When a Color Image Should be Converted to Black and White


There are many good reasons for converting an image to black and white. Some images contain a lot of contrast and texture which can be better emphasized in black in white. Others have historic content that fits well with historic black and white looks. And sometimes an image is part of a series, and the best way to bring the entire series together is to process them all similarly in black and white.

But in the case of the image above, the main reason for conversion may not be apparent at first glance. Photographers have limited tools for controlling the color in their images. In some cases the only practical control of color is the veto: remove all chromatic information, and work from there. A look at the original image below should be enough to explain the reasoning in this case. It might make a good shock value image in color, but removing the bright tones certainly simplifies the image.


C. David Tobie

Image Capture and Screenshots with the Apple Watch

The title of this article is a bit redundant; there is only one way to capture an image with the Apple Watch: by taking a screenshot. This choice seems odd to those thinking in terms of a Dick Tracey spy-watch, but in fact it is quite brilliant, given the adverse reaction to Google Glass and its privacy invasive photo and video functions, to create a Wearable device that is totally free of image capture functions. It also makes sense for a number of other reasons; the wrist is a natural spot for a watch, but not a flexible location for aiming at things you might want to photograph.

This does not mean that the Apple Watch is not a useful photo accessory, but the emphasis is on accessory. Its initial function is as a remote trigger, allowing you to put your phone in an awkward location, or in a spot far enough away from you to lure animals in for a close-up, or in front of you for a less cramped version of the group selfie, and then trigger the phone’s camera with your watch. As third party apps become more powerful, other photo functions are inevitable.

But internal image capture with the Apple Watch is restricted to screenshots, and we tend to think of screenshots as something only reviewers and how-to authors use. In fact, there are many end-user justifications for screenshots. These include capturing a sketch someone sends from their Watch to yours, or an image that you have on your Watch, but not on your phone, and want to forward to someone, or basically having a visual record of anything that may pop up on the watch face.

There are a few details to be aware of when dealing with images on the  Apple Watch. First, to maximize screen real estate on such a tiny screen, the non-screen border is used to create the outside edges of the watch layout. But screenshots will only capture the “live” section, and will not include this black border, resulting in shots of black background apps (and virtually all apps should be black background on the Apple Watch), that will look tight and poorly laid out in the screen capture. In some cases you may want to place a larger black background (or Canvas, if you are working in Photoshop) behind your shots to restore the elegance that they show on the Watch itself.

Next is the issue of image orientation, proportions, and borders. All images moved to your Watch will be in portrait orientation (so it is best to focus on portrait images when choosing images to store on the Watch), and at the Watches 4:5 screen ratio. This means borders from landscape images, such as the one shown below, will be clipped on the edges, but retained at top and bottom, which is less than ideal. Best to crop borders from images before selecting them for storage on the Watch.

Image Captured from the Photos App on my Apple Watch

Image Captured from the Photos App on my Apple Watch

Triggering a screenshot on the Apple Watch is as simple as pressing both buttons at once, similar to the “two button” approach on iPhones and iPads. The only difference is that the two buttons are side by side, so require a thumb on the opposing side of the Watch to squeeze against them, assuring that this is not an action that is likely to occur by accident.

The remaining mystery has to do with where the Watch shots go, after the familiar camera sound and screen flash occurs. They do not show up in the Photos app on the Watch, which is certainly the first place most people would look for them. Instead they are saved in a much more useful location: the Camera Roll on your iPhone. There are many more things you can do with them from here, so once this method is understood, it makes a great deal of sense.

So enjoy creating Apple Watch screenshots, and try to not post your daily activity graph to Facebook too often.

Yesterday's Activity Graph from my Apple Watch. Yes, I did manage to sneak this in...

Yesterday’s Activity Graph from my Apple Watch. Yes, I did manage to sneak this in…

C. David Tobie

CDTobie: Updated List of Speaking Events

For an updated list of my winter speaking events please see the home page of my photography website: http://www.cdtobie.com/CDTobie_Photography/Home.html

This list is not yet final, and I suspect more events will be added, especially for the month of February, but this covers all my current commitments from now until April. I will attempt to fill in actual session data next week for those items that don’t have links to it yet.

Hope to see many of you at one or another of these events this winter.


Photokina, A Few First Impressions…

Here is my view of Cologne and Photokina. Starting, literally, with my view: from my hotel room window. Hotel windows in Europe don’t treat you like small children. They actually open, and allow you to look out, to hang out to take photos (something I’ve often put to good use), or even to fall out (something I haven’t managed yet…)

There are other items that strike an American as different, on arriving in Germany. Here’s a tall glass of beer, ordered and drunk at seven in the morning. There were several other beers of various sizes and types being consumed in this airport cafe at the same time. Not something the American Puritan Ethic would be too comfortable with. I was still working on cappuccino at that time of day.
And here is a smoking room in an airport! One of several, of varying sizes. This meets the needs of nonsmokers, by having a ventilation system with negative pressure, so no smoke escapes. But it serves the needs of smokers too; something we don’t seem willing to do in the US.
A new airline is a new opportunity to abuse the universal graphics on the safety card. Here are a couple of my favorite from Lufthansa. The first appears to be directions for using an automatic milking machine. This is something I might expect from Swiss Air, but not from Lufthansa.
Next is an illustration that appears to be telling you that if you have legs this nice, you are free to have them in the aisle. This illustration is way too hot to be willing to date Stumpy, the dot-headed, no-hands-or-feet fellow on US signage.
Germany is not all beer, cigarettes, and hot signage, however. Here’s a photo studio, complete with an iMac, and diffused lighting, on the street across the river from the Cologne Convention Center. They don’t seem too concerned about the threatening weather; if you aren’t willing to do something outside in gray weather, then in Northern Europe, you won’t be outdoors much between September and May. No nude models on this set; though I have seen them in street shoots in this neighborhood previous years. Nice smile from the computer operator, however.
I hope this fulfills the promise of local color. I’ll try to move on to actual photography news in my next post.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Getting the Most out of Inkjet Printers with SpyderPrint


I have had a request for a piece detailing the value of Datacolor’s SpyderPrint for recent generations of graphics-grade inkjet printers. Please take a look at the resulting article on Datacolor’s SpyderBlog, if you print your own work.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page


Back By Special Request; More Tuscan Images

The response (mostly direct, but some on Facebook or WordPress) to yesterday’s sample of my “Through a Lens Darkly” images was gratifying; thank you all. I have processed several more today, and will add a few below. The link to see the whole collection on my photo website is here: CDTobie.com. I plan to cover a wide array of image types over time, this is just the first set to be highlighted here. Others are in process, or awaiting processing time. Buon Appetito!

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Ponderings on Phone Photography

As phone cameras, and phone image editing apps, improve the field of mobile phone photography is growing madly. I’m not talking about the photos people take of their friends at parties, or their families at events, or their new car when it first comes home, or even their dog or cat being cute. I mean serious photos, possibly even art photos, taken and processed by people that also own real cameras, and real copies of Photoshop and Lightroom… but who choose to work in this new and interesting medium as well. Much more will be said about it, but what matters more than the words, is the images. I’ll be posting a number of camera phone related photos to my website in the coming weeks. But here are a few from one of my series (Through a Lens Darkly: Altered images of Tuscany) to get the conversation started.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page