Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. Black and white from snapshots to great shots 1. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means,electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permissionof the publisher. For information on getting permission reprints and excerpts, contact permissions peachpit. While every precautionhas been taken in the preparation of the book, neither the author nor Peachpit shall have any liabilityto any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly orindirectly by the instructions contained in this book or by the computer software and hardware productsdescribed in it.
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AcknowledgmentsTo my love, Staci—none of this would have been possible without your support, love, and encouragement. We simply get eachother. I love seeing life through your eyes and hearing it in your laugh. Mom, thanks for giving me my first camera, lending me your vision, and encouraging me to do morewith my art. I wish you were here today to share in it all. Dad, your gift for writing and your love for the arts have been an inspiration. My good friend John, thanks for providing honest feedback along the way.
The Peachpit crew: Thank you for believing in me. Susan Rimerman, thanks for all your support and guidance. I truly appreciate your direct and honestapproach. My appreciation to Lisa Brazieal and her team for creating a wonderful layout and making my imageslook good. Finally, a very special thanks to all the blog followers who have supported me along the way. This bookwould never have happened without you. Most important, to you, the reader of this book—I hope youenjoy it.
My blog door is always open for your questions. My passion began when my motherhanded me my first Kodak Instamatic in What started out as a way to keep a youngboy out of mischief blossomed into a lifelong pursuit of personal expression. I have takentens of thousands of photos since then and have come to love black-and-white photogra-phy for its honest feel and the potential for a simple frame to become a piece of art.
Black-and-white photography is no longer reserved for those of us with darkrooms,but instead embraces anyone with a love of the monochrome world. Simplicity leads tocreativity! Myequipment is near and dear to my heart, but this book is not meant to focus only on whatI use. You can apply the techniques regardless of what digital single-lens reflex camera dSLR and lens kit that you have.
We will covermy mental checklist of characteristics for shooting in black and white: tonal quality, con-trast, strong lines, and so on. Once we have our image, we are going to go over how tomanage images in Lightroom and convert them to black and white using postprocessingtechniques. This book has been written with the beginning to intermediate photographer in mind.
Black-and-white photography can be fun and beautiful, so I encourage you to share yourimages on our Flickr site as you work your way through the book. This book is intendedto be an open conversation, so please feel free to drop me a note to share your feedback. Learning is a two-way street; I enjoy learning from you as much as I hope you enjoy learningfrom me. Join the group here: www. The light was amazing, and the skywas filled with rich, active clouds reaching far off into the distance. I quickly setup, and what was originally intended to be a colorful shot ended up being oneof my favorite black-and-whites from the trip.
This was a very long exposure,so I used a tripod, cable release,and mirror lock-up to avoidcamera shake.
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I wanted a high-qualityimage, so I used a low ISOcombined with a higherf-stop to avoid digital noise. Postprocessing the imageinvolved dodging lightening the tree and nearby ground toadd depth and detail. To getbetter at photography you are going to need to take a lot of photographs, soworking with a camera that feels right to you is essential. Invest in a solid lens. I alwaysrecommend trying to build an essential kit of quality lenses Figure 1. FIGure 1.
I havebuilt my kit overmany years of trialand error, with afew upgrades alongthe path of discov-ering who I am as aphotographer.
Black and White: From Snapshots to Great Shots by John Batdorff Batdorff
Fast lenses tend be heavier due to the better quality glass andconstruction, and all that costs more, too. FlaSh cardSIt is very important to read your manual andbuy a flash card that is rated for your camera Figure 1. Here is another suggestion: Ownmore than one card. It is like having a secondcamera battery—you will use it! One of the benefits of a larger aperture is thatit allows you to shoot in low-light conditions using fasterspeeds than would be possible at a smaller aperture.
Your lens aperture rating is usually located on the frontof the lens. I use 1. Make sure you geta card that meets the basicrequirements of your camera.
Batdorff, Black and White: From Snapshots to Great Shots (DVD) | Pearson
Make sureyou invest in things that make sense—get a tripod kit you are going to use. Thatmeans a model that is sturdy and rated for the weight of your camera and lens. Having a solid tripod head with a quick-release plate is must for those of us whowant the flexibility of quickly removing the camera from the tripod. I love my carbon-fiber Gitzo GT Traveler. Carbon fiber is strong enoughto hold even the heaviest of lenses but light enough to put on my backpack for longbackcountry excursions. Ihave owned both types of release, butI prefer the cable release Figure 1.
A graduatedneutral density ND filter Figure 1. I often usea yellow, green, red, or orange filter toassist in visualizing a black-and-whiteimage while in the field. Wewill discuss filters further in Chapter 3.
Nothing is worsethan shooting a beautiful landscape image onlyto find that the horizon is sloping to one side. The best part is that bubble levels Figure 1. They are easy to useand store. Clip your Spudz rag somewhere that you willactually use it, and you could save your lens. LensPen is another convenient cleaningsolution, with a nonliquid cleaning element, designed to never dry out Figure 1.
The LensPen is great for clearingyour lens of fine dust and smudges. I like to keepthings simple, and reducing steps in my workflow allows me to focus on my creativeprocess. This might come as a shock to you, but I rarely use Photoshop. I typically only use it when I have to. What might takeme three or four steps in Photoshop can be handled with the click of a button inLightroom.
Coupled with plug-ins like Silver Efex Pro 2, Lightroom lets me focus moreon creating images and less on being a technician. Monitor calibration helps usreduce such problems by creating a baseline that we can match throughout the edit-ing and printing process. Calibrating your monitor is not just about matching your color, but making sure con-trast is accurately displayed as well. Many excellent, easy-to-use calibration systemsare available.
The thing to remember is that a good system will take into consider-ation ambient light. Even if your monitor and printer are calibrated, if your ambientlight changes significantly, you increase the likelihood of postprocessing error. I domost of my editing in a room where I can control the ambient light by using shades ora dimmer switch. Remember, calibrating your system is not a one-time deal; it needsto be done on a regular schedule. Since it only takes about five minutes, I like to cali-brate my monitor every two weeks with my Datacolor Spyder system Figure 1.
Generally speaking, the lower the ISO the better quality of the image and the morelight that is needed to expose it. I try to shoot most of my images in the to ISO range. Having a calibratedmonitor helps meknow what a printwill look like beforeit gets produced. This feature will generatea black-and-white preview on the LCD.
As long as youare shooting in Raw mode, you do not need to worrybecause your color information is still being saved andwill be available in postprocessing. However, JPEG shoot-ers should note that all their color information is beingdiscarded when they use the monochrome setting, sounless you are percent committed to an image inblack and white, you might consider photographing it inboth color and black and white, or switching to Raw.
Areas that are too bright and lack any detail will flashblack and white on your LCD—this indicator simply flags a potential problem withyour exposure. The areas that are blinking are those where you have potentially lostall detail. If you have a highlight warning in an area where you definitely need detail, you willwant to adjust. However, remember that sometimes if you are shooting with a backlitsky, you will lose some detail, and that may be OK.
Even though I shoot inRaw mode and have the ability to change my white balance during the postprocess-ing stage, I still find it beneficial to set the white balance according the conditions. The best part is you do not need any special training to know what setting to use.
Most cameras today use simple symbols, like clouds, suns, and lightbulbs, to representthe different temperatures of light presented by various light sources. It is relativelyeasy to choose which white balance you need; the trick is remembering to changeyour selection as conditions change. Please consult your manual to turn thisfeature on and remember to shoot in raw mode.
If your white balance is off, it could affect the tonalrange of the objects you are shooting this is a larger issue for JPEG shooters. In turn,this can change the way the image looks when you convert to black and white. Sotake the time to adjust your white balance in the camera before taking the shot. Itwill save you a lot of time in postprocessing. File FormatI have been shooting in Raw for nearly eight years now and I have never regretted it. For those of you who already shoot in Raw, youknow the benefits of this powerful format. But for those of you who are new to it,here are some thoughts to consider.
Raw has more potential I know some people will take offense at this analogy,but think of it this way: JPEG is like a Polaroid, easy and quick to print and niceto look at, but not as high quality as a print made from a negative. Raw is justthat, a digital negative. Raw contains more data JPEGs typically record only 8 bits of information,whereas a raw file records 12 to 14 bits of color data, depending upon thecamera manufacturer. This means a raw file contains more information, whichmeans more detail, more color information, and a better dynamic range.
Alarger dynamic range means you can get more details in the highlights andshadows highly important in black-and-white photography. New bit rawfiles have even more information than their bit counterparts, with literallytrillions of graduated colors creating even smoother tonal transitions. Raw gives you more control You simply have better control of important ele-ments, like white balance, tint, and exposure, to name a few, in a raw file versusa JPEG.
Even with the highlight warning feature on, you still maymake mistakes with exposure. A raw file has enough data to let you recover losthighlights in postprocessing, where a JPEG file may not. A raw file requires more space and a little extra time in postprocessing, but it is worthit for the benefit of nondestructive editing. Instead of having the camera make thedecisions on saturation, color, and so on for you, as it does with a JPEG file, workingwith a raw file requires you to process the image and make all of these decisionsyourself using postprocessing software, like Lightroom, Photoshop, or Aperture.
Using these software programs to process your images is very powerful because itallows you to make nondestructive adjustments to white balance, color grading,contrast, and saturation, as well as many other things. This means you can workthe same image over and over again without ever compromising the quality of theoriginal file. This book is about taking yourphotography to the next level, and for many people that means taking control ofthe editing process. In order to take more control you need the best file possibleto work with, and JPEG just does not cut it for the long run.
Each time you open,edit, and save a JPEG file it degrades the file, which means you are losing quality. However, you can feel much more comfortable editing a raw file multiple timeswithout losing quality. This means whenever you take a photo theimage is recorded to your memory card in bothformats. This gives you a chance to experimentwith the raw file while still having the JPEG fileon hand, too. Of course the downside to thistechnique is that it takes up more memory cardspace as well as hard drive space. They do this by metering segments of the frame, then computing an overallexposure for the entire frame.
I find this form of metering to be incredibly accuratefor most of my work. For my landscape images I use this mode almost exclusively. Portraits are an excellentexample of when I would use this mode. Spot meteringSpot metering is very accurate at metering a specific point within your frame. The area you are metering is the same area on which you are focusing. Shooting modeSaperture priorityThis is my primary shooting mode.
The reason I love Aperture Priority isthat it allows me to focus on my creativity. The camerahandles the rest. As you work the aperture, the camera adjusts the shutter speedaccordingly. If your camera has a cropfactor, like many do, keep that in mind when you are calculating your handholdingspeed. For example, the Canon 7D has a crop factor of x1. All full-frame sensors will have a one-to-one ratio, as indicated in the table.
Crop factor 1. Shutter priorityWhen it comes to motion, this is the setting I seek out. By controlling theshutter speed you can determine how fast the shutter opens and closes,thus enabling you to creatively control how motion is shown. I like to think of it as the controlfreak mode. There are moments when I want to control all aspects of myexposure. Manual mode will meter the scene and allow me to adjust boththe aperture f-stop and speed accordingly.
I use manual exposure almost exclusivelyin the studio and during very low-light conditions. There is some-thing timeless about a good black and white, and in my mind there is less to getwrong. I shoot plenty of color images, too, but getting color right and not datingyour work in the process can be difficult. For me, black and white just feels natural,and hopefully by the end of this book it will for you, too.
While many images canwork well in both color and black and white, without a doubt some shots are bettersuited to monochrome. Good black-and-white images have strong tonal contrast. Lots of texture, stronglines, shapes, or patterns also make for interesting black-and-white images. We need to understand the relation-ship color plays in creating tonal contrast.
Here, then, are some quick hints about color. Hue is the name ofthe color, such as red, yellow, or green. Saturation is the intensity of the color, whilelightness is the amount of white or black mixed into the color these may sound thesame, but they are in fact different. In the most basic terms, hue is what you are taking away from the photograph whenyou convert it to black and white. Saturation and lightness, or contrast, are whatremain in the gray scale to create tonal contrast. Think of contrast as nothing morethan light versus dark, or white versus black, and everything in between is shades of So it is those two elements that become important when working in black andwhite.
The saturation ofthe colors, their lightness or darkness, and their relative quantities within the frameare what will make your image pop once you convert to black and white. Looking at the color wheel Figure 1. The hues are represented in theslices of the pie chart, with the lighter,less saturated colors toward the center ofthe circle and the darker, more saturatedcolors to the outside of the circle.
Youcan see that there is more tonal contrastbetween the colors at the outside versusthe inside than there is between thedifferent hues. Of course, some hues arelighter than others; for example, yellowwill typically be lighter than blue. But adark, saturated yellow compared with alight, unsaturated blue may provide a bitof contrast. Here is a real-life example. Do you everhave those moments when color iswhat draws you into a photograph? While wandering the streets of Cusco, Peru,I came across red and blue Volkswagen bugs parked back to back.
The colors of theVolkswagens and their orientation to one another were what initially drew my eyesinto the scene. So once I convert the image to black and white Figure 1. However, if I decrease the saturation of one of the bugs the blue one while increasing the saturation of the red one, you can see the distinction that arisesbetween the two cars. One is still blue and the other red, but there is a big differencein tonal contrast Figure 1.
Notice that you cannot tell which hues are which, but youcan see how the amounts of saturation and darkness provide contrast. You can alsosee that the warmer colors, or those with yellow, contrast well with those on thecooler side, or the hues with mostly blues. Look for light versus dark, andfor saturated colors with unsaturated colors. Try a black-and-whiteconversion, and depending on the tonal contrast,or the lightness and saturation, you may preferthe image without color. Like a photographic negative, a raw digital image may have a wider dynamic rangeor color gamut than the eventual final image, and it preserves most of the informationof the captured image.
Chapter 1 AssignmentsSeeing in Black and WhiteConsult your camera manual and set your camera to shoot in monochrome. Take photos that interest you and observe the LCD and how different subjectslook without color. This is a great primer for chapters ahead. New to Raw? When you have finished capturing some frames, importthem into your favorite post-editing software, like Lightroom, Photoshop, or Aperture. Remember, this is all nondestructive editing,so your file is percent safe, and you still have your JPEG file that you imported to use as areference point.
You can always hit the Reset button! This page intentionally left blank Compositionand LightVisualizing Your MasterpieceIn this chapter we are going to discuss some key ingredients that will helpus create beautiful black-and-white images. In thischapter I am going to try to take luck out of the equation and give youa strong recipe for a great black-and-white photo. I like to think every chapter has a message. The first chapter was aboutbuilding an essential kit over time.
This chapter is all about photo-graphing with intent. Often the difference between a snapshot and agreat shot lies within the choices you make before releasing the shutter. Your goal in this chapter is to learn how composition,lighting, textures, and lines all work in harmony in creating anintentional image. This mental shot list helps me create a plan of attack when an opportu-nity actually presents itself. Before my trip to Africa, I had already started mentallycomposing images that I was hoping to accomplish.
I had visualized all sorts ofscenarios, including a lone lion lying in the tall grass with his mane blowing in thebreeze. I know it sounds like a shampoo commercial, but it works. Visualization isan excellent mental exercise and tool for composing an image. Framing the lion to makegood use of the negativespace was an importantelement of the composition.
Using a large aperture on along lens allowed me to blurmuch of the frame whilekeeping the subject in focus. I needed a decent exposure ofthe lion, so I decided to meteroff him using partial metering. Then I recomposed the frame. Using Silver Efex Pro 2, I was ableto bring out the texture in the tallgrass by using a control point andincreasing the structure. Every summer I hold a small workshop in Yellowstone National Park, and I amalways amazed at how many different ways there are to photograph the park.
This photograph was originally intended as a color image, but upon convertingit to black and white I was pleasantly surprised by its feel. It was a reminder thatsome images work well in both color and black and white. Notice how the river forms an S-shapethroughout the frame. S-shapes canhelp create a calming or peacefulmood within an image.
Photographers are always in search of what wecall the good light. I remember when I was having my portfolio reviewed by SteveMcCurry and we came upon an image that I had taken in, shall we say, less thanstellar light. It was harsh, horrible light, to be exact. Even though McCurry isworld renowned for his color work, his comment carries over into black-and-whitephotography as well. Capturing good-quality light and controlling it to create a strong image requiresunderstanding the role light plays in a black-and-white world.
Light is instrumental increating highlights and shadows contrast , which allows us to identify forms, shapes,lines, and texture. Not all light is created equal, and different times of the day willprovide different quality and duration of light. Many photographers seek out thegolden hour. The golden hour, or those first or last few hours of light during thebeginning and end of the day when the angle of the sun is low, provides an excellentopportunity to photograph shadows, silhouettes, and subtle textures.
Afternoon sun can be harsh and many photographers try to avoid it altogether,especially for portraits, but this is an excellent opportunity to look for shadows beingcast by vertical structures. Often, these shadows take on a life of their own and canbe very well defined. Look for shadows from inside struc-tures where the bright sunlight is creating lines and forms from the architecture thatsurrounds you.
I was in Paris visiting the Louvre when I noticed a building with a long corridor thatwas flooded with light. Once I stepped back into the shadows of the hallway I fell inlove with the repeating patterns and the way the shadows filled the chamber aroundme Figure 2. The pillars create a nice line for our eyes to follow and add depth tothe image.
The arches provide a feeling of elegance and strength. ISO sec. Whenshooting architecture, I like to look forstrong lines and shapes that are comple-mented by shadows that pull our eyesthrough a frame.
This style of black and white works well when trying to convey soft,happy, or content moods. Technically it requires the photographer to slightly overex-pose the image while maintaining just enough contrast, or dark areas, to allow forshape and form.
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An easy way to identify such images is via the histogram. A high-key imagewill have a histogram that stacks up to the right. This image was taken in the studio using two lights with a white background Figure 2.
FIGUrE 2. Such an image is great for creating dramatic moods or a feeling ofsuspense. A photographer needs to pay special attention to the use of shadows whencreating a low-key image. I wanted toconvey what I wasfeeling at the timeand that eerie feel-ing that someonewas watching me. Theshort version is that a histogram is a two-dimensional representation of your image ingraph form Figure 2.
The graph representsthe entire tonal range that your camera cancapture, from the whitest whites to the black-est blacks. The left side represents black, andall the way to the right side represents white,with all of the midtones, or gray, in between. Consult your manual to determine how you can set up your camera to show youthe histogram in your display. Broadly defined, contrast is thedifference in brightness between the lightest and darkest areas of an image.
It iswhat allows our eyes to see shapes and forms, and that is why contrast is such acritical aspect of black-and-white photography. If used correctly, contrast also helps create mood within your images. A high-contrastimage conveys power and boldness Figure 2. The U-shape line A represents contrast within theimage. Line B represents the tonal rangeof an image. AB Idecided to createa high-contrastimage of him toplay up his sizeand distinguishingblack-and-whitemarkings. There isvery little contrastin it, creating asofter feel.
Tonal range refers to how wide or narrowthe range is between the lightest area of the scene and the darkest area of the scene. An image with the whitest whitesand the darkest darks, with a full range of gray in between, would be considered tohave a high tonal range.
As you can see the histogram is alsovery wide, stretching to each side of the graph. Yet we would not consider this ahigh-contrast image. Narrow tonal contrast images havea narrow histogram and look like a single peak in the middle of the graph. Theseimages tend to be flat in appearance. I agree. I begin viewing a likeable image and mentally start breaking down over what should be lighter, darker, what shadow detail I should worry about, the highlight details that may be blown out, etc.
What about watermarks? I said in the beginning that this is a book for those photographers desirous of taking the craft to the next level. That means branding our images. I want to deter theft.
If I got the image to the point I was willing to share it, that means I put some time into it and thieving assholes should be lashed for lifting it. There are assignments at the end of every chapter. But geez that would have meant a full work-out. Very cool. Can you say Virtual Copies?? John Batdorff is an award-winning landscape and travel photographer who splits his time between Chicago and Montana. See his work and read his popular photography blog at: John Batdorff Photography Blog. John, thank you for the wedding photography advise.
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