Black and White Photography Workshop

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy conducting photography workshops.  Its also a great way for the Photo Club to fulfill what I believe its mission to be.  Now granted, I wrote that mission statement, so it might be somewhat biased.  I’ve been President of the club for the past 3 1/2 years.  This being my last year.  That mission statement might be re-written by the next person in this position, but for now it works.  Onwards to workshops.

ive come to believe that if you want to anything better, teach it to someone else.  Since becoming president of this club I have conducted more than a dozen workshops and loved every one.  Some of the topics I scheduled myself to teach I knew next to nothing about.  A little pressure to jump into hyper-learning mode.  They worked out fine.  While I try to convince others in the club to try this approach I secretly worry that if too many get into the workshop teaching mode, I’ll lose my chance to conduct as many as I like…it’s a weird quandary.  On the other hand I’d like to continue honoring our commitment to our fine public library, but can’t conduct workshops every month myself.  I know one thing for certain, even when I’m no longer club president I intend to keep teaching workshops as often as I can  

I just complete a  workshop on Black and White Photography, which I absolutely have come to love this past year.  I really fell in love with Black and White when I had several printed.  Seeing the actual prints, and hanging them up, made all the difference.

my Flickr gallery of black and whites.

Workshop Materials

Related Images:

More IR

Playing around with IR again.  Still having some issues trying to get the post processing right.  It certainly does make great black and whites.  I found for these images taken on a vintage Nikon D70 as jpg’s (I somehow didn’t have it set to raw!!!), my post processing was pretty simple.

No processing in Lightroom

Photoshop – Autotone

Photoshop – Image/Black and White

Levels adjustment

One thing I did that I rarely do is add a lighter vignette to one image instead of darkening the edges.  I thought it improved the etherial quality of the IR scene.

Conclusion of this test Vs. my D810 camera yesterday: I actually like the results of the D810 better, even if it took more post processing work.

Related Images:

Infrared with a Nikon D810

I’ve done some infrared photography using a filter (not a dedicated camera), with my old Nikon D70.  Its an excellent camera for this kind of infrared, but its old and unreliable.  Its giving me all sorts of error messages.  It also doesn’t produce the biggest bestest files, like my Nikon D810.  So, while I’ve read that the 810 isn’t recommended using the infrared filter, I tried it yesterday anyways in preparation for a shoot this next week where I’d like to do some infrared. I found it can produce interesting results.  While not as distinctive as the D70, because you don’t get the super white leaves and black skies, it still does do something that enhances a normal black and white of the same scene.  This image of my backyard is a good case in point.  The original unprocessed IR image is shown, as is the final processed version.  Click to enlarge images.

Processed File

The processing was done as follows.  Better results would probably have happened with a raw file, but since this was just an experiment I used a jpg file.

All processing was done in Photoshop and Camera Raw, and followed what I normally would do with my D70 images.

  1. in Photoshop, used Image/autotone
  2. In Camara raw I set auto white balance, then using the HSL sliders, desaturated the purples and magentas, and increased saturation in the reds
  3. Back in Photoshop I swapped the blue and red channels in the channel mixer.  That didn’t do what I wanted or normally get with the D70 images so I used the B&W IR preset, which seemed to do the trick.
  4. I then when to Nik Color Effects and added a slight tonal contrast filter, and then glamour glow.  IR images frequently have a nice glow to them, so I thought this did approximate that.
  5. Finally back in photoshop I did some selective dodging and burning.


Related Images:

I Wish I’d Remember to Take More Street Scenes

I like Black and White images, especially street scenes with people.  Too often when I travel I, like a lot of tourists, get so caught up in the beauty and novelty of what I am seeing that I forget to just take some regular street scenes that capture the essence of the place. These types of images make great black and white conversions for some reason (in my opinion, at least).  These came from by recent trip to Europe.

The way I like to process most of my B&W images is to 1) Make them as good as I can in Lightroom, 2) bring them into Photoshop and run them through the Nik Color Effects Filter, applying either Detail Extractor, or Tonal Contrast…at this point the image doesn’t look real good in color, but I think the next step brings it back…3) Then I will Use Image/Adjustments/B&W in Photoshop.  This gives me great control of the image because of the color sliders.  Sometimes I’ll use Nik’s Silver Effect.  4) finally I will (sometimes) slightly reduce the opacity of the B&W layer to bring just a hint of the original color back into play. The heavy processing will frequently produce a noisy image  in B&W that doesn’t hurt as badly as in color, but for noise reduction I like Nik Define




Related Images:

Colorizing old B&W Photos

I love old photos, and restoring them is a challenge.  Going all the way and “colorizing” the old photos is also a lot of fun.  Frequently the old un-colorized image is better, but the challenge of creating a semi-believable colorized image is worthwhile, and a good exercise in Photoshop skills.

Related Images:

Black and White Pictures

(Updated March 2017) I’ve always like the look of black and white images, but was never very “sure” if they were worth it.  Recently I had someone buy a group of my images posted on Flickr, and surprise, they were all black and white!  Surprise, because that sale told me someone else liked the black and white images enough to pay for them.  I’ve therefore started to pay more attention to black and white. 

I started by gathering most of my black and whites and posted them into a single Flickr gallery. Looking at them as a single gallery, I do like what I see.  Black and White has a very different impact on the viewer.  Not all of these images are worth bragging about, but as a collection, they are interested.  Recently (March 2017), because of a local arts festival our Photoclub is participating in, I printed a number of images.  Again, I was struck with the look of the black and whites.  Printed on a “metallic” paper these images are beautiful.  The blacks are rich, and white areas look almost like chrome.  They are again, my favorites.

My technique for B&W entails quite a bit of processing.  I’ll usually start by trying to extend the dynamic range of the original, using HDR if that does what I want, and increase the detail using something like Nik Color Effects.  This ensures that the black and white takes on the dynamic range of the old silver halide films. I then convert to B&W, using either Nik Silver Effects, or Photoshop B&W conversion .  I’ve also found that using the gradient mask adjustment in Photoshop can also create good black and whites.  I do not use Lightroom for this step.  Noise reduction comes into play as a final touch, since my harsh processing will usually result in an unacceptable level of noise.  I have learned, especially by looking at printed results, that black and whites look best when you have areas of real pure black, and real pure white.  That contrast and range make the images pop, as opposed to images that are primarily gray tones.  I’ll occasionally give the black and whites a sepia tone, but printed, they look better and are more striking as black and white.  Finally on some images I’ll overlay the black and white version on top of the colored version (layers in Photoshop) and slightly increase the transparency of the black and white layer to bring a very slight shade of color back to the image. Especially on old “grungy” shots, like old cars, or buildings, this looks great.