I experimented with black and white processing using the pictures I took of my love and peace rose yesterday for this week’s mid-week monochrome. The raindrops stand out more strongly in black and white.
The photos were all taken with a Sony RX10iv camera, iso 100 and aperture ranging from 4 to 6.3, focal length of 8.8mm (24 in 35mm equivalent). I use Raw Therapee to convert the raw files to images and do the initial edits then switch to the GIMP to do final editing, including the conversion to black and white.
As I mentioned we went to The Mountain last week. (“The Mountain” is Mount Rainier.) Inspired in part by the old black and white photos on the walls of Paradise Inn and in part by the Lens Artists Photo Challenge for this week, I’ve spent some time experimenting with photos from our trip in black and white (a gallery with the color photos is at the end of the post for comparison).
The Mountain is classic, which makes it a great subject for black and white. Every year is both the same and different, depending on the weather and when we can get reservations. This year was on the early side, although the hot weather we had last month sped up snow melt some.
For these photos I used the Gnu Image Manipulation Program, a.k.a., the GIMP to create the black and white images. I used two different tools, both found in the Desaturate submenu of the Colors menu: Desaturate and Color to gray. I put the color to gray image over the desaturated one and experimented with different blend modes. In the cases above I chose the soft light mode. Then I adjusted the opacity of the color to gray layer to get the effect I liked.
The steps were:
Load the image.
Resize the image and sharpen it (resizing usually softens an image).
Fine tune the tone and contrast using either the levels or the tone curve (black and white often looks better if the contrast is greater and the whole range from black to white is used). In the photo of the falls I used layer masks to use different settings for the falls, which were in shadows.
Make two duplicates of the adjusted image.
For the top layer I used the Color to gray filter (Colors>Desaturate>Color to gray). Adjusting the parameters to suit the image.
On the lower layer I used the Desaturate tool (Colors>Desaturate>Desaturate). I tried all of the methods available and chose the one best suited to the photo.
For the Color to gray layer I changed the layer mode and adjusted it’s opacity.
The rock rose was converted to black and white using RawTherapee, an open source program, and the Columbine was processed using the Nik Silver Effects Pro plug-in for the Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). I added a vignette and a focus blur in the GIMP.
I know it’s not nice to criticize Mother Nature, but the weather this past week was…well…conducive to staying home in front of the fireplace. Fall is still glorious, although the winds have thinned the glory. But while you can go out in just wind, or just rain, the two together are daunting.
I don’t have a lens-ball. They are trendy right now, and I am seeing lots of creative photos using them. The problem is that I don’t just shoot hand-held. I shoot hand-held holding two leashes plus, more often than not, a bag of dog doo. The thought of trying to toss a lens-ball into that juggling act is scary.
But, while trying to avoid the news-when-there-really-isn’t-any-news media blitz of the past week, I happened onto a tutorial to use the GIMP (gnu image manipulation program) to add a lens-ball effect to images. Here are my projects so far:
I haven’t gotten very adept yet, but I’m getting better and this has a lot of potential for future creativity. It is certainly a relaxing activity, almost a form of meditation.
How to do it
I assume that the Adobe Photoshop users can do something very similar. The tutorial I used was this one:
A warning: I find that this guy talks too fast for me. He has great information, but he tends to blurt it all out at once. I made myself a step-by-step Cheat Sheet so I wouldn’t have to go back and re-watch every time I want to do this. Included below, in case you want to give it a try, it might be helpful as a companion to the video. If you are not familiar with the GIMP the cheat sheet probably isn’t enough on its own.
My cheat sheet
Make a new, transparent layer with a circle at the center:
Define center of image using image>guides>new guide by percent (50%), one each vertical and horizontal.
Use ellipse select tool from tool box or shortcut e. Aspect ratio 1:1.
Make sure foreground/background colors are black & white. Drag black (foreground) to circle.
Use Ctl-shft-a to deselect circle.
Warp background to go into the sphere:
Duplicate base layer.
With duplicate layer active: Filters>Distorts>Spherize. Adjust angle of view to get desired effect.
Next fit warped image into the circle:
Place guides around the circle: alt-click on circle layer or layers>transparency>alpha to selection. Image>guides>new guides from selection. Cntl-shft-a to deselect.
Select warped base image layer.
Shft-s or select scale tool from tool box. Holding cntl key scales from center, holding shft key maintains original aspect ratio.
Click and drag until the warped image matches the top and bottom guides.
Unlink the x and y values in the scale pop-up menu. Then refine the warped image to lie within the guides. Once things are lined up click on “scale”.
Drag the scaled layer to the top of the layers. (so it covers the black circle).
Hide the corners of the circle: Alt-click or Layer>transparency>alpha to selection on the circle layer. Right click on warped background layer>add layer mask>selection. Cntl-shft-a to deselect.
Make the ball look more realistic by flipping the sphere and adding shading:
Shft-f or transform group flip tool. Choose vertical. Make sure you are on image not layer mask on the warped layer. Hover mask over circle and click. This inverts the circle.
Apply shading using the “sphere designer tool”.
Duplicate the circle layer. Drag to the top of the layer stack. Good idea to rename it “sphere”. Layer>crop to content. Hover inside the black circle and hit delete key.
Go to Help>search and run a command or /. Type “sphere” then double click on “sphere designer”.
Click on the lower light layer to adjust the color the dark shade.
Click on the upper light layer to adjust the orientation, extent and, if you desire, the color of the light source. The source orientation can be adjusted using the x and y values and the z value determines its extent.
When you have the shading as you want it click okay.
Scale the shaded circle to match the warped image circle. Get the scale tool by typing shft s or getting it from the tool box. Make sure the x and y values are linked to keep the circle round. Adjust to make the circles match then hit “scale” in the dialog box.
Copy the sphere shading layer.
Then change the blend mode for the two shade layers.
Make the top most layer “overlay” (this makes the light part of the shading stand out.
Make the lower layer “linear burn” (this makes the darker part pop a bit.
Refine the look by adjusting the opacity of the two shade layers: rule of thumb is to make the overlay layer about 60 to 70%, and the linear burn layer between 20 and 30%.
Toggle the guides off: View>Show guides.
Add an outer glow to the sphere:
Alt-click on one of the sphere layers.
Create a new layer (sphere glow) transparent.
Open the paths tab.
Convert the selection to path (hover over the icons at the bottom of the paths panel to get the description to pop up. Sometimes this takes a bit of time. You know it’s done when it shows up in the paths panel.
Use the stroke to path (It is accessed by an icon at the bottom of the paths panel). To make sure the line will be solid click on the plus sign beside line style. Also make sure the foreground color is white, then click “stroke”.
Filters>blur>Gaussian blur with size 20 or so (depends on image size).
Back to layers panel. Cntl-shft-a to deselect. Change layer mode to linear light. Adjust opacity.
Duplicate sphere glow layer. Lock alpha channel (little checkerboard icon at the top of the layers panel).
Select foreground color, use eyedropper to select a color from the picture. Drag the new color onto the layer. Adjust the layer mode, to burn or linear burn.
Adjust the focus and blur for realism:
Background layer: duplicate it, on duplicate filters>blur>lens blur. Adjust radius and highlights for desired effects.
Hide background layers. Create new layer from visible. Turn off all the layers used to make the sphere.
Use filters>blur>focus blur and adjust the parameters to give the sphere a more 3-d effect.
I’ve been having tremendous fun ever since I discovered twirling, many thanks to Bren of Brashley Photography and her Twirling Tuesday. In addition to just plain fun, it’s been a great help as I try to come to grips with the blend modes in the GIMP (they are the same in Photoshop). It is amazing how many different effects one can get from one photo.
Taking this photo of a peachy-orange deciduous azalea:
The two spun up layers are these:
Using different blend modes there are a stunning number of very different effects, here are some examples:
Then layering the original onto the different blended spirals using different blend modes you can get even more effects, including these rather trippy ones:
I find it fascinating, fun and rather relaxing to take a picture and see how many different looks I can get.
If you want to give it a try Bren’s post has directions for doing the twirling in Photoshop and my post Putting a twist on it using the GIMP has directions for using the GIMP (which is open-source=free).
So I’ve mostly been confined to quarters. For me that means messing about with my computer and photographs. So this is not a story of great adventure in the wide world.
Once upon a time, a not-so-little, not-so-young girl..okay it was really an old-enough-to-be-a-grandmother, mature (most of the time) woman…got to go on a once-in-a-lifetime safari in Africa. She bought a new camera for the trip, with a huge (to her) zoom of 21x…
So long ago in experience, if not so many years. I have this block of photos from that trip that I treasure because they bring back great memories. My beloved (and still functioning!) Nikon L120 point and shoot caught some really great pictures, and I eventually got LightRoom to clean them up a bit and have used them now and again in posts.
I’m not much of a collage person, so this week’s challenge was a challenge. After humming and hawing I decided to try something totally new to me> making a digital collage of photographs. Here is a collage I made using Gimp from 5 of the pictures I took at Mount Rainier last week. I obviously have a lot to learn, and need to practice a lot but it was fun to try something new.