Closeup Black and White Portraits


It’s often helpful to go back and look at a series of images that were shot some time ago. Perhaps there’s one you missed that’s worth editing in a different way. The image above was part of a shoot earlier this year with a model whose nom de plume is Mayhem Muse.  The picture was originally a color shot of head and shoulders. Muse recently asked if I would make a black and white conversion of this image.  Although I had done some black and white versions of a few pictures from our shoot,  this one did not originally jump out at me as a candidate for black and white.

After converting the image to black and white, I studied it a bit, and imagined that the image would work well cropped in close, so I created the image above.  I used a special add-on software to Photoshop called Silver Efex Pro, that does an excellent job of black and white conversions. In the program, I brightened the image and added a lot of contrast. Muse’s complexion is absolutely lovely, but I needed to do a fair amount of touch-up on the skin because the closeup accentuated every tiny speck. But her skin is so good that no blurring was needed, something that is often done on portraits of women. I did sharpen the eyes, lips and hair.

I like this image a lot – the expression , the catchlight in her eye, the overall composition.Muse_0060rev  The original color image is presented at the left. I thought the colors went well together and the composition worked here too when I look at this first version. So I didn’t think about going further with it. I’m so glad Muse asked me to look at the picture again.  The lesson here is to save all your images, to go back and look at them later, think about black and white, and think about other ways to crop an image.

You can see more pictures from my shoot with Muse here.

4 Responses to “Closeup Black and White Portraits”

  1. July 10, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Wow! I think this picture is now my favorite of the bunch! I’m so glad Muse asked you to look at it again through different eyes. This is one for the portfolio!

  2. July 11, 2009 at 7:00 am


    What a beautiful photo, I love it in black & white. Your idea of going back and looking at photos with a fresh eye is so important. Whenever I get the chance to do that with our family photos I am always amazed at the things I missed the first time around.

  3. 4 muse
    July 12, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Blake you are too kind with your words! Thank you for a wonderful conversion and a crop on the photo that made the image so much stronger. I am totally in love with this, thank you again & thank u to michelle, our mua, who was a big reason why my skin didn’t need blurring 🙂

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