Black and White Top Tips Page 3
10 Shoot RAW
The advent of RAW files has brought even more possibilities to the B&W photographer. The biggest advantage is the production of post-conversion 16-bit images. This means that the file has 65,536 levels to work with rather than the 8-bit space of a JPEG (which offers just 256 brightness levels). This in turn gives photographers increased creative controls when trying to open up shadows or significantly alter brightness.
Zach Tatum took this beautifully lit image using the RAW mode of his Nikon D50:
‘RawShooter Essentials was used to process the RAW file and convert it to a TIFF. Once exported it was put into Adobe Photoshop 7.0 to convert to black and white with a gradient layer, then the desired brown tones were applied with the Selective Colour and Channel Mixer tools. I also sharpened the photo using Unsharp Mask to give the colours a bit more pop.’
11 Candid camera
Newspapers have been able to reproduce images in colour for more than 20 years, but black and white photography remains synonymous with reportage shooting. Inject drama into your black and white photography by shooting documentary style. Capture candid moments for images full of emotion and spontaneity. Stand back, observe and try not to influence your subject. Use a long lens instead.
12 High contrast
Contrast – the range of tones between total black and pure white – is much easier to manipulate in mono than in colour. A high-contrast image, such as the one below, has a smaller range of grey tones than a ‘normal’ contrast image, and displays a more ‘soot and whitewash’ look. High-contrast scenes can convey a sense of power that commands the eye, while lower contrast emphasises the softer nature of a subject. Gary Jones’ s landscape (Tip 15) is another good example of a high-contrast image.
13 Filter tips
Coloured filters can aid the aesthetic appeal of black and white images in many ways. As a general rule, remember that a filter will lighten its like colour, but will darken its contrasting colour. So, a yellow filter will lighten golden tones, but will deepen any blue colours in a scene. Yellow and red filters are consequently a popular choice when shooting skyscapes, while green filters enhance the lips in black and white portraits.
14 Grey matter
Learning how different colours translate into greyscale is a crucial skill to master. Colours such as red and green convert into nearly identical grey tones, as do many pastel shades, so before you convert to black and white, ask yourself what it was that first attracted to you to the composition. If the answer is not the light, form or texture then it may be better left in colour.
15 Shoot spectacular landscapes
As Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and numerous others have proved, a beautiful and dramatic landscape often works better in mono than in colour. Gary Jones took this in January in Argentinean Patagonia, using a Nikon D70 with his 18-70mm lens at full zoom, and a polarising filter over the front. Exposure was 1/320sec at f9: ‘The RAW file was processed with RawShooter Premium. During RAW conversion, saturation was set to zero and colour temperature was set artificially low to boost the red channel. This introduced noise in the sky, so RawShooter’s colour noise suppression was used to clean up the image.’