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Posts tagged ‘Monochrome Madness’

UfD: Making Changes

While I am away next month the blog is going to be different. I am taking a break from the usual blogging that I do, but that also leaves me with the question, do I continue doing exactly what I’ve been doing when I come back?

One thing I’m thinking of doing is ditching the Up for Discussion Posts, (UfD). I had hoped lake-albacutya-fires-sand-dunes434when I started them that I would get lots of people wanting to guest post, but it never really happened. I had some people say they wanted to do it, but then nothing came of it. It is very hard trying to come up with a topic each week. I thought I could do tutorials, but they are very time consuming to do properly and one tutorial could take me a day to do. At this stage I think it is best to stop them.

I will probably still do some posts discussing something, but not every week. I have thought of not posting on a Friday, or perhaps looking at an image that I have done and discussing what I did to it and why. My motivation behind it. I used to do that a lot, but I somewhere a long the way I stopped, so I would like to get back to doing that as I did enjoy it.

lake-albacutya-fires-sand-dunes443As for the rest of the blog, I’m not sure yet. I think I will continue the Introduction posts, they always seem to be well received. Again, I just have to find people.

Monochrome Madness will continue, that is if people want it too.

I want to keep doing the Weekend Wanderings because it means I have to get out and take photos for them. I can be quite lazy, so having those posts means I have to go and lake-albacutya-fires-sand-dunes438take photos. I might do one as a quick one, with a few photos and then other more detailed. Not sure yet, will see how I go. I have some ideas, but I need to think on them some more.

At this stage my Bits and Bobs post will probably stay, I do enjoy doing that one as well. A great way for me to share what I’m doing. Basically my whole trip is going to be one of those.

Is there anything you would like to see me doing? I’m happy to listen, but will depend on what it is as to whether I will do it.

I still love doing this blog and love the friendships I’ve made through it, but things are getting lake-albacutya-fires-sand-dunes456busy, so I might need to streamline it a little. I want to continue doing it and enjoying it, I don’t want it to become something I have to do.

The photos today were taken almost a year ago in the Mallee around Lake Albacutya. I won’t be there next month, but hoping to get back to take a look before the year is out.

Before I go, I had some good news yesterday and had to share, Nikon will be lending me a D750 for my trip and a 35mm lens. It will be fun to try out a new camera while away.

UfD: Themes and Challenges

It has been a challenge coming up with todays Up for Discussion Post, but then I thought maybe we could talk about whether or not we like themes and challenges.

Some people love them and others hate them.They can be great to get people doing something, or if you have no trouble making work then you might find it too hard to do. Having to stop what you do so you can do a special image for the theme can be a different kind of challenge.



You can see where themes can be great for people who are starting out in photography. It helps them to work out what to take. When many people first start photography they know they want to take photos, but have a hard time working out what they are going to shoot. Themes can help solve that problem. If you are told what to take photos of then your problem is solved.

They can also be to broad for some people. If you are working on a particular body of work then a theme can be distracting from what you are trying to do.

I’ve always avoided themes. For the most part it meant making or taking something just for the sake of the theme. If you aren’t invested in it then how can you do your best work?

Starting the themes for Monochrome Madness was a joint decision between all of us. People said they wanted them so we started doing them. They are very popular and it is great to see how people respond to them.

Here are the images I’ve done for the various MM themes.


Challenges can be another way to help you produce work. It can be a challenge that  you do with other people or something you do on your own. Depending on the challenge you can do your own work and still participate.

Monochrome Madness can be like that. The challenge is to produce a monochrome image each week. Your subject matter is completely up to you. As long as the image is monochrome and you send it in then you are doing the challenge.

There are other challenges you can do too. Many people do challenges for blogging. About four years ago I did one to post a photo every day for a month. I found it got me blogging more and it became part of what I did every day. It was a great challenge for me and it helped me get my blog going.

What are your thoughts on themes and challenges? Do you do them? If yes, why and if no, why?

Here are some photos that I have used in Monochrome Madness this year.

Quiet Thursday: Getting Ready for a Busy Week

Next week is going to be crazy, not that I’m going to complain about that, but most of my time is going to be spent taking photos. I am looking forward to that, but it also means that I am going to have to get ready early for many things. Today is going to be a quiet day at home, but also a busy day doing just that.

I’ve been working on a new theme for my website, well installing it at least. I had a few problems getting the blog to work, but finally had some success with that late yesterday. I have been doing the Pro Blogger Podcasts and they have suggested that you will get a better ranking with Google if you have a mobile friendly or responsive theme. So please go and take a look see what you think, but remember it is still a work in progress. Here is the link, Leanne Cole.

Speaking of responsive themes it also means I will have to change this one as well. It is shocking to look at on the phone. I’ve known it for a while, but have resisted, but will start looking for a new one for this soon.

Monochrome Madness next week, can I ask you to please get your images to me very soon. I would love to have the post basically done before I go away. The earlier you get your images to me then the sooner I can get the post done. Thanks.

Today I have some more photos for you from Social Media and some others that I did when trying to find an image for Monochrome Madness a couple of weeks, then didn’t use. I am trying to use Instagram more when I’m away, so remember if you want to keep up to date with where I am it is a great way to follow me. Also check out the places Chris gets to when she is taking photos.

Have a great day everyone.

Up for Discussions: Images in Monochrome

The Monochrome Madness challenge has been wonderful, yet I am finding many people feel their own work is not good enough, or they don’t really know, or think they don’t know, how to do monochrome images.  I offered to write a post about it.  I thought why not, but I don’t feel like I am in any way an expert on monochrome images, or black and white, so I am going to get the discussion going, and like we did with other discussions, like common mistakes newbies make, I will talk about what I do and give some ideas and hopefully other people will keep adding to the discussion. What happens, I will start the conversation.  The first part is how to choose an image, and the second part will be about how to convert them to black and white.  The post will remain open and as people, you, make suggestions I will add marysville-steavensons-falls-water-monochrome-100-2them to the post.  So please leave what you want to say in the comments, I will cut and paste them.  Remember this is about helping people who have trouble creating monochrome images. Shall we get on with it.

The Image

Textures and Patterns

Not every photo you take will be a good monochrome image, sad but true.  There are things to look for when you are going to convert an image.  Images with lots of textural elements or patterns are great for monochrome, the patterns and textures can laurent-melbourne-littlecollins-building-monochromereally stand out.


Really what a great monochrome image needs is lots of contrast.  I am going to try and explain contrast because I know a lot of people say they know what it is and they don’t.  I used to be one of them.  People say to me it doesn’t have enough contrast and it took me years to work out what they meant. So contrast is about the difference between the whites and the blacks.  If you have ever used the threshold on an image, and converted it to just blacks and just whites, then you will find an image with a lot of contrast.  Though the image would look crap, but a good image would have blacks, and whites and lots of shades in between.  What you are looking for are lots of tones, or greys from light to dark.  Often images that don’t have a lot of contrast just look grey royal-exhibition-building-reflection-museumand not very good.


If you want to know if an image will be good for black and white, look at the tones in the image, the lights and darks, is their enough of a difference. Remember that some colours will have the same tones when converted. For example red and green will have the same tone, and when you convert they may look the same. Dramatic images often lend themselves very well to monochrome as well.


A couple of people have mentioned how you can take photos in Black and White with a setting on your camera.  One way is to take Black and White photos, but then you loose the flexibility of your image because you can’t make it colour again. The other option is to make your screen show you the preview in B&W. The images are still colour, but you get an idea of what it looks like in monochrome. I don’t do either, but I know people who do.  To be honest, I just don’t think of it.  If you are new to this and learning, then changing your screen to give you the preview could be very beneficial.

Zone System

The zone system that Ansel Adams developed has been mentioned.  I’ve never been able to work it out, but there are others who have read it and used it to get better images.  If you are really stuck, could be good to look at.

Taking Images

It has been suggested that if you have the intention of getting images in black and white, then when you set out to take them, remember that, and look at what you are taking.  Think about whether it will be a good image for monochrome.

From Merilee, her point of view.

The best way to learn the language of black and white is to work only in black and white. And I don’t mean allowing the camera to take black and white images for you. You must go out and take the photograph in color, and really LOOK at what you are shooting. Before you shoot it, you need to train your eye and brain to convert the image from color to black and white in your mind first. After awhile it becomes automatic. You can be looking at a sign that’s in bright colors, but you know instinctively that when you convert that color photograph into black and white, that the colors on the sign will all turn the same shade of grey. You must do this and do it a lot to learn the language. Also, when composing for black and white, it will be different than composing for color. Because your color becomes part of the composition itself. When shooting for black and white you need to SEE the large, dark areas and the large light areas while you are composing. Work like this for two or three years. I’m not talking about a few weeks. This takes years. I know. It’s what I do. All the time…

Chris had similar views as Merilee

Have to agree with Merilee, to some extent. it does help to convert to black and white completely . I did this about 4 years ago and only shoot for black and white images as an end product, unless some one asks me to do specifically colour for family shots or something like that.

I shoot with a Nikon and preview only in black and white when out and about, I use the histogram a bit when out . The images a raw colour images though. Lightroom is the program I use for conversion, just my preference, presets are good to get a starting point, then the B&W sliders , contrast and lights and shadows sliders used a lot, and the tone curve box fro very subtle changes , lights out – to isolate the image on the screen , then export to PS for resizing and a little sharpening maybe .

Sometimes I use PS for doging and burning using layers.

From Dan

As you know, I “convert” several of my seascape images to B&W. Seascapes are difficult due to lack of contrast in water. I find that adding other elements (clouds, sand, rocks, people, etc…) to be very effective. The key is the light… the sun’s direction and height specifically. Midday sun can be too flat, but early morning and late afternoon (just after/before golden hour) can be a great time to shoot. Look for clouds to add drama, shading on rocks, and wet sand for some glimmer. Here in San Francisco, I like to go out in the early morning. It’s typically overcast which softens the light. Remember that the sun is still shining through those clouds adding that much needed contrast. You just have to figure out its direction.

My final tip is to know what your goal is “before” you push the button. Visualize your final image in B&W. It becomes easier with practice, but an important goal, nonetheless.

Converting to Black and White

Simple Editing

There are so many ways of converting images, and it really is an individual thing.  There is no right way or wrong way of doing it.  You can do what works for you. apollo-bay-funghi-rainforest-monochromeThe most common thing to do is to reduce the saturation and take out all the colour in the image.  You can go to the menu and find where you can convert it to greyscale. They are the two most common ways that I can think of to convert your images.

Black and White Adjustment Layers

Photoshop has an adjustment now that allows you to convert them, you can click that and your image is monochrome, then you can adjust the individual tones in the image to make them darker or lighter, according to how you want them.  It is one of my preferred methods of doing the conversion.  I will often give the contrast slider a little push as well for extra effect.

From Judy

On choosing what to convert, I am not sure I do. I think the picture choses. Crazy I know but I just see it and must convert!! For me using Photoshop or taking advantage of such software as Silver Efex, I find the starting point of color very powerful. Once you are in a neutral black and white stage, you can use sliders to lighten and darken various colors in the scene. For example green leaves with lighter yellow areas can be separately lightened or darkened to give highlight and interest to the leaves. Once I like the look of the image, then I can take that composite as a black and white with no more help from underlying color and adjust lighting and contrast in various ways so the final image has a nice mood. If you love nuances of light on just about anything, water, rocks, leaves, trees, birds…then a black and white treatment will always be a wonderful temptation.


From InfraredRobert

However the photographer goes about the conversion, don’t forget that when all is said and done, you can still use one more ‘trick” from the old days of printing on paper – specifically: Do you want a warm tone or cool tone image? Often this final step (by using a photo filter in PhotoShop) really gives a nice finishing touch to a monochrome image.


There is also lots and lots of software that will help you get that black and white effect.  You simply open your image in them and hey presto there is your black and white image.  There are many around, with the most popular one being apollo-bay-treetops-rainforest-monochromeSilver Efex from the Nik Collection. I know Topaz Labs also have one, but I have never used it, so I don’t know what it is like. They usually have a heap of presets, to help you decide exactly how you would like your image to look.


I have also seen some actions that when you apply them they will make your image black and white, however you need Photoshop to use them, though I believe you can also use them in Elements, but I’m not positive about that. You can often pick up an action quite cheaply or a bundle of them.  I am experimenting with doing them, perhaps I should do one for people.

Other Software

From Victor

Another piece of software for Mac uses is MacPhun’s Tonalality. It’s got lot if bells and whistles that make it easy and fun to use.

Conclusion and Photos

I am leaving it there, so I am hoping those that are much better at monochrome will help add more information. What little tips can you give people who want to get better at doing them?  For those of you who want to learn how to get better images, try looking at more monochrome and if you don’t like an image see if you can work out why, or why the black and white doesn’t work. I am not going to put everything in the article, so you should also read the comments, as people might add information to what I’ve already said. All the images today are ones I’ve done in monochrome.  I am fairly certain they have been on the blog before, some for monochrome madness, and some just, well just because I wanted to. If you look at the file names and see SEP in it then it usually means that it was done in Silver Efex.

Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs – Going into October

The Mallee is now just another memory, as I arrived home yesterday.  It was another successful trip for me, and I have told you about things that I have done there, but the photos will be shown over the next few weeks.

The Mallee

I thought perhaps I should show you a map of the area that I have been talking about.

map of victoria

For those that don’t know where the state of Victoria is, well, it is in the bottom right corner of Australia.  I live in Melbourne, and since so many have asked where the Mallee was I thought I would show you.  I have circled it in Red, and in purple circled where many of the places that I go to take photos are. I hope that helps you understand where it is, maybe I should have done it with the satellite, then you would be able to tell what the country is like.

Nyah West Workshop

mallee-millky-way-light-starsThe workshop I ran just out of Nyah West went really well, and well overtime, but it was great.  I really enjoyed meeting everyone and going out and taking photos with them.  Where we went in the afternoon was fantastic, and we basically stayed there for the rest of the afternoon.  After the sunset we headed into town for dinner at the Nyah West pub. Nice meal, shame about the manners of aome of the staff, hopefully that gets sorted.  Then after dinner we went back out and took photos of the milky way over the salt lakes.  It is only the second time I have taught night photography like this and it was fantastic.  I think I have worked out the best way of doing it.  Once everyone had decent shots of the night sky, then we started adding some other elements with light.  It was a lot of fun and one of my favourite photos came from that session.  I have attached it here for you to see.

I really enjoyed running this workshop and it is something that I think I would really like to do a lot more of.  It is good to have a specific goal.  I love seeing peoples faces when the penny starts dropping on taking photos.  I might have to see if I can drum up some business to run some more.  I think one workshop that would be good would be something like learning your DSLR and how to use it to get the best from it.  I think it is something that people in the country might miss out on, and it is what I have noticed that people seem to struggle with the most as well.

Star Trails

woomelang-star-trail-silos-webI’m no real expert at taking star trails, I’ve only done two, and the second one was only done the other night.  I was asked how I did it, and really all I did was set up the camera for 30 second exposures, at f/2.8, ISO was, I think, 1250, and then off the camera went for an hour, oh I locked the shutter release so it would just continuously take photo after photo.

I was going to do it for 2 hours, it was really cloudy, and I didn’t think the photos would work.  When I stacked them I was so surprised that the clouds hadn’t mattered, so now I wish, of course, that I had done it for longer. Daylight savings starts here soon, so not sure how much of this I will do, will have to see.  I also don’t like the idea of being bitten alive by mosquitoes either.

Monochrome Madness

Since I have been away, I’ve received lots of emails with submissions, and I’m afraid I probably won’t have time to respond to them.  I am so sorry, but I have to go to Kinglake National Park again, testing the macro out there this time.  I will have to spend the time when I get back on the post and getting it ready for tomorrow morning.  I hope you forgive me.

That is about it for today, I think, I need to get a move on with some things.  I am going to leave you with some images of the milky way, and the above ones in a gallery.  The other milky way shots were done when I had finished doing the star trail over the silos in Woomelang.


Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs

The day change has happened and from now on I will tell you want I am up to on Tuesday’s now, instead of Fridays.  Though with only a few days since my last post like this, I don’t have a lot of news, but there are some things that I have to say.


I have finally started a Flickr account, yet another form of social media.  I was convinced from someone recently that it could be a good idea.  I’m not totally sure, but it is worth a go.  I’ve heard quite a few people talk about how they have got work through their Flickr account, so it can’t hurt.  If you are interested in checking me out, then here is the link, Leanne Cole Flickr. I tried to add the widget for Flickr, but I couldn’t get the address right.

flowerdale-countryside-water-hills-green-2One thing I wanted to point out too is that I have so many images right now and I am trying new things all the time, so I have too many images for this blog. I am putting extra images on Flickr, my Facebook page and Google+ that you may not see here.  I am also going to be using the blog on my website to show things that I am working on and experimenting with.

Social Snappers

The end of term is coming, and planning has started for next term.  The Tuesday session really didn’t work out, so I have decided that I am going to change that to a Thursday for next term. That would be more convenient for me too.  I am also changing the price, so they will be $40 each, or if you sign up for all 5 you will get a 20% discount and you will get them for $160.  There can be no more than 10 in each group.  I don’t want them to be so big that people feel they don’t get a chance to take photos.

I haven’t worked out where we will be going exactly, but some thoughts are Fitzroy Gardens, Collins Street – one end to the other, Heide Gallery and gardens, maybe a walk around the back streets of flowerdale-countryside-water-hills-green-5Collingwood,  and I would love to finish the year off with doing a Social Snappers trip into the city photographing some of the Christmas decorations that the City of Melbourne puts up.

I also want to stress that it doesn’t matter what camera you have.  These groups are not only for people with DSLRs, they are for anyone who loves to take photos.  The excursions are social and are just about taking photos with other people.  You can use a phone camera if you like, as long as you just want to take photos, that is the only requirement really.

For more information about Social Snappers, click here.


I wanted to have a small whinge.  I don’t know about you, but these day with the only way of contacting companies being through email, why are they so rude and never return those emails.  I have sent emails to so many companies, like Sigma, asking about lenses, to Singh Ray, tryinflowerdale-countryside-water-hills-green-9g to find out about their filters. Part of the reason I hate talking about Creative Live is because they often don’t respond to emails as well.  I know that they can’t always help me with my questions, but is it really that hard to return an email and say sorry we can’t help.  That would be much better than the silence you get.  I don’t like talking about companies here who do that.

There is never any excuse for being rude.

Apollo Bay

I am going away for a couple of days at the end of this week.  I am off to Apollo Bay to see what images I can get there.  I will only be there for two nights, so basically 2 days, but we are hoping to get lots of photos during that time, though we are being realistic enough and trying not to fit in too much. I don’t know how much access to the internet I will have, so please be patient with me in responding to your comments.

Monochrome Madness

flowerdale-countryside-water-hills-green-1Tomorrow is Monochrome Madness again, so if you haven’t got your image in, this is your reminder, you have about 8 hours to do from the time this post is published. Don’t forget to resize your images, NO big images, and always include a link to your blog.

The photos today were taken last week in Flowerdale.  I went for a lovely afternoon drive there with my photography buddy.  We didn’t see much we wanted to photograph, but it was beautiful just driving around.  I took a couple of shots using my new ND400 filter, and the rest using my polariser.