The After and Before forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.
This week for the “After and Before Forum” I am editing in black and white.
While out with my macro lens I came across this run down building. I had been here before a few years ago and the building actually looked less abandoned than now. The city I live in is an interesting city; Lodz was scared by the Second World War with one of the largest and longest surviving Jewish ghettos in Poland and a third of its population being killed, its infrastructure and buildings survived the war intact. It was after the fall of communism when all the manufacturing left the city (textile manufacturing was the main industry of the city and the Soviet Union its main exporter) that buildings began to decline rapidly. Although in the last 6 years I have lived here, there have been big renovations as well as a huge rejuvenation project, and it is not uncommon to see buildings in such a state like this.
I didn’t use my macro lens but by 15mm wide angle lens to capture this shot. I photographed the building at one stop intervals +/- 3 stops. I also decided to experiment with a warming filter to warm up the scene; the day was overcast and there was a hint of fog in the air. Using Photoshop CC I merged my exposures together to create a 32 bit HDR, if you want to know more you can read about it here. I rested my camera on a wall as I didn’t have a tripod causing the bottom left og the frame to have part of the wall in the composition. I used a combination of content aware fill and the clone stamp tool to remove this. I then imported the image into Lightroom.
I first made some basic adjustments to get a general tone that I wanted to work with.
I then converted my photo to black and white using my 3200 ISO Ilford preset. I love this preset, because it has high contrast and the tones are quite nice for architectural work. The contrast for this preset is strong but I was planning to tone it down a bit anyway.
I adjusted the contrast with a combination of clarity, contrast and setting the white point of the image.
The bricks of the building felt too bright, using the black and white panel I toned down the intensity with the targeted adjustment tool. This reduced only the yellow and orange tones.
I sharpened the image and reduced the noise that came through the HDR process.
I try to equate the next steps to the dodging and burning I would do in the dark room. With a good base image I just want to highlight and darken areas to emphasis areas and add some wow.
I added a gradient at the top of the image which reduced highlights to make the sky less intense and bring back a little detail.
I added an adjustment brush to increase the contrast and open up the shadows of the building.
I added a gradient at the bottom of the picture to darken this area. The idea being it would help draw the eye up to the building which is the focus of the image.
In the middle of the image I used another adjustment brush to add highlights. This is to also help bring focus to the building with the eye leaving the dark area, coming to something brighter and then settling on the contrasted tones of the building.
I also added contrast to the trees in the background to act as a barrier to bring the eyes back to the building.
After all these adjustments, I tweaked the basic adjustments a little to bring harmony to the overall tone of the photo.
For a final touch I added a slight vignette to bring the picture together.
I really like the tones of this image and I think it has the feel of a real black and white shot. If I was to do anything different it would be having a tripod with me, not having to rely on the wall and the subsequent work of removing the wall from the picture.
I would be really interested to know what you think, you can let me know in the comment box below.
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