Choosing to make a Black & White

Saguaro Sentinal 2    B&W Saguaro sentinal 2

Out of the thousands of pictures we take there are a few that simply beg to be made in good old black and white. As usual with photography it is a subjective view. While I loved this picture in color it kept making me wonder just how it would look in black & white. I think it was begging me.

I took it in May on an outing with friends. The view is of the Mazatzal Mountain Range in the Tonto National Forest just 40 miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. It was an impressive photo day with the ominous looking clouds and terrific views. A type of day photographers live for.

In any case I decided to take this particular shot into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and convert it to black & white. I was immediately happy with the first look. However, as it looked a little flat, I decided to use a few of the adjustments that are available in Lightroom to enhance it to more of what I saw when I shot it. I went through my normal steps adjusting the whites, blacks, shadows, highlights and so on that are available in Lightroom but decided I wanted to go a little further. I then went through a progression of other steps. I used the graduated filter to bring out the clouds more and the adjustment brush to add some contrast to the clouds and bring out the landscape more. In the end I was happy with the result and will have it printed and framed for a special place in my home.

So how did I choose to make this a black & white? As I wrote in the beginning it is mostly subjective. There are probably technical reasons you can point to in a picture that will make it a better black & white than others but in the end it is what you feel. In this shot I think it was the clouds that first drew my attention as a possibility, then the desert road and finally the rest fell into place.

Good shooting everyone


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