|thicket © Caroline Fraser 2012|
I took a proper camera and a monopod; a compromise over the need to carry a tripod for decent depth of field, and my need to walk and feel unburdened by my equipment. As always I carry just one lens, and see what I can do with it. This weekend I have rediscovered the fun of a wide angle lens. My Sigma 10-20 mm has not been out for a while, but for my current project on chaos in the woods it is perfect, allowing a wider depth of focus than most of my other lenses, and better quality images than a standard telephoto lens.
I have downloaded Topaz B&W effects for a one month trial, and am experimenting to see if it is something I would like to buy. I already have Lightroom which has a number of monochrome options, but am struggling to use the programme efficiently. Topaz can be used from within Photoshop, and is therefore simpler to use.
So what have I found?
I am wary of producing images that look overcooked. So many journalistic photographers seem to use Topaz filters for portraits, and the overall effect is to over accentuate the pores and wrinkles to a point where they look unatural. Likewise landscapes can have too much 'venetian' effect or 'pop', and the effect immediately destroys the image in my eye.
I like to use black and white layers within photoshop to enhance the contrast in an image without creating an obvious filter effect. I copy the background layer and convert the layer to monochrome. The blending mode is then changed to soft light or overlay and the percentage opacity altered according to taste.
|black and white overlay on a colour image using soft light as the blending mode|
Here is the first image unadulterated
and here with the Topaz diffusion filter applied as a layer with some additional blur
|with diffusion and blur|
and here with no blur
|with diffusion and no blur|
Some images work better in black and white, especially for conveying nature's chaos.
|with high contrast monochrome effect and vignetting|
|colour image with monochrome overlay in soft light blending mode|
|same image using Topaz BW infra red effect, exaggerated grain and vignetting|
You just need to be careful not to overcook the albumen or go overboard on the 'grunge'.