Thursday, October 31, 2013

New York City in Black and White

If you are a regular blog follower, you know that I mostly post color photos here. But, that is not to say that I don't like and appreciate black and white images. On the contrary. I really love looking at my images when processed in B&W, as it gives them a totally different feel. Today's blog post is sans color for a change.

This is collection of photos that I took this month while on a couple of trips to New York City. I felt that many of them were strong images in color, but became stronger when processed in B&W. For those of you wondering, I used Google's NIK SilverEfex Pro 2 software to convert the photos.

This first photo was taken of the Statue of Liberty. What makes this a truly unique image, is that there is nobody on the island. Not one soul. This was taken during the US government shutdown and the island was closed. The sky on this particular day was filled with clouds and a bit dreary. Converting this photo to B&W draws the viewer's eye to the details in the statue and helps negate the bland sky. (Canon 5D Mark III, 28-300mm lens, ISO 500, f5, 1/160 sec, +.3 exposure comp, Lexar 1000x CF, Nik SilverEfex Pro2)

This is my favorite photo from this collection. For this photo, I got down low to the Brooklyn Bridge and used the angles to draw your eye along the span. As luck would have it, I captured this shot as people were equal distance from me, walking towards and away from me. Not seeing their faces, the two people become anchor points for the rest of the image, without being the subjects. (Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm lens, ISO 200, f9, 1/800 sec, -.3 exposure comp, Lexar 1000x CF, Nik SilverEfex Pro2)

Another view of the Brooklyn Bridge, this time looking up through the cabling. For this image, I chose to use one of the detail enhancers in SilverEfex Pro 2 to create additional contrast and sharpness in the image.  (Canon 5D Mark III24-105mm lens  ISO 200, f9, 1/500 sec, -.3 exposure comp, Lexar 1000x CF  Nik SilverEfex Pro2)

Let's stop here for a second and talk about B&W conversion. When most people think of B&W photos, they think that creating the image is as simple as removing color from the file. It really is not that simple. As a matter of fact, there are many adjustments that can be made to the different tones, ranging from the darkest black to the lightest white. This is why I like using the Nik software. It gives me many different presets to play with, but also allows me to make subtle adjustments to each tone. If you look at the collection of images below, you will see some of the endless options you have for B&W conversion.
(You can click on this image to see it larger)

While walking through Washington Square Park, I came across this man who was playing two trumpets at the same time. I don't think I have ever seen that before. I got up close and shot this frame. (Canon 5D Mark III24-105mm lens  ISO 250, f4, 1/160 sec, -.3 exposure comp, Lexar 1000x CF  Nik SilverEfex Pro2)

It was a warm day and this guy decided to cool off. He took off his shirt, wandered into the water and hopped up into the fountain. Unfortunately, when we did this, he was facing away from me. Not wanting to miss this cool shot, I went over to him and asked him to head back into the fountain and do the same thing facing me. I guess it pays to be outgoing and friendly to people. (Canon 5D Mark III24-105mm lens  ISO 250, f4, 1/8000 sec, -.3 exposure comp, Lexar 1000x CF, Nik SilverEfex Pro2)

A view from Central Park.  (Canon 5D Mark III28-300mm lens  ISO 100, f5, 1/640 sec, -.3 exposure comp, Lexar 1000x CF, Nik SilverEfex Pro2)

I have photographed the Guggenheim Museum before, but wanted to try and show it a different way. Again, processing the image in B&W gives this building a completely different look. I think that removing the color from the image, helps the viewer see the shape of the structure better. (Canon 5D Mark III28-300mm lens, ISO 500, f5.6, 1/2000 sec, Lexar 1000x CF, Nik SilverEfex Pro2)

After walking for hours, I decided to sit down on a wall outside the museum and relax for a little bit. It was not more than a minute before I looked up and saw this cool intersection of lines. In order to get this photo, I stood up on the wall and framed the shot to include the museum name and a hint of the building circles in the background. (Canon 5D Mark III28-300mm lens  ISO 500, f14, 1/400 sec, Lexar 1000x CF,  Nik SilverEfex Pro2)

Grand Central Station is another location in New York where I have photographed many times. This was the second time that I have shot here with a tripod and not stopped from doing so. In the past, the police would not allow tripods in the building, but that rule seems to have been relaxed in the recent years. I love shooting this location with a slow shutter speed to show all the motion of the people in this environment. What attracted me to this particular shot, was the woman right in the middle of the crowd shooting an image back at me. Because I was shooting at f/13, I got a nice starburst from her flash. (Canon 5D Mark III24-105mm lens, ISO 100, f13, 8 sec, +.3 exposure comp, Lexar 1000x CF,  Nik SilverEfex Pro2) time you are out shooting photos, think about what they might look like when processed in black and white. 


Unknown said...

Great stuff, I have been shooting a lot of car cruise nights in NYC and converted a few to black and white.

My favorite shot is of the Dakota building in Central park.

Unknown said...

Hello jeff. Could u tell me why you used 1/8000 s in the shoot with the fountain? And you also play with exposure comp in many shoots. Why is that? I am a beginner in photography. Btw, they are great photos.

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...


Good catch - I was wondering if anyone would notice that. There was really that much light. I could have changed the ISO or Aperture, but this happened so fast, that I just shot with whatever settings I had just used. :)

Matt Watkins said...

Hi Jeff,
I'm from the UK and will be visiting New York later this year. Regarding the use of tripods, what is the reasoning for not being allowed to use them and what land marks prohibit their use?

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Matt - I have never heard a good reason as to why tripods are banned in certain places. I have heard rumors of security, people tripping on them....but never anything definitive.