Striking tonal range in B&W images - How?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ryan, Aug 8, 2006.

  1. Ryan

    Ryan Guest

    I have yet to figure out how people get black and white images with a
    bathtub shaped histogram where they are very black and very white
    without being full of mid-tones.

    I've heavily edited & tweaked a thousand or two images by now and
    lightly tweaked a good number more. Curves, levels, hues, masks,
    curves-masks, levels-masks.

    My images are very gray with a fairly flat and constant histgram. My
    efforts to mimic those contrasty effects end up clipping out so many
    details in the highlights or the shadows that I lose a third or more of
    my subject image data.

    How is it done?

    The best example of what I'm looking for is embedded in a flash file and
    not directly linkable. http://www.theimageisfound.com/wedding/ then
    bridal, the 8th image in. The dress is very white, although not all
    washed out. The subject's hair ranges from 100% black to almost 100%
    white areas. The grass does the same.

    The 2nd best example (but not nearly as expressive of my point) is on
    http://www.alamy.com/ image# AB6176 - decent bathtub curve shaped
    histogram

    My images end up looking for flat and gray similar to AP51F2 and ARF350

    I get a very consistent and flat looking image with regard to tonal
    range. My histogram is more likely to be a flat line and I am not
    successful in amplifing the highs and lows without making obvious
    effects in the photo. I have a tough time even clipping the extremes
    with levels to make a decent looking low key or high key image. My
    shots have no pop.

    My subjects are candid people or objects in natural light with no flash
    and shadows exist to varying degrees.

    What are your techniques?

    -Ryan
     
    Ryan, Aug 8, 2006
    #1
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  2. In article <>,
    Ryan <> wrote:

    > I have yet to figure out how people get black and white images with a
    > bathtub shaped histogram where they are very black and very white
    > without being full of mid-tones.
    >
    > I've heavily edited & tweaked a thousand or two images by now and
    > lightly tweaked a good number more. Curves, levels, hues, masks,
    > curves-masks, levels-masks.
    >
    > My images are very gray with a fairly flat and constant histgram. My
    > efforts to mimic those contrasty effects end up clipping out so many
    > details in the highlights or the shadows that I lose a third or more of
    > my subject image data.
    >
    > How is it done?
    >
    > The best example of what I'm looking for is embedded in a flash file and
    > not directly linkable. http://www.theimageisfound.com/wedding/ then
    > bridal, the 8th image in. The dress is very white, although not all
    > washed out. The subject's hair ranges from 100% black to almost 100%
    > white areas. The grass does the same.
    >
    > The 2nd best example (but not nearly as expressive of my point) is on
    > http://www.alamy.com/ image# AB6176 - decent bathtub curve shaped
    > histogram
    >
    > My images end up looking for flat and gray similar to AP51F2 and ARF350
    >
    > I get a very consistent and flat looking image with regard to tonal
    > range. My histogram is more likely to be a flat line and I am not
    > successful in amplifing the highs and lows without making obvious
    > effects in the photo. I have a tough time even clipping the extremes
    > with levels to make a decent looking low key or high key image. My
    > shots have no pop.
    >
    > My subjects are candid people or objects in natural light with no flash
    > and shadows exist to varying degrees.
    >
    > What are your techniques?
    >
    > -Ryan


    Perform an S-curve on the levels. You can create your own in
    Photoshop's curves if you don't have software that does it. If you're
    using Canon, upgrade your copy of Digital Photo Professional to get a
    wide range contrast adjustment.

    You'll need RAW images that are very low in noise. JPEG and high noise
    sensors can't take that much manipulation.
     
    Kevin McMurtrie, Aug 8, 2006
    #2
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  3. Ryan

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    Ryan <> wrote:

    > I have yet to figure out how people get black and white images with a
    > bathtub shaped histogram where they are very black and very white
    > without being full of mid-tones.
    >
    > I've heavily edited & tweaked a thousand or two images by now and
    > lightly tweaked a good number more. Curves, levels, hues, masks,
    > curves-masks, levels-masks.
    >
    > My images are very gray with a fairly flat and constant histgram. My
    > efforts to mimic those contrasty effects end up clipping out so many
    > details in the highlights or the shadows that I lose a third or more of
    > my subject image data.
    >
    > How is it done?


    [..]
    > My images end up looking for flat and gray similar to AP51F2 [on
    > alamy.com]


    First of all, the example you seem to be shooting for is the only image
    in black and white. I'm guessing that's because it's overexposed to the
    point of being blown out, so the photographer decided to make it an
    'art' piece. Dunno, though.

    Second of all: To make the bad example image you talk about look more
    like the first one, here's what you do:

    Open the image in Photoshop. Apply a curve (I like an effects layer, but
    you could just do a curve to the image if you prefer).

    Now, you're staring at the Curves dialogue. Click on the little
    two-arrow thing at the bottom of the grid so the white arrow is to the
    left, and the black is to the right. (This is only so the rest of my
    instruction will work.)

    Plant an anchor point right in the middle of the curve. Just click on
    the curve at it's midpoint. Now add another point to the left of the
    point you just made thusly: Click on the curve to the left of the
    midpoint and drag it down. The curve will flatten at the top and bottom,
    where it bumps up against the edge of the grid.

    And voila. You have completely ruined a nice image with good tone. :)

    You can also find a good midpoint by sampling from the skin of the
    subject. While you have the curves dialogue open, you can click on the
    image and the color value of that point in the image will be displayed
    as a circle on the curve. So drag the pointer around on the face, say,
    especially over an area of high contrast (like a shadow under the nose,
    perhaps, or the smile lines between the nose and the corners of the
    mouth). You want to keep these details, so you put the midpoint there,
    and then destroy the rest of it by slamming the curve into the edge of
    the grid. Or, of course, applying a more subtle curve, even adding more
    points for more control.

    This works especially well in Lab mode with color images, where you can
    change the contrast without changing the hue.

    HTH.
     
    Paul Mitchum, Aug 8, 2006
    #3
  4. Ryan

    bugbear Guest

    bugbear, Aug 8, 2006
    #4
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