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How do you know if it will be a good B&W???

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ppub101, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. Ppub101


    Oct 10, 2005
    Asheville NC
    Like the title says, I cant tell if my image will be a good black and white. I just always see in color when im shooting. For my next photography assignment for school we are doing all b & w photos. We have to take them in color and then convert them into b & w.

    So how can you tell what will be a strong one or week? Thanks for your time.
  2. I personally think B&W relies much more on lighting- you can see this by watching a good B&W movie like Citizen Kane- that film was lit and it conveyed the moods very well. The same goes for stills. You need lighting and contrast.
    I don't think it will be that easy to tell. It'll mostly be down to you to take a good shot anyways. Composition will be very important too. Moody/interesting/varied lighting within each shot will probably enhance the value of each shot once converted to B&W.
    When you post, you can apply color tweaking in Nikon Capture (I like the interface for this better here) or Photoshop. This will change the emphasis on certain colors and bring out some tones. I turned a relatively bland image of my cat (in poor lighting no less) into a contrasty, forceful b&w by opening up the NEF in Capture and playing around with its B&W conversion filters. If your composition is good in color, its up to you to do the conversion in such a way that it works well. It may not be a good choice- you have to develop that feel yourself. You're the photographer, what works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa.
    Good luck, and share some of it with us!
  3. dbirdsong

    dbirdsong Guest

    Once you get the feel for it, you will start taking shots with the whole purpose of converting them to B&W. It is the purest form of photography.
    One of coolest plugin's for converting them in Photoshop is from The Imaging Factory.
    They have 2 great one, Convert B&W Pro 2 and Convert B&W Pro 3.
    You can download all of there plugin's and try them for 30 days for free. (Both Mac and PC)
  4. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    When you look for a shot, try to get good different contrasts in it that will show up in the B&W conversion; time of day will be a factor.
  5. Generally high contrast images make good B&W but then some of that can be controlled in post processing. What your trying not to do is convert images that are an overall grey with out true blacks or whites.
  6. texture over color

    The biggest thing, is don't get distracted by color. Look for good textures and, as has been said already in previous posts, make sure you have a good composition. Also, start thinking about how filters would effect your image. The classic example is red roses on the rose bush. If you use a red filter, the leaves will come out dark, and the flowers very light, almost white, if you expose properly. If you use a green filter, the opposite will be true, the flowers will be dark and the leaves light. This is just one example, but you should get in the mode of thinking along those lines. Remember, a strait b&w conversion will put all parts of the image with the same luminance at the same gray level. It is your job as a photographer to apply the right post processing to accent different parts of the image, make the red, or the blue stand out. Get familiar with the channel mixer in PS, it's a great tool for b&w conversion. I would suggest you go out, with these thoughts in mind and start shooting then post process each image differently, to get a feel for the types of things you can do, then repeat the process. Once you get comforatable you'll start thinking about texture and shadows differently and your b&w photography will improve. You'll start shooting with a certain post processing in mind.

    Just an aside, I would recomend checking out Ansel Adams' book "The Negative". This is the book where he lays out the zone system. Even though it was written for film photography, almost all of it is directly applicable to shooting with a DSLR. You can tell that were he alive today he'd be out there shooting digital, he even admits to an interest in the then burgeoning field of digital photography in the forward. This book definitely helps get you thinking in the b&w vein.

    Good luck,

  7. I know just enough to know how much I don't know.(as in Manzico's post above that I understand but couldn't have explained as well as done there"

    Reading Ansel Adam's book on the making of 40 photos totally humbled me.
    Reading, for about an hour last night, the book "Mastering Black & White Digital Photography " gave me some hope.(linked below)

    B&W photographers need to learn to see in luminosities rather than color...a process infinitely more daunting when colored filters are placed in front of your lens.

    A bright red and green striped shirt may be totally gray when desaturated...then again dramatically contrasty when individual RGB or CMYK channels are viewed.

    Fortunately our tools...camera coupled with photoshop...makes B&W so much more accessible,and I'm not sure about this..., and easier.


    Go read a bit. I hope we are not frightening you.

    Your very valid and germane inquiry is not unlike asking "how do I write a little music for piano?".
    The answers can fill a career.
  8. Ppub101


    Oct 10, 2005
    Asheville NC
    Great Great advice guys, thanks sooo much!!! I will start this project hopefully on monday and I will post some pics ups to show you all what I have gottin so far. Thanks Again!!!
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