are blown highlights more acceptable in b&w?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Norman 202, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. Supriyo, I didn't say Steiglitz intent was to screw with people, but, based on several photos my sister just emailed of me that got a question from a number of folks on her facebook page asking who was the little boy looking like he was always ready to engage in mischief, apparently,I have been screwing with people since my youth. One with a snow ball looking at her, another with a knife cutting a cake. Julie, beside my parents, I thank the 20 inch beauty dish I call "a cheekbone modifier." Getting it as high as possible but still getting light in the eye sockets really pulls out the bone structure. I got some fill from the floor bounce off the light colored concrete floor to fill the eye sockets. The shot does very well for me on Blown highlights can have a distinct, hard, rapid edge transfer, same as shadows. Specular highlights reveal to the brain the texture of an object by the speed of the edge transfer: Shine a light on super smooth black paint, razor sharp edge transfer, velour, textured surface, super gradual specular edge transfer. It is a function of surface efficiency. Hence, application of makeup to soften or oil or wax to do the opposite. My shot started as a test of some new strip lights in a 100 degree garage til I got the inspiration for the Hemingway shot based on what I was seeing. I describe my creative process as I look at something, it speaks to me and as Forest Gump said, sheet happens. Then added what used to be in CA my trademark silk crew neck sweater since Hem was wearing his trademark fisherman's knit sweater (too hot most of the year here in FL) and then a camera. The high heat helped with the high skin surface efficiency. Worked the opposite when doing a 30's style shoot with 3 hot lights and a fog machine. You are absolutely right about the Hendrix shot. Unfortunately, I didn't make Woodstock, the Thruway was closed down before I got there. A few years later, I did handle a lawsuit against Warner Brothers by the nude lady on the movie poster. Our defense was how could she identify herself as the woman with her back to the camera standing on one leg with her other foot behind the other knee out of the thousands of woman in attendance. We sent 3 other women to pose nude in the same pond and had 4 8x10's to show her asking her to pick herself out. I did not get to go to that photo shoot, darn. She immediately picked herself out. Out of the thousands of women at Woodstock, how many do you think had webbed toes. Ca ching, out came the check book. There was no model release or in many cases, folks without even tickets. There is an old adage, never ask a question to which you don't know the answer, Chris Darden should have heed that in the OJ case.
    This is why I have model releases in my bag at ALL times.There was also a suit by the latrine cleaner. He never told his family that's what he did for a living and each day left home in a business suit. He said they wouldn't take the food he passed them at the dinner table after seeing him in the movie emptying the porta potties. Norman, interesting question. Will have to mess with it in color efex and see. Thanks, I rarely do split toning in color. Like Tim Ludwid did years ago sending me down a new path with subtractive lighting, you and Julie have just done the same. However, to emulate Hem's beard, it needs be white in this shot for the concept of the shot. But for effect... interesting. Can always learn here at pnet.
    Sandy Vongries and Julie H like this.
  2. Awesome post, bob_bill! Every word of it. Love it!

    To hell with the question, tell us another story!
  3. Thanks, Julie. I would add the beauty dish was fitted with a diffusion sock under a grid. I find that helps bring out the cheekbones even more but still retains most of the softness. Different than bare bd, bd with sock, bd with grid or bd with sock over grid. To keep the grid in securely, I have a half dozen or so A clamps around the perimeter making it look like sputnik.
  4. This is so out of my league. I often have to fiddle with lighting set-ups when getting parts for my composites, and I hate every minute of it. And I'm terrible at it. It's pretty much the thing I like least about photography. On the other hand, for some reason, I like looking at and thinking about the amazing ways that other photographers get results with artificial lights. As long as I don't have to do it ...

    What I really want to know, though, is did you have long hair in your Woodstock days? And did you wear leather? With fringes??
  5. Julie, for me, once I have the inspiration for the shot, everything else falls in line flowing from it: composition, lens, aperture, lighting, props, background, pose and expression. Nailing all is rare but really satisfying. Getting all with no thoughts of possible improvement is difficult. I think Ansel said we are lucky if we get 12 significant shots in a year. A fro in the 60-70's with a pick. As My Cousin Vinnie, had to wear a business suit made of cloth, not leather. Beard because managing people twice my age and wanted to look older. Sounds like you are describing the classic Dennis Hopper look from Easy Rider. Or was it the Mommas and the Papas?
  6. All of the above. I was too young to participate in the '60s, but I was old enough to have bell-bottom pants (one pair, I remember, was spotted like a pinto pony). I did have a little cowhide vest with two (small) fringes on the pockets. My allowance wouldn't get me any more fringes than that (thank goodness).

    Where's the fun in that? Besides, if you did, we at would be happy to point out what you missed.
  7. You know the old joke about how many photographers does it take to screw in a light bulb? One to screw in the light bulb and a hundred to tell him how they would do it. But that is the beauty of photography, all the different ideas. So much to shoot, so liittle time.
    Julie H likes this.
  8. When I was working in defense/aerospace years ago at the tail end of the Cold War, it was "Too many commies, too little time."
  9. Brad, Good one. Your aerospace comment reminds me of the airborne motto, death from above. You are in CA. I used to live on the Fair Oaks hill across the river from Aerojet and got to watch the test firing of missile engines in test stands. Now here in FL will have to go to a launch at Kennedy Space Center.
  10. I cannot presume to answer the question because I haven't tried it myself, but different colors (or tints) have different effects on us. So, a blown highlight in sepia may have a different feeling than say a selenium tint. Another idea would be to try duotone, where the band around the blown part can be of a different color (not shade as in monochrome) than it's surrounding to highlight the brightness of the overexposed part. This may have some loose connection with the Cangiante style of painting where a different color not shade was used to show change in brightness.
    Norman 202 likes this.
  11. I think there are plenty of times when blown highlights are perfectly acceptable: a blanket rule is silly. As to whether they are more acceptable in black and white, then "no". They are just as acceptable in either medium.
    tholte likes this.
  12. Robin, pithy and accurate. Great post.
  13. antelope flat road 1+2 BW.jpg
    Specifically, for landscapes looking into the sun, I think that we expect the sun itself to be blow out if it's not too cloudy or smokey. What I dislike are amorphous blobs of sky that are also blown out, such as in the top image. The bottom image, to me, is better because it makes it obvious that we are looking into the sun and that it is surrounded by clouds. My reasoning for color photos is the same as it is for black and white.

    Pure blacks are another story, I like regions of pure black if not overdone. They can lend a sense of mystery to a photo. If there are no pure black regions in my black and white photos, I often adjust levels to include (usually small) regions of pure black. I am a fan of Brett Weston (AKA, "the prints of darkness") who composed many images with large regions of pure black.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
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