OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
In the February issue of Outdoor Photography magazines Holiday & Courses guide, I give my tips for producing stunning black and white digital images.
I can remember developing a print from a black & white negative in a school art class – and this being a life changing moment. I was hooked, I knew what I wanted to be; a photographer. Printing was one of my passions when I was studying for my degree in photography many moons ago and loved the whole process of developing the black & white film and developing prints. I still miss this part of photography, but nowadays black & white digital photography can still retain its visual impact.
When leading photo tours and workshops I say to my guests, ‘See colour, think black & white as this adage has served me well over the years. It will extend your opportunities, especially when conditions don’t lend themselves to colour photography. Some locations work really well in black & white such as the Grand Canyon especially when there are moody, dramatic skies.
Some of the steps I use when producing digital black & white images include the following: Before taking the photograph, it is important to pre-visualise your result and it is also valuable to have a knowledge of the Zone System. Shoot in colour in RAW mode, colour space Adobe RGB.
You will have far more control over the finished result by photographing in colour and then making a black & white conversion using image processing software; my preferred one being Lightroom. Shoot on the lowest ISO possible. At high ISOs the noise (grain) is more evident; the lower the ISO the less noise. If you want to increase the grain on an image, it is best to add this in post production.
To process my images in Lightroom I do not use the basic develop module apart from maybe adding a little clarity. Instead I use the tone curve and develop the image to how I visualised it when I took the photograph.
There are many different digital print papers on the market, which have various feels and tones. This is similar to wet processed black & white prints, where each make of paper has a certain quality, along with the chemicals used in developing the print with any dodging or burning adding to the final look.
A favourite paper of mine used to be Kentmere Kentona paper, which had deep warm rich blacks with a warmer base white. To replicate the feel and look of this paper, for the digital photograph of the overgrown temple in Cambodia
in the develop mode of Lightroom I used the split tone function. This adds more depth and character to the finished result.
My photography holidays & courses to Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Vietnam, Marrakech the USA and the Gower, can be found on my holidays website http://www.digitalphotographyholidays.com
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‘May the light be with you’