17 February 2007

working with digital images - my recipy

We are introducing a new label called "tools and techniques" at The F Blog.
You are welcome to contribute with articles, short notes etc about the
process of making pictures. It´s an opportunity for those of you who
want to share something about cameras, dark room processing,
digital editing and so on. First article is by Tiberio Fanti, invited guest
February 17, 2007 (today). We are also placing articles published
earlier on at the blog under this label ( e.g. by Anders Blomqvist)

Working with digital images for almost one decade has made me settle
on a simplified “way of working” that characterizes at first glance, as
someone wrote me recently, the large majority of them. Today, most
of the images I’m publishing on the web are B&W but this doesn’t mean
I abhor colors. Indeed, I keep plenty of color images printed in my
drawers but, following the advices of many professionals I’ve been
able to put myself in touch - and, in some cases, in confidence -,
I opted to narrow the gamut of my offer. That’s why at present time
I’m described - and often introduce myself - as a B&W photographer.

photo: Tiberio Fanti

Beside this, I do believe that B&W still holds that special power on
influencing the beholder’s imagination that’s been almost lost in color
images after the advent of digital cameras. B&W to me better conveys
mood, volumes, space-time abstraction and some more I can’t explain.

My recipy

As I’ve written and said several times before, every starting image has
its own path to get to the final printed work. When I’m sitting in my
darkroom, i.e. with the hands on my PC, I don’t use a simple push-button
procedure. In my last ten years of work with the most spread image
manipulation tools I haven’t been able to find one that fits for the majority.

Rather, I have a recipy. Like my mother does in her kitchen, I know which
are the ingredients and the sequence of actions to perform but never make
the same cake. Usually, the first thing I do is to look for the image final cut.
It’s very important to do it early in the conversion process as we won’t be
influenced by those parts of the image that we deem unnecessary. Once
the image composition is adjusted, I make an attempt to balance the
brightness distribution curves, trying to enhance the chromatic contrast
of those parts which I deem valuable for the final result. This means that
sometimes I have to make several trials before getting a color image good
enough for B&W conversion. As a third step, I start evaluating the basic
three colors content and identify the zones requiring a specific B&W conversion.

Basic conversion is almost straightforward using the color channel mixing
features provided by almost every image processing tool. Once I have a
pure B&W image, I use to tone it, wishing to give it the right amount of
warmth a typical classic print conveys. To that purpose I use a simple
compound made of pure black and dark-brown tints, which are blended
according to my current taste and, obviously, mood.

At very last, I usually turn the image back in the RGB color space and add
a pinch of yellow
before balancing the overall luminosity for the last time.
It’s not difficult,I guess. Like cooking, it’s only a matter of “being present”,
taking care of
the process while it’s being applied. Never reduce everything
to pushing a
procedure-button; never leave the turkey in the oven and go
out playing
tennis. I’m from a large family holding some small hotels and
in southern Italy: I can witness I never saw good chefs cooking
their meals
without tasting it!

1 comment:

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