Corey Solotorovsky Photography | Sports Photography | Portraits: Blog en-us (C) Corey Solotorovsky Photography | Sports Photography | Portraits [email protected] (Corey Solotorovsky Photography | Sports Photography | Portraits) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:42:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:42:00 GMT Corey Solotorovsky Photography | Sports Photography | Portraits: Blog 120 80 Shooting in B&W Digital cameras and any photo editing software provides us, as photographers, the ability to shoot in black and white or to covert the images to B&W later.  The option is yours to express your creativity and to convey the message you wish to audience to receive.  I have read recent blogs where the author cites B&W images as a manipulative measure.  

I have one reply:  EXACTLY!   

Painters will select a brush or a substrate to convey the texture and depth of color they wish their audience to see.  Photography is no different.  You should feel free to express your message using any tool or technique.  Saturate color, soften color, increase shadows, decrease highlights, or convert the image to B&W.  With a digital file, you have the option to revert, copy or change.  So, why not?


1.  Why shoot in B&W?  

In some conditions, I find that actually "shooting" in B&W helps me compose the image.  By using the Nikon setting for monochrome I find it easier to see the contrast and sharpness in the LED view screen.   I can quickly discern the highlights and depth of shadows.  When I combined that with a quick review of the histogram, I believe I have a well rounded method that works well for me.  Plus, I shoot in RAW (Nikon NEF).  So, all data is retained, and the images actually upload in standard color when I view in Adobe Lightroom anyway.  Does that work in all conditions and all subjects?  -- No.  I do not use this approach for shooting nighttime, sports and wildlife.  

In other instances, you may want to shoot in B&W for the simple reason that you expect the image to be conveyed in Black and White.  

a.  the subject may be best suited for B&W to capture the drama and emotion

b.  the subject may have an object that contains a distracting color

c.  there may be other subject distractions in the photo that do not become the focal point when viewed in grayscale.  B&W combined with a shallow depth of field can make for a potent combination.

d. timelessness.  Review street photography or portraits.  Sometimes the only differentiator in time is image quality; and even that can be influenced.

e. contrast and definition.  Often times, you can find abstract creations that are really nothing more than the artists view of shadow and light on a subject.  It does not matter if it is a flower, a stairway or a face.  B&W can drive the eye to seek contrast and sharpness.


2.  How do I shoot in B&W?

For starters, use the camera and tools in the same way that you would if you were seeking a shot in color.  It is digital, after all, so, you have the flexibility and creativity to execute any vision.  But, if you know that you want to compose an image in B&W, it is important to recognize a few rules of thumb (but, remember, rules are meant to be broken!)

Remember, B&W is all about contrast.  Work on different angles to compose your image in a way that drives clear lines of contrast!  Never shoot once unless either your subject is gone or you are unreasonably confident.  Digital files are free; you're not wasting film or slides by trying another angle!.   Think of this another way:  a silhouette is just a blob of black unless it has a clear separation and clear shape.  B&W is not always a silhouette, but, the same principle often applies.  

Create or push contrast by managing your exposure values.  If you know you want a fairly shallow depth of field, opening the aperture to a value under f/5.6 to f/4 or even f/2.8 or lower conversely means that you are allowing more light through the lens.  To retain the depth of field afforded by the lower aperture and still capture the desired shadows and contrast, increase your shutter speed.  Just like the suggestion above, try a few different recipes.  An EV combination of ISO 100 and f/4 and 1/60th shutter speed might work great on slow or still objects;  not so great on movement.  The same combination with 1/200th or 1/320th shutter speed may have increased success at capturing movement and shadows.  Viewing your image and your image histogram will provide immediate visibility.  

So, start by first working on normal exposure values, compose your image to clearly delineate subjects.  Next, adjust your exposure values to magnify the effect of shadow and light.  The more you correct now, in camera, the happier you will be with your skill, with your product and with your audience.  Yes, Adobe products can resolve almost anything, especially RAW, but why force yourself to a corrective action?  


3. You judge:  How did I do?

I was walking through the Old Market in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday morning looking for light, looking for images.  Some were architectural, some were abstracts.  Then, I cam across a musician that was just setting up on the corner.  I immediately knew what I wanted to capture.

Time to create an image !


My first few shots were from the artist's left side (right side of this image).  Clearly, the sun light was all wrong.  Plus, there were cars immediately behind him from that angle.  I moved to this view and immediately saw two things:

  1. the light that contoured his face
  2. the ability to clearly separate the artist from the background by centering him between the poles under the roof.  (Yes, that is intentional)

What else do "I" think I got right in this image?

  • I like the way the line of light trails in from the lower right side of the image.  It tells the viewer this is real light, real life
  • The signs on the post behind him are both out of range of the shallow depth of field and B&W.  Remember, above, I said this is a powerful combo?  If the signs were in color and sharp at f/8 or f/11, they would have been a distraction.  The same is true of the woman in the background behind the guitar player.
  • I like the shadow and lines in the wrinkles of his coat sleeve.  The basis of that is natural light, but I have exaggerated it in LightRoom
  • The artist's face and the guitar are clearly separated and stand out as the clear subject matter of the image.  The rest is just a setting for the story-- the way it should be.
  • Emotion is captured

Now that I have explained what I saw and what I liked, here are the technicals:

Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 lens.  The image was shot at 52mm at ISO 100, f/2.8 at a shutter speed of 1/400th 

This EV combination in that condition produced a well-spread histogram that is higher in shadow/black (at left) than light/white (at right).

What else do the technicals tell you?  Well, first, this is roughly a 50mm shot and every manufacturer makes a very high quality, fast lens at f/1.4 or f/1.8.   Even a kit lens at 50mm could capture similar at 50mm at f/4 and shutter 1/250th.   

Did I get it right?  What would you do differently?  

[email protected] (Corey Solotorovsky Photography | Sports Photography | Portraits) Old Market Omaha Street Musician Tue, 30 Dec 2014 04:06:15 GMT
Vicksburg Blues ! On Sunday, October 12, we had the opportunity to enjoy the final night of competitions for "Bridging the Blues" in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  By luck and timing, we stumbled upon the final night of the competition to select a band to represent the area in Memphis, Tennessee.  We could not have planned a better evening amongst family and absolutely fantastic music !

The organization that planned this great event was Vicksburg Blues Society:

The images that I captured are under my Gallery titled "On The Stage", or, just click here:

What gear did I use?

Nikon D800 (without flash), Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 lens, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8.  

(the vast majority of shots were with the 24-70)

How did I make these photographs?

For starters, I knew I wanted to capture the mood and character of the music and the musicians.   That meant I wanted to use only ambient light and no flash.  What else did I look for?

  • I wanted some movement, especially in hand gestures.  
  • I wanted the spot lights to spill out focused light paths over the stage
  • I wanted full control of my exposure values.
  • I wanted a very narrow depth of field
  • I wanted light to fall off very quickly to create stark contrast between the subject and anyone or anything in the background

Fortunately, there is a correlation point between all these wants.  The recipe I used most frequently was a fairly slow shutter speed of 1/60th to 1/80th.  Slow, at least in relation to the amount of motion and emotion on stage.  My ISO was 400 to ISO 640 and I sed and Aperture that mostly stayed around f/4, but sometimes went down as low as f/1.8 and as high as f/5.6 (when I was shooting two subjects).  

Since I knew my EV (exposure value) recipe, the next two parts of my method were simple:  shoot in black and white and continuously move and try new angles and perspectives for the shot.  

Why did I shoot in Black and White?   Simple, personally, I can see more contrast in the small, three inch screen on the camera.  I personally find that this provides me with a quick view of the successful exposure settings.   It frequently highlights too much movement, too.   I find this works quite well when balanced with a periodic histogram view.  Lastly - black and white really draws out the mood of the image, especially in music and artistry.  I find it gives me a better, faster view of the emotive response I can garner from the image captured.  Plus, the beauty of shooting in RAW is that full color is returned when you import into LightRoom or any other application!

As with any photography, the best zoom is your feet!   Move around.  The same camera, the same lens, the same settings from differing angles can produce entirely differently results.  The same for composition.  Don't just shoot "portrait" or "landscape".  Move, angle, try, have fun !   


[email protected] (Corey Solotorovsky Photography | Sports Photography | Portraits) Blues Concert Vicksburg Blues Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:00:49 GMT
About Alaska Thank you all for the encouraging comments about my photos from the trip to Alaska.  Several of you have asked questions about the photos on email, text or during phone calls.  I will try to answer those here.

1.  The most popular question is, "how far are you from those bears?"  

This, I will answer in two parts.  First, it is important to know that the Brown Bear species has several relations that differ in many respects.  Our guides, the lodge owners and our photography instructors noted that the bears in this area of Alaska are accustomed to people.  But, they were also abundantly clear that they would not use the term "habituated";  they are, in fact, still a wild animal living in its wide open territory.   In some cases, we were as close as 10-20ft from the bears, or as far as about 500 yards.   The prior comments are important to keep under consideration because the subspecies of brown bears include the Kodiak and the Grizzly.  The Kodiak is much larger and one of the largest land best predators.  Similarly, the Grizzly is also quite large, but is also known to take down large game like Elk and Moose.  So, while the first part of this answer is "yes, we were very close", that does not mean you should do the same, especially in other territories like the Tetons.

The second part of the answer is that equipment helped reach and follow the bears.  I created my images with a Nikon D4s and a Nikon 200-400mm f/4 lens.  Most of the time, that lens also had a Nikon 1.7x teleconverter, providing me with more than 600mm in equivalent focal reach.  I carried this configuration alongside a Nikon D800 with either the 70-200mm f/2.8 or the 24-70 f/2.8 lens.  Between both, I had near and far capability.

2.  The second most popular question is, "did you photoshop the night images?"  

Yes, I have enhanced certain features, but these are largely created using functionality in most cameras and available to everyone with any skill level or camera type.  These were shot using the Nikon D800 and the 24-70mm lens.  Experiment for the conditions you are working with.  I shot ISO 2000 to 4000, Aperture range from f/2.8 to f/5.6 and a consistent shutter speed of 20 to 25 seconds.  Typically, most camera/lens combinations will start to see start trails, or at least less-than-sharp stars if you exceed 25 seconds.  This is due to the normal rotation of the Earth.  If you look closely, you'll see that I mis-focused the Aurora shot.   I am dismayed by that, but want to share the experience and capture.  

I also want to explain the night image with the meadow and the stars.  In the foreground, the meadow has light and shadows.  This, also, is a 20 second exposure, so every bit of light is captured.  The light in the foreground meadow is just two or three porch lights cast over the meadow.  In the far background, the orange glow is what we presume was sodium lighting cast from distant, off-shore oil rigs.  This image is tweaked, but not "photoshopped" by making up elements that were not present in the camera shot.  

3.  What part of Alaska did you visit?

We stayed at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in the Lake Clark National Forest.  I cannot say enough about this lodge and the people.  The staff, the guides, the location, the food were all fantastic and greatly exceeded expectations.   This is not a day-trip lodge.  Instead, it is a well-organized and well-run lodge for multi-day trips for fishing, viewing, photography and just plain vacation.  If you are looking for a recommendation, you will receive nothing but excellent remarks and insights from me.

4. How did you find about this destination?

I attended a Sports Photography workshop at the US Olympic Training facility in Colorado Springs last year.   This was hosted by Summit Workshops.  Based on that extraordinary experience, I planned to attend this trip, "Destination:  Alaska".   Summit hosts a number of high quality workshops with the highest calibre of professionals as instructors.

I hope you enjoy these images and are inspired by the sights and scenes I've captured.  I have many, many more images to go through and will post them to the gallery as I find those ideal images!   

I will also be updating the catalog with other print options, including a calendar.  Watch for more to come or contact me if you have specific thoughts !  

Thanks for your encouragement and support !



[email protected] (Corey Solotorovsky Photography | Sports Photography | Portraits) Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:46:53 GMT