Creating your own reality
One of the things that I find wildly different shooting black and white instead of color is the freedom I find in manipulating or post-processing. With color I have always strived for a look that closely resembled the original scene. I would enhance colors changing them slightly to alter the intensity or mood. Parts of the scene might be darkened or lightened subtly to draw the eye into one area or away from another. That was as far as I would go in changing things.
Black and white right is a different beast. I could shoot and process the same way in black and white but instead it is so tempting to completely alter what I saw and create something from my imagination.
Today’s photo is an example of that.
I was driving the back roads of Alberta in an area that was unfamiliar to me looking for any unusual old buildings, stands of trees or fields that looked suitable for photography. It was at an intersection that I came upon this old and abandoned house. Next to it was a very photogenic wooden barn. The sky was drab and uninteresting. It was a sky that would photograph as a wash of gray or white. Sometimes that might work but with this subject matter the foreground was too busy for that. I photographed it anyway and stored it on my hard drive until I felt it time to re-visit and see what could be made of it.
The sky. That was the problem. Another problem was that the horizon was busy and jagged. Had it been a smooth horizon it would have taken me all of a few minutes to cut it out and paste a different sky over the house. As it was I spent two weeks working on a bit of the horizon, putting it away and coming back to it the next day.
Finally the horizon was cut out. For the sky I chose a photo that had a sky in it that involved a seven minute long exposure. The sky was a mix of blue and a smattering of clouds. My limited experience has shown me that too many clouds and the sky becomes too white when blurred. Too few clouds and there is too much dark and not enough white space.
I then pasted the new sky on top of my black and white converted image.
More white was needed in a few areas so the black and white image was processed in Silver Efex to make the whites pop out and be contrasty. That image was placed UNDER my black and white. Using an image mask in layers in Photoshop with a black brush areas were selectively removed in the mask revealing the brighter whites underneath.
Areas of the roof on the house were also treated the same to add interest and modeling to it.
The layers were flattened and a few areas of the house again were then treated to the burn tool to darken corners and such.
The result is something that only barely resembles the scene that I came upon.
There you go. My reality.