"You Are The Difference!"

Photography DiscussionBlack and white photographers, what is your simplest technique for stunning B&W photographs?

Post Reply
User avatar
St3v3M
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 4358
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:02 am
Location: 35,000 feet
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Black and white photographers, what is your simplest technique for stunning B&W photographs?

Post by St3v3M » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:27 am

Black and white photographers, what is your simplest technique for stunning B&W photographs?
"Firstly unless the subject matter has a story, there is no stunning anything possible. Secondly unless the story is best told as a black and white there is no stunning possible.

After that it is relatively simple, not easy but simple. In a black and white image all you have is tonal values and shape and form. Each single element has to be perfect in what it does to add to the power of the image. Framing and composition always matter but in black and white it matters more so. So assuming that the subject has a story and you have composed the story to tell it well, all that is left is the definition of planes using light. Cross light is best for strong definition of highlight and shadow.

The exposure has to be precise, anytime you screw up the exposure the print will suffer, there is no fixing it in Photoshop. EVER!!

If it needs to be sharp then make sure you composed the image to have sharp points to grab the viewers eye. Make sure the light aids this.

And then it is time to process the print, I cannot ever emphasize that in order to do a stunning print you must use either Photoshop or Capture One, either program is fine. Lightroom is a good 80–85% of a stunning print but it will never equal Photoshop or Capture One. Since I do not use Capture One I am now going to just use Photoshop in the answer.

I process the capture as I always would process a capture, by adjusting the colour temperature first, this affects the tonal values. I will then make sure I have a relatively compressed exposure in either Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. Then I move it to Photoshop. From there I go through my standard processing that I would do for either a colour or black and white image.

I establish my black point, and adjust my global luminosity. Then global neutrality of colour. Once that is established I am going to convert to black and white. I might do this in one of two ways depending on the subject. NIK Silver FX pro is quite good for the conversion, but so is going into Photoshop B&W conversion. Either way, what you are in essence doing is taking the colour information and placing the relative values into a black and white universe, that is why the colour temperature and a neutral colour is important first.

Then I am going to a global adjustment and builds my tonal values as I would normally do, including my middle tone contrast. This is the critical part of a stunning print, is the middle tones being ‘snappy’. I could not over emphasize the importance of this part of the process.

After that is regional adjustments and then local adjustments. If there is any retouching to be done this is where it gets done after the tonal values are set.

Part of the stunning aspects of a print is the three dimensionality illusion within the image. Part of that is done in composition. Part of that is done in exposure, if you have not exposed properly for your value 9 by placing it in the proper exposure zone 9, I cannot imagine that you will get a stunning print.

And then finally knowing how to process for a value 9 with your exposure at zone 9 matters, but will in the end give you a stunning somewhat three dimensional illusion that is pretty hard to not respond to.

There is no simple way to do this, or that this is the simplest way to do this, the proper way is the simple way.

I hope this helps, there is no magic but what you create."
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

User avatar
St3v3M
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 4358
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:02 am
Location: 35,000 feet
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by St3v3M » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:35 am

What are your thoughts? What are your secrets?
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

User avatar
minniev
Mentoris Imperator
Mentoris Imperator
Posts: 4085
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:55 am
Location: Mississippi
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by minniev » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:40 pm

I have no secrets! I tell everybody everything! I process many conversions in Lightroom using the HSL sliders to control stuff. But I also use Silver Efex, Tonality, and others to manage the conversions. I like black and white for portraits, for architecture, and for some dam birds. I use it less for landscapes and flowers because I love colors, but sometimes I spot a scene that seems to beg for black and white. Usually I know when I'm looking at it if that's what I want to do. The photo itself has to have some interest. Black and white can't solve a core problem of an unengaging image.

I like the point about zone 9 and the importance for getting good prints. I learned a lot more about all that when I was preparing my dam birds for print. I did have one that suffered from that problem and I ended up leaving some color in it, to try to compensate, but I'm still not sure it worked.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

User avatar
St3v3M
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 4358
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:02 am
Location: 35,000 feet
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by St3v3M » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:48 pm

minniev wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:40 pm
I have no secrets! I tell everybody everything! I process many conversions in Lightroom using the HSL sliders to control stuff. But I also use Silver Efex, Tonality, and others to manage the conversions. I like black and white for portraits, for architecture, and for some dam birds. I use it less for landscapes and flowers because I love colors, but sometimes I spot a scene that seems to beg for black and white. Usually I know when I'm looking at it if that's what I want to do. The photo itself has to have some interest. Black and white can't solve a core problem of an unengaging image.

I like the point about zone 9 and the importance for getting good prints. I learned a lot more about all that when I was preparing my dam birds for print. I did have one that suffered from that problem and I ended up leaving some color in it, to try to compensate, but I'm still not sure it worked.
Secrets, maybe not, but my guess is everyone has something they do and think is normal that others could benefit from learning! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 6 guests