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Thread: Black & White photography?

  1. #1
    New Member Byz's Avatar
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    Black & White photography?

    Hi, I'm new to this Forum. It's taken me a while to find my way around, I'm slowly getting an idea of how to navigate here.

    I was wondering if anyone shoots straight from the camera in monochrome or if the preference is to convert color shots out of camera?

    At this point I would like to master in camera b/w shots and basically want to pick peoples brains. I don't have photoshop and not likely to have it in the near future. The reason is that I'm still learning how to use my camera, especially on manual and I want to concentrate on one thing at a time.

    regards,
    Byz

  2. #2
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Hi Byz and welcome to CiC.

    As you can see I am in your backyard. If you revisit your Profile there is room to include your Real Name as we find it friendlier to converse that way.

    By shooting B & W in camera you are letting someone who manufactured your camers tell you how they think the tones in the image should be processed. By doing it later in post production you have much more control over your output.

    Shooting with a digital camera requires knowledge of both capture in-camera and something about post production. There are a couple for good freebie download programs you can use. GIMP is one and another I like because of its useful onscreen help is Photoplus by Serif.

    It would be good to know what type of camera/lens set up you have and how you shoot. You mentioned manual mode. I personally use Aperture Priority almost 100% of the time. This allows for relatively quick shooting with full creative control but if you have time to survey a scene and set up then maybe manual would suit.

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    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Peter is right in what he says, it is better to shoot in colour and convert after - that way you have a colour shot if you don't like the mono one.

    BUT..........

    If you are new to photography you will learn how a monochrome picture needs to be taken much faster if you switch the camera to mono and see it live. Composing and shooting for a monochrome image is very, very different to shooting a colour one. Bright colours that can make a colour image jump out at you won't have any impact in mono so you have to concentrate more on shapes and textures. This is a slow and hard process to master for most and every little trick that a digital camera can help you with should be jumped at.

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    New Member Byz's Avatar
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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Hi Peter, thank you for the welcome.

    Thank you for the post production software information, much appreciated. I will look into it. I am still trying to understand the science of my camera, it is all new to me. Until a year or so ago I had never taken much interest in photography, baby shots and family, so I am am very much a novice.

    I have an Olympus E-450 with the standard double kit lens and an inexpensive macro lens that I bought from Poland a few months ago. I think I could have done better with my money, but I am making use of what I have and learning the rudiments of photography on it. I misled you I'm afraid, I shoot in Aperture Priority mode, the macro setting on the settings dial and auto. There's still a lot of hit and miss!

    Berenice

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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Berenice,
    Totally agree with Peter. I think very few people shoot black and white in camera for the reasons Peter mentioned. I'm not even sure if you can shoot RAW black and white (correct me if I'm wrong I've never tried it). You have no control over your tones unless you buy a stack of filters for your lenses, on the other hand post process colour into black and white and you have all the filters you need in the post processing software, additionally you can control the tonality precisely. A lot of people here use GIMP and free RAW conversion software so information abounds on the site. Honestly it's the best way to go.
    The only reason I shoot manual is if I want to place a particular element in the scene on a certain tonal value in relation to the rest of the scene or if I'm using wireless flash. Usually means spot metering the scene while the light changes around you - usually I'll just bracket after metering the subject until it looks right on the histogram Having said that it is I guess quite instructive to shoot manual occasionally IMHO it helps you to appreciate and get a feel for subjects in terms of contrast and light.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by bambleweeney View Post
    I'm not even sure if you can shoot RAW black and white
    Paul
    You're absolutely right. You can't.

    The way I found to think about is not to think about shooting in terms of either colour of B & W. You're shooting in RAW. And that means you are capturing all the data, including the colour information. What yoiu do with that information later on is totally up to you.

    Now, you may, as I do, be 'seeing' a B & W image as you press the shutter (i.e. you know you're going to make this one a B & W final image), but you're still capturing all the data.

    The alternative, as said above, is that you let the camera make the decisions and, in doing so, it chucks away a lot of data (not just colour information) that you might otherwise want to use and makes a JPEG finished product for you.

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    New Member Byz's Avatar
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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Hi Robin, there's much for me to learn and I'm not happy just going along with the automation of photography. I like to explore a little outside the norm. However, I am happy to use whatever my camera has to offer to get me where I want with a particular shot.
    Thanks for your help.

  8. #8
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Berenice

    Following on from Robin's post above. You say you don't have Photoshop etc. But did you get any software packaged with your camera?

    If you want to specialise in B & W and train yourself to 'see' in B & W then one of the ways to help you do that it to switch the settings on your camera to 'Mono'.

    NOW - that doesn't mean you're shooting in B & W. You are still shooting RAW. And all the colour information will still be captured for your use when you are doing your B & W conversion later.

    BUT what it does do is then show you, on the display screen at the back of the camera, the camera's JPEG B & W version. So, if you were shooting JPEG (which, of course you'll never do), that is what you'd get. It's a useful little tool, if you really want to make B & W images. But, of course, you have to be thinking that's what you want to do when you're taking the photograph. A lot of people take the photograph and then decide later whether they're going to make it into a Colour or a B & W picture. I don't work that way. I decide before I take the photograph.

    Hope that makes sense.

  9. #9
    New Member Byz's Avatar
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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Paul and Donald,
    Now I understand the importance of RAW it makes sense to use it. I discovered for myself that RAW is colored not black and white even though I was using the monochrome setting. I didn't realize what had happened at first, now I can go back and develop the shots I took. Thanks a lot for all the information, hopefully it's going to help me advance.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Black & White photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Byz View Post
    Paul and Donald,
    Now I understand the importance of RAW it makes sense to use it. ... hopefully it's going to help me advance
    Today's guaranteed offer from CiC - It will.

    Having grasped that concept - i.e. what RAW is all about; you have made a massive leap up the learning curve.

    It's one of those things that, once you get what it's about, you realise you've just taken a huge step forward.
    Last edited by Donald; 21st February 2011 at 11:59 AM.

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