Warmth [Poetic Winter, A Photography Challenge]

I know that a lot of us in the Northern Hemisphere aren’t feeling particularly warm at the moment. I, for one, have been spending most of my time at home, nursing warm drinks and huddled under cozy blankets. When I do have to venture outside into the cold, I’m wrapped in layer upon layer… leggings under jeans, sweaters and scarves over shirts and knee length socks to keep my feet warm.

But I have an excuse for staying inside this week you see, I’ve been working away to bring you this weeks freebie! Each week in the Poetic Winter Photography Challenge we’ll bring you tutorials, tips, discounts and a freebie. This week I’m going to talk to you about taking Black & White photos, and I have some lovely actions that I’ve made just for you.

I have been having a bit of a love affair with Black & White. This may sound a little strange to some, but when I have it in my mind to go out and shoot some photographs I have usually decided beforehand whether I will process them in Black & White or Colour, perhaps pretending a little that I’m using a camera loaded with Black & White film. I’ve almost always decided on the processing of the photo by the time I hit the shutter button. I can go out of the house for an entire afternoon, knowing that the photographs I’m taking will be processed for Black & White. You don’t have to just use Black & White as a last resort because your colours look strange or you can’t get them quite right. Often the photographs that I take with the intention of converting to Black & White don’t really look so great in colour anyway. They can be too shadowy and dark, because I’ve shot deliberately and like to underexpose a little when shooting this way.

When shooting intentionally for Black & White I can forget about how the colours in the scene play together, not worry about fluorescent lights or colour casts and fully concentrate on those things that are often more apparent in this style of photograph. The more subtle complexities, like beautiful pools of light, dramatic shadows, tone contrast and delicious textures. I can consider the less tangible things, like what mood I get from the scene at the time or what emotion the resulting photograph will evoke in the viewer.

How do you like to shoot for Black & White? Have you tried taking photographs intentionally for being processed in Black & White rather than considering it while processing?

I have some lovely B&W actions to share with you too!

The first two actions are for Photoshop users only, they will not work in Photoshop Elements. They are made and tested in Photoshop CS5, so I’m unsure as to whether they will work correctly in earlier versions (I’m obviously not an expert action maker! But if they do work in earlier versions of Photoshop, please let me know in the comments so that I can update this!). These are the actions that I originally made to use myself when editing my own Black & White photos. Both actions can be used as is or customized to your own liking.

You can download Poetic Winter BW Shadow Fade here, it is a Black & White action with a subtle shadow fade.

You can download Poetic Winter BW Total Fade here, it is a Black & White action with a more obvious overall fade.

The final action is for users of Photoshop Elements, and is as similar to the Photoshop CS5 actions as I could work out for use in Elements. You can use it as is, or customize it for a more subtle effect that is similar to the Poetic BW Shadow Fade above.

You can download Poetic Winter BW Fade PSE here.

Not sure how to install actions in PSE or Photoshop? Check out these awesome guides from Texas Chicks Blogs and Pics!

Both the Photoshop Actions and PSE Actions are Black & White effects only, they are not designed to correct exposure or sharpen your photos and will be at their best when used on properly exposed images.

Thanks to the following sponsors for partnering with us to bring you these fabulous deals; created exclusively for Poetic Winter Photo Challenge participants and valid throughout the month of February.




I’m teaming up with Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia of Project Alicia and Faith of Sweet Violet for the Poetic Winter Photography Challenge – an inspiring 4-week photo challenge aimed at capturing the poetic beauty of winter through photography.

Just a few details:

All are welcome regardless of skill level, time commitment and geographic location.

Each Friday, we’ll have freebies, discounts to some of the hottest photography resources, photography tips and inspirational quotes or poems to get your creative photography juices flowing.

Share your favorite images inspired by the weekly prompt. The linky will remain open from 9am Friday – 9am Thursday CST. Link directly to your Poetic Winter blog post or Flickr photo, not your blog’s home page or Flickr Photostream.

Feel free to share your photos in our Poetic Winter Flickr Group as well and don’t forget to visit and comment on the previous entry in the linky list.

This time around, we’ll be pinning our favorite photos to the Poetic Winter Pinterest Board. Not on Pinterest and need an invite? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to send you one.

And last, but not least, don’t forget to grab our lovely button.

Next week’s prompt will be passion. For a complete list of upcoming prompts, head on over to the Winter Photo Challenge page.


  1. Pingback: Poetic Winter Photography Challenge: Warmth | Live and Love...Out Loud

  2. I hear ya on the trying to stay indoors to keep warm thing 🙂 Beautiful photos…I’m in love with your mug! And, I’m in awe of how you were able to capture warmth…in black and white! Thanks so much for the beautiful freebie action…it’ll be fun to try! <3
    Tezzie´s last post ..Poetic Winter Warmth

    • My husband is pleased that everyone seems to like the mug, he bought it for me for Christmas 🙂

      I hope you enjoy the Photoshop Actions!

    • Thank you, I love B&W so much… I’ve really been coming to grips with it a lot this past year.

      And my husband is pleased that everyone seems to like the mug he bought me for Christmas!

  3. Rebecca, you are awesome! I’m so glad that you’ve created these B&W actions for us. I’ve always adored your B&W photos, even back in the day when I first started stalking you. Have I ever told you that I would get so super excited when you linked up for WW? It’s always been a pleasure to stop by and look at your work. Even better? We’re photo challenge co-hosts and friends. Thanks for inspiring us with your talent. 🙂
    Kristi {at} Live and Love Out Loud´s last post ..Poetic Winter Photography Challenge: Warmth

    • You’re awesome. Thanks 🙂

      Now you better be planning on coming by and making me those rainbow pancakes this week! :p

  4. I love these selfies. If I am purposefully going out to photograph something- then I usually have a pretty clear vision of what my processing will be. If I am photographing an event- like a birthday or sports or just documenting life around here- then I go into it a bit more aimlessly & see where the photos take me. Thanks for the action- I am looking forward to trying it out.
    Gina´s last post ..Poetic Winter- Warmth

    • Thank you! Yes that’s kind of how I do things too (although very occasionally I’m completely taken by surprise at how something looks when processed differently, the luxury of digital photography I suppose!)

      I hope you enjoy the action!

  5. Oh wow, I just downloaded your GORGEOUS actions….and they are truly amazing! LOVE THEM. I love what you’ve done to the blacks…what a beautiful look. Thank you so much for sharing! (Your blog has become one of my very favorites in the past few months; what incredible talent you have. The way you see things is so inspiring.) Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂
    Karli @ The Bonnie 5´s last post ..tumblr catch-up

    • Oh thank you so much! If you’ve processed anything with the action yet I’m asking people to share their photos on my facebook page wall, I’d love to see what you’ve come up with!

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    • Thank you 😀

      I hope you enjoy the actions! Please feel free to share some photos on my facebook page wall if you use the actions in any processing 🙂

  7. Rebecca, these black and whites are incredible! i am in love with B&W and how dramatic it can be. i honestly have not shot with my processing in mind, but am up for the challenge!! i’m actually excited to do so. thank you for sharing your actions too! i am saving up for photoshop at the moment, but will be downloading them for the future!
    Tish´s last post ..Poetic Winter Photography Challenge | Warmth

    • Thank you so much! I am so in love with it too, especially very recently (in these dark months it sometimes helps!) You really should try shooting with an idea of your processing and see where it takes you!

      I hope you enjoy the actions once you can use them! 🙂

  8. Lovely BW photos and actions! After taking a photography class I have tried to be more intentional about taking photos for BW…but I still need more practice!
    Cedar´s last post ..Warmth

  9. I tried to leave a comment on this last night but my computer was being difficult – LOVE this!! love love love 🙂 Your photos are BEAUTIFUL and so inspiring. Love the one of the scarf and belt – so creative. I have loved using the action you created. I’m sure I’ll be using it all of the time now!
    Faith Raider´s last post ..Poetic Winter Photography Challenge:: warmth

    • Faith, thank you so much! I can’t wait to see what else you use the actions on, I really love the way you tweaked it in the photo for you warmth post!

  10. Beautiful shots..and I love the B&W fade! I also agree about B&W not being a last choice, some shots are just made to be. Thanks for all of your hard work on the actions, can’t wait to try them.


    PS: Heart shaped marshmallows….flat marshmallows cut with scissors:)

    • haha genius… I wouldn’t have ever thought to cut them that shape (and now I feel a little silly saying that!)

      I hope you enjoy the actions!

    • Thank you!

      The first one is a fake double exposure, done in Photoshop. Two slightly different photos layered over one another and on the top layer change the blending mode to “screen”. Then I played around with the tones and suchlike because the screen option makes it all too bright. Or you can make a duplicate copy of the bottom layer and set the blending mode to multiply, that helps too with the brightness.

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  13. Beautiful black and white! I love looking at b&w photos, but I’m not good at making them. I will try thinking about it in camera instead of as an afterthought. Thank you for the PSE action. I’m off to try it out. 🙂
    Michelle´s last post ..Dancing Weeds

  14. Pingback: Poetic Winter Photography Challenge: Passion | Live and Love...Out Loud

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