Sometimes its great when the photograph replicates close to what we see (not that you can really ever do that). To get really artistic though it’s nice to “remove the reality”. You can do this either when you take the photograph or later in Photoshop. Of course like anything you can take it too far or just plain get it wrong. The result can be pretty hideous. The rise of what is called “HDR” is a great example of what can happen if you get it wrong. HDR badly done can result in horrible over-saturated colours, artefacts and loss of fidelity.
All that said the black and white photograph is probably the best example of removing reality. Its hard to get that conversion into black and white just right; thankfully we’ve got powerful tools that allow us to experiment. If you don’t like the result then its “undo” and restart. Not so easy if you’re working with film.
By the way, do you know that if you shoot in RAW and then set a monochrome conversion on your DSLR you don’t lose the colour? In the Canon world you can exactly access these camera settings by using the DPP program that comes with your camera. Its nice to shoot in BW from a creative capture point-of-view- I often do it with portraits or street work.
The photo below was processed using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2; a powerful but expensive conversion plug-in for Photoshop. Another great plug-in that is a fraction of the price is Topaz Lab’s Black and White Effects. This is certainly worth a download and free 30-day trial.
Try some BW and see what magic can come when you “remove the reality” from your image!
These tools helped me work the magic: