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Black & White Photography

Some learnings about B&W Photography
13 years ago, March 30th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #67630  
When I first started photography about three years ago I had a small 6mp Canon point-and-shoot camera. I did no post processing (no computer work) so relied on the camera completely for "effects." The camera had a black and white and Sepia (brown tinted) setting which I used when I felt like it. I was never happy with the outcome of using these settings. I tacked it up to inexperience.

Over time I graduated to a DSLR (I use Nikon equipment and have experience with the D80, D90 and D700) and graduated to doing some post-processing work. I started with the D80 and Corel Paintshop because it was cheap. Very early I figured out that, as a digital photographer, the best way to get good B&W photos was to take them in color and convert them later.

Why you ask?

Reason #1: If you take the photo in color you can always go back to color if you want. Take it in B&W and you can never have that pics in color.

Reason #2 : Converting a picture in the computer gives you tons of options even if you use less powerful programs like Adobe Elements or Corel Paintshop

Way to Convert to B&W

1: Desaturate a picture completely literally just takes all color out of a picture making it into gray scale.

2: Use the Black and White conversion in whatever program you have. Often this gives you some option that allow you to change which colors become black and white.

3: Use the Channel Mixer. This lets you, in gray scale add up which colors will be lighter or darker. A note for the wise: the mix of Red, Green and Blue should add up to 100%! (MISSING)

4: Gradient Maps can be over-layed over the image but usually only allow one conversion and no flexibility.



February 19th 2008
Gradient MapGradient Map

Gradient Map

February 19th 2008


February 19th 2008

You'll notice that many of these conversions to B&W are very similar but you'll notice that some of them are very different. The "Blue Filter" cuts much of the sky's detail away because it theoretically takes all blue from the picture making it white. On the other hand the "Red Filter" makes the picture very dramatic.

If I had taken the picture in Black and White to begin with I would never have had the choice to see different versions of the picture. What came from the camera would have been it.

What techniques do you use for Black and White photography? Reply to this

13 years ago, April 1st 2009 No: 2 Msg: #67788  
Being computer and camera stupid, my philosoph is to take lots of pics of the same thing in color and black and white and pick the best ones. Okay not the best way to do it, but it is my technique. I definitely have a LOT to learn about photography. Reply to this

13 years ago, April 1st 2009 No: 3 Msg: #67797  

There is certainly nothing wrong with taking multiple pictures of the same place in different ways. Never discount your way of doing something as wrong. There's really no such thing as perfect photography technique. The only important thing is the outcome. If you get the picture you want, the way you want it, then that's perfection!

The methods I describe above give people some choices that a camera won't give them. Also, in some cases you only get to shoot something once (like an action shot). If you only get one chance at something...these techniques give you options to achieve different results with only one color photo.

Mike T.

BTW, I live right outside of Denver in Boulder, CO. I liked your blog entry on Denver!
Reply to this

13 years ago, April 1st 2009 No: 4 Msg: #67850  
Love Denver/Colorado. REally miss the mountains living in Miami for over 3 years. Thanks for all your tips. Reply to this

13 years ago, April 6th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #68478  
Thanks so much, I really need to start post processing my photos more, love how different the filters can make an image appear...

T Reply to this

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