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Thread: It's all in black and white...or is it?

  1. #1

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    It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Being a bit of a newbie I guess this question has been asked before...but here goes!

    Is it better to take a black and white photo using the cameras settings, or is it better to use PP to make a black and white photo from a colour photo?

    Or, is the final outcome identical whichever method is employed?

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Hi Crusty
    I recommend to shoot in colour en in your post prosseing workflow decide wheter or not change to black &white.
    The reason is that you can if you want still use the picture in colour and also in software like Photoshop you can do lots of stuff to create a black&white picture with tones you want or expect.
    There are several methode to change a colour photo into blakc & white.
    The "set to Grayscale" mode is the easiest one but lots of times you can get much better reults with desaturate colours.
    Just two of a lot of options you have.
    I myself use Nik Silver effex plug in for this. A very powerfull plug in with very very nice results!

    When shooting in RAW you can already in the RAW converter program choose to change the picture to black & white.

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Also if you shoot raw then b&w and colour modes are identical. You can turn a b&w raw image into colour again since it doesn't disgard the info captured. All it does is tag the file so that the embedded jpeg for preview is b&w and maybe advises some developing software to greyscale process as default instead of colour as default. In other words it doesn't matter with raw (but I'd leave in colour mode myself unless you want a rough idea what captured image is like when it could be handy to see the b&w preview). For jpeg it's another story since it will discard the colour and convert to b&w, even if you never wanted a colour version down the line there is another important point that makes colour more worthwhile with jpeg, filters. It's much better to capture in colour and convert in software with regards to filters than using actual filters IMO.

    Most straight b&w images made of balanced colour look muddy and grey (no real hard contrast, more similar blend of grey tones), obviously using a colour filter is recommended. However doing this with raw is not recommended as discussed in another thread Red filter w/ pan film effect
    With jpeg the filter route will work in b&w mode but still a raw file will yield better results. If you use the b&w tool in photoshop then you can specify exactly filter colour (6 colour sliders) matching any existing "actual" filters if you wish, I personally go for what looks right. The actual filter wont be any different from software virtual filtered, and it's not like film either since you don't have a monochrome digital camera (I presume), and real filters route seems more suited to monochromatic medium captures.

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    It rather depends on your camera, editing software and experience. I will try to describe my favourite method but I can assure you that other people will do things differently.

    Shoot colour as usual. Open image in editing programme. Select Channel Mixer and tick Monochrome. Change the mix of RGB to suit, just remember that the total should add up to 100. As a starter try R 30, G 60, B 10 or R 60, G 30, B 10. But these are just average starting point suggestions. You can use any mix that suits your photo. Blue is normally low or absent as it tends to contain most 'noise' but that, once again, is personal preference so you can use as much blue in the mix as you want if it looks right. Just remember 100 in total.

    I work with Adjustment Layers so the original isn't altered and you can temporarily hide a layer if that gives a better view.

    Another tip which I use is to create a stack of layers in this order: Original image, Curves layer (initially do not alter anything, just open the layer and click OK for now), Hue/Sat layer (again, do not adjust yet), Channel Mixer layer. Adjust the Channel Mixer approx; then try altering the Curves slightly.

    The Hue/Sat layer isn't always used but sometimes changing the Hue can produce good results (sometimes - not always). Try moving the hue slider around and see what happens. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, often nothing.

    A totally different option is to use the Gradient Map and adjust a black & white gradient to suit. Some people prefer this method but it is perhaps a bit specialised.

    There are other methods but I won't go any further now as I have probably confused you enough already. And other people will make alternative suggestions anyway.

    Geoff.

    ps. Have you read the Tutorial here? It explains everything much better than I can.
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...lack-white.htm
    Last edited by Geoff F; 20th March 2009 at 08:01 PM. Reason: Additional link

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Thanks Davey, hansm and Geoff.
    I have played with B&W in a photo software by Hewlett Packard that I recieved with my printer, that contains filters in red blue and green to adjust the contrast in the greys, thanks again.

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Agree it is better to shoot colour RAW to start with.

    Equivalent to PS channel mixer procedure described by Geoff but using NX2 is to use Filter>Photo effects>tinted in counterpoint with Adjust>colour>colour balance. By deliberately tinting with colour balance, you can use 'tinted' as a filter and get very nice control of the contrast and where it is strongest. Also adjusting Camera setings>colour temperature works on the RAW file on the blue-yellow axis. There are also simpler one-shot B&W tools, but not as effective IMO. Using NX2, this is one occasion when I save a duplicate NEF to save time if reverting to a colour version as it is not just a matter of turning one step off.

    I have a deadly competition with a guy in local camera club that has been wiping the board with his monochromes; I don't often bother but have caught the bug and the mono cup is next week, grrrr

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    Agree it is better to shoot colour RAW to start with.
    Hi Chris,

    I'm not trying to split hairs - and I agree with you 100% - but I just wanted to mention something for the benefit for others to highlight a point ...

    ... and that's that one doesn't "shoot colour RAW" as opposed to "shooting greyscale RAW"; one simply "shoots RAW" in that a RAW capture by definition always contains colour information, regardless of any post-processing instructions subsequently applied to the file.

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Chris,

    one doesn't "shoot colour RAW" as opposed to "shooting greyscale RAW"; one simply "shoots RAW" in that a RAW capture by definition always contains colour information, regardless of any post-processing instructions subsequently applied to the file.
    Nikons have a B&W setting in the 'image optimise' menu that would superimpose on the basic RAW setting. I meant don't use that even if intention is to end up B&W. I think it's part of set that allows pre or post processing to be done in the camera to then go straight to printer bypassing computer stage. Can't imagine doing that, but facility is there.

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Is it exclusive for raw? If not I'd presume it would primarily be of use for jpeg b&w direct to printer (with pictbridge thingy that I've no experience of) or archiving/hosting jpeg with no pp at all. I suspect it's the same as my fuji monochrome setting which makes the camera generate a b&w embedded preview from the raw instead of colour.

    Also it tells fuji software it's supposed to be monochrome but the actual raw data is identical, much the same way as the WB is added but is not actually set and only affects embedded preview jpeg and apps that read camera setting wb meta data (ie. acr wb=shot).

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    Nikons have a B&W setting in the 'image optimise' menu that would superimpose on the basic RAW setting. I meant don't use that even if intention is to end up B&W. I think it's part of set that allows pre or post processing to be done in the camera to then go straight to printer bypassing computer stage. Can't imagine doing that, but facility is there.
    Hi Chris,

    So you're saying with a Nikon if you select this mode - take a shot - and then look at the resultant *.NEF file, there's no colour information?

    Doesn't make sense, since by definition, a RAW file consists of "greyscale" "images" for each of the red, green, and blue channels - it's not possible to store a black and white composite (or resultant) information in a RAW file - I would have thought that all they could do was include metadata tags to say "this is supposed to be a greyscale image (strictly speaking, the term black and white is incorrect) - make it so".

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    Re: It's all in black and white...or is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Chris,

    So you're saying with a Nikon if you select this mode - take a shot - and then look at the resultant *.NEF file, there's no colour information?
    No, the colour information and full RAW info is there, just the Camera settings>'Non picture control'>Colour mode comes up with B&W + any filter/sharpening you may have added instead of the usual Mode I-III for RGB settings. And the pic is B&W. Like all such Camera settings it can be reverted back to the prefered RGB mode. (In free Nikon View browser/pre-editor, probably similar to Lightroom, as well as NX2)

    I think that answers your question too Davey.

    The camera effectively contains a computer loaded with Nikon View NX that can be used before or after taking the shot and printed; as an alternative to using a normal computer in a normal way. I think most DSLRs have a similar system, but maybe not all with quite as powerful in-camera software.

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