Photography

Model: Rene Reyes

I’m just back from a weeklong workshop titled “The Language of Black and White” held at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Taught by Cira Crowell, the week involved a deep dive into the key aspects of black and white photography — a genre that I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy very much. Cira (@ciracrowell) is a superb black and white photographer who I met last summer in a workshop taught by photographer Christopher Michel (@chris_michel)

Each day of the workshop had a theme: Who, What, Where, Why, How and When. After introductions on Sunday evening, Cira asked us each to share what black and white photography means to us. “I’ve come to appreciate the timeless quality of black and white photography,” was my comment. Others shared insights about the simplicity of black and white, how dropping away the color helps add clarity to a photo, and more.

We began each day with a short reading from a wonderful Georgia O’Keeffe book: Some Memories of Drawings to help us set a mood for the day. O’Keeffe comments on many of her early drawings describing what was in her mind as she moved from concept to drawing on the paper.

Cira is a lifelong student of light — and we reviewed the history of photography in the context of the language of light using examples of early photographic gear from her personal collection before moving out into the field to begin capturing our own images. Cira paid a tribute to photographer George DeWolfe — a long-time teacher of earlier versions of this course and himself a master of the editing and post-processing steps used to add depth (what DeWolfe calls “presence”) to a black and white image, leading to an almost 3D-look to the image.

Among techniques that DeWolfe used in his earlier workshops was processing a painting from one of the masters into a black and white image. He tried to show the effect of a default conversion versus what is possible through using a few additional techniques to enhance the presence in the image. An example below illustrates that point using “The Astronomer” from Vermeer. The default conversion is one the left — the enhanced conversion is on the right.

One of our field trips was to O’Keeffe’s White Place (Plaza Blanca) where we worked to photograph both the natural beauty of the rock formations along with two great models who worked with us to add a human dimension to our images of nature. Another field trip took us to a local home where we also worked with several models in a more domestic setting.

Both of these opportunities to work with models provided us with great portraiture opportunities — first attempting to capture our best color images which we converted to black and white in post-processing using both Lightroom and Photoshop. Cira has designed a custom workflow that first develops the best possible color version of the image that ensures good color separation before converting to black and white and making further refinements to tonality and luminance to ensure good separation of the grey tones in the image. A default conversion from color to black and white typically results in a flat, uninteresting image (such as the Vermeer example above), but using this workflow helps bring the black and white to life by adding additional tonality and depth to the image.

Thanks to the superb teaching from Cira and the collaboration among a great group of students, I came away from my week in Santa Fe with a much deeper appreciation for the importance of light and depth in black and white images — how to best capture the original color version of an image, enhance it further in post-processing and then complete the conversion to a powerful black and white image. I’m looking forward to further exercising my skills applying these techniques as I continue my photographic explorations! A few examples of my images from the week follow. You can find more of my work on my Instagram: @sjl

Photographer Scott Loftesness is an InMenlo co-founder.

Model: Rene Reyes

Model: Aubri Zamo

Models: Andrew Trujillo, Puja Gol – Home

Model: Mecca Riane

{ Be the first to comment }

10th annual Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District digital photo contest is underway

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s tenth-annual digital photo contest is open to photographers of all abilities who are encouraged to submit images taken in publicly accessible areas of Midpen’s preserves throughout the South Bay, Peninsula and San Mateo County coast. An aspiring photographers category was added last year to invite middle and high school […]

Click to read more →

Grab Bag Theater holds annual Winter Arts Festival

Grab Bag Theater’s annual Winter Arts Festival is this Sunday, February 24, at 7:00 pm at the Veterans Memorial Center, 1455 Madison Avenue, Redwood City. The Festival showcases local teen artists as they display their talents in artwork, photography, song, music, and more. While the event is free, Grab Bag Theater would greatly appreciate your […]

Click to read more →

Beautiful full moon over Menlo Park creates stunning image

Serious amateur photographer Mark Gerow created this image thanks to the full moon, using a Nikon D7200 with a Nikor 18-200 mm lens. He explains: “[There are] two images merged via Photoshop. The tree was taken with flash at 18mm to highlight branches — the moon was in that shot but much smaller. [For the] second […]

Click to read more →

Spotted: Lake at Sharon Park sporting a fall hue

InMenlo founder Scott Loftesness captured this pretty fall scene, which we think if worth sharing with our followers. Think of it as a bright start to a day!

Click to read more →

Dan Fenstermacher blends activism with photography

Menlo Park resident Dan Fenstermacher combines photography with activism to produce a distinct documentary style. For his master’s thesis at San Jose State, he photographed people with a diagnosed mental illness. “I have OCD myself,” he said, “so it was relevant to me and my family. Mental illness is so misunderstood. Many people with a diagnosis […]

Click to read more →

Sunrises and sunsets photographed by Larry Calof is featured exhibit at Portola Art Gallery

“Sunrise, Sunset,” a collection of photographic images of sunrises and sunsets — primarily around the West and Southwest — by Larry Calof of Atherton is the featured exhibit at the Portola Art Gallery in May. The exhibit features images printed on aluminum, as well as pieces printed on traditional archival paper. A reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, […]

Click to read more →

Photographer Stuart Jacobson holding open studio again this year

We discovered photographer Stuart Jacobson walking home last year from shopping at the Menlo Park Farmers Market and stopped by again this morning. He has a houseful of  lovely landscapes and captivating animal-in-the-wild photographs and will be available to talk with visitors until 5:00 pm today (1260 Middle Avenue). His home studio will also be […]

Click to read more →

Nathalie Strand uses her iPhone to take photos, making captivating composites

If ever there was a body of work that validated those big Apple billboards touting the iPhone as a camera, it’s photographs taken by Menlo Park resident Nathalie Strand. Her basement studio is a treasure trove of images, one of which is on display at the Hall of Justice (400 County Center) in Redwood City […]

Click to read more →

Saluting a quartet of InMenlo’s photographers on International Women’s Day

We at InMenlo count ourselves very lucky to have a crew of wonderful contributing photographers. Four of them just happen to be long-time female contributors, so we’re saluting them and featuring four of their inspiring photographs on International Women’s Day. Frances Freyberg has traveled the world taking photos; our paths first crossed in 2010 when […]

Click to read more →

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space launches annual photo contest with new youth category

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s ninth-annual digital photo contest in underway. Photographers of all abilities are invited to submit images taken in publicly accessible areas of Midpen’s preserves throughout the South Bay, Peninsula and San Mateo County coast. A new youth category added this year encourages middle and high school students to participate. “The […]

Click to read more →