Menlo Park based photographers

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 }

Menlo Park-based photographer Mark Tuschman unveils “Immigrants are US”

For three nights, Menlo Park-based photographer Mark Tuschman will be at Art Ventures Gallery in downtown Menlo presenting photographs he took as part of a project he calls Immigrants are US – Immigration: Photography and Stories of Courage and Resilience. “This project came about from my sense of the dire need to increase understanding of […]

Click to read more →

Photographer Frances Freyberg is featured artist in May at Portola Art Gallery

Menlo Park-based photographer Frances Freyberg is the featured artist this May at the Portola Art Gallery. The theme is “Views from the Trail,” photographs from her favorite hikes. We feature four here, selected because they focus tightly on the subject matter. The Bay Checkerspot butterfly (top) was  photographed at Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve as was the […]

Click to read more →

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

It’s unanimous: Springtime 2019 is just glorious! Menlo Park-based photographer Frances Freyberg spent a day earlier this month at Filoli capturing the beauty of its gardens at this time of year. We’re certain that her photos will brighten your day. Photos by Frances Freyberg (c) 2019

Click to read more →

Phillip Nicholas expands his photographic focus to pets

We first profiled photographer Phillip Nicholas when he’d just landed in Menlo Park after living outside of Yosemite. While there he’d honed his landscape photography skills. He was teaching — another passion — at the Aperture Academy, which he continues to do. But some days he has open hours. Inspired by his next-door neighbor, a dog […]

Click to read more →

Photographer Barry Fleisher finds big construction project — almost in his backyard

When we first visited with Menlo Park-based photographer Barry Fleisher in July, 2014, he talked about his growing interest in photographing construction sites. Now he’s found a big construction project practically in his own back yard, one that’s particularly fitting given that he’s a retired neonatologist — the building of the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. The effort began […]

Click to read more →

Frances Freyberg photographs of Japan on display at Portola Art Gallery in Menlo Park

“Japan Revisited” is the name of an exhibit of Frances Freyberg photographs on display at the Portola Art Gallery in Menlo Park through April. A reception for the photographer — a frequent contributor to InMenlo — is scheduled for Saturday, April 5 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. The vibrant color photographs feature landscapes, cityscapes, shrine scenes and […]

Click to read more →