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Confesssions of a B&W Drop Out

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ron Scubadiver, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. Whe I was a teen I enthusiastically burnt up lots of cheap bulk loaded Tri-X. Used to push it in Acufine 1.5 or 2 stops. Fast forward to the digital age. Our cameras, like our eyes operate in a native color mode. In my flickr gallery there are very few B&W shots, and I have not been happy wih the response that I receive to them.

    However, I peruse the flickr pools and see lots of stunning B&W images. It makes me jealous.

    I do the conversions in NX2. I don't think there is anything wrong with the software, but there is something that I am just not getting right. Some web pundits say buy a rangefinder camera and shoot film for a year. I am not interested in that, and it might adversely affect my sanity.

    Perhaps I should try more conversions to B&W.

    Any brilliant ideas, links to great tutorials, or good stories out there on digital B&W out there?
  2. I'm subscribing to this thread. I just bought an old F100 to get good B&W shots. But I'd still like to learn something - anything - that would make my digital B&W photos pop.
  3. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007
    I'm in too!!!:biggrin:
  4. I am also! im starting photo in HS as a class this year, and its a B&W film class!

  5. Congrats! You'll love it. I took a couple photojournalism classes in college, and I don't think the smell of the darkroom has ever left my senses. I miss it - but not for long.:biggrin:
  6. northrop


    Apr 20, 2008
  7. I'm affraid I gave the suggestion to set a B&W forum, but I haven't participated a lot :redface:...

    ...As much as I would like to "produce" black and white images, I very seldom find something -allready shot in color- that would be worth converting, and YET no subject which I KNOW would give a good B&W image :Angry: !

    ...but I still look for it :tongue: !

  8. splitpin


    Jul 29, 2009
    i love b&w but that just seems so complicated to me i dont have enough knowledge to do it.

    all of a sudden making a print in the darkroom seems so easy now...
  9. It took me using both CNX2 and Adobe LR2 to get a good B&W. :smile:

    I converted the raw in cnx2, used a color filter, saved it as a tiff, and then finished off editing in adobe lr2.

  10. DangerKilo


    May 14, 2009
    A friend of a buddy of a pal once told me that shooting in black and white is about doing a few small things.

    1. learning to ignore color
    2. learning to recognize light intensity
    3. learning basic visual geometry
    4. internal BW vision

    I have 2 film cameras and only shoot BW in them at wide, and soon to be ultra wide ranges. I find that when you carry a camera with BW film, the shots look better, not because film is only way to get a good BW shot (although it is the best) but rather that if you head out looking for BW, you will find it. After a few months of shooting BW your vision gets a bit trippy. You will start to notice shapes, patterns, and light more, and find that when you grab your camera, you can start to visualize the BW in everyday life. Photo possibilities that are lame, or uninteresting in color, come to life with textures, and line. the composition of your shot takes a new importance.

    I certainly wont tell you to get out there for a year and shoot BW. I look at my schedule and heck, if i went 1 year of only BW i would probably explode. I think it is best to go out and actively look for black and whites. Not convert on as a last backup ultimate reserve card to save your photo.

    Sangetsu, one of the forum members posted some nice shots here.


    BW is it's own genre of photography, and it is a lot of fun. Even if you "dropped out" you can still grab a wide angle, pop it on your camera, and go out with the purpose of finding great BW shots.

    most converted shots turn out so-so because they were converted as an afterthought. At least, that is what i notice a lot about converted photos.
    Just my opinion though

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  11. I've been having some success (to my eyes) just with CNX2 alone:
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  12. Julien


    Jul 28, 2006
    Paris, France
    Apart from shooting Tri-X everyday (which gives me much more satisfaction than shooting digital for my personal work) I used to do B&W with Lightroom though nowadays since I've begun shooting jpg I have set up a B&W preset on my D700 that looks very good to me, that way no post processing when I get home, just like when I shoot film :smile:
  13. What is CNX2? I haven't heard of that one. :redface:

    I have come to greatly appreciate B&W and spent a bit of time perusing the web looking for conversion techniques, plugins, etc. It is my personal opinion that no one method fits all. I prefer to individually tweak each image. I also think style of conversion is quite personal. I don't think you need to spend a year shooting film, each film (and how it's processed) is so different......what would you learn?? Rather, take a photograph and spend time playing with it (conversion). See how different tweaks completely change the focus/strengths of the photograph. :smile:

    For the record, I use LR2 and CS3 to convert.
  14. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    Actually they're not - the sensor sites are sensible throughout the entire spectrum (and beyond - on both sides) and the only reason we're working with color is because the dye filters in front of them. Well, more specifically the only reason every camera is color is because the market demands it.

    It would be very interesting to see a B&W camera with triple the resolution - or maybe the Bayer pattern is so good that it doesn't matter and a B&W sensor would hardly be sharper?

    Not to mention the fact that we can apply a color filter after the shot. Pre-visualization my ###, and with the channel mixer we can get exactly the filter effect we're after, instead of being limited to a Wratten 81a or whatever.
  15. Nikon's RAW processing software: Capture NX2.
  16. That's because you're better at editing than me. lol :smile::wink::biggrin:

    I just couldn't get the look I wanted out of CNX2 aside from the conversion itself and color filter getting me close. LR2 really did the trick in the end. :smile:
  17. devo


    Sep 22, 2008
    Philly / SoMD
    I too have longed for that B&W style that I got with film. I tried doing things in photoshop to my digital pics, but could never get that same feel and impact that I had with film.

    My friend told me the most important thing about B&W conversions, (aside from proper composition, etc.) was to do a desaturation instead of a straight greyscale conversion. It makes a world of difference.
  18. I did the exact same thing. Started doing that in the early to mid 70's. My darkroom is now stored in boxes. I still have a Besseler 23C II with the Dual Dichro S Colorhead. Still looks new. I'd sell it but it would be too much of a hassle to pack up and ship.

    I don't think software conversions of color images to BW pictures viewed on an LCD monitor ever look that great compared to an actual print on proper paper. They lack something I can't describe.

    I still remember the smells.
  19. Sangetsu


    Apr 18, 2009
    I've gotten good enough B&Ws just by setting my D300 to monochrome. If I want to edit them, Photoscape does a great job. All I have to do is up the contrast a little, and the results aren't bad.

    I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, we all know how important light is, but in my experience light is more critical for good black and white pictures. I hate editing images on computer, and even heavy editing can't do much to improve a poorly-lit picture.

    Here are some pictures I took of my bicycle, using my D300, with the contrast pushed up in Photoscape.

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  20. The biggest problem I see with digital B&W is most people settle for an image that has a gray cast over it. Black and white should simply be black and white (The mixture creates shades of gray). I see far to many images that claim to be black and white that are just gray. You need to have a lot of contrast in black and white photography to make the images appealing to the eye.

    Look at the Schwinn, I love the top two images, the whites are white, the blacks are black, and there is a lot of contrast there, now look at the last one, to me, that is a gray images, not enough contrast.

    Like you JP, I voted for the B&W forum, and I have yet to do any conversions and post them there.
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