Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Black and White Christmas.

Christmas day. Late afternoon sunshine.

Katie standing there wondering where the heck Elvira and I have disappeared to, now! Just like that guy. One of these days she's going to steal the keys. Do an intervention. Conduct an exorcism.

Actually, this is really Katie but it's not my house. This place is in the neighborhood, though. We were taking a walk in the afternoon sunshine. After I had washed Elvira, of course. You have to get your priorities straight. You knew a motorcycle would be involved, even on Christmas Day.

As we walked by the house I was thinking how it would be a perfect subject for a black and white photographic rendition. This place is so stately. It stands out from all the other houses. Each year at Christmas there is a lighted tree in each of the four front windows.

Now that the G11 is in the family it gets taken along on most outings. As was true this day. The small sized Canon has enough sophistication to stand on its own. The greatest value to me is the fact that it's so easy to slip into a pocket. It's great for me, but I suspect not so much for Katie. She ends up standing around while I play with camera settings and such. God bless her, she's as patient as you'd expect from a best friend. Hey, it evens out. I'm a gourmet cook and even do dishes. Art takes more than one form.

Katie says she knows how I am. I get interested in something new and immerse myself in it, striving for excellence. I think she finds it intriguing herself to be along for the ride. She often says that living with me is never boring. That might be a compliment. I'm not really sure.

Anyway, the way the light was hitting the side of the house appealed to me. The house is lighter on the left and gets darker on the right. It's amazing how much the contrast in lighting adds a depth to something. To me there's so much more interest in the contrasts than there would be in having the house lit evenly across. To think, I used to be "one of those" who only knew to have the "sun behind your back" when taking photos! All right, that wasn't very long ago, but I have now been "enlightened". Pun intended.

After taking a photo of the house by itself I persuaded Katie to model for me. Since it didn't appear anyone was home, I had her stand at the end of their sidewalk near the street. Katie was wearing a long coat with this new fuzzy hat she got. It's two toned brown and looks Russian. The combination of her looking like a stately Russian woman and the stately house seemed to go together.

The photo probably isn't as well composed as it could be. However, it's my photo and my expression. It did what I wanted it to. I wanted to get the front doors of the house in the photo since those are a distinguishing feature. The sun was coming in from the left so I wanted Katie looking that way since the sun would light her face. I have her almost too far to the left so that she appears to be looking out of the photo. It's borderline. She looks like she could be looking at something just out of the picture. Like a bike that just zoomed down the street!

For these photos I took them in color and then changed them in Photoshop. There's a setting for converting to black and white from color. I chose to try it differently. I put the color photo into the default project bin and made a duplicate layer. Then I went to the sliders where you can change colors, hues, and saturation. I simply removed the color saturation and left everything else alone. It seems to me that this method allows you to keep the pixel brightness which adds a bit of depth to the black and white rendition. You'd probably have to call it grayscale instead of black and white, I suppose.

Sitting down to supper, I saw something out of the dining room window that made me jump up to grab the Nikon and the tripod. Did I mention Katie's patience?

This is one case where the original is almost better than the grayscale conversion. The orange glow is from the porch light of the house.

I narrowed the aperature and changed the focus area to make the chimney more prominent than the branches in the foreground. It did get rid of the orange porch light glow, though. It's probably more of a Halloween photo than Christmas but fog was what we had.

Oh, by the way, just in case you're wondering where the heck the motorcycles are, I'm putting in a grayscale photo of Elvira on a bridge. This is a motorcycle blog, but I'm taking a fun side trip with the camera thing. Twice the fun!

I really like this one because you can see the ripples in the asphalt reflecting in Elvira's bodywork. Makes her look like she has the fur of some exotic cat.

Don't feel sorry for me but this week is forced vacation time. Our company shuts down and we must take a paid week off. I'm doing a few projects and playing with the camera. Speaking of playing, wait until you see the next post. My great friend Ray gave me a new motorcycle. I took delivery on Christmas Eve Day. Can't wait to share the photos. Here's a hint. It's another FJR.

Miles and smiles,



Mike Simmons said...

Dan - really nice photos! I especially like the one with Katie looking off to the side. It adds to the photo because it makes you wonder what she's looking at.

I started my photo journey as a kid with Kodak Tri-X black and white film. Lately I've been having more fun with B&W than color. It's fantastic what can be done in Photoshop. There are several ways to get to grayscale and have fun with it.

You're stretching your imagination - keep up the good work!

bobskoot said...


How much better can life be ? Washing your bike, playing with your G11 and taking a walk with Katie . . . the 3 loves of your life, not necessarily in that order. (perhaps; Katie, G11, bike, NO, Katie, bike, g11 . . .).
I can tell you're a perfectionist, sort of like myself. I have to learn and practice till I understand what I am trying to accomplish and have fun at the same time. Photography to me are memories, a snapshot of a moment to cherish, or to re-live, and smile . . .

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and also a happy New Year.

Wish someone gave me an FJR . . . even a midget one

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Chuck Pefley said...

Dan, nice photos. Gray-scale suits both the house and your model.

How do you find friends to give you motorcycle gifts? I'd like a hint, please?

George F said...

Dan - Great blog, one which I will be visiting often. I to love photography and motorcycles, oh, and cars ;-) I feel the same way, my wife must have a lot of patience for all the fiddling I do with the camera. Loved the black and white photos. Wish you a Happy new year.

Charlie6 said...

Great photography Dan...B&W is a specialty all its own and you're on your way to owning it I am sure.

Re Katie's comment that life with you is never boring....perhaps she meant it along the lines of that supposedly ancient chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times".

Dave said...

Dan I was wondering when you would discover the gray scale side

I am from the dark ages of dark rooms
Now for some real fun go back to the photo of the water fall
And try your hand at gray scaling it
I think you will be pleased with how it will turn out
When I first saw it I though it would look great as a BW photo

Dave aka old f

Conchscooter said...

I have a nasty feeling this will be an FJR without gears. Like a camera with only an automatic setting. I want to see you won over. Ha!
Poor poor woman. She looks to me like she's waiting for some dude with a convertible, heat, cd changer and a big fat cigar. Bound for disappointment.

Andrew said...

Like the pics. The bike looks great but a Connie would look better in that pic...


bluekat said...

Nice work with the black and white. Nice exposure on the one with Katie and the house. The chimneys have a rather ominous feel to them.

Didn't you have a color version of Elvira and the bridge on your banner? It works well in black & white.

Anonymous said...

That's very kewl. B&W is more difficult than colour, because technical composition, texture, and half tones become a lot more important ;-)

Not Russian, they have square apartment blocks ... hehe ... perhaps german?

Very nice though, tells a story, which i think is always the goal.


irondad said...


Thank you for confirming my plan and your kind words. I wanted to give that "wondering" impression. Glad it actually worked.


I can confirm that Katie comes first on the list. Kids second. Bikes third for love, but the D40 and G11 are ahead of bikes in the infatuation department right now!

Perfectionist? Me? Excuse me while I adjust the spacing here to make sure it looks good!

Take care,


irondad said...


I appreciate the positive comment from a professional. As to the friend part: You have to become a part of a group of bike fanatics. Safety instructors are a good example. They have no life outside of motorcycles. Thus, when they think of a gift, it will be motorcycle related.

As to getting an actual bike, that is all about the art of knowing who to stroke and when. It took me a long time to develop that skill!


Welcome to the blog and thank you for sharing. Always nice to welcome another gearhead into the fold!

Take care,


irondad said...


Not owning anything in photography by any means, yet. Happily working on it, though.

As to the chinese curse: That might be what she means but then again she's tied up in it with me!

old f Dave,

I've always admired how great photographers could get so much subtlety from black and white.

Yours is a great idea. Thanks. Watch for it.


The bike is more automatic than you know.

As to what Katie is waiting for: You were watching what happened after the photo shoot, weren't you? Probably from Fat Albert.

Take care,


irondad said...


I know a Connie that would have looked great in the photo. She told me she was washing her hair when I asked her to pose. Dang.


I agree that the chimney photos look ominuous. That's why I felt they would be more appropriate as Halloween shots.

Thanks for being so observant on the blog. The color version of the bike on the bridge was the header for a bit.


Hmmmm, Katie's father spent some time in Germany when he was in the service. Now you got me wondering!

Take care,


Anonymous said...

Hmm the chimmney photo is different, the odds are obviously stcked against you.

As to the Russian woman perhaps have
her look as if she was maybe getting into a Ural sidecar to complete the image?

The lady portrayed doesn't appear like Katie, more a view of an older woman, somebody that none of us knows or understands.

SheRidesABeemer said...

Dan, it's nice to see your experimentation with photos. I have not been blogging much since I've become gamefully employed and I feel part of it is I can't write a blog entry without pics!
ps. I heart photoshop