Reed Page's picture

Simple Nature Black & White - Leaves

While walking down a local trail, noticed the light on this asymmetric leaf pattern and thought it would be real nice in black & white. Not real strong on digital B&W so any critique is welcome and appreciated.

Log in or register to post comments

11 Comments

Chris Jablonski's picture

It's a well spotted and nicely composed image, Reed! It has a pleasant rhythm to it.

You face a difficult and common problem here - high contrast, with the shadows and more unfortunately the leaf highlights maxed out. I would bracket with an image like this, and HDR (blending exposures) is a common remedy. I'd ideally start with a more underexposed image, and boost the shadows in processing, as you can often get detail out of apparently featureless black shadow, whereas the highlights on the two leaves at right are unrecoverable blank white in large part. And the leaf texture is more important than the OOF dark background.

Alan Brown's picture

Hi Reed. Chris and I tend to be on agreement on most things so I've not much more to add to his thoughtful comments.
We are assuming that due to the dynamic range the original (RAW?) image is bumping either end of the histogram (ie lost data in both blacks and whites), but if this is not the case you may be able to recover detail (ie by dropping whites/Highlights, increase blacks/shadows, adjust contrast/tone curve etc).

Otherwise the image does look good in B&W, where it brings out nice patterns and textures.

Reed Page's picture

Thanks for the feedback! Chris, Unfortunately I single imaged it. I saw it, composed it, thought it through... thought about the harsh lighting... then single imaged it. :) I may have another image I can do a blend with and will try this evening.
Alan, you've got me thinking that I completely ignored the raw data in an attempt to go for the contrast I had in my head(yes, I'm embarrassed). I know that last leaf was gone when I brought the image in, but never tried pulling the detail out of it. Not sure about the second one but I'll take a look at that tonight too. It may be as simple as blending the two leaves or hdring the picture to a darker version of itself.
Thanks again.

Reed Page's picture

OK, so there was a lot more detail in there. I tried hard contrast and re hdring the picture, but it kept trying to blow out those leaves. I finally gave up on the hdr and high contrasted the raw. unfortunately the light became far to uniform and I lost the original intent. Trying to get something in between caused jaggying and blow out one way or the other. Will try some more before calling it a wash.

Chris Jablonski's picture

Even using this posted version, Reed, it looks possible to get pretty close to what you were after.

Reed Page's picture

Chris,
That's excellent, now I'll have to go back to the post processing to see what I can do.
Thanks,
Reed

Ruth Carll's picture

Hi Reed - i agree with the others. I would resolve this by attempting to remove the tip leaf. At first glance, i thought the second leaf was the end of the branch and if you could clone out the over exposed first leaf, the bright second one might not be bothersome. If you do play around with the image, I'd love to see you add it to the original post. I love the image. It reminds me of Ansel Adams botanicals.

Ruth Carll's picture

Sort of. I miss the cool gradient effect Reed had in the original where it looked like a color swatch with each leaf brighter than the previous. If that is here, i don't see it enough but I'm on my phone in the woods. :) Also. The leaves are too dark compared to the background. Truthfully, out of all the versions so far i like the original the best minus the tip leaf. Now i might have to take a crack at it when i get back!! ;)

Ruth Carll's picture

So this will prove that I never do cloning and this type of editing work! But - I think that the edits are missing the nugget that made the original really interesting. The gradation of the exposure on the leaves and the pop from the background. There was also a softness to the original that was nice as I think the leaves on the edits are too detail-sharp.
Here is my poorly done turn - just to show the concept.

Chris Jablonski's picture

I was thinking mainly about the removal of the leaf, Ruth. I'm inclined to think that Reed framed up well intuitively including that leaf, without which I think the composition suffers. And its veins are recoverable. I too would like to see more of the tonal gradient. I was struck by the amount of leaf texture Reed had in his original, and mainly wanted to show that. All three of us might agree yet!