A walk with the camera and thoughts on shooting B&W

Went for a walk up at beautiful Loch Katrine and had my new Fuji Rangefinder with me. It was on of those less than sunny days and at first the greyness seemed to exclude any colour work. It got me thinking on shooting in Black and White and why it sometimes can save the day another times it can’t.

Many people believe  that any photo will look good in shades of grey. While art forms like painting are subjective to taste, the notion that a photo is good, or can be saved by changing it to grayscale Black and White, is misplaced.

Using filters with your camera set to monochrome can be a great help, and with digital you can see quickly how a certain filter color affects your final image. Not everyone is adept to using them, or has the required equipment, but most modern DSLRs and rangefinders will give you filter options digitally. Surprisingly, they can be quite effective. It’s a rather simple and quick tool I often use to shoot a test shot, to see which shots will look good in B&W before heading to post processing and finding it just didn’t suit. The example screenshots are from my Fuji X-Pro1 but I know most cameras like Canon and Nikon have similar features.

trees at f1.4

trees at f1.4

take away points

Key to understanding this is to understand that B&W doesn’t simply mean all colour is removed from the image. The tonality of those colours are varied and these dictate the look of the final image. Also different cameras (as is the case with film) will represent and interpret colour differently, not to mention the paper they are printed on, so it’s not a bad idea to test each beforehand…if you need to be that discerning.And if you are shooting RAW beware that your images will be in colour when uploaded to the computer. You could shoot RAW+JPEG as a solution.

Boathouse. Fuji X-pro 1 with 18mm @f5.6

Boathouse. Fuji X-pro 1 with 18mm @f5.6

The colour content of these black and white images can be manipulated to achieve a look you are after. In this image there is a yellow orange colour to the wood cladding as well as orange rust in the roof. A BW image with yellow/orange filter applied will lighten these areas and also lighten the clouds and darken a blue sky (if you can see it).

technique takes time and programs like Lightroom let you play with images and see what effects can be achieved …. below is an image with fake cross-process (this was a technique of putting colour slide film through chemicals to make a negative … the result was normally colour shifts and an exposure change depending on film and process) I did this quite a lot at college but digital is much quicker ……

fake cross-process

fake cross-process

 

CREDITS: All photographs shown here are copyrighted ©Precious Productions Ltd/Richard Crawford  Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from the author. (ask me I will say yes if non-commercial) Malt Whisky payments also accepted.