Then convert to B&W. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Any suggestions on how to capture the original to get the best B&W conversion out of it?
First the original color, no editing

[Then the B&W conversion as noted above.

Thanks for any input,
FHPhotographer


Last edited by FHPhotographer; 08-21-2008 at 04:11 PM. Reason: add image
08-21-2008, 04:58 PM   #2
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I'm not quite understanding your sharpen steps - 60% 20 pixels 1 theshold? If so, I'm thinking you're overdoing it there. I'd suggest <20% and >20 pixels, though the pixels will vary depending on image. And I might hold off on this until after I've converted, though experimentation either way may prove this a better time. Why do you believe you need this?

Ditto for the smart sharpen, I'd keep the pixels to .2 or .3, and I'd save this step for last.


Then you rush through the main bit, the B&W conversion. How are you converting? There are many many alternatives, I've described a very flexible method here somewhere... but essentially, are you at least doing a channel mixer layer?

I'd recommend doing that layer, then underneath it do the other stuff, because now you can see the effects on your b&w end result. Apart from the curves and sharpening, you can add layers to intensify, saturate or shift colors underneath, either all colors or selected colors (Tri-X tended to shift the green values for example). And while doing this, look out for both highlights and shadows, you want to make sure the extremes where you want to retain detail aren't blown/dropped.

To my eyes you've pumped up the contrast a bit too much, and at the same time lost some of the shifts in light/tone in the B&W conversion.
08-22-2008, 10:41 AM   #3
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Have you tried HDR then converting to B&W?

I got this from PS3 with presets

* B&W
* Desaturate
* Noise


Last edited by Clicker; 08-22-2008 at 10:50 AM.
08-22-2008, 10:57 AM   #4
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what exactly is that "Leica look"?

08-22-2008, 11:05 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
what exactly is that "Leica look"?
Very sharp and clean from what i've seen from supposedly perfect prints.
08-22-2008, 11:48 AM   #6
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Is this the Leica look - a couple of my flickr Leica shooting friends:
on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Girls on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

They do produce less contrasty images as well, but I tried to pick something high contrast and 'sharp' since that's what the example is.

Clean and clear they can look, but at the same time there's someting going on with micro contrast... in the region above the ultimate resolution. A lot of apparent sharpness - and that's not a put-down, it's what we see and sense as 'sharp'.
08-22-2008, 12:06 PM   #7
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On second thought, shoot with a Takumar, esp. the 85
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/306347-post217.html
08-22-2008, 12:09 PM   #8
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but what does leica have to do with any of these photos?

08-22-2008, 02:27 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
but what does leica have to do with any of these photos?

FH just wants to achieve that "Leica look" Look at the link Nesster posted. It also as i would suspect helps learning more about using the digital darkroom.
08-22-2008, 03:36 PM   #10
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Well from my experience doing B&W conversions and subtle duotones, it pretty much comes down to the post processing as it is npot a B&W sensor. I personally like to start with a mildly underexposed shot in RAW. It gives you the most detail in the pictures to mess with later, and if I want blown highlights I can have them. If i blow out the highlights on initial exposure, I can't really get that detail back later. This hedges your bets, but you can't turn a bad picture into a masterpiece. Your lighting has to be amenable to taking a good photo. Personally, if I'm taking the pictures while traveling, I bracket in RAW. Last big trip I took, if I hadn't done that, I woudl have lost a LOT of decent photos. Instead of coming home with maybe 20 keepers and 150 nice pictures out of about 600 shots, I probably would have had maybe 5 keepers and 30 or so nice pics.

Beyond that, there are MANY ways to go from color to B&W. How you go about it makes a HUGE difference for how the final product looks. Which path you takes depends a lot on the color of the interesting subjects in your picture and the backgrounds they are against.

This article gives you a pretty decent illustration of how some methods make certain colors contrast and other methods make them blend. In particular note the red and green squares on the chart and the differing methods.

CONVERSION TO B&W ARTICLE

If you want a really sharp picture, you need to also have a pretty sharp lens. You can only impart so much sharpness without creating artifacts.

Sometimes what you really want is stuff to pop rather than to be sharp. Another tool to achieve that is local contrast enhancement. You can read about that here.

Tutorials - Local Contrast Enhancement (this is built into lightroom as some adjustment, IIRC it is called clarity or clarify or something like that).
08-22-2008, 06:18 PM   #11
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I think getting the exposure right might help, that shot looks really blown out in the trees on my monitor.
08-23-2008, 12:51 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by raz-0 Quote
This article gives you a pretty decent illustration of how some methods make certain colors contrast and other methods make them blend. In particular note the red and green squares on the chart and the differing methods. CONVERSION TO B&W ARTICLE
Great site, thanks very much. As I suspected, and several posters here confirmed, I was taking the long, and not necessarily best, path to B&W conversions; this article is excellent in laying out the main alternatives!
Also, to those who wondered what I meant by that "Leica look," I can say that I don't know, but as the judge said about pornography, I know it when I see it. I suppose this article by Mike Johnson comes the closest to explaining it, sort of Understanding Lens Contrast
Thanks for all the input,
FHPhotog
08-27-2008, 01:47 AM   #13
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FWIW, this isn't a photo I'd convert to B&W. I've always thought that the prime strength of B&W is the ability it has to bring out strong emotional impact, a sense of mystery, visual clarity and narrative drama and I don't think this photo has those particular elements. It's close, in that there's a long diagonal perspective, which could have generated a nice sense of energy or mystery but the impact of that element is softened by all the foliage. Personally, I'd keep it as a colour photo and choose some other image with more oomph for B&W experimentation.
08-27-2008, 02:02 AM   #14
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I do almost all my work in B&W both film and digital. I also always use a slight under exposure. I think part of the problem with this photos is simply a slight over exposure. over exposure does not lend itself well to B&W especially with digital color converted.
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