I don’t do many black & white conversions, but for some reason Ennis Friary seemed to lend itself to them very well. I guess old church buildings just work in monochrome! This week’s Photo of the Week is one from a set taken on the 1st of August this year when I was in Ennis for a friend’s wedding.

Wide angle lenses cause distortion which makes parallel lines not look parallel, this generally takes away from images of buildings. However, in this image the distortion actually adds to the shot because of the angle of the camera relative to the building. We’re not looking at the building face-on, but instead corner-on. The building is still distorted, but rather than being off-putting the distortion works to make the building look more imposing.

The easiest way to make a colour image black & white is to simply desaturate it. This almost never gives a nice image. The output tends to be bland, flat, and boring. If you want to get a better conversion you need to use a channel mixer. This allows you to control the levels of each colour that are used to create the final monochrome image. You can spend hours tweaking with the mixer, but when it works, it can give very striking images. In this case I used the mixer to take out the blue channel entirely, this turned the blue sky the dramatic black colour you see here. I also turned the green channel down a bit to darken the grass a little. Finally, the red channel was boosted to make up for the reduction in light from reducing both the blue and green channels. This had the effect of brightening the building relative to the grass and sky so it stands out.

Ennis Friary
on FlickrFull-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/1250 sec
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -0.3ev
  • Processing: The image was converted to monochrome using the Channel Mixer, and then the contrast in the building was selectively increased using the Dodge & burn plugin in Aperture.