"Under the Influence" of John Sexton

Discussion in 'The Black & White Gallery' started by sarallyn, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. sarallyn

    sarallyn TPF Noob!

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    One of my most recent assignments for my photo class -- I had to choose a photographer (I chose John Sexton) and become inspired by them, or become "Under the Influence," which was the name of the assignment. I chose to base my photos off of his recent book "Recollections."

    Shot in Falls Village, CT.
    C&C Appreciated

    [​IMG]

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  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, you chose a former assistant to Ansel Adams, and one of America's recognized current master landscape photographers in his own right...some of John Sexton's B&W landscape work can be seen here
    Welcome to D' Arno Gallery Website

    While your monochrome images are nice, I do think that they appear to have a slightly compressed tonal range. I don't think your shadows and lower middle tones have enough detail variation between them. In the middle photo for example, you have the pure, paper-white of a specular highlight (the burned-out sun), and then deep shadow values, and then some mid-gray tones. In the shot of the tree, a similar tonal scale: brilliant paper-white on the sun, some dark shadows, and then a LOT of muddy gray tonal values. I think perhaps the way you are creating the monochrome conversions is the culprit here--there are a number of ways to create monochrome images from RAW Captures.

    One unusual way is to use a Gradient Mask...it's an unconventional way to do an RGB to monochrome conversion, but it leads to much more variation in the gray values. When your images have greater local contrast, ie more contrast between tonal values that are similar, it gives your images more "Pop!". What your images are showing is high overall contrast--you have pure, paper white, a few white tones, as well as deep blacks,and so you have a high overall,total contrast range; it is the other, in-between values where your B&W conversions lack brilliance and snap and variation between closely-spaced shades of gray and black.
     
  3. sarallyn

    sarallyn TPF Noob!

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    That was some very valuable advice, thanks so much. I'll definitely play around with them when I get the chance.

    I was thinking I needed more detail/clarity in the "local contrast," but I didn't know how to go about doing it, or if I could do it at all.

    Thanks again
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, one way to create more local contrast is to apply Unsharp Mask in a rather unorthodox manner. Try applying Unsharp Mask at 30 percent, 250 pixel radius, with a threshold of Zero. Those numbers might seem odd, but then you can apply a Fade to that, and lower the contrast to something like 17 percent, and then maybe repeat the process, and then fade the result until it looks suitable. You can also try applying USM at something like 10 to 15 percent at 125 to 175 pixels, again with the radius set to Zero.

    Another thing you can try is to use the Shadow/highlight tool, and then carefully adjust the Curves in Photoshop. Same with using the Gradient Map--I mistakenly wrote Gradient Mask, when I meant using the Gradient Map tool. When doing that, it is easy to convert the RGB data to a black gradient map, and then apply the shadow/highlight tool, and then tweak the curves a little bit to get a nice, rich-looking B&W conversion.

    With both of these techniques, it is helpful to have started with a RAW capture in the camera, and process that into a 16-bit .TIF file, or a .PSD file that is a bit "flat" to begin with. If the RAW-to-TIF file or the RAW-to-PSD conversion is made with the full, finished "look" done in Adobe Camera RAW, it makes it hard to tweak the image much in Photoshop or other software later. I like to begin with a kinda' flat, dull-looking RAW conversion that has "some" shadow detail, which I will darken later, when I set the black point. As always YMMV. There are a zillion ways to process images,and some of the Photoshop gurus here know a lot more than I'll ever even hope to understand about how to process images.
     
  5. wescobts

    wescobts TPF Noob!

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    Me like :mrgreen:
     
  6. John Sexton

    John Sexton TPF Noob!

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    A friend directed me to your post here on The Photo Forum. I am flattered that you chose me for your photography class photo assignment. There have been a number of good suggestions already posted here on The Forum. I think your black and white images are off to a good start. You seem to have a keen interest in the quality of light in your photographs. Light is the true subject matter of photography. Appropriate lighting can make a photograph magical. Problematic lighting can reduce an image's effectiveness.

    I wish you the best with your photography. I can tell you that, after pursuing photography for nearly forty years, I still find it to be challenging, exciting, frustrating, and most of all magical. Follow the light, and your dreams!

    John Sexton
     
  7. Jankster

    Jankster TPF Noob!

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    ^^AWESOME.

    and i really like the 2nd shot. good stuff
     
  8. Mendoza

    Mendoza TPF Noob!

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    The vertical shot is epic, though Derrel's critique is valid if I'm interpreting it correctly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  9. bhphotography

    bhphotography TPF Noob!

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    the second shot is great!
     

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