- users of digital cameras often have difficulty understanding and coming to
terms with B&W photography as the cameras are primarily designed to
produce colour photos although many have inbuilt options to produce a
B&W often with options to mimic the use of a certain colour filter.
- B&W photography is quite different to colour photography as by
eliminating the distraction of colour and its attendant colour contrasts and
emotive aspects, it forces the viewer to concentrate more on content, form,
- B&W is often a much more flattering option for portraits of older
women as inconsistencies in skin colouration can be more easily disguised.
- it is often important to pre-visualise the requirements for the B&W
photograph for success, in particular, choice of colour aspects in the image
(eg. lipstick, makeup, clothing and background colour) become very important
in how the final image can be optimally manipulated for the desired affect.
- although digital photography does not quite allow the characteristics of
different B&W films (including infrared film) with their dynamic range
and grain characteristics, digital capture makes manipulation of the colour
components and contrast so much easier, and furthermore, can provide a much
wider range of images derived from the one image.
- image contrast is often a critical component of a successful B&W
- traditional B&W film photographers manipulate image contrast
and dynamic range using a number of techniques:
- film selection
- reduction of dynamic range using fill-in lighting and/or gradient ND
- use of colour filters to darken some
colours and lighten others
- polariser filters to darken the sky or reduce reflections
- exposure selection (eg. Ansell Adam's Zone System) and then selecting
compensatory film development to adjust the negative contrast.
- selection of printing paper with its differing contrast
- use of different type of enlarger
- local contrast control during print exposure using techniques of
dodging and burning in to give different areas of the print more or less
- digital photographers:
- should ideally be shooting in RAW mode to provide maximum dynamic
range and data to manipulate, whilst exposing to give as much exposure
as possible without causing highlights to burn out.
- colour filters are not useful but reduction of dynamic range using
fill-in lighting and/or gradient ND filters &/or polariser filters
may be useful.
- in computer processing of the RAW data to produce a B&W image with
the desired contrast range:
- use Channel Mixer or Curves in Adobe PS to mimic the effect of use
of colour filters and adjust contrast.
- use Levels in Adobe PS to adjust levels
- once a B&W image is obtained, using the Channel Mixer in Adobe
PS can create a coloured monochrome image.