Archive for the ‘Black and White’ Category

The Shore in Shades of Gray

The Shore In Shades of Gray © 2011 Gary Udstand

The North Shore

The heat of a hot summer day slowly eases its grip the closer we move towards the cold waters of Superior.  The sun’s rays dance on the surface of the water and it warms the stones on the beach.  Like a beautiful symphony the water laps upon the shore and the steady breeze whispers off the leaves and trees.  The view is spectacular and the day wonderful.  

 

Silver Efex Pro 2

All of my black and white images lately have been processed in Silver Efex Pro 2, and this one is no different.  Using SEP2 it was easy to open up the shadows of the foreground rocks while still maintaining the detail and the brilliant whites of the foliage.     Besides a few quick clicks in SEP2 the only thing I needed to do was sharpen. 

Left Behind

©2009 Gary Udstrand

Left Behind

The small shanty had once been the center of a vibrant and growing family, providing warmth and protection to all those who graced its floors. Laughter and Love and the patter of small feet echoed insides its walls, but that is now long gone. As the years passed the children moved on one by one until there were none.

The prairie winds blow effortlessly unfettered by the shattered windows. The silence is only occasionally interrupted by the sad creak of hinges as the door slowly works free of the frame. The house is slowly dying along with the dreams of the once proud builder. Time passes and people move on, the forgotten building stands alone, left behind.

 

Fine Art

This image was featured on the Fine Art photoblog on May 28th 2010.  It was the first of a few images that were featured and it is one of my favorites.  Growing up in Northern MN this scene is all too familiar and represents a way of life that is slowly slipping away.  This scene will eventually succumb to the elements and will disappear completely from the landscape. And with it the memories of a time that is no more.

 

Interestingly, even though this image was featured on another blog I had, until now, failed to post it on my own blog.  So this post is a bit retrospective and some may have even seen this image before.   But I wanted it to be a part of this blog and representative of my work and style.

 

Conversion to Black and White

This image was converted to Black and White using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro.   I am  a big fan of the Nik plugins and have used SEP for all my B&W work since I first converted this image a couple years ago.  For this image I wanted a strong tonal contrast and an emphasis on the powerful skies of that day.  Using SEP I was able to quickly and easily get the look I wanted. 

Swept Away

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© 2010 Gary Udstrand

Swept Away

Lake Superior has many beautiful areas and among them is Grand Marais.   Many of our family journeys are in and around “The Shore” and this particular summer day found us camping right on the Lake near Grand Marais.

When we arrived the wind was blowing in off  the lake and a chill was in the air, not the uncomfortable kind of chill but rather the kind that clears the senses and makes one feel alive.  We strolled along the beach taking in the sights and the smells and feeling a connection to the Lake.

Slowly across the horizon a dot appeared and it grew larger with each passing moment until we could see the masts of a sailing ship entering the harbor.  I took a photograph which always reminds me of that day.

 

Composition

I wanted to comment about the composition.  I find it an interesting discussion to talk about what makes a photograph appealing.  There are a number of things that can contribute to that end.  Does the picture tell a story?   Evoke an emotion?   Bring back memories, good and/or bad?

Judging one’s own pictures can sometimes be very difficult since emotion does play a part.  As I related above, this picture has a meaning to me and I try to take that into account when I look at an image.  While it may be appealing to me, will it hold interest for others?

When I looked at this photo I saw balance, a story and action.  The boat sailing into the frame and past the lighthouse gave it a sense of space.    I also liked the interaction between the lighthouse and the sailboat which balanced the composition nicely.  The white of the lighthouse plays well off the dark of the sails and provides a bit of tension.

Lastly, further scrutiny reveals a lone soul on the pier gazing wistfully towards an unknown destination.  Sometimes it is the little things and in this image, I think that  it serves to bring it all together.

 

Silver Efex Pro 2

I processed this photo with Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2.   I started with the preset High Structure (smooth) and as on Skagen Town Hall, I pushed the blacks a small amount with Amplify Blacks.  The lighthouse in the background ended up a bit too bright for my tastes and was easily corrected by placing a control point on it and reducing the brightness.

Part of the appeal of Silver Efex Pro 2 is the simplicity in achieving the look you want.  And the results?  Well I leave that to the viewer.  Smile

 

Feedback

I always enjoy hearing from people who have taken the time to view my photos.  I appreciate the feedback.  You can leave comments here on the blog or if you click on the picture (or any picture in my blog) you will be taken to a gallery where you can also leave a comment,   I look forward to hearing from you and as always thanks for taking the time to view my photographs and read my ramblings.

 

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Skagen Town Hall

©2010 Gary Udstrand

Skagen

Skagen Town Hall is located between Greenbush and Badger in the NW corner of MN.   As a kid we lived just a few short miles from here and drove by it almost every day.  Now, years later I have moved on and get back home just a few times a year.  Seeing the town hall reminds me of my childhood and all the adventures that comes with growing up in rural area.  

Many things are different and have changed since my youth, this town hall however is not among them.  The trees may be a little taller and the paint chipped a tad more here and there but in my minds eye it looks the same as it did the first time I happened to cast a glance its way.

Silver Efex Pro 2

Just this past week Nik released an update to their incredibly popular, and powerful, black and white conversion plugin.   This plugin works with many image editing tools but my use is confined to Lightroom and Photoshop.  For this particular image I used the plugin from within Lightroom.

There are several new features to recommend the updated version.  Two of these features are the Amplify Blacks and Amplify Whites and both are exceptional.  The photo above was shot in very flat light and did not hold much promise.  I tried the usual tweaks in both Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom and could not get the look or the depth that I wanted in the image.

When I finally got a copy of Silver Efex Pro 2 one of the first images that I processed was the one above.   I previewed one preset after another and I have to say I really enjoyed seeing all the possibilities  that were just a simple click away.   I finally settled on one, the default I believe, and then using the amplify blacks and whites I was able to expand the tonal contrast and add some depth to the image.   Just what I wanted.  

Tracks in Time

The tracks lead into the distance, fueling the imagination and ideas of adventure. 

Home Town

I have to admit that this photo has a special meaning to me.  The tracks above are from a small town located in the far NW corner of MN.  It is where I grew up all those years ago. 

To me they represent a time in my life when a choice had to be made, my crossroads as it were.  My decision was to stay here and start my life or to move on to greater opportunities.   Ultimately I decided to pull up stakes and head off  in pursuit of an education.  By the time I finished school I found my life was now  firmly entrenched in the city.  I have been living there since then and wonder how different things would be had I not loaded up the car and left everything that I knew behind.

The Tracks

The tracks above wind lazily through Greenbush, MN.  It is nothing more than a blip on the map and seemingly gets smaller with each passing day.     In the distance is one of the grain elevators in town and represents the agricultural basis of the economy. 

Most people don’t even notice the tracks anymore, with the intermittent exception of a passing car jostled about as it continues on to its destination.  The tracks represent many things but mostly commerce in this area.

And Now

To this day I return to my home as often as I can.  I still have lots of family and friends in the area and many memories that I cherish.  Here I find inspiration in my photography and my life and there is a part of me that has always remained behind.  

The tracks move goods both in and out of town and are synonymous with my journey.   While I left and have made my life elsewhere, I still return and find myself here as well.    I can never stay as long as I like and always find myself needing to continue along the tracks once again.

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