Buckingham Fountain

I love fine art black and white images, but I don’t make many of them personally.  The removal of color opens up many creative opportunities.  Long exposure color casts aren’t an issue (the original image below has some color issues that would need correcting).  A black sky can easily be made interesting with gradients or by significantly darkening it beyond what would look appealing in color (such as the gradient I applied to the top of this blue sky).  And images that might otherwise be worthless in harsh mid-day sun can be turned into interesting works of art (which lets me shoot much throughout the day).

I’ve held back from doing more of these mostly due to the amount of time it takes to create images I love.  Luminosity masks can be extremely useful, but there are typically elements of B&W architectural images that still require hard edged masks (to isolate the sky, edges of buildings, etc).   I’ve been experimenting with ways to edit these B&W images without having to use the pen tool.

Buckingham Fountain Chicago - Black and White

As I typically do, I processed this image using multiple tools:

  • Lightroom was used for distortion correction, global tonal adjustments, and color noise reduction.  It was a hot Chicago morning, and the hot pink and blue pixels were popping up like crazy after multiple 4-minute exposures.  I’ve generally been happy with the a7Rii for long exposure work, but I don’t think it yet stands up to the relatively noise-free results I see from my D810. Thankfully, you can push the color noise reduction slider pretty hard in Lightroom to help reduce some of this.
  • Photoshop was used for black and white conversion, and content aware fill / patch / healing / cloning to remove the fountain foreground.
  • Lumenzia was used for detailed contrast adjustments to bring out detail and depth, dodging and burning to bring out better water detail, and refinement of the sky selection around hazy edges that the Quick Select/Wand tool couldn’t quit get.


For reference, here is the original image:

before luminosity masks and black and white conversion

Greg Benz Photography