The black & white photography book [Second revised edition] 9781909372917, 1909372919

232 50 85MB

English Pages 195 pages: illustrations (black and white, and colour; 30 cm + CD-ROM [228] Year 2013

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

The black & white photography book [Second revised edition]
 9781909372917, 1909372919

  • Commentary
  • decrypted from 886A9EBC24976E81D380ECEFCFEEB00D source file
Citation preview


All you need to know about black and white photography

New tutorials & guides inside

Getting started • Techniques and tips • Edit and share images • Go pro

Welcome to…

There is something magical yet traditional about monochromatic photography. All the distractions of colour are taken away and what you’re left with is the structure and form of a place, object or person. In The Black & White Photography Book you will be guided through all the fundamental aspects of the medium, including how to shoot professional-looking black-and-white images. Throughout the book we have essential advice from industry professionals who shoot black-and-white images in all genres, from portraits and landscapes to street photography and abstract. But it’s not all just about shooting techniques and skills – we also have several editing tutorials, so you can take advantage of image-editing software to turn your black-and-white shots into monochromatic masterpieces. If that wasn’t enough, on the free CD at the back of the book we’ve included 11 video tutorials and source files so you can follow along with many of the editing tutorials at home. Enjoy the book.

Imagine Publishing Ltd Richmond House 33 Richmond Hill Bournemouth Dorset BH2 6EZ ☎ +44 (0) 1202 586200 Website: Twitter: @Books_Imagine Facebook:

Head of Publishing Aaron Asadi Head of Design Ross Andrews Production Editor Dan Collins Senior Art Editor Dani Dixon Design Charlie Crooks Printed by William Gibbons, 26 Planetary Road, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 3XT Distributed in the UK & Eire by Imagine Publishing Ltd, Tel 01202 586200 Distributed in Australia by Gordon & Gotch, Equinox Centre, 18 Rodborough Road, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086. Tel + 61 2 9972 8800 Distributed in the Rest of the World by Marketforce, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0SU. Disclaimer The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of Imagine Publishing Ltd. Nothing in this bookazine may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. All copyrights are recognised and used specifically for the purpose of criticism and review. Although the bookazine has endeavoured to ensure all information is correct at time of print, prices and availability may change. This bookazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. The Black & White Photography Book Revised Edition © 2012 Imagine Publishing Ltd ISBN 978-1908955678

Part of the

bookazine series





Getting started in

B&W photography An introduction and essential tips to the medium

TECHNIQUES 32 Master monochrome See the world in black and white and discover the best subjects to shoot

44 The benefits of B&W We speak to three experts to find out how and why they shoot in black and white

56 Perfect portraits James Nader shares his pro secrets and portfolio of fashion portraits

64 Shoot stunning landscapes Discover the form and texture of the black and white landscape image

76 Shooting the streets in B&W Head outside and photograph the streets in black and white with our guide

88 Documenting life in B&W Photographer Carol Allen Storey shares her incredible career 6 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

22 Essential kit for

B&W photography The best kit for great blackand-white photographs

32 shooting skills 98 Understanding flash Learn about flash techniques

104 Achieve perfect studio lighting Take your skills to a pro level

110 natural portraits Step out of the studio and use the power of daylight to produce black and whites

116 Black & white portrait tips Industry pros reveal their top tips

120 high & low-key lighting Master modern high and low-key photography techniques

126 Control images with filters improve your black and whites with filters

132 Master composition Make sure it’s all in the frame

138 Understand metering Shed some light on fine-tuning your images

144 discover RAW See the benefits of shooting in the rAW format

150 B&W abstracts Search for shape, pattern and structure and go abstract

156 story behind the still We dissect a shot along with its creator


134 58

160 six black and white conversion techniques The ultimate guide for converting colour images to black and white

168 Create high-key effects Use Photoshop to up the contrast

172 Use dodge & Burn to enhance portraits Lighten and darken areas under control



176 Create a black & white hdR in Photoshop Blend three black and white images into one

180 Re-create a glamorous black & white portrait Glam it up with some Hollywood style

183 Create actions in Photoshop Simplify your workflow

184 selective colouring Take control of your editing skills

190 Create atmosphere Evoke a dramatic mood with Photoshop

195 graduated filter Use Lightroom to create a dramatic sky

196 Master tone edits Work with tone for masterful monochrome

200 Add emphasis to eyes Apply a rainbow effect to your black-andwhite portraits

202 Classic portraits with gradient maps Get effective B&W with this technique

204 sepia tone your images Add a traditional brown tone to your images

206 Blue tone your images Particularly effective for a landscape

208 Fix your old photos All you need to know about restoring your old photographs THE BLAck & WHiTE PHoToGrAPHy Book 7

Getting started in B&W photography


Getting started in

black white photo raphy 8 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

Getting started in B&W photography WATERFALL IN GLENCOE

“I was only [available] to visit this lovely location in the middle of the day and the light was harsh, so I decided to shoot in black and white and use my Lee Big Stopper to smooth out the water and give a feeling of calm against the stormy-looking sky” Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with a 17-40mm lens, f9, 30sec, ISO 100 © Helen Rushton

Master monochrome by learning how to capture incredible black-and-white images


hotography began in black and white. But with rolls of monochrome film and darkroom experiments, the equipment and techniques used were a long way from the digital cameras and image-editing software that we have now. With some of the world’s most iconic images having been captured in the black-and-white medium, there is a lot of history behind it, but it’s no surprise that it remains as popular now as when it was first developed. Advancing successfully from film into digital over recent years, the monochrome medium has improved dramatically. Even darkroom tools and techniques have seen a digital revival with computer software,

making black and white much more accessible to photography enthusiasts. As it works effortlessly with any photographic genre, the black and white medium is used across the industry, from landscape to portraiture, as well as in music, wildlife and street photography. Over the next few pages you will learn all the fundamentals of the medium. Featuring great inside information from industry professionals, you will get to grips with all essential shooting tips, tricks and techniques behind taking successful black-and-white images. By reading this guide to black and white photography, you will soon be on your way to mastering monochrome and applying all you have learnt to your own images. THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 9

Before you begin shooting straight in monochrome, consider your camera settings. Most digital cameras offer a monochrome filter, allowing you to shoot directly in black and white; however, this setting is only available when opting to capture JPEG files. JPEGs are not ideal files for any serious photographer and are rarely used by professionals. Compressed image data JPEGs are more difficult to alter in postproduction, with many decreasing in quality after just a few adjustments. Instead, pro black-and-white photographers will always opt to use RAW if shooting a commercial project. When looking to create great black-and-white images you need to begin by setting your camera up to shoot in the RAW image format. Although they’re much larger, RAW files are ideal for digital black-and-white photography. You’ll be capturing in colour first, but RAW images can later be converted with much more control, as Antonia Deutsch (www., a professional AOP photographer who specialises in black-and-white photography, advises: “When I am shooting digitally I shoot in colour and convert my images into black and white – this gives much more information in the digital files. It is extremely important not to use the camera’s software but to be in control of converting the colour into black and white in the way that suits your image, in the same way that you would choose which type of film to use prior to digital technology.” Setting up your camera correctly is just one part of capturing a great black-and-white photograph; getting out there ready to compose is another. When shooting with the intention to convert your colour captures to monochrome, you will need to take a whole new approach to composition. Unlike a colour photograph where you can rely more on the hues and colour tones, a black-and-white image gets its strength from the contrast and visual composition. Work slowly when framing your image, as looking for more unusual and unique shapes can help to add detail and texture to an otherwise bland black-and-white shot. Helen Rushton, a professional landscape photographer who runs See Life Through The Lens photography workshops (www., remarks: “Take your time with your composition; black-and-white images need to be strong to work well. With my black-and-white images I am always looking for bold textures, contrast between layers and lines in the composition to draw my viewers through the image.” Light is equally as important to consider when shooting for black and white. Whether it’s a portrait or landscape, understanding how it falls can make a noticeable difference to the success of your black-and-white photographs. Look carefully for the highlights, midtones and shadows in your composition before you shoot, helping to ensure you expose all your captures correctly. Don’t be afraid, however, to slightly overexpose an image that is intended for blackand-white conversion – often the worst it will do is increase contrast, which can in fact be ideal, as Helen adds: “Play around with your exposure to bring out and highlight details that catch your eye.” Check your image’s histogram as you work on the back of your camera. This can help to ensure you’re on the right track, as it is important to note that too much midtone in a histogram can make an image it appear flat when converted, as it will lack any contrast or depth. Not all colour images work well when converted to black and white, and this is usually due to a lack of tonal range. Tonal range is largely affected by colour and, along with light, defines the contrast areas in a black-and-white photograph. When shooting, you can take some control of this simply by paying more attention to the natural colours of the subject you’re photographing. For instance, what may look like a striking photograph in colour, with two dominant colours such as red and blue, in black and white you will find these colours are recorded



Dean Sherwood Web: “I am a Grimsby-based commercial photographer/ cinematographer producing high-quality imagery for commercial businesses, retail sites, portraiture, weddings, musicians/bands and HD web TV films for commercial businesses.” Dean specialises in music photography and has worked closely and been on tour with big British bands such as N-Dubz, Feeder, McFly and One Direction.

1 Choose RAW

Photograph in RAW if you can.

2 Emotive work

Capturing emotion always looks great in black and white.

3 Contrast rules

Think about the contrast between the main subject and the background, eg a light subject against a dark background.

4 Throw some shapes

Lines, shapes and textures look great in black and white.

5 Composition is key

With colour removed you have to concentrate on your composition. The viewer’s focus is purely the content of the image so make it good.


Tulisa having her hair and make-up done before a show Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 24-70mm lens at 35mm and f5.0, 1/400sec, ISO 3200


Smaller venues with good lighting offer a much better chance to get shots like this Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with a 24-70mm lens at 35mm and f5, 1/400sec, ISO 3200


The final shot of the ATN tour. There’s always that glimmer of doubt: ‘Will they forget I’m here?’ Within a minute of this photo we were on the tour bus and leaving the venue Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a 24-70mm lens at 24mm and f2.8, 1/160sec, ISO 2000

“Not all colour images work well in black and white… due to a lack of tonal range”

© Dean Sherwood



Getting started in B&W photography

Getting started in B&W photography

© Dean Sherwood

© Dean Sherwood

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 11

©Antonia Deutsch

Getting started in B&W photography

ScotS PineS

From the British Landscapes Exhibition Shot details: Nikon D300 with a 16-85mm lens at 85mm, f7.1, 1/200sec, ISO 200

“Traditional black-and-white colour filters will help to alter and adjust the colour tones”

Quick guide to dodging and burning in Photoshop Formerly used in traditional darkrooms, the Dodge and Burn tools have since been digitally converted for image-editing software like Adobe Photoshop. Located in the toolbar on the left-hand side of the interface, you

can select either the Dodge icon to lighten areas of the image or the Burn icon to darken, creating a more controlled contrast effect. Here is a quick guide to using them.




Set the Dodge Select the Dodge tool first in order to brighten areas of the frame. Adjust the brush size to a suitable diameter and select a soft edge to help blend the effect. Using the Range dropdown menu, select the Midtones as you don’t want to make the highlights any brighter.

Apply the effect Adjust the intensity of the 2 effect by pulling the Exposure

slider down low; this will allow you to build up the brightness effect carefully. You can now gently brush over the areas you wish to lighten.

12 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

to burn Hold down the Dodge icon 1untilPrepare an option menu appears

and select the Burn tool. Again, adjust the brush diameter to a suitable size and choose a soft edge. Select the Midtones or Shadows from the Range option depending on the areas you want to darken.

Build up slowly Now lower the Exposure 2 slider so that you can build up on the burn effect over time. You can now slowly start sweeping the brush over the intended areas.

Getting started in B&W photography



Quiet, thoughtful portrait Shot details: Hasselblad with 150mm lens and f11, 1/125sec, ISO 125, FP4 film, scanned at 300dpi at 400% magnification full frame


© Antonia Deutsch

similarly in tone and therefore your black-and-white conversion will lack any definition or contrast. Helen Rushton shares a great tip for ensuring a colour scene will work as black-and-white photograph: “I often set my Canon EOS 50D to the Monochrome setting, which gives me an instant understanding of whether the tones and shades work together to make the image I am trying to create, but as I always shoot in RAW the image is still captured in colour and then I convert that back to black and white in post production.” Even if a photograph doesn’t appear promising in monochrome, there are a few other ways in which you can control how colours are recorded in your black-and-white photograph. Traditional black-and-white colour filters, which can be attached to the front of your camera, will help to alter and adjust the colour tones in an image, whether it is to soften certain colour tones or enhance others for contrast. You can also use digital conversion tools in most image-editing software, allowing you to make specific adjustments to certain colour channels for increased contrast results. Another way that you can boost contrast in-camera is by using popular ND filters. Mainly used by landscape and traditional black-and-white photographers, there is a range of different ND filter types. Straightforward ND (Neutral Density) filters are commonly used for longer exposures,

most notably in seascape scenes, softening moving water and turning it into mist. Graduated ND filters, however, are often used to darken skies. Most professional photographers still consider filters as essential pieces of kit, as Helen points out: “My photography is all about getting the image right in-camera without lengthy processing techniques, so for me the grad filters balance out exposure and the ND grads allow me to be creative in-camera and convey the emotions I am looking for. I use the same filters shooting black and white as I do in colour: my Lee ND Graduated filters and Full ND filters.” Antonia agrees that filtering is important, particularly for landscape photography: “When shooting landscapes on film I used to use a yellow filter by default, and sometimes a red filter,” she says. “Now with digital photography, I filter in Adobe’s Camera Raw software. I think that filtering is essential for landscapes.” Although it fits comfortably into almost any genre of photography, black and white is often considered a genre in itself. Many photographers like Antonia have chosen to specialise solely in black-and-white photography, something that she now runs workshops on: “As I child I used to watch old black-and-white movies and was captivated by the imagery. I think that this influenced my decision to specialise in black



Getting started in B&W photography Using filters in your photography Colour filters Red: Popular with landscape photographers, red filters

have the biggest impact on contrast and are used to enhance dramatic skies by affecting the blue and green tones in a black-and-white image. Yellow: A relatively subtle filter effect, the yellow colour tends to lighten red, orange and yellow tones. Green: You can enhance a dramatic sunset using a green filter, which will darken the red and orange tones. Blue: Lightening the green and blue tones, the blue filter works similarly to the green colour filter in darkening reds and oranges. Orange: The orange filter will darken blue and green tones and lighten yellows and oranges. It is often used in black-and-white portraiture to remove freckles and blemishes from the face.

ND Filter (Neutral Density)

ND filters allow you to extend your camera’s shutter speed without overexposing the image, as it filters light through slowly to the lens and is often used to create misty smooth water effects in seascapes and waterfalls. You can also get different strengths of ND filters depending on how much light you want to filter.

Graduated ND filter


A graduated neutral density filter works in the same way an ND filter does except that one half of the filter is clear, gradually working up to ND filtration. These filters are most commonly used by landscape photographers in order to darken bright skies and get an even exposure throughout the entire image.


Teenage rugby player with a battle-worn face, but shot in a romantic way Shot details: Hasselblad with 150mm lens and f11, 1/125sec, ISO 125, FP4 film, scanned at 300dpi at 800% magnification and cropped to suit © Antonia Deutsch


and white from an extremely early stage. For me black and white is a purer image which allows greater drama and more expression, be it a portrait or a landscape.” Landscapes are also a popular subject matter for black-andwhite photography and have been since the early days of film. One of the key elements to great black-and-white landscapes is composition. Looking for stronger lead-in lines and shapes, you need to build depth and layers in your landscape photograph. Professional landscape photographer Helen Rushton remarks: “There are some locations I go to and they scream black and white to me because of the ambience. For me, great black-and-white images fall into two categories: very dramatic with stormy skies and bold compositions, and at the other end of the spectrum a sense of calm and minimalist composition.” Lighting can also affect the contrast levels in all black-and-white images, particularly daylight in a landscape. Midday sun will create darker contrasting shadows, for example, whereas morning light and early evenings create a softer palette of tones. “For black-and-white landscapes I concentrate on the graphic elements of a scene, and the nature of the environment, whether it is stormy or tranquil,” says Antonia. My British landscapes are taken only during the winter months when the light is lower in the sky and the trees are more sculptural.” Popular in portraiture and street photography for its timeless perception, black and white is considered most at home in this genre. Antonia points out the benefits of shooting a portrait in black and white as opposed to colour: “When shooting a portrait in black and white you are not distracted by the colours and it is much less confused; this allows me to capture the character of my sitter. My portraits are very calm and, I hope, timeless. I strive to make each portrait a true reflection of the individual.” Professional music photographer Dean Sherwood (www., who shoots black-and-white portraits as part of his work, says: “I think every subject deserves to be treated as just what they are, an individual. It’s quite

Getting started in B&W photography

Danny Jones, McFly

Even when you only have a few moments to get a portrait, you still have to think about composition shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a 24-70mm lens at 24mm and f2.8, 1/80sec, ISO 3200 © Dean Sherwood

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 15

© Helen Rushton

Getting started in B&W photography


“I loved the way these waves were breaking against the shore coupled with the lines from the slipway batons in Biaritz, France. I wanted to freeze the action, but also give some slight softness” Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with a 70-200mm lens, f7.1, 1/6sec, ISO 100


Rural landscapes work just as well as coastal ones in black and white. Check our filter guide on page 14 to see how you can enhance them 16 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

often I will think ‘this is going to look great in black and white’ though. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a blackand-white photograph and thought ‘that would look great in colour’.” He adds: “Music photographs in black and white are timeless. I can definitely recount more black-and-white music photographs I love than I can colour ones. Black-andwhite music photographs carry a similar edge to that of a documentary photographers work. Take away the colour and you are left with a stripped-down clear defining moment that happened in the real world; no distractions, just a pure document in front of your eyes.” Street photography is also commonly shot in monochrome as it enables photographers to create a uniformed collection of images that work like a narrative. Often gritty with noise grain, many street photographers tend to use higher ISO numbers when shooting in order to create a retro film-like effect. Noise, however, can be distracting and will decrease the quality of an image. When it comes to using higher ISO numbers, in this instance it is often best to add grain in later during post-production. This will give you much more control over the intensity of the effect. Noise can add an interesting texture to your images, so it’s considered great for street photography and stylised portraits, but it’s best avoided when shooting landscapes. Eventually you will need to convert your colour captures to black and white. Image-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, however, makes this a relatively simple task these days. Featuring countless conversion tools there is no right or wrong way to edit, you can still apply the same old darkroom principles including using the Dodge and Burn tools for specific enhancements. Don’t be afraid to experiment; black and white is a creative and artistic form of photography and, as long as you save the original file separately, nothing cannot be undone. So, if you’re ready to explore monochrome, keep in mind some of Antonia Deutsch’s top tips: • Connect with your subject • Compose carefully • Use your light to sculpt your subject • Be patient and calm • Be selective over what you shoot

Getting started in B&W photography



© Helen Rushton


“This image was taken at one of my favourite locations on the south coast, Hengistbury Head. I had found the groyne on one of my trips there when the tide was lower and planned to come back when I could get water covering the top to smooth out the ugly areas. A very long shutter speed, coupled with a freak big wave, saw me very wet but very happy with the image I had wanted to create” Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with a 17-40mm lens and f11, 4mins using a Lee Big Stopper, ISO 100


Getting started in B&W photography


Shooting for black and white

Set up the tripod Once you have selected the scene you want to shoot, you will need to set up your 1equipment. Begin by assembling your tripod. Pulling the


legs apart from the centre, unclip each section. You can pull down to extend the length of each leg. Ensure all of the legs are straight and the correct length before clicking the fastenings back into place.

Camera ready Ensure you have inserted a fully charged battery and empty memory card correctly 3 into the camera. Turn on your camera and search through

your camera’s menu interface in order to format your memory card. This is important before a shoot as it deletes unwanted data that could slow the card’s performance.

ISO option Ensure your ISO settings are low 5 and set between 200-400 ISO to avoid distracting noise in your black-andwhite conversions. If you want to add noise later for aesthetic reasons, you can do this during post production with more control over the effect.


Are you level? Check your tripod’s bubble level to ensure the tripod is level. You may need to extend or shorten one leg to accommodate for rocky or uneven ground. You 2 can now attach your camera to the top plate by screwing it correctly onto the mount. Place the plate back onto the tripod head and click it securely into place.

File format You can now set your camera to shoot either just RAW files or RAW+JPEG files. RAW+JPEG will allow you to set your JPEGs to monochrome capture separately so 4 you can preview the black-and-white results while retaining and still capturing a colour RAW file for editing. Be aware that this option will take up more memory space.

Getting started in B&W photography

Attach the filter You will now need to attach the filter ring to the end of your lens; this Line it up You can slide your filters into place. Begin by selecting the right filter type and will allow you to connect the filter and filter holder onto the end of your camera. Ensure strength; hold it around the edges to avoid getting fingerprints on the front. When using 6 7 you have the correct diameter filter ring for your lens and gently screw it into place. Now a grad ND filter, use your camera’s viewfinder or live view ensure the grad line sits perfectly slide the filter holder on top.

on the horizon.

Final adjustments Make any last-minute adjustments to your composition using the Check the histogram While shooting remember to keep checking your histogram at the back of the camera for a good idea on how the shadows, midtones and highlights tripod. You can now change your exposure settings, adjusting the aperture and shutter 8 9 are looking. If you opted to shoot RAW+JPEG with a monochrome filter on the JPEG files, speed to suit the scene. Check your camera’s in-built light meter through the viewfinder as an exposure guide.

now is a good time to see how the RAW images will look when converted.

“When shooting, keep checking your histogram” Photoshop Use a card reader to open your colour image in Photoshop 10 to convert. Begin by selecting an image, go to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate to remove all the colour and use Image> Adjustments>Levels to enhance and boost contrast by adjusting the shadows and highlights sliders slightly, but paying more attention to the midtones.


Getting started in B&W photography

Top Conversion


When converting your colour captures to black and white, keep it simple. There is no right or wrong way to convert; just experiment in your photo-editing software. A good adjustment tool to look out for to begin with is Desaturate or Convert to Monochrome. From there you can build on contrast levels.

Shoot in colour

Texture and interest

When composing, think carefully about how textures can be recorded in black and white in order to add a feeling of depth. Stormy skies in a landscape is a great example, giving you interest at the top of the frame that will still help to draw your eye down into the focus of the frame.


While shooting, remember to keep an eye on your histogram. A good exposure should show an even range with no peaking at either end of the graph. Remember that you don’t want too much information compressed within the midtones. Ensure there is enough information/mountainous range in the shadows and highlights.

File formats

RAW files offer you a lot more information, which is ideal for editing and black-and-white conversions. Unlike a compressed JPEG file, a RAW one won’t decrease too heavily in quality as you make adjustments. It’s worth noting that you may also need a bigger memory card to shoot in RAW as they take up much more space. 20 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Shoot your black-and-white images in colour first and convert them to monochrome later using photo-editing software. This will give you more control over the results, particularly the strength of the overall contrast. It also means that if the image doesn’t work in black and white you still have the colour copy.

Getting started in B&W photography Light and shade

Look for light when shooting in black and white, as contrast is important if you want to avoid flat image results. Think carefully about the time of day you shoot in, as this can also impact your image’s contrast levels. Midday sun has a stronger light and brings out darker shadows, as opposed to early morning and evening light.


Dodge and Burn

Popular in darkrooms of the past, Dodge and Burn tools are now digital and can be used in much the same way in Photoshop. Use the Burn tool to lighten specific areas of the image, focusing on midtones and highlights. Use the Dodge tool to darken the rest.

Slow down when composing a black-andwhite image, as this is the most crucial element for your photo’s success. Look for strong shapes and lead-in lines to draw the eye into the image. Find more dynamic forms to focus on which will also engage your viewer.




Don’t be afraid to use filters when taking a photograph; you will be surprised by the instant improvement to your shots. Invest in some great-quality grad filters to darken the sky, ND filters for longer exposures and colour filters for more creative tonal adjustments in black and white.

Colour tones

Pay attention to the colours within the frame before you shoot. Not all colours translate well together in black and white; what may look contrasting and strong in colour can often convert to similar in tone and ultimately flat in contrast.


Getting started in B&W photography

22 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Essential kit

Essential kit for B&W photography If you’re looking for the best equipment for a monochrome workflow, then this is the guide for you


his whole bookazine is dedicated to the intricate art of black-and-white photography, and one area that really has to be considered to get the best results is the kit that you choose to use. Over these eight pages, we will explore all the top kit – from your cameras and lenses, to software and printing, to finally presenting your work. There are loads of genre-specific features that you need to

look for, and we will break these down as we move through this kit guide. One decision that you will need to make when it comes to monochrome photography is whether you are going to shoot in black and white, or convert it after in post-production. There are advantages to both. If you shoot in black and white, then you can see how the tones and contrast are applied in the image, which means that you can correct the shot.

We have included cameras that have monochrome modes for this, as well as lenses and filters that will improve your black-and-white shots. However, we also take a look at the best software options to do the conversion for you, the advantage being that you can keep the colour version and work on the mono version separately. Think carefully about your requirements and then read on to find out what your kit bag is crying out for…

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 23

Getting started in B&W photography More options

From DSLR to compact system cameras, here are some great camera options NIKON DSLRs

If you would like an alternative to Canon systems, you could try a Nikon camera, like the D5100 pictured below. This model offers Live View and a Vari-angle LCD screen, which means that composing a shot accurately is super simple. It also has a new special effects mode, which has seven effects including selective colour and monochrome. It has a powerful 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and exceptional low-light performance, as well as an HDR function and Active D-Lighting for extreme contrast.

Compact creativity

Cameras Picking a camera for monochrome work isn’t so different from choosing a camera for colour work. Indeed, it’s unlikely that your only use for a camera will be black-andwhite imaging. However, ensure that your chosen model has features that will help you to capture the subjects that you want to portray in mono. Ensure that you look for a camera that offers high quality, detailed images, as sharp images are especially suited to monochrome conversion. Also look at the ISO control, as noise will be enhanced in


Entry-level models like the Canon EOS 600D shown here are great options for those moving up into the DSLR arena for the first time, but still have plenty of technology and functionality for the more seasoned user too. They’re often designed to allow for creative shooting, and in the 600D’s case the dedicated Monochrome Picture Style allows for striking black and whites in camera.

Lens compatibility DSLRs are compatible with a range of manufacturer and third-party lenses, so there’s flexibility

Live view Live View mode in the 600D enables you to check that a shot works in mono before capturing


We have featured DSLRs or CSCs in our roundup here, but there are some good compact options out there, especially in the new breed of high-end solutions. These give excellent image quality, plenty of manual control and a selection of shooting options that includes monochrome. We like the Nikon CoolPix P300, which has a tough build, a fast aperture and ultrawide lens ( for more information).

monochrome – so unless you are going for a particularly retro effect, then this isn’t preferable. We mainly focus on interchangeable lens cameras here, as these are the best option for covering all manner of photographic projects. Whether you are into shooting landscapes or portraits, macros or motion, then you have a wealth of flexibility by opting for a DSLR. Keep an eye out for black-and-white shooting options too, as this will enable you to compose scenes with mono in mind. Built-in Filters Many DSLRs have a black-and-white filter, which is perfect for capturing more atmospheric shots

COMPACT SYSTEM CAMERA Rather than being a buying a DSLR, you could try one of the new breed of micro-system cameras with interchangeable lenses, which means that you have the benefit of both flexibility and compactness. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 (shown below) is one such compact system camera, offering 16 megapixels and Live View to aid composition. It also has super-fast auto focusing and creative controls enable Retro, Sepia and High-Key shooting, among others.


If you have a lot of money to spend, it’s worth getting a high-end camera to capture images at even greater quality. The Leica M9 (pictured below), which offers 18 megapixels and is compatible with Leica’s M lenses, is perfect for street photography. Leica also produces the world’s first digital camera designed exclusively for shooting in black and white, the M Monochrom. These cameras are definitely investment buys, but they will last a lifetime.

Essential kit


Picking a lens for your camera to use for black and white photography is dependent on the subject that you’re shooting. If landscape is preferable, then it is worth looking into an ultra-wide angle zoom lens, so that you can play with your composition to bring focus to the details and heighten the perspective, both traits that are essential to monochrome photos. We have picked a couple of our favourites here, new and old, and these

Lenses & subjects See what you need for what you want to shoot

have built-in stabilisation features and large apertures to help get that perfect tonal range that is so necessary for working in black and white. If it’s portraits that you’re working with, then look for a high aperture lens, so the maximum amount of light is taken in during low-light and indoor shots. These lenses are also good for working in conjunction with lighting setups to produce high and low-key creative effects.

“Picking a lens for your camera to use for black and white photography is dependent on the subject that you’re shooting” Beneficial Design This lens is designed in such a way that it minimises lens fall-off and increases peripheral brightness


When you’re shooting the streets and documenting life, you need a lens that won’t weigh you down. Canon’s EF 17-40mm f4L USM lens (pictured) is lightweight and compact, so it is perfect for travelling with and it is also resistant to dust and moisture. It’s ultra wide on a full-frame EOS camera and a standard zoom on APS-C sensors, so it is flexible depending on the body that you use it with.


Keep it steady

When you are taking monochrome shots, it’s important to use a tripod, as this will help to eliminate blur that won’t translate well into black-and-white shots, with blur showing up as streaks of grey and white. This is especially true in landscape and portrait shots, where pin-sharp images will look the most effective. We like the ranges from Manfrotto and Induro (pictured above), for example.

If it is monochrome studio portraits that you’re interested in, then you should look for a fast maximum aperture and a rounded diaphragm to help produce softly blurred depth-of-field effects. The Nikon 85mm f1.4G AF NIKKOR (pictured) is a great lens that will help you to achieve people shots in the studio. It’s a medium telephoto lens with a fast maximum aperture of f1.4 and internal focusing. It’s lightweight too at 595g, which isn’t necessary for portraits, but it always helps!


Landscapes are one of the most popular subjects for monochrome photography, and an ultra-wide-angle lens like the Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 DG HSM II (pictured) will do a great job of capturing them. Landscape lenses need to be lighweight and quiet, and the Sigma even has a full-frame view with Super Multi-Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting.


Weight This compact lens weighs just 670g, making it good for taking out and about

Release your creativity The wide-angle view will exaggerate perspective, giving landscape photographers room for creative compositions

If it’s a multipurpose lens that you require, then you will need a good all-rounder. The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX DG HSM (pictured) is a large aperture, standard zoom lens, meaning that it is as comfortable taking portrait shots as it is landscapes. The f2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range ensures quality when indoors or in low light, and the lens coatings help to remove aberrations and distortion. It has HSM for quiet yet fast focusing and it can focus down to a distance of 38cm.


vv aav

Getting started in B&W photography Filter options

Filter out the wheat from the chaff B+W FILTERS

B+W offers a range of dedicated blackand-white filters, which are designed to optimise the contrast and tonal range when shooting in monochrome. The filter’s colour is made lighter and a complementary filter is made darker, so B+W provides a range of eight filters to cover the whole spectrum of controls needed, helping to ensure that your monochrome shots are dramatically improved by the addition of a filter.

With filter


Filters are essential in black and white photography if you want to produce the very best results. By using them, you can make a big difference to the tonal range of your photos. With good black and white photos the viewer can almost visualise the scene in colour without any colour information present, simply by the tones presented. When a filter is used, it enhances certain colour tones in the final image, and can make a monochrome image really pop. By using a filter of a set colour, you will lighten that particular colour in tone, and you will pop the


No filter

Tiffen does a wide range of different filters, with a dedicated line-up for use with black and white. Available in a massive range of sizes, check out the website for details of filters in yellow, red, green, deep yellow, blue and more. For each filter, Tiffen explains how they can best be used in your photography, so you can ensure that you are making the right choice for your needs. List prices are quoted in US Dollars, but most of them can be bought from Amazon.

tones of the complementary colours. Yellow filters are particularly popular, as they are good for making subtle changes, especially to the blue sky in landscape shots. Red is best for creative effects with loads of contrast. Blue and green are also available, but are generally used less.


Hoya offers a wide range of coloured filters, which can be used to enhance the tones in your monochrome images. Prices vary depending on the size and the colour chosen, so visit the website to find out more. Use the Red filter to boost contrast in images with red, brown and orange – perfect for autumnal shots. There are also corrective filters, warm filters and portrait filters to choose from.


If you are interested in experimenting with infrared digital photography, then this is touted as the ‘most popular infrared filter in the world’. That’s some claim, but it is a well-priced offering that comes in a wide range of sizes. The filter permits light of around 700 wavelength to pass through, giving that recognisable infrared effect. It effectively filters out all light bar infrared light, which can’t be seen by the naked eye.

Compatibility Hoya offers a massive range of different colours of filter to suit all lens types Infrared The 25A Red filter is great for those with an interest in infrared photography

Contrast boost The K2 Yellow filter, which is a popular choice for portraits, can help to boost contrast between sky and foreground

Pick your colour


The colour of filter that you choose will have a dramatic impact on your final photo. Here we show you what four popular colour filters do to the same monochrome image.






Essential kit

Software Post-production is one area of the photographer’s workflow that just can’t be ignored. While many cameras will come with their own software solutions, if you want dramatic and striking black and white images then you need access to a good image editor. We have listed the four best software packages, but there are others out there that are worth considering. Photoshop Elements, for example, has really upped its game over the last few versions, so if the full Photoshop

More software Select the image-editing software you need

package seems a little heavy handed for the editing you require, then it’s a good option at a fraction of the cost. Lightroom and Aperture are slowly taking away some of the shine from Photoshop in the pro photographer’s digital kit bag, as they are tailored just to photographers, rather than digital artists, 3D artists, web designers and the many other creatives. And don’t forget that the majority of big-name software packages will be extendable via plug-ins.

“If you want dramatic and striking black and white images then you need access to a good image editor” Catalog Lightroom’s easy-to-use interface makes it easy to find the image you want

Plug-ins Lightroom supports external plug-ins to extend its functionality even more


While each of the programs that we have picked here does a great job with black and white images, there are dedicated plug-ins out there built specifically for the task. We recommend Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2, which is the world’s leading monochrome software and it is compatible with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom and Aperture. It uses U Point technology to accurately and selectively edit the contrast and tonal range of your images to perfection.


With the introduction of subscription plans for the best known image editor, Photoshop has suddenly become super affordable. It is top of the image-editing stack for very good reason, but you may find that it gives you more than you need in terms of functionality. If you are working with colour images, then the Black & White adjustment layer is a great way to tailor results without affecting the original permanently, and the many colour and tone tools available mean that monochrome images can be made to pop.


Apple’s Aperture is its answer to Adobe’s Lightroom and it performs many of the same functions for Mac users. Its benefits lie in the fact that if users have been using iPhoto, the learning curve is reduced due to similar aesthetics. It’s easy to both convert to monochrome and to work on black and white images to improve contrast. Another attraction is in its price, which is significantly lower than that of Lightroom; however, it does work best on a high-spec iMac as there have been reports of lagging on lower-end machines and laptops.



Lightroom has really worked hard to win popularity among professional photographers, offering more and more editing options in each version so that having Photoshop is less essential. Its sophisticated colour and tone tools mean that when working with monochrome or colour images, it’s a relatively simple process to enhance contrast in a nondestructive manner.

Easy edits The editing options are becoming more and more advanced while still retaining ease of use

Newest version Lightroom 3 offers improved noise reduction and lens correction to eliminate common flaws

Phase One’s RAW converter also packs in image-editing solutions. It can help to organise photo libraries too, and it is marketed for professional photographers. Its toolset is full of advanced options for improving colour, tone and detail, which is essential when working in black and white. For any colour images that need to be converted, there is a dedicated tool and even a workspace for Black and White. This gives you direct access to the tools that are designed for monochrome editing.


Getting started in B&W photography “You may be paying for things that you don’t really need”

More printers

Home printing doesn’t have to mean low quality HP PHOTOSMART PREMIUM E-ALL-IN-ONE PRINTER SERIES

HP has recently overhauled its Photosmart range of printers, offering new and improved features as well as a model to suit all photographer’s needs. We chose this option as it has up to A4 printing, scanning and copying, internet connectivity, wireless technology and, most importantly, lab-quality prints. The touch screen gives quick access to printing options without using a computer.


Printers Once you have a perfectly shot and edited black and white picture, it’s time to turn your attention to output options. A printer is the first vital step in the workflow chain, and there are two key types of printer that you are likely to come across. First, there are the consumer printers, which we will look at here, and then there are professional printers, if you want to get more serious. When looking at consumer printers, don’t just go straight

If you are interested in scanning in old monochrome film photos, then it is worth investing in a dedicated scanner rather than using the all-in-one functions of many of these printers. Photo scanners come with a negative or slide tray, which holds the film in place while it’s scanning, ensuring the highest quality. All-in-one printers with scanners are usually best for document scanning.

in for the most expensive you can afford, but don’t snap up super-low bargains either – both can be misleading. Think carefully about what you need from your printer. If you need innovation and quality, then buy the best that you can afford within your budget; however, if bells and whistles don’t tickle your fancy, you may be paying for things that you don’t really need. We present four of the best options here.


There are some really good deals around on this product at the moment, so expect to pay around £150 rather than the SRP quoted above. This Kodak is based around connectivity so it can print photos directly from mobile devices using Wi-Fi. It is also low cost with the inks reasonably priced and the cost-per-print ratio at a minimum. It might not be the best option for high-quality prints, but for day-to-day use, it has a lot to offer.


This low-cost printer packs a lot in under its lid, including 9,600dpi photolab-standard prints up to A4 size. It is a speedy model too, with 10 x 15cm standard photo prints taking around 20 seconds. It uses five single inks, so that they can be replaced as and when.

Durability Combined with Canon inks and papers, photos should last a lifetime if given the proper care

Versatility As well as paper, the Canon can print onto disc. It also has an Auto Duplex function for double-sided printing


flexibility Prints can be made directly from the web and from HD movie sources


While the price of this seems very steep for a home printer, we have included it for its sheer wealth of features, perfectly bridging the gap between consumer and professional devices. Also, in the Epson store at the time of writing, the model was on sale for just £180. It is a 4-in-1 (printer, scanner, copier and fax) with wireless connectivity, built-in editing tools accessed via the large touchscreen, a card reader, USB and PictBridge connections and it can do all your admin and everyday printing tasks too.

Essential kit

Frames and mounting It’s all well and good producing amazing black and white images, but if you never display them, the prints will end up going dusty in an old shoebox. Make your photographs into the works of art that they are by investing in a decent frame. Custom frames give the best results as the size, finish and mounting method are all interchangeable so that you can get exactly what you

Framing online

More online framing options EPICTURE FRAMES

want. This is especially useful if you want to print at a non-standard size to fit a particular wall or to show the work off to its best potential. Also, for holding personal exhibitions or selling work, then custom frames give that air of quality and uniqueness. Here we round up four of the best online services that enable you to create the frame that you want with no restrictions.

ePicture Frames uses a simple three-step process for getting the right frame for a photograph. First is ‘Choose’, where size, colour and type can be used as criteria to narrow your selection down. Next up is ‘Customise’, where options for sizing, extras and mounts can be chosen. Finally, there is ‘Buy’. As well as wood and metal frames, there are swept and decorative options. There are plenty of ready-made frames to choose from too. It’s a very intuitive process that makes choosing frames fun.

“Custom frames give that air of quality and uniqueness” Digital frames

There are also digital photo frames out there if your framing needs are limited to displaying your work around the home. Look for ones with good connection options, in particular Wi-Fi or card slots, so it’s easy to update your frame with your latest shots. Also make sure that the resolution is as high as possible to make the most of your mono shots. The Kodak range of EasyShare frames start from £58 at www.


EzeFrame offers both standard size and custom size frames, with the latter made simple thanks to a box on the home page into which you can enter your measurements and get straight into customising. The frames are handmade in the United Kingdom and the delivery time is just 1-3 days. There are plenty of categories to choose from, and just as many mounts. While the frames are great, it does lack the ability to preview your own image online. Visit for more details.


This is another British website that specialises in custom frames with tens of combinations of frame and mount, as well as custom size support. You can upload a preview of your picture and there is a simple step-by-step system to work through the available options, while a price tally appears in the top left of the screen so you can keep to a budget. There are also options for multi-aperture frames, plus free delivery for orders over £65. Visit www. for more information and to get started.


eFrame is a great custom frame site as it’s really easy to navigate. It has loads of guides on how to measure a print properly, how to use the website and inspirational galleries to get an idea of how a frame will look. Everything is customisable with both wood and metal frames, standard and custom size options and an online preview.

Design studio There are options to create a frame, a mount or both when entering the Design Studio

Sample A picture can be uploaded to the site so that you can see how your image looks inside the chosen frame

Extras There are additional extras such as stands, backing tape, picture hooks and glass cleaner that can be added on to the order


Techniques Professionals from the industry reveal all you need to know about black-and-white photography 32 Master monochrome See the world in black and white and discover the best subjects to shoot

44 The benefits of black & white We speak to three experts to find out how and why they shoot in black and white

56 Perfect portraits James Nader shares his pro secrets and portfolio of fashion portraits

64 Shoot stunning landscapes Discover the form and texture of the black and white landscape image

76 Shooting the streets in B&W Head outside and photograph the streets in black and white with our guide

88 Documenting life in black & white Photographer Carol Allen Storey shares her incredible career




44 56







Embrace black and white and transform your colour captures into stunning monochrome masterpieces 32 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

Master monochrome


Discover how to see the world in black and white, and find out which are the best subjects to shoot


lack-and-white photography has really stood the test of time. Even after the dawning of the digital age, which brought us better colour and millions of megapixels, we continue to embrace the traditional medium. It’s even considered somewhat of a genre in itself although there are no real limits to the subjects you can shoot. So whether you photograph landscapes, portraits, fashion, weddings or even wildlife, monochrome can be moulded to suit anyone’s artistic style. These days, digital photography offers a lot more creative freedom, so black and white has become much more accessible. Fortunately, we no longer have to select between shooting in either colour or black and white, as with digital you can do both, even simultaneously. The darkroom has also been updated thanks to the development of image-editing software programs such as Photoshop. This gives photographers a lot more control over the conversion process when it comes to adjusting light, contrast and tonal range. To help you embrace black and white again in your portfolio, we’ve put together this 12-page ultimate guide. Covering all you need to know about camera settings, composition and conversions, we’ll take you step by step through the entire shooting-to-editing process. We’ll also guide you through putting it all into practice with some hands-on shooting tutorials for landscapes, portrait and street photography. Follow along with us and find out how you can convert your lifeless colour captures into some stunning monochrome masterpieces. THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 33


From colour to black and white It may sound strange to traditional black-and-white photographers, but shooting in colour is now essential if you want to get great black-and-white shots. In the professional industry, it’s common practice for photographers to shoot their black-and-white images in colour first, with the intention to convert to monochrome later. The benefit here of course is that you leave your shots open to all options, so if it doesn’t work in black and white, it’s still a great colour image. This method also gives you a lot more control over the conversion process, enabling r u o y k you to take a much more a, chec n the r e m a In-c eo considered approach to xposur give you e r u lo o c is will adjusting the photograph’s th a , s D a C e back L of the imag you contrast and tonal range. ive view

Top tip

a pre eras g ost cam view in black M . G E P e J on to pr a of the opti hite for an ide s w ne and colour to how the onvert. will c

In order to do this successfully however, you’ll need to ensure that you’re shooting in RAW file formats first. This way, you’ll be able to gather as much information in the scene as possible so that you’re guaranteed greatquality conversions that provide plenty of detail across the entire photograph. Knowing the type of colour shots that will convert well to black and white is key, and can be a real time-saver when it comes to editing. It’s worth noting that vibrant shots with a lot of different colour hues don’t always translate well to monochrome, particularly if certain tones appear similar when desaturated, such as blue and red for example. Surprisingly, it’s captures that offer a muted colour palette that convert better to black and white, as you have a lot more control over the tonal contrast and ultimately the strength of the composition.

Convenience or conversion?

Most digital cameras offer a built-in black-and-white shooting mode, which although convenient, isn’t great if image quality is what you’re after. This is largely due to the fact that these files are saved in JPEG format on the camera as opposed to RAW. Be aware that you’ll be sacrificing a lot of extra image detail if you opt to shoot straight into black and white in-camera. RAW files, on the other hand, offer a lot more information. Conversions will be less destructive to the overall image quality as finer details can be retained within the shot.



“Knowing the type of shots that will convert well is key”

FLEXIBILITY The real trick to black-andwhite photography is being able to shoot something that works equally as well in colour as it does in monochrome.

DYNAMIC SHAPES Using shapes as features within a monochrome conversion makes your shots more dynamic. The almost layered effect also adds depth. PRESETS This area contains the gradients that ship with the program. Any you have saved will be here too.

STRONG CONTRAST Convert well contrasted captures to monochrome. Shots that are a little under or overexposed can also be rescued this way.

MUTED TONES An image with a muted colour palette makes an ideal black-and-white conversion, enabling you to take control over contrast and tonal range.


SUBJECT MATTERS Think carefully about whether or not the subject with the frame will suit being in black and white.

Master monochrome


Top tip

The red filter/colour channel is ideal for enhancing blue or dramatic skies in a landscape photograph

• Lightens red/orange tones • Darkens blue/green tones

Converting with channels When composing a black-and-white image in colour, it’s important to pay attention to the hues that feature within the frame. It’s these colours that are ultimately responsible for the tonal range within your black-and-white image. Before digital technology, black-and-white film photographers would rely on colour filters to enhance or adjust specific tones and contrast


Adjusting the blue filter will bring out warmer tones. This is fantastic is you’re shooting a sunset scene or want to lighten a dark-blue sky

Althoug h have a c colour hues c a onsider able eff n on the e image, outcome of yo ct d in the ru on’t get caug ur ht up les whe conver ting. Ex n it comes to p er all of th e colo iment with for crea ur channels tive res ults.

within their shots. These days, we can do largely the same thing, using image-editing software. However, understanding how these filters and ultimately colour channels can affect your image is crucial. This is particularly important when you’re converting a colour capture to monochrome, or even looking to strengthen a black and white composition while shooting.

• Lightens blue/green tones • Darkens orange/red tones

Convert a colour capture using channels


The green filter, like the blue, can be used to enhance warm tones in the scene you’re shooting

• Lightens blue/green tones • Darkens orange/red tones THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 35



Compositional rules can be incredibly useful when framing for black and white. Use the rule of thirds or lead-in lines to help strengthen the structure of a shot 36 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

Master monochrome

Composition rules

Things to look out for in monochrome


Encourage the viewer to engage with the scene with lead-in lines to guide their eyes around the frame.


Distinct subjects that stand out can work just as well in black and white as they do in colour.


Contrast is key to adding depth, so ensure the light and your exposure settings are spot on.


Be bold when it comes to composing and look for strong dynamic shapes that offer texture and contrast

Top tip

Activate yo grid line ur camera’s compo s to help you foreground or background of your se white s your black and shot. This will help to add structure hots inca These a to your monochrome image and, re partic mera. useful w u in good light, can offset contrast hen fra larly min nicely too. photog raph us g a Photographing textured surfaces ing compo sitional is another great compositional guide rules for black and white. Ideal if lighting

The strength of a black-and-white image lies in its composition. Unlike with colour photography where vivid hues can command attention, blackand-white captures rely heavily on their content in order to engage viewers with the frame. Using a few key compositional pointers can go a long way in helping you to strengthen the structure of your black-andwhite shots. Regardless of whether you’re shooting landscapes, portraits or even still life. One of the most popular compositional rules for monochrome photography, which also applies to colour, is the use of lead-in lines. Use them to enhance or even create an illusion of depth that can then guide the viewer’s gaze through the entire frame. Lead-in lines don’t necessarily need to be straight either, think creatively when composing for black and white and look for diagonals or even curves. For more dynamic compositions when photographing architecture, landscapes or even abstract forms, focus on framing bold shapes that will noticeably stand in the

conditions appear a little flat, you can include textured surfaces within the frame to naturally increase contrast areas and add an additional visual element to the frame. This is particularly important if you’re shooting abstract subjects, but can also be applied to portraiture with weathered skin and even street photography as brickwork translates incredibly well when converted. Having a good idea of what you want to achieve, or even being able to envision the end result is important when framing for a black-and-white image in colour. This will not only guide you during the conversion process but will also help when it comes to selecting the right camera settings for the best exposure. 


A great way to enhance the feel of depth in a black-and-white image and bring out contrast.


The rule of thirds works excellently for monochrome stills. Use your camera’s grid lines for best results.

“Use lead-in lines to create an illusion of depth that can guide the viewer’s gaze” THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 37

Techniques Filters for B&W

Filters can enhance your black and white photography but you need to know how to use them to get the full benefit. The SRB-Griturn filter kit is used in B&W photography to enhance colours within the shot, with each filter enhancing different aspects. Red filters help to exaggerate clouds and darken greens, whilst lightening reds and yellows. An orange filter will enhance detail such as stone work as well as subduing blemishes in portraits. Yellow filters darken blue skies, improve contrast, and lighten yellows. A green filter will lighten foliage, as well as helping cloud effects. Visit www. for more details.

Exposing correctly While it is always important to expose your images correctly, when you are planning to convert your images to black and white this is particularly vital. A monochrome image relies heavily on the tonal range in the scene. If you underexpose the image too much, areas of the image that should be various shades of grey will ‘block up’ as dense, pure-black shadow. If you overexpose the image too much, you risk losing highlight detail, something that never looks great but can be particularly unappealing in black-and-white scenes. One of the joys of black and white photography is being able to dodge and burn in the digital darkroom so you need to give yourself room to play with in your editing software, which means capturing images that are neither too dark or too light. Scenes with a high degree of contrast (with very bright and very dark areas) always present a challenge in terms

of exposure and this is the kind of scene most likely to cause your camera’s metering system to get confused. You can decide which area of the scene is the most important for your final image and expose accordingly. Alternatively, you can shoot two separate exposures (one with the shadows in mind and one for the highlights) and merge them later. One more thing to be aware of when you are exposing your images is the role of the ISO setting. If you find that you need to brighten the image up in post-production you’ll generally notice a lot more noise in the shadow areas of the image if the shot was captured using a higher ISO (e.g. ISO 800 or 1600). As it’s not always possible to shoot at a lower ISO, it’s best to adopt a policy of ‘exposing to the right’. Take a look at our guide to histograms to see how this works.

“A monochrome image relies heavily on the tonal range in the scene”

Histograms Getting to grips with histograms is vital for B&W CORRECT HISTOGRAM

This histogram is ideal as there is no clipping (represented by sharp spikes) at either the highlight or shadow ends of the figure. The histogram is biased towards the right slightly, ensuring that noise in the shadow areas is kept to an absolute minimum


This histogram shows the result of underexposing the shot. The information is clustered towards the far left-hand side with a sharp spike. Some shadow detail will be recoverable but is likely to be noisy with poor detail and colour accuracy


This histogram shows the result of overexposing the image. The information is crowded into the far right-hand side of the diagram with a sharp spike. Some of the highlight detail may be recoverable but much of it will be lost 38 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

Master monochrome

Portraits Portrait photographers have worked in black and white since the dawn of photographic time. From Julia Margaret Cameron to David Bailey, photographers have used monochrome to capture portraits with style. Black-and-white portraits can look either modern or classic with equal success. The clear advantages of shooting without colour include the ability to remove distracting elements and smooth out uneven skin tones and blemishes. When there’s no colour to worry about, you are free to push the contrast to its extremes and create a very wide range of effects. The absence of vibrant hues also means that it’s easier to capture impromptu portraits when the subject’s clothing doesn’t have the required tones or the surroundings aren’t ideal. However, it’s important to remember that shooting in black and white doesn’t allow you to take your eye off the ball in terms of planning and preparing a portrait shoot. Simple, fairly plain clothing with a relatively small range of tones will usually work best for black-and-white portraits. It’s also important not to expect your portraits to automatically look like the work of one of the greats simply by converting it to black and white. It’s even more important to consider your subject’s pose and expression, as the best black and white portraits will almost always be very strong in these respects. Be sure to pay attention to the lighting as much as you can, because in black and white the contrast between well-lit areas of the frame and areas of shadow is always accentuated.

Top t

ip The sub je c t ’s pose and exp especia ression are lly when th important colour t ere is no om shot sta ake the nd out


Black-and-white portraits have the potential to look really striking, but the right lighting and pose is required





Simple clothing works well in mono – we asked our model to wear a classic leather jacket


Great black-and-white portraits can often be achieved with minimal lighting. Here, we used just one flash with a softbox THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 39




Black and white can be used to create atmospheric, brooding landscapes with dramatic skies and strikingly simple elements

Although the iconic landscape photographer Ansel Adams worked almost exclusively in black and white, landscape photography is often associated with colour. One of the main inspirations for capturing landscapes is the appeal of the warm, golden colours produced by late afternoon and early morning light, or the glow of a gorgeous sunrise or sunset. However, landscapes also offer a wealth of textures, shapes and patterns that lend themselves perfectly to black and white. Without the distraction of colour, the landscape is both simplified and endowed with an appealing timelessness. Black-and-white landscapes taken today can look little different to the photographs taken in the 1940s by Ansel Adams himself. However, in some respects, black-and-white landscape photography can present greater challenges than shooting in colour. Without a beautiful blue sky or warm orange sunset to rely on, the composition of the shot itself becomes even more important. With this in mind, it’s vital that you take extra time to carefully assess each and every element of the scene before taking the photograph. Although all the elements of the scene need to be in harmony in all landscape images, the final photo really won’t work at all if this isn’t achieved with a black-and-white scene. It’s also worth remembering that the ktime of day still counts with black and t blac pe s e b e white landscapes. Images taken at the a For th ite landsc t beginning and end of the day will h u have much softer shadows than photos and-wots, seek o lude c h n taken around midday with the sun at s that i tterns, its highest. enes a

tip Top

sc ctive p distin apes and sh ures text



Traditional scenes that work well in colour, like this landscape, can also shine in black and white, especially with a dull sky

Master monochrome

“In some respects, black-andwhite landscape photography can present greater challenges than shooting in colour” Get the perfect monochrome landscape photo

TRIPOD Using a tripod low and close to the ground SETTINGS Opt for a long exposure to make the most Pay close attention to your composition and keep an eye out for anything distracting in the frame. means that you can make the most of lead-in lines such of any movement in the clouds. This helps to keep your 1ThisCOMPOSE 2 3 is always important but is particularly vital for great as the boarded walkway along the pier, as we’ve used in this exposure as simple and uncluttered as possible. Use a black-and-white landscape images in which all the elements have to work together perfectly.

shot. Wooden boards like these have a texture that’s really appealing when converted to monochrome.

narrow aperture like f16 to get the maximum depth of field in your image.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 41


Street photography Street photography became popular with the rise of 35mm and other portable-camera systems. Henri CartierBresson’s classic black-and-white reportage images still influence street photographers today and this is a field of photography where monochrome images far outnumber colour shots. Black and white offers street shooters instant artistic and practical advantage, and this element of the medium harks back to the tradition of photojournalistic images that for many years were exclusively black and white. The very nature of street photography dictates that the photographer cannot control the range of colours within the scene and in many situations this could result in a much less appealing image. Black and white’s ability to simplify the image provides a way of creating graphic, captivating images. In terms of subjects for this type of project, you should aim to keep your compositions as simple as possible. This isn’t necessarily easy on busy and crowded streets, but is vital for successful shots. Very often, the best images have a degree of anonymity, without any faces, so keep a look out for hurried feet or ut AW b ’s hands held pensively behind the R n i t a back. A bustling shopping centre Shoo ur camer ode o or high street can be a daunting set y control m e to place at times but keep watch for it re pictu ck and whome moments of human interaction and affection, as these can look to bla monochr even more striking and emotive in view eviews on a public setting. pr D

tip Top

C the L

Shoot everyday life in captivating monochrome

MONO PREVIEW Shooting RAW and setting your camera to its monochrome mode allows you to see a black-and-white version of your image on the back of 2 the camera when you press the image review button, which is really useful. SETTINGS Use a fairly narrow 3 aperture of at least f8

HIP SHOT Shooting from the hip is a popular technique among street photographers as it allows them to take candid shots without people paying close attention to the fact that they are being 1photographed, although the results can be a little hit and miss unless you are used to this method. 42 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

in order to get a decent amount of depth of field in the shot. Also ensure that the shutter speed you use is reasonably fast to ensure sharp shots. If necessary, make use of a higher ISO setting to compensate.

Master monochrome Thomas Leuthard Pro street photographer Thomas Leuthard gives his expert tips for black and white Web: Why does black and white work so well for street photography? Black and white reduces a photograph to its forms, patterns and basic content. The old masters were all shooting in black and white – although this isn’t the main reason for shooting monochrome. How do you convert your images to black and white? I shoot in RAW – which is always in colour – but my camera is set to black and white. This way I can see on my LCD what the end result will look like. I actually convert it into black and white on the computer when I process the file. What shooting tips do you have for achieving excellent black-and-white street images? The most important thing is to see already in black and white on the streets. You have to look for interesting structures, patterns and content first. There are items that don’t look good in black and white. You have to learn how things will look – this is very important. You also have to be sure that you have a good dynamic range in your image.

tellinG A stoRY

Black and white has a classic photojournalistic feel to it and works perfectly on the street

Do you have any specific post-processing or Photoshop tips that you use for street photography? I often add some more contrast to my images – there is not much more I do in post-processing. People always think that post-processing makes a lot of difference to photographs but in my opinion can only improve a shot by five to ten per cent. If the basic content is missing, you cannot add it in. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start practising with this type of monochrome imagery? I think it’s important to decide either to only shoot in either black and white or colour. I believe that you cannot focus on both, as these are completely different. But don’t think that you get a better photograph just by converting it to black and white. It’s your personal decision and you should stick to it.

stReet VieW

Capturing people interacting on the street is possible when shooting discreetly from the hip

“Very often the best images have a degree of anonymity”

© Thomas Leuthard


Use urban locations and props to add something different to your images. The bus window works well to create a unique portrait here The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 43



The benefits of black & white We explore the hypnotic world of black-andwhite photography, talking to three high-profile photographers who are deemed experts in the art of conversion

Body portrait with veil

“Nowadays there is a lot of contamination among photographers, more than in the past, because people are copying what they see on the internet rather than creating their own style. In my work, I hope what is shown is my personal vision of a woman’s beauty” Shot details: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens at 35mm and f25, 1/250sec, ISO 200 © Gian Marco Marano

44 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

The benefits of black & white

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 45



© Guy Gagnon

CloudS diving (MonTreal CiTy)

“I don’t go anywhere without my MP3 player for listening to music while I work. The passion for music is strongly tied with my passion for photography. The songs directly influence the way I photograph, my moods and the way I interpret what I see in a given moment” Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 70mm lens at 24mm and f16, 1/500sec, ISO 320

8The Cherry river, Magog CiTy, Canada

“Landscapes look great in B&W, especially when they offer wonderful cloudy skies! When I convert a landscape into B&W, I feel like a painter who’s painting with his emotions. B&W landscape photography can emphasise that intimate connection with nature, outdoors and freedom” Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-70mm lens at 24mm and f8, 1/800sec, ISO 320

“Working in black and white makes me feel like a painter, not a photographer”


imeless, emotive, pure and modest: all adjectives that perfectly sum up the niche of black-and-white photography, while boasting some of the qualities that colour photography can lack. While we aren’t encouraging readers to permanently switch to shooting in black and white, this feature will illustrate the copious benefits of seeing the world through a metaphorical monochromatic lens. Whether it helps you to focus attention on composition or simply allows you to deepen your appreciation of light and shade, black-and-white photography can provide any level of photographer with an assorted array of new skills and techniques, boldly opening the door to an exciting realm of photographic exploration. Canadian-born, Belgium-residing Guy Gagnon (www. is one of the world’s fastest up-and-coming photographers, with top client credits that now include IKEA. Guy’s genre preference runs a wide gamut between nature abstracts and architecture – both of which he claims lend well to black-and-white photography. “By redirecting my passion to more accessible themes like architecture, urban and flowers, I have found a way to achieve harmony,” he says. “Architectural photography allows me to tame cities of iron and concrete and find a ‘charm’ within them. With my studio photography shooting plants and flowers, I can keep some

46 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

affiliation with nature. These two themes often recur in my work and complement each other: the cold, sharp aesthetics and straight lines of architecture are opposed by the delicacy, curves, sensitivity and poetry of nature. These themes have influenced me to switch to the world of black and white to accentuate this darker but more poetic theme.” Unlike most photographers, Guy’s photography is predominantly all black and white. He suggests the reason for this is because it allows him to think, and create, outside the box. “Black and white allows me to detach from the cliché ‘souvenir photo’ approach to photography,” he explains. “Working in black and white makes me feel like a painter, not a photographer. Shooting in this way allows me to focus my attention on the light and shade, textures, shapes and expressions. It’s really a matter of personal choice, but in my opinion black and white can lead to a more abstract reading of reality, which is arguably more demanding and more challenging to produce. Here, photographers cannot use flattering colours or coloured light to distract the eye. You cannot cheat in black and white.” When coming across a building, flower or landscape, Guy claims that he will assess the scene using specific criteria, to decipher whether it will later merit a black-and-white conversion. “I think to myself – does this scene have any

The benefits of black & white ©


How Guy Gagnon gets great black-and-whites Web: although reluctant to label himself as a fully-fledged ‘professional’, French canadian guy gagnon has racked up an impressive cV of photographic work. one of his many clients is Swedish furniture manufacturer ikea, which retails several of his black-and-white flower images in stores across the globe and can be sourced in the brand’s 2011 catalogue. based in belgium, guy earns his crust mostly through his day job in the office, but spends every other available minute pursuing his creative passion: photography. “if i could, i would switch my whole life to the world of photography,” guy exclaims. “but this universe is rather inaccessible to ordinary mortals. it is for the best, the real professionals, but also those who are lucky enough to be financially supported – having a foot well placed in this world also helps. however, i am still a passionate photographer, because i shoot with my emotions and my personality. This brings a sense of freedom as i have learned over the years that we must take pictures to please ourselves, and not take photos to please others.” For more information on guy and his work, please visit www.

1 Lower your ISO

when possible, maintain the lowest possible sensitivity (iSo) to minimise grain. it’s better to simulate the grain to your liking later.

2 Beware B&W

Never, ever shoot in black and white. Shoot in colour and keep the b&w conversion to the editing software.

3 Experiment

Play with your camera! Turn your camera on a different angle, play with perspectives and point of views. Play with the horizontal and vertical distortion of a wide-angle lens to add dynamic movement.

4 Exploit grey days

Shoot during grey days! Use a polariser to improve your sky and to reduce bad reflections, and do not forget to increase your exposure.

5 Don’t be lazy

Don’t convert your picture in b&w with Photoshop>grayscale or you will get a grey and bland image, without flavour or life. Take your time to use the many more imaginative methods.

power to evoke an emotion or story? Is the quality and nature of light interesting, and does it create any shadows or areas of light? Does it challenge the rules of compositions and offer something new? For me, what makes an artistic black-and-white photograph above all is the approach: trying to show something slightly more than what is there in reality.” Keen to offer readers advice, Guy suggests tips on sourcing a subject: “Where you find opposites, juxtapositions or complementarities, you will find good black-and-white subjects. It is important not to overload a scene with information – instead, simply focus on one part of the frame. Although black and white reduces disturbing coloured elements, it can also complicate the ‘reading’ of the image when overloaded with details and information. Look for contrasts, textures, shapes, curves and graphics, and remember that light and shadows add to the poetry of the piece.” As well as detailing what elements to actively seek out, the Canadian was keen to explain what aspects should be avoided: “Situations where the sunlight creates areas that are overexposed should be avoided, and the detail will be unrecoverable. Black-and-white overexposed areas will only create white spots without any texture on your picture, rendering it practically useless. Faced with this situation I use one of two solutions: I simply underexpose slightly, or I

The Tree SISTerS

“I enjoy photographing flowers and plants in my improvised studio at home, but I don’t find enough varied or unusual plants in my immediate environment. Shooting flowers and plants forces me to take my time, to work peacefully” Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-70mm lens at 50mm and f16, 0.8sec, ISO 250 © Guy Gagnon

© Guy Gagnon

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 47

Techniques © Guy Gagnon

© Guy Gagnon

© Guy Gagnon


“Any genre and topic is good for photography in B&W. Even the nose of your favourite dog or the metal drum of your washing machine! It just depends on how you perceive and compose the picture. The potential of a subject depends on your way of seeing the subject, your sensitivity and your interpretation” shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-70mm lens at 70mm and f4, 1/160sec, ISO 1600

sTory of lighTs

“There is nothing better than natural light. Spending hours adjusting the lighting of a studio bulb for a few mins of shooting is something I’ll never appreciate” shot details: Canon EOS 20D with 24-70mm lens at 27mm and f7, 1/1600sec, ISO 400

The Wolubilis (brussels ciTy)

“A large building may appear repulsive if viewed from afar, so only concentrate on parts of the buildings. From a closer perspective, you’ll discover prettier elements. Don’t condemn the subject without taking the time to analyse it from all angles” shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-70mm lens at 67mm and f9, 1/640sec, ISO 200

create a high dynamic range image later. A problem that will concern landscape photographers will be the improper use of a polariser. In landscape photography, the polarising filter deepens blue skies, reduces contrast and cuts out glare from reflections. However, if you want to convert it into black and white, using a polariser can hinder your results, as it ‘eats’ light and will make many areas of your image too dark. It is much better, therefore, to use an ND grad filter and exposure for the entire frame correctly.” Despite his penchant for monochrome, Guy claims that he always shoots in colour but forces himself to think in black and white. “It comes with a lot of practise, but when I shoot urban architecture and cityscapes I concentrate on the composition, pay particular attention to the levels of grey and consider the light composition.” When presented with a colour-clad scene it can be tempting to refrain from erasing the scene of its obvious vivacity, but this pro is of the opinion that a colourful and contrasting scene can offer much more opportunity when converted into black and white. “Experience will show you what colours work best in black and white, but a wide range of shades and hues can offer so much interest in this way.” In terms of technique, Guy refuses to go below 1/500sec and instead prefers to ramp up the ISO to combat shake,

48 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

sometimes to sensitivities as high as ISO 1600. “I find image blur very frustrating, but luckily I have a Canon EOS 5D Mark II which deals with noise very well,” he explains. “In landscape and architecture photography I almost exclusively use an aperture of f8, except when I want to play with depth of field and employ a Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L USM lens. For portraits, I shoot at f2.8 to f5.6 to get a nice bokeh effect and use my Canon 85mm f1.2 L USM. Finally, for photographing flowers I usually shoot around f16, or sometimes f22, and choose to use either a Canon 100mm f2.8 USM or Canon 50mm f1.4 USM lens. Both are sharp as a tack, and perfect for drawing out details.” After shooting his frames in colour, Guy retreats to his editing studio where he converts the chosen RAW files into 16-bit TIFFs. “Recently I tried the new Adobe Camera CS5, which convinced me to make the switch. First I perfect the white balance and then recover any details lost in over- or underexposed zones. Later in Photoshop, I do some minor colour and contrast corrections and reduce the noise when required. I save a final copy of the full-colour version of the picture, under 8 bits and from my 16-bit version, then convert it into black and white with the use of layers made from colour channels. The moment you convert it is the long-awaited moment when the image is revealed to you – it reveals its

The benefits of black & white

Wedding Outfit

“A bridal fashion shoot, shot on location and lit by flash with no softbox, so the light has intensity. I had cardboard and gaffer tape to create some unusual light control and worked with the model to create this relaxed shot” Shot details: Nikon D3X with 70-200mm lens at 150mm and f11, 1/30sec, ISO 200 © James Nader

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 49


© James Nader

After the PArty

© James Nader

“This picture is from one of my stories for a magazine that was doing a feature on the autumn/winter party season clothing. We were on location at Weston Park in Shropshire, which is beautifully preserved and full of antiques. We all thought the floor was striking and wanted a shot to capture it. We added the hat fascinator as an added item of interest. The original image was a colour version, but I liked it in black and white. It is difficult to find good editorial models outside of London, but this girl, Hollie, was great and had enough quirkiness for the shoot” Shot details: Nikon D3 with 70-200mm lens at 85mm and f2.8, 1/15sec, ISO 400

50 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

© James Nader

The benefits of black & white

“I will always have an idea when shooting a picture if it will work in black and white”

TraSh The dreSS

“I love this image for its beauty against the old beauty of the Victorian pier. I thrive on creating extraordinary lighting that just makes you think about what’s going on. I’d brought the Bowens battery travel pack with me – it works well, as I’ve overexposed the background for drama” Shot details: Nikon D3X with 70-200mm lens at 70mm and f11, 1/30sec, ISO 400

MenSWear clIenT

“This was shot as part of a menswear Steel and Jelly marketing brief. The location was another classic house, which was lit by continuous lighting or tungsten. It was an in-between shot and the model was relaxing” Shot details: Nikon D3X with 70-200mm lens at 80mm and f2.8, 1/15sec, ISO 400

secrets, its strength and character. From these layers, I remove unwanted sections and I only keep the detailed parts. I play with dodging and burning tools, but I also adjust the light and contrast to my taste from the layer masks. When I’m done I will convert the final picture into an 8-bit file and save it. This is the version of the image I want and enjoy. Stripped of its colour, the picture becomes more pure. The coloured elements that caused discord in the photo now become harmonious in black and white. By paying attention to improving the shadows, density and light, we reduce the presence of disturbing factors in favour of a more evocative or poetic scene. For me, converting a colour photo to a black and white is like dipping a film negative in the developer liquid and discovering the final image.” Famed for his quirky edge within the fashion industry, James Nader (, www. has been shooting for over twenty years. Because of his history with film photography, James believes he has a secret weapon for capturing black-andwhite images. “I come from the traditional darkroom of old, with fixers, films times and prints. Although I now work with digital cameras, the skills never leave you. Having the understanding of what is needed in the picture is not always down to levels, curves or black-and-white filters. It is more deeply rooted in traditional understanding of tonal ranges and subtle details of the finished picture. I was always in the darkroom working towards a picture from my own black-andwhite processed film. I was inspired by the classic film star photographers such as Sinclair Bull – I managed to see one exhibition about his work, and that was it. Black and white was how I started to see things. I developed my lighting style based on how he lit, and this is why my lighting works so well. It just works with black and white. I even emulate the softness in some of my shots.” Working in the fashion industry, colour is obviously an essential component of James’s work; however, the Brit opines that harnessing the simplicity of the black-and-white medium can lend itself for more creative and challenging compositions. “The best part of shooting black and white for me is how it makes me feel about the image. It makes me think about the shot a little more and therefore employ a greater degree of concentration. With colour you can tell if it is working almost the right way in terms of how the colours are working together, but in black and white you have to think deeper. Although my colour work is often quite saturated and intense for fashion, I think the simplicity of shooting in black and white is appealing. It makes the image a lot more simple and balanced and you tend to focus on the composition more. Shading and tonal ranges are your colour palette and you need to understand how colours actually work in black and white.” Choosing a subject matter – or, in James’s case, a model and scenery – which will transcend richly into black and white can be half the battle. James shares his tactics for knowing which attributes to look for. “I will always have an idea when shooting a picture if it will work in black and white. You have to just know it will work, but as a guide it tends to be when I am using low light or am on location, for example shooting a story or portraits on location in a hotel room. For portrait fashion work I love how it can bring the image down to a level that exudes a classic feel.” James confesses to predominantly using a Nikon D3X with 70-200mm 2.8 Nikkor VR lens to capture his fashion-focused frames, but also carries a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8, Nikon 85mm 1.4, Sigma 105mm 2.8, Macbook Pro 17”, iPad, iPhone, Sony


James Nader on how to get the best B&Ws Web: www.naderphotography., with a whopping two decades of experience under his professional belt, James Nader is a cutting-edge fashion and beauty photographer who has notoriously achieved widespread praise for his quirky yet classy style. “i would not do anything else now – i love how and where i work, and still look for great clients. The main thing about what i do now is that i work for people i get on with, and my work is all about my style and how i see things. it may not be everyone’s fashion taste, but it is mine, and the clients who use me like the quirkiness of my work, especially my lighting.” commencing from 2011, James will be running a series of masterclasses, revealing how to use location lighting with models and the razorbrush retouching technique. “This will be an in-depth resource with video pay-per-view, featuring downloads, location practical courses and ‘learn with James’ fashion shoots.” For more information on these workshops, or to register your interest, visit

1 Be interesting

if you are trying to sell b&w images, be prepared for a hard slog. Make it interesting, wild and wonderful. if not, just keep it real!

2 Research

Seek out knowledge of black and white online – reference the masters and see how they did it.

3 Shade and light

get in the studio and set up something, or go outdoors and do the same but try lighting with flash or available light and understand how it affects your black-and-white images.

4 Careful with contrast

be careful with contrast – it’s easy to use the brightness and contrast in Photoshop for a quick fix, but experiment with the photo filters and settings.

5 Old school

if you have access to a traditional black-and-white film camera, give it a go! Try it with some filters and see the results in print. it will help you to understand the new darkroom.

digital camera for HD video, LaCie 500GB rugged hard drive and even has access to a Hasselblad when higher-res files are demanded. “I prefer not to use larger cards, as it takes a while to copy across to hard drive, and I sometimes use this as a way to re-group away from the clients, so I opt for various 4GB memory cards,” he confides. “I have my own lighting kit which is both Elinchrom studio/Bowens. At the moment Bowens sponsors my equipment, so most of my shots are taken on Bowens, but I do use Profoto too.” James starts his sessions with a light reading that gives him f11 at ISO 200. “I don’t know why but this really is my signature light reading, in continuous or film lighting it will be more like an f4 and ISO 400 plus. I do tend to use my ISO to push or pull the contrast of the image, as it gives me rich tones that are also punchy. As I am using slower shutter speeds, I need a tripod. The lower light and timed exposure allows more information to be built up in the shot, and ensures a richer image both in colour or black and white.” When shooting a frame that he knows is destined to become black and white, James says he will make sure there The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 51

© Gian Marco Marano

Techniques FIVE TOP TIPS

Gian Marco Marano on what to consider Italian-born and bred Gian Marco Marano has been a professional shooter for just over five years, but says he has always had a passion for photography. “My father gave me my first camera – a Ricoh 500G – when I was six, and since then I can say I’ve always been involved in photography. In the Nineties I directed my attention to figure studies as I’ve always been attracted by fine-art nudes. I remember I participated in a glamour and artistic-nude workshop and then I started to develop my first own projects, reading a lot and learning selftaught. In the last few years I have concentrated mainly on dance and fine-art photography. I know it sounds obvious, but I think that if you really want something, you have to take your chances to get it. I feel as though I have just started along this creative path, but it gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that I want to explore it deeper, creating images that I am proud of and I hope will be appreciated by other people.” If you are a fan of Gian’s work, view his dazzling portfolio at www.gianmarcomarano. com, where a beautiful range of fine-art prints are listed for sale.

1 Learn from the masters

look to the works of the masters of photography as well as to the other photographers in order to learn techniques, find inspiration and develop your personal taste.

2 Subject matters

be sure that the subject you choose is right for black and white in terms of lighting, contrast and tones.

3 Experiment

keep experimenting with editing until you find the black-and-white conversion technique that suits your tastes, keeping in mind that simplicity is often better.

4 Shooting focus

when shooting, focus on the results you want to obtain and try to find a way of getting it.

5 Details count

once you’ve learnt the basics, concentrate on the details – it’s what makes the difference.


“I’ve always liked women’s grace, and I try to represent it as best as I can in my work. Over the years I pursued my vision of women’s beauty from my first ‘model books’ to my last works, with more and more awareness of what I want and how to get it” Shot details: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens at 32mm and f18, 1/250sec, ISO 200


“Shooting in black and white means mainly dealing with light and shadows, and as a rule of thumb highcontrasted subjects work very well for creating blackand-white images. I always shoot at the lowest ISO my camera allows, at 250 sync and in a range of stops, usually from f11 to f22-25” Shot details: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens at 32mm and f22, 1/250sec, ISO 200

“Black and white doesn’t copy the reality, but represents it with its own language” is enough detail in the highlights and in the shadows, and ensure there is enough light in the eyes to really punch energy into the shot. “Some type of reflection will do the trick; if you don’t have a light there, the eyes will look dark and lifeless.” Offering advice, he continues: “Try to make sure shadows have some contrast but aren’t too dark. If you are using harsher light, try to use white reflection and not silver, as this works better on the skin. Don’t hold it too close – good shots often have reflection, but just enough to pick out some detail in the shadowy areas.” Post-shoot, James heads straight into the digital darkroom to create his monochromatic masterpieces: “I sometimes use Capture One, but recently have started using Lightroom, as I love the way it does a whole range of different processes and allows you to create great online galleries. Photoshop is my digital darkroom and I will use this as much as possible to control and enhance certain pictures. I make little tweaks to the levels, brightness, contrast, curves and do a final sharpen at the required size before saving. My advice is to not desaturate your images, as you will lose much of the information in the image. Use the filters within Elements or Photoshop to control the image and get the best out of it.” To

52 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

read more about James Nadar, his career and thoughts on the monochrome genre turn to page 38. Passionate as much about fine-art photography as he is the female form, Italian Gian Marco Marano (www. has become a connoisseur in the ways of black-and-white photography. Specialising in artistic nudes, Gian is currently creating a portfolio featuring dance and contortion. “The special factor about black-and-white photography is that it doesn’t just copy the reality, but it represents it with its own language,” the pro photographer explains. “When I shoot a photo I already know if the final image will be black and white or colour – it’s a matter of what expressive language you want for that project. Of course, some images are more suitable for black and white, especially high-contrasted images.” Preferring a minimalist approach when it comes to kit, Gian mainly utilises one camera and one lens for his nude studio shoots. “Some people are surprised when I tell them that most of my studio work is captured with a Nikon D300 and an 18200mm VR Nikkor lens. But you have to consider that when working with powerful studio flashes you have all the light you need, and this means that you can use your camera at the

© Gian Marco Marano

The benefits of black & white

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 53

© Gian Marco Marano



“The special factor about black-and-white photography is that it doesn’t just copy the reality, but it represents it with its own language. When I shoot a photo I already know if the final image will be black and white or colour; it’s a matter of what expressive language you want for that project” Shot details: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens at 28mm and f16, 1/250sec, ISO 200

lowest ISO. The lens can be set to a medium aperture, where it works better.” In case he changes his mind, the pro also carries an AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G, AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8G IF-ED, AF-S Nikkor 28-70mm f2.8, Manfrotto tripod 055 XB with spherical head 322 RC2, four Bowens Gemini 1000Ws with accessories and a Gossen Luna Pro-X exposure meter. “I always use an exposure meter for all my studio and most of outdoor and location works, but reaching the exposure that suits your taste is often a matter of trial and error – and something you may have to experiment with to perfect. My personal taste for my figure studies is to overexpose the outline of the body a little, in order to emphasise the body


Make sure you don’t forget about black-andwhite landscapes. A well-thought-out monochrome conversion can add another dimension to any simple image 54 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

form. Other than that I don’t employ any special techniques with my accessories; I simply try to master them as best as I can in order to realise what I have in my mind. Shooting in black and white means mainly dealing with light and shadows, and as a rule of thumb high-contrasted subjects work very well for black-and-white images.” One of Gian’s biggest grumbles is inadequate calibration, a factor he says can potentially ruin a perfect photo. “Often people spend lot of money buying high-end equipment, but they do the editing part on non-calibrated monitors. I think that a calibrating device in the ‘Photoshop era’ is essential if you want to obtain reliable results – not only for colour photography, but for black-and-white imagery too, as you may want to add tonal effects.” After a shoot Gian loads his images, which have been captured as RAW files, into Nikon’s Capture NX 2, where he saves the frames as 16-bit TIFFs and opens them in Photoshop. “I know it will sound like obvious advice, but the best tip about editing I would give is to do the best you can at the shooting stage in terms of lighting, exposure, correct focal length, aperture and shutter speed, etc. A good original image will need only very basic editing work, whereas a bad picture will need hours of editing work in order to become just acceptable.” There are several methods to transform a shot into black and white, with each photographer preferring to do something different. “Conversion is one of the big topics you have to deal with when making digital black-and-white images,” Gian explains. “Before finding my favourite black-and-white conversion method I experimented a great deal. Nowadays I find Photoshop’s built-in conversion method very powerful. It gives you lot of control, although the ‘automatic’ function works fine as well. Most of my black-and-white body portraits are made by mixing a Photoshop black-and-white built-in conversion layer with a personalised duotone layer.” But what does Gian think are the most crucial elements for strong black-and-white photography? “Good lighting, effective digital conversion and image enhancement,” he replies. “Again, choose contrasted subjects, with a lot of light and shadows, find a conversion that suits your taste and try to enhance the image by adding some contrast.” As a final thought, Gian summarises: “With black-and-white photography, what you have to say counts more than the way you say it.”

The benefits of black & white

Inspiration... JOhn BairD

“This shot was taken in Canterbury during the summer, originally shot in colour but converted to black and white using CS4 and Photomatix Pro by using HDR to give it more texture and contrast. I used a single shot to create three images at different values, from +2.0 to -2.0 ev” Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 4-70mm lens at 35mm and f8, 1/250sec, ISO 100 DP gallery address: www. John Baird

rOn SuttOn

“This shows the Red Arrows at the Southport Air Show in 2007. The position of the light caused the planes to be partly in silhouette, so I thought black and white would be a good option. The curve of the smoke trails adds a little something extra to the image” Shot details: Sony A100 with 17-70mm lens at 70mm and f8, 1/500sec, ISO 100 DP gallery address: www. RonSutton

© John Baird

© Ron Sutton

Patrick Ong

© Patrick Ong

“A stormy and cloudy day at Pangasinan, Philippines” Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 17-40mm lens at 20mm and f16, 49sec, ISO 50 DP gallery address: www. Patrick_Ong

Oliver geiDel

“Some of the most iconic London landmarks. People were feeding the birds, causing them to frenzy” Shot details: Nikon D90 with 18-105mm lens at 45mm and f8, 1/400sec, ISO 400 DP gallery address: www. bigbadpumpkin © Oliver Geidel

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 55



“Here I tried to engage with the sorrowful feeling that the model portrays. The intensity of the eyes engages with the viewer. The skin was retouched and cleaned in Photoshop, but in a non-destructive way so the skin remains natural” shot details: Hasselblad H4D-40 with 200mm lens at f6.8, 1/250sec, ISO 100 56 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Perfect portraits

Perfect portraits Expert advice for taking black-and-white portraits

Lord of the Manor

“Editorial shoot based around the young Lord of the manor and shot on location in the rain using Profoto battery lighting. It was very windy, but I used the wind to create a little more drama to the shot by waiting for the right moment for the wind to blow his hair and lift the scarf. One light was used to illuminate the trees in the background” Shot details: Nikon D3 with 70-200mm lens at f4, 1/30sec, ISO 400

© All images in this feature are copyright James Nader

James refuses to allow the confines of his surroundings to inhibit his creativity. “My real passion is for the composite image, which is photography and artwork combined. I have been a traditional photographer through and through, learning from film, but slowly Photoshop has unleashed a whole gamut of possibilities for me.” A glance at his online portfolio reveals a talent for editorial photomontage work, be it a backdrop so surreal it would have brought a smile to Salvador Dali’s lips, or a striking Sin City-style world. “More and more people are looking at this work and starting to realise a simple shoot in a white studio can be a cost-effective solution when I weave the Photoshop magic,” he comments. It is clear from James’s black-and-white photography work that he is strongly influenced by the Forties film noir period. Low-key images and retro-themed shoots add to a fun and diverse book of work. “I tend to observe what is happening, but my true fashion idols would be Peter Lindbergh, Albert Watson, Patrick Demarchelier and of course Bob Carlos Clarke,” he proclaims. “I learned much of my lighting techniques from



he fashion industry has so many aspiring models and photographers wanting to shoot them that many hopefuls are left outside the party. Londonbased editorial photographer James Nader is one of the few that have made it through the door, catching the eyes of big names like Sony BMG and Umberto Gianni. He’s recently completed a stint on Channel 4’s How To Look Good Naked, photographing the fashion victims of the eccentric presenter Gok Wan, and he was even short-listed by Virgin Media to shoot Britain’s Next Top Model. So what makes this contemporary artist stand out from the masses? “I shoot editorial fashion work with a slightly quirky edge,” says James. “There are too many photographers battling for the same fashion work and all exhibiting the same style. I enjoy the idea of creating pictures that have more of a story about them and not just a documentary shot depicting a moment.” His work characteristically retains a stylish simplicity with backdrops that hint at a narrative, such as a lift, a stately home or a grand staircase.

MaLe GrooMinG toMaS

“This was shot on location at a Shropshire stately home for a range of photographs to be used for a menswear company. I wanted to create the mood of a relaxed young Lord who was confident and relaxed in his choice of menswear. This shot was lit by the modelling light only on a Bowens Gemini 500” Shot details: Nikon D3 with 70-200mm lens at f5.6mm, 1/15sec, ISO 800

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 57


“My main motivation is trying to be one of the best in the UK and to build a great range of clients who appreciate my work” Fashionable Wedding

“This shot was part of an editorial collection for a magazine; however since then I have allowed the picture to be used under license to a wedding brand called Fashionable Weddings. I shoot some of their editorials four times a year. The shot was completely lit by a single red head and a timed exposure. It is important that the model keeps still for that fraction of a second and that the photographer calls it” shot details: Nikon D3 with 24-70mm lens at 60mm and f2.8, 1/8sec, ISO 400

8in a liFt


“I was shooting in and around the streets of Manchester and by accident found this lift in a street next to a car park. I asked the model to get inside the lift to try out some shots. The inside was quite dingy but I had my on-camera Nikon flash and used it to fill and slightly overexpose the foreground. The camera was set to a higher ISO to clean up the skin tones and create a little more contrast and interest to the shot. She was leaning against the stainless steel panels and right away we found the shot which worked” shot details: Nikon D3 with 80-200mm lens at f8, 1/30sec, ISO 400

film pictures and portrait masters from the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’, like Clarence Sinclair Bull. A lot of my fashion shots you see online are created using film lighting and not flash.” It is not surprising to learn that James’s penchant for monochrome is its inherent directness: “I love the contrasts and the atmosphere it conveys. Sometimes colour can confuse how things look with too many distractions,” he says. “I enjoy using black and white when creating fashion images and portraits as it tends to isolate the model. When shooting black and white, it makes you think differently. Your mindset has to change from colour and you have to think in monochrome. I don’t think just taking a shot and then simply converting it is the way forward, as not all shots are suitable. If you shoot in an environment that has many of the black and white filter colours, such as yellow, oranges and red, sometimes converting them may not work as the skin can change. I used to shoot black and white with either a red or yellow filter, as red is a good way to create great skin and dark skies on a sunny day.” As his work is a mixed palette of colour and monochrome works, what is the deciding factor? “I normally choose whether a shot is going to be monochrome in advance, but will always shoot colour for the maximum rendition of tones and then use

58 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

non-destructive techniques to render into black and white,” he reveals. In order to develop creative concepts, James takes advantage of the internet: “The access and storage is much more convenient than magazines to build references. I think the best way to represent a model in their best light is to really pick the person well for the shoot in question. If they are animated and can buy into what you are about on the day, then this will allow for great interaction. If they don’t, never raise your voice or be too intense, as this will make them shut down all creative input and the shoot will go flat,” he warns. James credits this ability to work well with a model to capturing the winning shot: “I don’t always accept the pose they offer and will more than likely want them to push it more,” he shares. While many get distracted by the model’s expression or pose, James is also taking note of the position of their hands, wanting them to appear soft and at ease. As for the face, he aims to emulate the work of master painters by capturing the model in a candid moment of thought, to create a timeless image. “I tend to control all of my shots with my light source. This really works for me as I have an individual style and one of the key elements is my handle on light and how I let it interact with the subject.” James veers away from shots that are flooded with

Perfect portraits

light sources, and his top tip is to make what is available work for you instead. Confident in his ability to read light levels, he rarely relies on a meter and tends to use ISO settings to enhance skin tones. Favouring heavy contrast, he works in RAW so that this can be compensated for in post-production. James doesn’t relinquish the manipulation of images to a third party, choosing to carry out all post-production work himself. “I am an intense user of Photoshop and use it to a high level to create my photo composite images. I therefore do all of my retouching, post-production and photo composition,’ he says. “I shoot all images either on card or tethered and on location I have a Nikon wireless setup.” James shoots into a MacBook Pro with 17-inch monitor and 4GB RAM, but all the editing is done on a 24-inch iMac. “I have an A4 Wacom pad for all retouching work and I work with Photoshop for all retouching and optimising of images. I also have Lightroom to collate images and provide clients with a custom online gallery. Then they are uploaded via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to my server and the link is sent to clients.” Once the client has made the final selection, the images are sent via FTP for them to download, so he often doesn’t meet with them again after the shoot. The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 59



spAce Age

Incidentally, the 21st-Century fashion photographer’s favourite types of genres are high-end editorials and advertising work for luxury items like beauty products, jewellery and perfume. But does he have a favourite image to go with it? “My mind flips from liking to not liking my work very quickly,” he admits. “I have a short attention span and believe this is due to the way we use the digital technology. It is quick and efficient but also dismissed readily and therefore easily deleted. I will lose interest in an image rapidly, especially if it is one that I have spent too much time on. This is the case with my site at the moment, and I would love to replace all of the images on there. I suppose I am always trying to create my perfect image and I don’t feel that I have achieved this yet.” James has always been his own boss and began his own interactive agency specialising in photographic screensavers before indulging in photography full-time. This knowledge of technology has served him well in building a name in the business: “In the last two years I have not had a trip abroad

but have focused on my brand,” he says, demonstrating his commitment to becoming the best. His online reputation has become so advanced as a result of this persistence that you will see his name appear first in a Google search for ‘Fashion Photographer’. So what is it he enjoys about this often-stressful industry, where it can be such a struggle to make yourself known? “I love the variety, the ease and the flexibility at which I can work. Clients are now worldwide and this gives me a thrill; I am motivated by creating great images and working within Photoshop. My main motivation is trying to be one of the best in the UK and to build a great range of clients who appreciate my work.” He advises anyone looking to break into the fashion photography world to have a good action plan. “I have at any one time hundreds of emails from would-be hopefuls and assistants wanting placements, work experience, etc, but I simply can’t deal with them all. It simply isn’t good enough writing a simple email and firing it off to me or anyone else to get work as we


“Part of a set of editorial images which used all things plastic – the eyelashes and wig here. I love to create the impression that the model is so far removed from the photographic session and deep in thought. This is the same technique used by the master painters and can create a long-lasting and beautiful photograph when used with a very simple lighting setup. In this shot, the model is completely lit by only two lights and the shadows controlled by the light shades” shot details: Nikon D3 with 24-70mm lens at f2.8, 1/15sec, ISO 800

“Sometimes colour can confuse how things look, with too many distractions”

A FAshionAble Wedding

“This was shot for Fashionable Weddings to create an editorial feel to the wedding market. I shoot a range of shots for them and for the dress retailer. I wanted to create some movement to the dress and the shot without moving the model. The light source here was a single bulb from the modelling light on the Bowens Gemini. This is not a strong source but, with a good low-light digital camera such as the Nikon D3, you can get a very acceptable low-light shot” shot details: Nikon D3 with 70-200mm lens at f2.8, 1/15sec, ISO 1600

60 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Perfect portraits RetRo fifties

“This project was a personal one. The objective was ‘light and form’ and the emulation of images seen in branding from the Fifties. I love the effect the Tungsten lighting has on the skin. The great Hollywood masters used this effectively as this was the only light form available at the time; however my lighting pedigree has always come from this light source. I also tend to let the shot be a little soft to emulate the lens qualities available” shot details: Nikon D3 with 70-200mm lens at f4, 1/15sec, ISO 800

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 61



“This shot was for a silk company who supply printed silks to some very well-known brands. The exercise was to create pieces that would stand out in its marketing materials, and so conventional advertising photography was not the route the company wanted. I was commissioned to create six pieces that were all post-produced composite images which individually tell a story. I composed this image from over 35 separate images in Photoshop to complete the final piece” shot details: Hasselblad H4D-40 with 35-90mm lens at 90mm and f10, 1/250sec, ISO 100 62 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Perfect portraits

“I think people believe it is easy to be a fashion photographer, but it really isn’t” are all busy trying to make a living,” he says candidly. “The best way is to work on a portfolio, either out of college if you have a flair for photography, or in college via a foundation or degree in photography. Whilst the degree is only part of what you will need, the real way forward is to format a great creative portfolio with interesting work and challenging projects showing use of camera, light, dealing with models and how you put the shot together afterwards in post. I think people believe it is easy to be a fashion photographer by some of the comments I receive, but it really isn’t. There are just too many people out there doing the same thing and with the introduction of better cameras and equipment it has become a very accessible subject.” As a child, James was fascinated by his father’s camera and how he would disappear into a darkened room and emerge with pictures of family life. “I had forgotten about this and was accepted on a Foundation course at Wolverhampton Poly, as it was called in those days, and completed a whole year there,” he recalls. The course encompassed everything from photography and composition, to lithography and typography, but it was a week-long educational assignment that triggered his photographic interest: “I decided not to go to France and stay and save my grant for other things, so I was given a photography project to work on. Even though I had shown an interest in photography, I had not really done any proper shoots and so I was completely thrown in at the deep end. It was given as a form of punishment for not wanting to go to France, but it was while working on the project that I did some shots of my girlfriend at the time, and they turned out well. It was the positive feedback from fellow students that really encouraged me to pursue photography.” James’s photographic arsenal began with a Nikon CoolPix three-megapixel camera and a Bronica ETRS. “I remember my very first shoot with it,” he recalls. “I was with a client and photographing a very simple shot and out popped the camera. I had been praising the digital revolution and saying how this new camera would be great for the shoot.” It seems the client, on the other hand, was less than enthusiastic: “They were so surprised when I brought out the camera, thinking it was the light meter or on-camera flash as it was so small! We did the shot, but I nearly lost face at the time. I now embrace the digital revolution because of its liberating feel. Quick to work, quick to get an opinion, cheaper if you process your own images for clients and no time in the darkroom.” His equipment has since advanced to a Hasselblad H4D-40 and a Nikon D3, which he is currently putting to good use on a project for a client in Germany, involving exotic props and a whole host of models, he hints. “I am looking at creating 12 pieces of photo art at 80 x 60 inches for art galleries, and so it will be classed as fine art.” James is happy if this is the start of more commissions abroad: “I would love to work in Los Angeles and of course New York, and possibly even Paris,” he enthuses. “They all have a variation in how they work and whom they work with, so it would be great to do this in the future.”

8Candy Floss

“It is important to make sure that the model engages with the viewer. I was searching for a more quirky or edgy shot for my agent in London, and this was her choice. While working the shoot it was important that the model’s figure and hands were soft and delicate, and not interfering with the overall shot itself. Sometimes in pictures the hands can look awkward, but Holly is a professional and knows how to use shapes that fit” shot details: Hasselblad H4D-40 with 35-90mm lens at 70mm and f1, 1/250sec, ISO 100 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 63


Shoot stunning landscapes Discover the shape and form of the land through the black and white image


“One of the first photographs I took after turning pro is a simple composition of a wooden jetty with some wooden posts either side. I took the photograph on a still, misty December morning not far from my home in France, and at once realised that I was getting close to the style of photography that I was looking to produce – simple, uncluttered, peaceful and calm” Shot details: Nikon D2Xs at 28mm and f10, 10sec, ISO 100 © Jonathan Chritchley


Stunning landscapes


racing back through the history of photography, even as far back to the origins of its invention, the black and white landscape image has had a powerful and significant presence in the medium. 19th-Century figures such as William Henry Fox Talbot (the inventor of the negative/positive process) and Roger Fenton (the first war photographer who documented the Crimean war in the 1850s) both depicted the landscape through their own techniques using the black and white process. Later in the early 20th Century, a major figure to emerge into the genre was the great Ansel Adams. Many still today regard his technically faultless photographs as some of the greatest black and white landscape images ever taken. His eye for composition and his knowledge of exposure complemented with his postproduction darkroom techniques meant he was able to produce breath-taking images throughout his lifetime. His favourite location was Yosemite Valley in California and it was in was in this spot that he made some of his best images. For any keen black-and-white landscape photographer Ansel Adams is an inspirational figure, and for those wanting to learn about his zone system, this technique will greatly strengthen your practice. Even if you don’t use this technique in the field, it is a key aspect to be aware of. Although the traditional technique of the negative/positive process will always hold a key relationship with the black and white landscape image moving forward into the 21st Century, digital technology has seen many enthusiasts and professionals dabble in the medium and take on their own interpretations of the genre. Photography has expanded, as more and more high-quality digital cameras become accessible to the masses. Digital equipment is now cheaper, lighter and higher quality than it has ever been before, meaning many budding photographers are venturing out into the great outdoors to produce their own stunning landscape images. Landscape photography appears to be one of the most popular genres of photography, as it can be a therapeutic and rewarding experience for many when taking the images, whether professional or not. One contemporary digital professional photographer from the black and white genre is Keith Cooper. Keith is an architectural, industrial and landscape photographer from Leicester who has a great passion for the monochrome image. “Black and white images of a scene seem to encapsulate more personal meaning to me and capture what the surrounding atmosphere feels like at that moment. I have some great colour shots as well, but it’s the black and white ones, more often than not, that resonate.” He continues, “In some ways I also identify with black and white with ‘structure’, as it reflects the underlying scaffolding that makes up the world. Of course that could just be because as an ex-geologist, I view the landscape as a whole, including what’s below the surface.” Keith moved to the digital medium in 2004. He describes the transition from film: “The biggest change in black and white photography was re-learning about exposure. The immediacy of digital means that you really can experiment and quickly learn how different lighting affects your camera metering and your choices in exposure.” And in digital black and white photography, exposure is a key area to understand. The correct exposure value can be difficult to measure due to the dynamic range in the highlights and shadows. Digital photography is less forgiving than film and once a highlight is blown, there is no rescuing it. However, apparatus such as histograms make it much easier in the field to measure the light, and even being able to preview images on the LCD screen is an advantage. Keith uses his own techniques and methods to achieve a correct exposure, as he explains, “It will come as no great surprise that I’ve never been one for methodical approaches such as the zone system for exposure. I’ll try and get the important parts of the image out of deep shadow, but always with an eye as to what might be clipping highlights. I find it important to distinguish between clipped highlights that are okay, such as some reflection on water, The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 65



Viaduct – John o’ Gaunt, Leicestershire, uK

“Part of a set of prints for a local country estate, the disused viaduct is not usually seen at this angle. Although I could have used camera movements (lens shift) to give a ‘correct’ perspective, this view with a 14mm lens is much more active with the strong sloping lines” shot details: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III at 14mm and f7.1, 1/160sec, ISO 100 © Keith Cooper

and those where it’s not okay, such as parts of clouds, when cloud structure is going to be an important textural element in the image. Histogram displays are better now, but it’s important to appreciate that they are only a guide and require some practise to interpret.” Keith makes a valid point here as the structure of a cloud formation – particularly in a black and white image – can play a crucial part in holding a composition together. In the monochrome medium, if used in the wrong context, a clear sky will record as a big block of grey, which will appear very dull. Sourcing textures in the land and sky to complement each other will produce effective images and connect the elements. Keith informs us of his next trip to take some dramatic weather images: “I’m going to the Pacific north-west (Oregon/Washington) in the autumn – an area renowned for rain and changeable weather. For black and white photography, bad weather is much more interesting than clear blue skies.” Another contemporary black and white landscape photographer in the industry is Jonathan Chritchley. Originally from the UK and now living in Biarritz, in the south of France, Jonathan conducts his practice from this idyllic location. He finds it is a great place to be based, as he has easy access to some great and diverse settings locally as well as internationally. Jonathan studied for a year doing an HND in Photography at Poole Art College in the UK, but got bored of the constant studio work which he describes as being: “As exciting as a lettuce!”, so he left to become a photographic assistant to a marine photographer. After several career detours he started his own company in 2006 and has never looked back. Jonathan was inspired to become a photographer after watching the film The Big Blue by French director Luc Besson, as he explains: “He is an exceptional cinematographer and the first ten minutes of the film, shot in black and white in the Greek Islands, was a turning point for me. It is probably the greatest influence on my career to date, and that, along with the nautical photography of Beken of Cowes and others from the Twenties and Thirties, is what has helped define my photography.” Jonathan’s inspirations and concepts further come from a variety of resources that can be seen throughout his work, as he describes: “I think that each location provides its own clues and ideas. I like to think that I can adapt quickly to conditions and locations and come up with unique ways of photographing a place based on my own personal taste. I have a very strong sense

66 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

hunGyao, china

The textures in the sky hold the eye in the centre of the image, focusing on this calm and tranquil river shot in Hungyao, China shot details: Nikon D3X with 24-55mm lens at 24mm and f11, 1/160sec, ISO 400 © Jonathan Chritchley

Stunning landscapes

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 67



Li RiveR, GuiLin, China

Taken on the Li River in Guilin, China. This idyllic scenery makes for a great black and white landscape shot, with the mist in the background enhancing the atmosphere Shot details: Nikon D3X with 24-55mm lens at 24mm and f13, 1/100sec, ISO 200 © Jonathan Chritchley

8 ShinGLe StReet, SuffoLk, uk

“Shot on 35mm film, this negative laid unprinted until I moved to a digital workflow. As a six foot-wide print, the grain and overall sharpening needs to be carefully handled” Shot details: Shot on 35mm, details unavailable © Keith Cooper

68 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Stunning landscapes EXPERT ADVICE

Jonathan Chritchley on how to take great black-and-white landscapes How did you get started in photography? My dad was very interested in photography, so there were always cameras lying around at home. However, it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I realised that it was where my destiny lay. What excites you about black and white landscape photography? Most of my work is of the sea, the coast and other nautical environments. I am completely obsessed with the water, so I think that is what keeps my enthusiasm fresh. I love the feel and atmosphere of a good black and white photograph, the way the composition is simplified and the subject matter is reduced to elemental shapes and textures. What have been your favourite landscape locations to photograph? A location that stands out to me is Iceland. The rugged, varied landscape, incredible light and dreamy skies make it a wonderful place for black and white photography. I spent three weeks there last year, and am heading back again this year to continue the project. 1 Be original Decide on your own path, one that is close to your heart, and pursue it. 2 Less is more Simplify your composition. 3 Don’t get caught up in the equipment war It’s not the camera that takes the picture, it’s the photographer. 4 ND filters Don’t be tempted to buy cheap! 5 For seascapes use long exposures This can produce some stunning effects.

“With black and white landscape photography, an uncomplicated technical approach can often produce superior results” of what I like, so although photography is my job I still take photographs to please myself first and foremost.” In landscape photography there are no rigid rules regarding camera settings, and a vast range of approaches that can be taken. Keith uses whatever techniques he finds the most comfortable for that given situation: “I shoot a combination of Manual or Aperture Priority (Av), depending on the lighting conditions and lenses I’m using (always Manual with tilt/shift). Depending on the subject, I’ll either focus manually or with AF. I’ve never followed the hair shirt attitude to photography, that it’s not ‘authentic’ unless you have full control over the camera. I respect those who mix their own emulsions and prepare their own plates, but owning a £4,000 camera body does give some useful shortcuts.” Cameras today are designed to be flexible to work to the needs of the photographer not the other way around, so use whatever feels best for you. Unlike Keith, Jonathan takes a different approach to the blackand-white landscape shot and informs us on how he controls the camera for exposing light: “For seascapes, I use long exposures a great deal. I like the minimalist effect this produces on the final photograph, the way the light and texture work together. Apart from that most of my work is shot very traditionally – I

don’t like complicated techniques, either in camera or later on the computer, preferring very simple methods to produce my photographs.” An uncomplicated technical approach can often produce superior results. On a landscape shoot, a variety of accessories and cameras are needed and knowing what equipment to take can be crucial for achieving the correct results. However, it is not as simple as shooting in the studio as everything needs to be carried, so being organised is very important. The pros in the field reveal what they take on a shoot: “If I’m travelling I take two camera bodies (Nikon D3X and D3). I also take my Zeiss 21mm, 28mm and 50mm lenses, Nikon 17-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm zooms. Gitzo tripod – which is pretty heavy duty, with an Arca Swiss ball head – and various filters, cable releases and usual sundries.” Keith shoots with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, and the lenses he takes on a shoot vary depending on how much he feels like carrying and for how far. His basic kit consists of an EF14mm f2.8L II, EF 24-70mm L, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS, and he mostly uses his 24-70mm or sometimes the 14mm for an ultra-wide angle. Wide-angle lenses are crucial for landscape photography and in low-light scenarios a fast lens can be useful, however a tripod will also come in handy for long exposures. THe blAck & wHITe PHoTogrAPHy book 69


70 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Stunning landscapes

Hood Canal, WasHington state, Usa


Landscape photography is obviously dependent on weather conditions as to what type of images can be produced. If it is a sunny day exposure values between the shadows and highlights are also going to measure differently, and there are a few tricks that can be applied to aid the photographer in scenarios such as these. Graduated filters are just one accessory that can help rescue a black and white landscape image and enhance the textures and tones in both the land and sky. For those who are unfamiliar with ND (neutral density) graduated filters, one half of the filter is darker than the other, which in most cases is completely clear. The reason for using a neutral density graduated filter is to control the exposure difference between the sky and the ground. Neutral density grads are given numbers that tell you exactly how many stops of light they’re going to reduce the brightness by, and when used correctly can help you produce far superior results. To determine the strength of filter, you need to meter the scene. The simplest method for doing this is to take a meter reading with the ground filling the frame without the filter in place, and then repeat this step with the sky filling the frame. The difference between these readings will indicate the strength of graduated filter needed. If, for instance, there is a one-stop difference in the readings, you will need a 0.3 ND graduated filter, a two-stop difference a 0.6 ND grad, while a three-stop difference will require a 0.9 ND grad. Usually the two-stop (0.6 ND) is the most commonly used and if you’re on a budget and can only afford one filter, a 0.6 hard grad is recommended. When placing a graduated filter, careful consideration needs to be exercised to ensure results are crisp. It is easiest to use graduated filters on a tripod as this allows you to slide the filter accurately into position, so the transition from clear to dark falls on the horizon. It is especially important to double check horizons are straight, otherwise the results will look odd. If your camera has a depth of field preview facility that stops the lens down while you’re looking through the viewfinder, then it is good practice to use it. The darker viewfinder image will make it easier to see the position of the filter. Keith and Jonathan have contrasting opinions when it comes to using graduated filters, although both are still ‘pure’ in their approach to the black and white landscape image. They both take on the concept that they want to capture what is there rather than trying to manipulate the image into something that is not. Jonathan explains his approach: “The only filters I really use are ND and ND grads, really to control exposure and give me longer shutter speeds when necessary. The only real tip I would give is in the purchase. Don’t be tempted to buy cheap. We spend a lot of money on cameras and lenses, so don’t wave cheap plastic filters in front of them!” Keith goes on to inform us on how he uses filters out in the field: “Only in the rain or particularly dusty conditions to protect

“My favourite example of a scene where I was driving along, saw the light and mist and thought that there was probably a good print to be made. For a large print, the fine gradations and detail need a very good print set-up” shot details: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III with 70-200mm lens at 200mm and f3.5, 1/320sec, ISO 100 © Keith Cooper

skogarfoss, iCeland

The slow shutter speed and rich background settings make the flow of the waterfall stand out beautifully shot details: Nikon D3X with 24-55mm lens at 52mm and f14, 2sec, ISO 100 © Jonathan Chritchley

The blaCK & whiTe PhoTograPhy booK 71


Keith Cooper tells us about his favourite image How would you describe what you do?



Vieux Boucau Les Bains, France. “On the Atlantic coast of southern France the setting sun backlights the waves, producing some beautifully textured shapes and forms. I was drawn to this spot and waited a good 20 minutes or so before getting what I was after. The low light forced me to open up the lens, thereby creating some interesting depth of field effects” Shot details: Nikon D3 with Nikkor 70-200mm lens at 120mm and f4, 1/160sec, ISO 400

I’m a professional commercial photographer who has the luxury of including my black and white print work within the context of my business. My landscape work influences my approach to architectural and industrial photography, and vice versa. Photography is what pays the bills, so my choices in what work to do and when are a little more driven by the requirements of the business. What has been your favourite black and white landscape photograph created to date, and why? Much like films, my tastes vary depending on what mood I’m in, however at this moment… The Shingle Street beach. It’s a personal favourite, since it captures what a lot of the Suffolk coast feels like to me. Also from a technical point of view, it was taken on 35mm film (Tri-X) and as a negative was unprinted for several years (apart from a contact sheet). It was only after I scanned the negative and cropped out much of the foreground that it just worked. This also reminds me to go back through the archives every so often and look for things I’ve missed. When revisiting old collections of shots, I always remember that there must have been something there to catch my attention.

© Jonathan Chritchley

72 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

“It is important to note that to achieve great black and white images you need to visualise in monochrome” the lens do I use screw-in filters. I sometimes use a polariser to cut down on glare, but sparingly: if I can spot its use then I think I have overdone it. One of my pet hates are graduated filters – I disliked them when there was the big Cokin ‘creative’ filter fad in the late Seventies, and I find I still dislike their use if you can obviously see they’ve been used.” He continues with his opinion: “My personal difficulty is that I see very few images where such obvious filter use contributes much to the final print. It’s all too often applied to an average image to try and make it into something it isn’t. A particularly egregious misuse is where the tops of mountains (or trees) show the darkening effect.” However, Keith does sometimes use multiple RAW conversions to the same image and blends them to extract more detail, although he finds this requires considerable post-processing work to make it look natural, so prefers to stay clear when he can. Other filters available on the market that may help improve black and white images and ones that are considerably cheaper than ND graduated filters are a basic filter set. Red filters will darken the sky, creating a moody atmosphere. Green-coloured filters are particularly useful for landscapes, as they create a contrast between different shades of green and blue. For those wanting to experiment and who are just starting out in this genre, a set of standard filters can be fun to use before thinking about investing in a more expensive set. Whether you want to have a purist approach to the black and white landscape image or if you want to use a process such as HDR all comes down to personal taste. HDR photography in the professional and amateur world creates a clear divide, with many embracing the technique and some keeping well clear. Keith points out that while he is not a fan of it, he sometimes uses it in his profession. “It will come as no surprise that I dislike most examples of the currently fashionable ‘HDR look’,” he explains. “However, I do use HDR techniques for my architectural and interior work, but go to great lengths to make it look just as if my camera had more dynamic range. In general, the world around me does not show sharpening halos! Such fashions come and go in photography.” HDR photography can look effective, however it is best not to go too over the top with the results. Although HDR is a new digital technology term, film photographers have been using this effect for years. Ansel Adams is just one of many who exposed the highlights and shadows in the camera and then processed the high contrasts of light and dark in the darkroom using a burning and dodging technique through his zone system. However, the results of Adams’ work look natural, which emphasises the point that HDR photography works at its best in subtle use. Keith finishes discussing HDR photography on a valid point: “Remember the ‘new toy effect’ every time you discover some new bit of software/lens.” Whenever I get a new accessory, I always get this burst of thinking how great it is and how different

Stunning landscapes

a reliable collection of images that simply need enhancement. Be self-critical; remember that it is better to have one superb photograph than twelve mediocre examples.” Filters and exposure can greatly enhance detail, however these are not the only things to be aware of. Post-production methods are just as important and even presentational skills should be greatly considered. For many the second and third stages in the photographic process are overlooked, and this is a big mistake for those who want to go professional. Converting the right images to black and white can also be a tricky skill in itself – remember that excellent black and white images do not have to be good colour images. The colour version is just an intermediate stage, so don’t spend too much time tweaking the colour balance. There are other methods to converting images, and every photographer has their own favourites. Keith processes his RAW images through Adobe Camera Raw 6 or DxO Optics pro V6.2, and subsequent work is carried out in Photoshop

OregOn beach, UK


and ‘interesting’ it makes my pictures.” He continues: “This is perfectly natural, but I prefer to let this enthusiasm work itself out somewhat before trying it out on paying clients. I have lots of shots that on a second look really do not justify my initial enthusiasm. All my best work usually comes after I’ve explored what these things can do, and added them to my arsenal of available skills.” Thinking and visualising in black and white sounds obvious, however this skill can take some time to perfect, and plenty of consideration is needed when approaching a scene. Back before digital camera technology was invented, shooting in black and white was a conscious decision, as the film had to be loaded into the camera. With digital technology you convert results into black and white in post-production, however it is important to note that to achieve great black and white images you need to visualise in monochrome beforehand. Tone, contrast, structure and composition are all key elements to consider when approaching the landscape scene, and learning to visualise the elements as a series of tones instead of colours is what will produce superior images. It should be noted that what is perfect for a coloured photograph can often have a negative impact on a black and white landscape. For example, clear blue skies are a no, and overcast days or bad weather are a yes. When it comes to composition and the landscape image, the rule of thirds generally works as an advantage; elements throughout the image rest easier on the eye, leading the viewer through the scene. Due to the lack of colour, structural components and shadows are key points to be aware of, as these are going to guide the eye through the image. Photoshop skills can be applied afterwards if awkward components are messing up an image, as Keith does in his work: “I don’t have any problem in airbrushing out annoying electricity pylons or people if they mess up my composition, although I won’t change major features such as a sky from another image.” However, Jonathan takes a slightly different approach and offers some alternative advice: “Simplify your composition, hone your camera skills and get as much right ‘in the field’ as you possibly can – don’t rely on computer software to correct faulty images but aim to produce

“My favourite type of ‘active’ weather for black and white. I spent about half an hour at this beach photographing the scene, with the sun lighting different parts” Shot details: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 70-200mm lens at 70mm and f10, 1/800sec, ISO 100 © Keith Cooper

The Ansel Adams Zone System The Zone System is a black and white exposure technique invented by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer in 1939. Originally the method was set in place to be used with the film technique, however it is still a useful practice for learning how to visualise in the monochrome medium. Start with Zone V, as this represents the mid-tone greys in the image, ie the flat greys. You need to think about what area of your image will meter like this, then take a reading. Each zone either side represents one f-stop, so if you want your shadow value to be dark but still hold detail (Zone III), then decrease the exposure by two stops. This technique does take some time to get used to, but it is a good method to follow and means you start measuring shapes and shadows with regards to how they are going to appear in the black and white image.

The blAck & whiTe PhoTogrAPhy book 73


“Remember that excellent black and white images do not have to be good colour images”


Burnt tree, Mesa Verde, Colorado, usa

“At 9,000 feet on a cold snowy day, with big storms shooting about the sky. One of the times when an object (the burnt tree) just fits in with the whole scene” shot details: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III at 16mm and f9, 1/320sec, ISO 100 © Keith Cooper

CS5. Keith explains, “I generally use the RAW converter to get the best colour image for the conversion, rather than apply it there. I do sometimes try out black and white conversion in the RAW converter, just to get a feel for how the image will look, but prefer to leave the actual conversion to later. For conversion from colour to black and white I’ll either use the Nik Silver Efex pro plug-in, a combination of basic Photoshop techniques, such as its greyscale conversion, or a layer-based technique.” Jonathan uses a different approach and browses/imports images using Adobe Lightroom. He then does the final processing in Photoshop CS4, as he states: “My workflow is very simple, enhancing and adding contrast using curves and levels, plus the obligatory five to ten minutes cloning out that impenetrable curse of digital photography, those sensor blobs!”

74 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

The final stage of the whole process is the printing and presentation. There are many different techniques and methods that can be followed here, and printing in black and white requires some expertise that, for many, is where they fail to get the best results. This is often due to lack of knowledge or equipment and unfortunately with printing, generally the more expensive the printer, inks and paper the higher the results. Papers, inks and images all need to be calibrated to perfection so they are given the best chance to produce highquality results. For those with no direct access to top equipment, sending prints off to a professional service can ensure higher quality results are produced. However, there are still post-production methods to do beforehand to make sure the image is print ready. Keith offers some sound advice: “Remember the screen is not the print. Unless you are producing work for a website or projection, then what you see on the screen is just an intermediate stage in getting to your print. Attempts to make the print match the screen are inviting disappointment, so it is important to understand how inks behave on paper and how it differs from what you see on screen. Make lots of small test prints if necessary.” Keith further explains what equipment he uses: “Currently I have an Epson 9600 (44” width) and Epson 7880 (24” width) in the print room. The 9600 is used mainly for black and white printing on matt papers via the ImagePrint RIP. The RIP was an important tool in getting excellent black- and-white prints from the 9600 and normal Epson inks in 2004. In the six years since we got it, new printer’s abilities to print good-quality black and white have improved dramatically, such that I would no longer use a RIP like ImagePrint for my black and white work. I’m currently looking at Canon’s latest iPF6300 printer to see how it compares. When a print file is ready for printing, I always save a version (16 bit, with all layers) that includes the size and sharpening status in its name.” As for paper, Keith’s current first two choices for black and white prints are the 285gsm lustre finish Innova ‘Ultra Smooth Gloss’ (IFA49) and the 315gsm matt cotton rag-based Innova Smooth Cotton Natural White (IFA 11). He also prints some matt images on the whiter High white (IFA14) version. Jonathan prints using the Epson 2400, stating that the results he is getting are now equal to anything he used to get in the darkroom. For presentation, Jonathan uses a local framer to build and fit custom frames and mounts for his exhibitions. He is also experimenting with aluminium-based prints, which he finds beautiful and incredibly luminous with the black and white image. In an age where digital technology has pushed photography to a different level, it appears there is still a large appreciation and respect for the traditional black and white landscape image. Whether you are shooting black and white landscape images for yourself or for a profession, this magical medium is certainly a great and romantic genre of photography, and one that will carry on being popular with the masses for years to come. Get back to the land and discover the form, shape and structure through photography.

Stunning landscapes

Inspiration... © Ray Foley



© Harold Britos

hArold Britos

“Shot taken in Hagimit Falls, Samal, Davao City. It was a cloudy morning, which is the perfect weather condition for shooting waterfalls. I was on the edge of the rock when I found this spot. The clouds were moving fast and it was a great time to produce a long exposure shot to have dynamics on the image” shot details: Nikon D700 with 17-35mm lens at 17mm and f8, 46sec, ISO 200 DP Gallery: © Paul Forgham

Peter AnsArA

“The image was taken in the fall in Mt. Vernon, Washington. The field was in a vegetative state for the winter. The sun was just going down. Obviously the trees all line up nicely to contrast with the wonderful harvested field. This image makes me reflect on the beauty our country has to offer, and the necessity of farmers to supply bounty to people all over the world” shot details: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens at 18mm and f22, 1/250sec DP Gallery:



© Peter Ansara

rAy Foley

“This shot was taken on Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, CA. I took this from the pier overlooking the beach. There was a tribute to the men and women that lost their lives in the war in Iraq. The only adjustment made was a conversion to black and white in the Channel Mixer in Photoshop, and some minor dodge and burn to highlight and darken some areas within the image” shot details: Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro at 22mm and f8, 1/500sec, ISO 160 DP Gallery:

PAul ForghAm

“This lone tree makes for a great subject, standing defiantly in a harsh landscape among the limestone pavements, completely exposed to the elements but surviving all that nature has thrown at it down the years. I think the shot lends itself well to the black and white treatment, as it helps to convey the bleakness of the location and accentuates the abundance of tones and textures in the scene” shot details: Canon EOS 40D with 10-22mm lens at 11mm and f13, 0.5sec, ISO 100 DP Gallery: The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 75


Shooting the streets in B&W

We speak to street photographers to find out what it takes to capture life on the streets in monochrome 76 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Shooting the streets in B&W Comforting Hand

The comforting hand of Jo Jowett of Love Light Romania reaches out to ‘C’ who is being cared for by the charity as he faces the final stages of AIDS Shot details: Canon EOS 5D with 50mm at 50mm and f1.6, 1/40sec, ISO 1000 © Richard Feaver

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 77


© Ying Tang


“When a photograph works, it transcends reality and becomes something very special” untitled

Shanghai, 2007 Shot details: Nikon D100 with lens at 18mm and f3.5, 1/500sec, ISO 200


treet photography is a heartbreak.’ So says Richard Bram (, a US-based photographer whose images of city life in London, New York and the spaces between, reveal a capricious distillation of the world in which we exist, from a perspective we never care to notice. A heartbreak, Bram says, because of the dire hit-to-miss ratio and emotional rollercoaster of hopeful shots and subsequent disappointments. Any serious street photographer will tell you the same and yet everyday across the world cameras are readied and eager photographers steadied, hidden in plain sight among the unaware crowds. For Richard the dividends outweigh the disappointment. “When a photograph works, it transcends reality and becomes something very special. It is the hunt for that special photograph, so rare yet so rewarding, that continues to draw me.” Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Ying Tang ( shares some hunting grounds with Bram having studied at the New York Institute of Photography. But it was on the streets

78 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

of San Francisco, while at the School of Photography of C.C.S.F, where she really mastered her skills: “I think the first important thing to be a street photographer is to realise that there will be a lot time and effort, and also a lot patience, involved, so the more time you spent on shooting, the better result you can achieve.” At the heart of the genre lies a desire to candidly and honestly depict the everyday happenings in public spaces. While many images can be merely a record of a moment as it happens, the best street images go beyond a simple imprint into cleverly captured, sharply recorded and cunningly composed shots, which not only hold a mirror up to us but are laden with implied meaning. ‘Professional stranger’ is the term used by Max Kozloff to describe street photographers. Richard Bram identifies with this in his pursuit to capture the essence of the places where we live. “Cities are stressful: the pressures of work, social interaction, constant noise, dirt and lack of private space all add to the tension. Yet people manage to live, love, take pleasure in life in the midst of it all.”

Also in the business of reflecting reality, is documentary photographer Richard Feaver ( Richard has worked as a photographer in various capacities. Over the last four years he has turned his attention to Romania. Inspired by the work of legendary war photographer James Nachtwey in the country, Feaver has been highlighting the issues faced by many in the region. Feaver drew early inspiration from photographers in the Sixties and Seventies, one such figure being Larry Burrows. “After seeing one of his essays from Vietnam, One Ride With Yankee Papa 13, I was stunned by how powerful the images were and the effect they could have,” he says. In comparison to the selfreflection that street images can invoke in us, Feaver is interested in the reaction it can spark, especially when dealing with images that challenge what we know about a subject. His current work with Romanian charity, Love Light Romania, offers such stark reactions, as he deals with a variety of subjects and issues from communities struck by poverty to individuals living with AIDS. A different type of heartbreak altogether.

Shooting the streets in B&W


© Richard Bram

Second Storey Man

London, 2004. “I was walking back to Farringdon Station having picked up some film at Metro Imaging and cut through a back courtyard. As I looked up in the twilight I noticed a movement and saw this man on a ledge. Exactly what he was doing and why I shall never know, and that question is what makes the photograph interesting”

8Foggy night

© Richard Bram

Perugia, 2008. Sometimes it is simply an emotional response to a sublime sight, like Christmas lights in Perugia on a cold foggy night. The world can be a beautiful place, and while we tend to concentrate on more edgy moments these days, it’s still okay to make beautiful photographs sometimes. Shot details: Rolleiflex at f4, 1/15sec, TMax 400

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 79

Techniques FIVE TOP TIPS

Richard Bram tells us what makes a good street photographer Web: “I call myself a street photographer, though once upon a time one would have simply said ‘I am a photographer’ and that is what it would have meant.” Born in Philadelphia in 1952, Richard Bram grew up across Ohio, Utah and Arizona. After earning degrees in Political Science and International Business, he ‘lost his head’ and pursued photography as a full-time vocation over the series of uninspiring jobs that had come his way. Richard has lived and worked between London and New York, and now resides in the latter. Richard’s street images reflect an intelligently quirky and contagious approach to the world. “Most of my photographs originate in the random chaos of the public space of the street, in the ambient weirdness of everyday life,” he says.“They are not staged; reality is plenty strange enough.” His work is in institutional, corporate and personal collections, including the Museum of London, Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography. 1 Be bold Most of the very best photographers working on the street are not using telephoto lenses, but standard and wide-angle and working close to their subjects. Working in the public arena you are visible to everyone. Sneaking around furtively trying not to be seen usually guarantees the opposite. If you just stand there openly watching and taking photographs, you will be noticed for a while, however we aren’t really as interesting to others as we think: if you just hang around becoming part of the street furniture, people will get bored with you and go on about their business. 2 Know your camera The technical workings of your gear must be in your fingers rather than your head so that when you see something about to happen you can take the photo fast! The difference between a great photograph and a miss is a tiny fraction of a second when a glance, a gesture, a juxtaposition happened. If you have to think about settings, shutter-lag, zooming for perfect framing, anything that gets between you and what you see, you will miss the shot. Chance favours the prepared mind: if your camera is already set for the light, you’re roughly in focus, very alert and paying attention, you improve the odds immeasurably. 3 Originality please The ability to edit is one of the hardest and most important things for any reality-based photographer to learn. To know what is indeed unusual and special, what isn’t something taken a thousand times before, only comes with study and appreciation of other photographers’ work. There is a reason that things are called clichés – they are overdone: close-up portraits with telephoto lenses, people just sitting in cafés, homeless people, and way too many people’s backs. Philadelphia-based photographer and wit Kyle Cassidy posited a rule: “Thou shalt not photograph people from behind and call it street photography. This maketh thee a coward.” 4 Man up to criticism Most so-called ‘street photographs’ that I see posted on Facebook, Flickr, Google+ and many other places are pictures I have seen time and time again. Far too many people are easily pleased and pay too much attention to the ‘attaboy’ comments: “Cool shot, dude. Great capture.”This is mostly useless and teaches you nothing. More useful is the careful negative critique – harder to swallow but more to learn from. 5 More than nice Think of the usual images – cute kids just smiling at the camera, a pretty girl looking right into your lens from 30 feet away; the list goes on. These may be nice pictures, but nice is not enough. A sharp, technically good photograph is taken in the street; this does not make it a street photograph. Ansel Adams, a man decidedly not a street photographer, said it this way: “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

© Richard Bram

Both documentary and street photography come with their own set of challenges. One such challenge is a matter of subject. While a documentary photographer is usually focused on one social area, aiming to capture as much of the reality of it as possible, for a street photographer even the smallest movement on a city side walk could be a possible subject. One element that calls to Ying Tang is movement. “My eyes get drawn to certain moment like jumping, blowing, laughing, running,” she says. “The human movement sometimes can add a dynamic to an image and make it alive. I think after many years shooting on the street, I’ve developed my own sense of searching; searching for a scene of carefree, emotional and human connection. That is what draws me to see how people interact with others or themselves in a big urban surrounding.” Bram says for him it’s harder to know. “I think I am looking for what has been called ‘the unusual in the everyday’,” he speculates. “Something in a perfectly ordinary scene that is somehow out of place, or simply a moment that will not be repeated. Sometimes it was the intensity of the couple as they are about to kiss (Mainz 1996, see page 82), a certain tilt of the head, closed eyes, the anticipation of what is just about to occur. Other times it can be chance combined with a certain preparedness. Sometimes it is simply an emotional response to a sublime sight, like Christmas lights in Perugia on a cold foggy night. Other times they may be less actiondependant, more mood or light-based. It is okay to make beautiful photographs, too: the world can be a beautiful place, and while we tend to concentrate on more edgy moments these days, it’s still okay to make beautiful photographs sometimes.” Richard Feaver’s choice of subject grew organically from the path his photography took. “My photography started like most others, messing around with a film camera, a Canon A-1,” he says. “However, I focused more on just wandering around and shooting with a trial-and-error approach. When I would go home and make my negatives and prints, I would try and see where I was going wrong and correct these next time around. I started photographing music and picked up a Nikon D70.” During his time photographing music, Feaver found himself drawn towards the smaller bands that needed help promoting their music rather than bigger bands with huge press pits and plenty of hype. He also found himself enjoying capturing moments on the road or backstage where


“I was on my way to meet my wife at a Soho restaurant on a bitter cold, freezing and rainy January night and went by a cafe window. I was late and wet, but had my camera. I stopped briefly and made two frames” Shot details: Leica M6 with 35mm lens, TMax 400 80 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Shooting the streets in B&W

Wall Street Fall

“On my way home from the post office one summer morning, I was waiting out a sudden shower under a building overhang. Passing the time, I began photographing pedestrians coming through the intersection, the reflections and patterns they made in the rainwater. A man slipped and fell and his umbrella went flying. The camera was at my eye and it seemed as if it went off by itself” Shot details: Leica M6 with 35mm lens, TMax 400 © Richard Bram

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 81



© Richard Feaver

Bathed By water

© Richard Bram

He spent the first 16 years of his life living in a hospital; at some point during this period he was infected with HIV. He is now under the care of Love Light Romania and enjoys a safe, healthy and happy life the Sanctuary Shot details: Canon EOS 5D with 24-70mm lens at 70mm with f5.6, 1/200, ISO 400


GerMany 1996

The out-of-focus little girl in the background was wearing a bright fluorescent patterned jacket. If this were shot in colour, the jacket would have constantly pulled your eye away from the focus of the photo, the couple lost in their moment Shot details: Leica M3 with 35mm lens, TMax 400 82 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

© Richard Bram

Shooting the streets in B&W


The light and shadow on the faces of the subjects add a dramatic dimension to the worried expressions they wear. The image shows a Romanian woman, Erica, who lived on a rubbish dump with her three children after her mother died of AIDS Shot details: Canon EOS 5D with 24-70mm lens at 35mm with f2.8, 1/60sec, ISO 1600 © Richard Feaver

people were in a natural setting. This was during the same period as his work with a local paper which turned out to be a push in the right direction: “The stories I had to cover had such little life or substance in them that it only drove me on to pursue photographing real issues on my own.” From there he decided to shoot documentary: “I was wary of going into press photography because I felt I would not have enough time if on assignment and working to a deadline to accurately photograph someone’s life. I decided instead that if I worked with charities not only would they benefit from the pictures, but I would be able to spend longer amounts of time with the people I was photographing. It was after I began working with smaller charities that I realised just how difficult it was for them to raise awareness of their work and that is now something I am very passionate about working towards changing.” Since being inspired by Nachtwey, Feaver has been to Romania for four to five month periods over the last four years. The original idea was to photograph the difference in Romania as they were joining the European Union, but this focus soon broadened when Feaver found Love Light Romania. “It was very clear to me from when I first worked with Love Light Romania how passionate they were about their work and the people they cared for. They had made such dramatic differences to so many children’s lives through sheer hard work with budgets that were tiny in comparison larger charities,” he says.

“Their philosophy was similar to mine in terms of my photography. They would not simply turn up in a poor community and give out bags of clothes then move into the next. They were looking at longterm solutions for the children in getting them back into schools and educating the parents. This approach allowed me to really get to understand the people I was photographing and give an accurate picture of their lives and needs.” Feaver believes Romania has serious issues which are hidden away and only uncovered through foundations such as those he works with. Feaver works close to his subjects, getting to know each of them individually and forming a relationship with them before shooting any images. In contrast, for Richard Bram one of the challenges of street photography is taking photos of people without prior connection. Street photographers do have the advantage that subjects are often unaware of their presence, yet for Feaver the trick is to make those aware of him still go about their daily business as if he weren’t there. “I would never take a photograph of anyone who I hadn’t asked permission from beforehand,” Feaver says. “I can understand why street photographers do this to try and capture a moment, however the majority of the people I photograph have delicate situations. Yet I would never ask people to sit a certain way either. I try and build up a relationship with everyone I photograph so that they are aware of me being there but are comfortable enough to just be as natural as they can be.”

Street photography and the law If the public arena is your photographic playground, then knowing the rules is essential. The laws governing photography on the street are fairly simple but important to take note of.‘Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places, and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel’, the Met Office states on its website. While police do have the right to stop and search a person who they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000, they do not have the power to delete digital images or destroy film during a search. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which previously gave officers power to stop and search, no longer exists. Learn the laws and be confident in your rights as a photographer; carrying a copy of the laws pertaining to photography in your camera bag is a good way to conduct an informed conversation with any person that questions your presence. The ‘I’m a Photographer not a Terrorist’ campaign (www. went a long way to educate photographers about their rights. For a full overview of the laws visit about/photography.htm. The London Street Photography Festival made a video entitled Stand Your Ground to give photographers another perspective of the issue. Watch it here:

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 83



Smiling Through

The image captures children living in poverty in Jacodu. Despite their dire circumstance, the children are full of life and brightness. Five smiling faces are huddled together with the background out of focus, highlighting the sincerity in their smiles Shot details: Canon EOS 5D with 24-70mm lens at 24mm with f4, 1/100sec, ISO 320


STreeT performer

Although subtlety is often rewarded in street photography, the more obvious subject choices can still work well. Be on the lookout for reactions of passers-by in the background. Or, in this case, the gentleman in the foreground. 84 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Shooting the streets in B&W

© Richard Feaver

Ying and Bram rarely have the opportunity to make eye contact with a subject and never mind build a relationship with them. With the ‘observer effect’ in mind, some of the best street images are captured with those in the frame blissfully unaware. While this may present a challenge technically, it also presents an issue of privacy that is unavoidable in the genre. Most public laws go a long way to clear up what is allowed (see boxout on page 53), but the rest is down to the photographer. Bram recommends that the wishes of the public, if expressed, be respected. “Most of the time people aren’t aware that I’ve taken their picture at all. I often work in big crowded places where no one notices another camera,” he says. “Once in a while someone notices me and says, ‘Don’t take my picture!’ I don’t take his picture. Taking this as a challenge and then trying to do so only makes people angry. There are other pictures elsewhere.” Ying says that familiarising yourself with your surroundings and being comfortable as you work goes a long way to bring a smile to the face of your subject if they notice you. “That gives you confidence,”

she says and adds that it may make you less annoying to your subjects. Bram says that anyone who works seriously in the street will have a story of a confrontation. To his mind, a smile and humble attitude goes a long way. “You must be able to deal with and talk to people without being belligerent, even if they are. If you look sheepish, furtive or try to run off, all you do is convince them that you are indeed up to something,” he adds. All three photographers excel in black and white, but with varying and intriguing perspectives of why this suits their style and images. A mental flick through some of the most memorable street and documentary images will often reveal a favouring of black and white over colour – think Cartier-Bresson and Eddie Adams for example. A lack of alternative in older images is an obvious retort but modern photographers continue to follow in the same monochromatic vein – and for a reason. For Richard Bram it’s the difference between drawing and painting. “In monochrome you concentrate on the graphic elements, the lights and darks, and especially the action and expressions.” He gives a quote whose source has been forgotten: “In black and white you look at the faces; in colour you look at the clothes.” Well known for his black-and-white images in particular, Bram has only recently begun to shoot in colour too. “Colour introduces so many more variables to deal with: the rainbow itself,” he says. “Controlling this and making it work within the frame is different, harder. You must handle the way the colours move across the frame – do they dance or do they just clomp around?”

When Ying Tang first started shooting street photography she began to do so in black and white: “It teaches a certain way to see how light can affect the world and the emotion. Since then I have never tried to change my approach and continued work with black-and-white images.” Tang’s images in Shanghai reveal an emotional undercurrent which is enhanced by the choice of mode. “I will say the approach of using black and white in my Shanghai images do transfer certain contrast and uncertainty in my images, which helps me reveal the current reality in China. I think black-and-white images reveal more emotions and sometimes increase the imaginations of people, making them timeless.” Feaver’s subject matter means that black and white is often the only choice. He often photographs in small, cramped povertystricken conditions with minimal light available, and he feels that the stark nature of black and white is appropriate. “I feel it accurately reflects these environments and captures the ‘hidden away’ existence these people live in,” he says. “There are photographs that work better in one than the other,” says Bram whose new colourful work reveals the distinction he makes for which mode works best in which situation. “Colour itself can be a major part of the composition,” he says. “In other instances there are photographs where colour would have been a distraction.” Changing his mind, though, is not a habit of Bram’s. Should he shoot an image in colour that’s the way it will stay. To remove the coloured pixels with postproduction software would be defeating the point.


© Richard Feaver

Community Child

A child sits on the ground near two house structures in a poor family’s community in Romania. Poverty is implied both by the child’s dress and state, and the unkempt surroundings included in the frame Shot details: Canon EOS 5D with 24-70mm lens at 34mm and f2.8, 1/5,000sec, ISO 1000

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 85



© Richard Feaver

OxfOrd Street GOGGleS

“I was shooting pedestrians in the late-afternoon sun as the light reflected from windows above, creating spotlights on the street. A man went by with his son on his shoulders and as I raised my camera the boy put his fingers up to his eyes as if making sunglasses. One cannot plan this, ask permission, or stage it. It is totally spontaneous – one must be ready and fast” Shot details: Leica M6 with 35mm lens, TMax 3200

When shooting in black and white, it’s the Leica M6 loaded with TMax 400 that you’ll find in Bram’s hands. If it’s colour he’s after that will be replaced by the M9 with either a 35mm f2 lens or a 24mm f2.8 on it. “I got my first beat-up, brassy but working M3 – all manual, no meter, no electronics – back in 1987 and it just fit,” he says. “They are not for everyone, and now even used ones are very pricey. But they are quiet, unobtrusive and, when you get used to them, very fast to use. However, you have to know what you are doing.” Other than that, the equipment list is limited to spare rolls of film and a handheld light meter. “Anything else is superfluous to the way I work,” Bram says. “Quite a lot people ask me what camera a street photographer should have,” says Ying. “I always suggest a basic DSLR camera, with a basic focal lens. The lens I have is a standard one which I have had for more than six years (Nikon 18-70mm, f4.5). I think every camera or lens has its advantages and disadvantages, so when you realise what they are and [how the way you shoot fits with these] you can [work fast in the best way possible].” For Richard Feaver it’s the an old Canon EOS 5D that does the brunt of his photography, mostly with a Canon f2.8 2470mm lens or alternately a fixed f1.4 50mm lens. Admittedly not a technically fixated photographer, Feaver recommends lenses

86 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

that are good in low light, a constant battle he faces. “If you have good glass that can help you get the shot you need it’s worth investing in,” he says. Bram’s recommendation on the kit front is a sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes and, fundamentally, a camera. “Any camera, whatever type or format, a camera phone, whatever, but something that can record an image with you all the time! You can never know when something wonderful, quirky, peculiar, is going to happen, except to know that it will always happen when you don’t have a camera,” he says. Camera phones are making it easier for people to capture the everyday and be ready when the unexpected moments happen. Along with the increase in available technology has come a regenerated interest in the genre. While this increases the volume of images produced, Bram does not believe this necessarily increases the number of images that can be called ‘good street images’. He has previously said there is a difference in those that ‘can do’ and those that can’t. “Working in the street is challenging. Having the result be interesting, even intriguing, with an implied meaning beyond the obvious action in the frame, is incredibly difficult.” Bram believes there is more to a great images than a technically passable street scene, and he takes the stance that a bar

raised high for what is considered great will work to push photographers further rather than lulling them into a unhelpful state where an online thumbs up translates into an acceptable accolade. As genres, both black-and-white street and documentary photography continue to push against their own limitations – both technical and social. New talent, new technology and new interest look set to add to their importance, as professionals in the field persevere daily to capture candidly, holding a mirror up to us, challenging and inspiring us to see life differently or take action to help the lives of those that we don’t see too often. Richard Feaver finds his documentary work gets extremely personal. “Photographing anybody who is suffering is always disturbing, but I will only photograph if there is some way the picture I am making will help make a difference to their life. I spend many weeks with the people I photograph, some I have known for years, and I think it’s very important to have that relationship where you are not just some guy who turns up with a camera for a few hours to shoot and then leaves,” he says. For Bram, his photography is more of an internal effort than a public display. “These images are my visual diary,” he states. “They are not staged or created artificially. Reality is strange enough.”

Shooting the streets in B&W


Matthew Ben RichaRdson

Expressive Engagement The image was taken at a local music festival and there were many fantastic characters to photograph. The man stares expressively past the lens, his deep burrowed forehead in contrast with his bright youthful eyes shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 85mm lens at 85mm and f1.4, 1/1,000sec, ISO 100 dP gallery: www. Bennybo

© Matthew Ben Richardson

ian PettigRew

“There were many fantastic characters to photograph”

© Ian Pettigrew

Smoker Elderly smoker stares ahead. This shot was taken outside of Woodbine Racetrack and Casino, Toronto, ON, Canada.”I see this same old lady every time I am there,” says Ian shot details: Nikon D7000 with 85mm lens at f2.2, 1/1,250sec, ISO 100 dP gallery: www. ianpett

© Mervyn Dublin

© Brian Dicks

BRian dicks

St Pancreas No 2 The lines of the escalators lead the eye up into the vast space of St Pancreas station, bustling as a young contemplative woman reaches the top of the steps. shot details: Canon EOS 7D with 8-16mm lens at 8mm and f7.1, 1/80sec, ISO 1600 dP gallery:

MeRvyn duBlin

Dam Square This image was captured in Amsterdam. Punters sit among pigeons as a worker and a traveller cross painted city scenes of years gone by shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 16-35mm lens at f3.2, 1/500sec, ISO 100 dP gallery: The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 87

© Carol Allen Storey


Documenting life in black and white 

“You come back to a still image like a good piece of music; it’s a powerful instrument to provoke debate” TEMEKE, TANZANIA

Amina had been forced to wear a red badge sewn on her school uniform veil since she started school age 5 identifying her as AIDS/HIV positive. Amina is excluded from participating in playtimes due to her HIV positive status


Carol began this commendable vocation t’s almost like someone who’s almost 15 years ago after a colossal career naked and needs to cover things up,” says photographer Carol Allen swerve from her role as executive vice president of world wide marketing for Storey about the black-and-white Chanel. “It was a very different industry, medium she uses so frequently. “It but I decided I had to get back to my strips away the peripheral components roots,” she says, agreeing that there was and forces you to focus on what the story an inevitable edge of uncertainty, but the is about.” For Carol, a photojournalist, the determination to pursue this path was story and the subject are everything. Her something that had played on her mind work looks past smashed windows and for years. Having been a self-confessed riots, zooming in on those suffering quietly ‘photo news junkie’ since she was a child, in developing worlds. “It’s about giving a getting excited when she unwrapped voice to the voiceless,” she explains. “In particular, dealing with humanitarian National Geographic magazine on her issues among women and children; I birthday, Carol knows the power an wanted to tell untold stories. We live in image can have over a person. “If you a celebrity led culture with the Hello/ think of the iconic images that you’re aware of, you may not know the name of Goodbye magazines and I thought that the photographer but you know it made if I can create a provocative story so that some change,” she reasons. “For example, someone has to think about what they’re seeing, which may not be a popular subject, in the Vietnam war there was a fantastic image by a photographer called Nick then maybe I could trigger some change.”


Ut. It was the picture of a naked young girl running away from being burnt by napalm. Everyone knows that picture and that really changed the mood and acted as a catalyst for positive action in the States. You come back to a still image like a good piece of music, a symphony; you can hear it many times and it’s interpreted in many ways and you contemplate it. It is a very powerful instrument to provoke debate, to have people think about things, both the bad and the ugly depending on what you want to do, but particularly in photojournalism, I think.” Carol’s workload is a mixture of assignments from charitable organisations and self-funded personal projects, which she often finds by flicking through a newspaper or magazine and immersing herself in the necessary research. Her current project is fondly titled ANGELS At The Edge Of Darkness and focuses on the

Documenting life in black and white


© Carol Allen Storey

These girls had some knowledge of the HIV virus which is limited because their families refuse to talk to them about it . Although both are HIV+, they have no idea why they wear the red badge. One of the girls said simply: “AIDS is death, nothing more. Everyone knows that AIDS kills”



© Carol Allen Storey


Kisiumi, Tanzania

Fatuma is in mourning. Her mother died recently and her father a few years ago, both parents succumbing to the AIDS virus. She too has tested positive but has not been told, a common occurrence among children where AIDS is spoken [about] in whispers

8 Kongowe, Tanzania

Mwita has suffered from the AIDS virus for more than four years. After their father abandoned the family when Mwita became seriously ill, his mother decided to move close to the capital so that he could receive treatment. He has physically recovered but bitter that he was ill for most of his youth with no medical support

poverty-stricken women and children of Africa, people that you can see on these very pages. “These are women of genocide in Rwanda, women that were raped and mauled during the ’94 war, and now in 2011 are suffering from AIDS or extreme poverty,” says Carol. “Many are homeless and are forgotten because the NGOs and disaster relief agencies have moved on to the next disaster and there’s nothing sustainable established.” Living in basic lodgings where the water ration is provided in two buckets – one hot, one cold – and on the menu is anorexic chicken, Carol travels light. Slinging 20 kilos on her back and hopping on a motorcycle to get to her next rural location, she packs the essentials and forgoes assistants for a solitary ‘fixer’. This person will be a local who can act as a translator and trustee of the people; there is nothing more important to

Carol that her photographs show dignity. said to me ‘Satisfy a man, you satisfy “When photographing a sensitive subject your hunger’. It’s as simple as that. They or people that are in pain, you have to have such humility and generosity of be very aware of their integrity. I never spirit, and they know me because this is make a picture, never, without it being a my fourth trip in the last three years so collaboration with the sitter,” she explains. they trust me to make pictures. I’m not “I don’t mean that I’m ‘setting up my images’ going to do anything that will embarrass because my style is totally reportage and them or create pain; they have enough that’s what I rely on. So, if there’s a greasy to deal with.” She considers it her duty spoon lying on the floor or a finger that as a photojournalist to tell the truth, tell nipped into the end of my frame, it’s the story and not to play to an audience. because that’s how I’m shooting it. I’m not Therefore, Photoshop is out of the question. controlling what’s happening, I’m allowing “One time one of my assistants said ‘Carol, events to occur.” maybe…?’ and I said ‘Not on your life. Do Her most recent trip saw her journey not touch it’,” she recalls. “For me, what to Uganda to photograph what she calls you do in Photoshop is what you would ‘reluctant sex workers’. “There were do in a darkroom; you can make things a women living in a very remote fishing bit darker and moodier but if you’re not village on the Congolese border where 70% shooting it right, what’s the point? There of the them, including grandmothers, are has to be something left in the world that sex workers,” Carol says. “One woman you can trust.”

“When photographing a sensitive subject or people in pain, you have to be very aware of their integrity” 90 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

© Carol Allen Storey

Documenting life in black and white

Shooting mostly on a Mimiya 7, a basic film camera that’s void of the advanced features found on digital cameras, the reportage process is inevitably slowed down. This is something that Carol prefers, however, as it grants the time to think. “It’s good to work in different disciplines,” she says. “I did a very interesting thing with my reluctant sex workers essay. At the end of each photo session I decided to use the iPhone and I’m very excited by what I was able to produce and the quality.” It is hoped that these will be shown in an exhibition and it serves as an apt reminder that photojournalism is so accessible to the public in this digital age that any member of the public with a camera phone can document important events as they occur. Keeping up to speed on all the latest developments in photography, Carol also shoots video interviews on a Canon 5D Mark II, which she describes as “very forgiving”, and always brings a pocketable Canon G10 along “just in case”. Rummaging through her kit bag you’ll also find four prime lenses: a 35mm, 50mm, 24mm and an 85mm, and the

“There are a lot of extremely painful images that can be considered fine art because they are sensitively done” GETTING TO KNOW…

Carol Allen Storey

Web: Specialist genre: Photojournalism Why photojournalism? I knew from the beginning when I embarked on my photographic career that I wanted to photograph people and create documentary essays on serious social and political situations, with an emphasis on humanitarian issues, especially among women, children and the disenfranchised. In the kit bag: Mimiya 7, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon G10, prime lenses (35mm, 50mm, 24mm, 85mm), light meter, tripod.

Current project: ANGELS At The Edge Of Darkness is my current personal project. It focuses on the women and children managing the AIDS pandemic in Africa, illustrating their courage and dignity and the horrific impact of unabated poverty as this unrelenting killer grows exponentially. Top tip: The most important thing when photographing a sensitive subject or people that are in pain is to be very aware of their integrity. We don’t have that right to exploit people for our own gain for rewards as a photographer. It’s up to us to tell the truth and not to manipulate it in any manner or form. Why black and white? It’s quieter for me, it’s more contemplative; colour is too frenetic for certain subjects.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 91


Iklami huddled under the shade of a tree with another of his classmates who also wears the red badge. He broke into tears because his mother had died a day earlier and his father had also passed away earlier in the year. He said he was afraid he would be alone because his grandmother was old and she too would die

© Carol Allen Storey


© Carol Allen Storey

© Carol Allen Storey



Joseph and Richard are twins born with acute disabilities related to the AIDS virus carried by their mother during pregnancy. The family live in severe poverty sharing a cellsize room. Their mother sleeps on the floor and the twins, with their older brother, share the only bed


At the Kizuiani Primary School the children play exuberantly simple games during one of their breaks in the morning

shoot itself rarely gets more complex than taking a light meter reading. However, as Carol points out, this in itself can turn into a difficult task: “Flash upsets the environment and the atmosphere so I rarely use it. I could be in a very dark room where the only light is provided by a crack in the door and you have to be very careful how you meter it, especially if you’re shooting black skin, but I’m used to it.” This fierce work ethic and curiosity about the world has led to three degrees from universities in the States and in the UK, but the Central St. Martins Photography programme is where she truly mastered the medium. “The photography course I took was at St Martins specifically because it was a fine-art school,” she says. “There are a lot of extremely painful images that can be considered a fine-art image because it’s so beautifully and sensitively done


that the photographer internally is crying and making an image of something that is a catastrophe, a disaster, but beautiful.” Dealing with such poignant photo stories can be emotionally distressing but, as Carol points out, “you can’t take good photographs through tears”. Instead, she reflects on the day’s events once the shoot has been shot, the equipment is packed away and she’s alone with her journal, which has become a nightly ritual. It is this fervour for the profession that motivates her to keep pressing the shutter and bringing these worthy causes to the public’s attention. “Budgets are limited but if you’re really committed and totally passionate, which I am, you can make it happen,” says Carol, who began her photography career with self-funded projects. “There’s no guarantee you’re going to make a lot of money, but that’s not what it’s about.”

Nothing demonstrates this more than an assignment she carried out for the WWF organisation, which centred on environmental education among women and children to alleviate poverty. “I spent over 28 months travelling all over Tanzania with the programme and we had a big exhibition at the Proud Gallery in London, raising over £25,000 off the back of print sales, which was fantastic! It all went back into the programmes in Tanzania because that was my condition, I said I’d only agree to do this virtually pro-bono, just the expenses covered, if it’s guaranteed 100 per cent goes back to these programmes and it did.” This is a prime example of the power a still image can wield over the beholder, creating an impact that can be felt by those in positions to enforce positive change and those who are daring enough to dedicate their life and work instigating it.

Documenting life in black and white

Sauda is an orphan like far too many children at the Nzasa Primary School. Most orphans at this school are a result of the AIDS pandemic which has decimated their community. She is ill and her great grandmother is desperate to access the life-saving antiretroviral drugs for her but cannot afford the bus fare to go to the clinic

© Carol Allen Storey

Mandazi Town, Tanzania

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 93


© Nicolai Amter

94 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Story behind the still

Story still behind the

Photographer: Nicolai Amter Website: Location: London Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-70mm lens at 32mm and f4.5, 1/50sec, ISO 200


icolai Amter is a London-based director and photographer. His work includes a mixture of directing music videos, fashion films and documentaries. He also shoots music photography, portraits and travel images. Nicolai’s extensive range of clients includes MTV, Disney, E4, Discovery Networks and National Geographic to name just a few. “This image is a still from a series of photographs I shot in Kibera, Kenya,” he says, “which is an area of slum in Nairobi and one of the biggest slums in Africa. “The image was taken in natural light with no flash. As I was shooting video that day too I had a vari-ND filter on the lens, hence the slow shutter speed in the bright conditions. The blackand-white conversion was completed with Silver Efex Pro 2 using my own custom settings. “I was on a directing job for the BBC World Service and part of the shoot was located in Kibera. Immediately as you enter the slums, the extremity of the situation hits you on many levels. There are many people living in such cramped conditions, and the imposing smell and muddy surroundings is impossible to escape. It was an alien and imposing place, and was such a contrast from the normal working environment I’m used to being in. Usually I’m photographing musicians and making music videos. “I felt I needed to return, and a few days later I spent most of a day filming and photographing people who lived there. These two in the image were waiting patiently for their mother to finish chatting. They were two of the many I photographed and spoke to that day. The severity of their situation I was told many times, ‘this is not living, this is just surviving’.”

A sharp contrast to Nicolai’s regular subjects of musicians and performers, these children from Kibera, Kenya, live in desperate poverty THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 95

Shooting skills 98

Take your black and white photography skills to the next level with our informative shooting tutorials 98 Understanding flash Learn about flash techniques

104 Achieve perfect studio lighting Part 2 - Take it to a pro level

110 Natural portraits Step out of the studio and use the power of daylight to produce black and whites

116 Black & white portrait tips Industry pros reveal their top tips

120 High & low-key lighting Master modern high and low-key photography techniques

126 Control images with filters Improve your black and whites with filters

132 Master composition Make sure it’s all in the frame

138 Understand metering Shed some light on fine-tuning your images

144 Discover RAW What are RAW files, how do they work and do you really need them?

150 B&W abstracts Search for shape, pattern and structure and go abstract

156 Story behind the still We dissect a shot along with its creator

“There comes a time when you want to become a little more creative” 96 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK






Shooting skills

Understanding your flash Delve into flash photography and learn more about the techniques and equipment that will have your portraits leaping off the page


Understanding your flash


© Christian Hough

Shooting skills


“It’s time to get to grips with studio lights and get yourself out there” Dragging the shutter

This was shot with a single Bowens 500w Monobloc on a Battery Pak. A large silver umbrella was used to light both the car and subject, while a slow shutter and high ISO were used to capture the rapidly fading sunset and background scenery settings: f10, 1/6sec, ISO 400


here comes a time when you want to become a little more creative and progress from a single flash. You can begin utilising more advanced techniques with different equipment, such as multiple speedlights or battery generators and flash heads. Since this bookazine has been written with the enthusiast in mind we’re going to skip the easy part and head straight into the level above. It’s now time to get to grips with studio lights, to get yourself out there, put your skills to the test and get your creative juices flowing! But before you start, consider what equipment you may need. Everybody knows what flash guns and speedlights are. If you’ve only recently

100 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

been introduced to flash photography, you may well be wondering what monoblocs, flash heads and power generators are and why they are used. Monoblocs and flash heads are usually designed for studio use, are much larger than speedlights and will not run on your standard AA batteries. They need to be run off an external power source, such as a battery pack or battery generator. The power requirements, compatibility and technical specifications will vary with manufacturers, but the principle of an external battery and separate head are pretty much the same. Each head will need a physical connection to a battery, via a lead. Monoblocs and generators are more expensive, larger, less portable




camera on tripod

umbrella & flash on battery pack

than speedlights and need to be metered manually. So why would anybody want to use them? Battery-powered monoblocs or battery generators and flash heads produce much more power and produce a much stronger flash. Other factors such as flashrecycle times and the range of lighting

Understanding your flash expert advice

Mel Boonstra tells us about his kit and settings We talk to Mel Boonstra, a leading exponent in senior and graduation portraits, to get some insider knowledge on how he maximises his speedlights when shooting on location. DP: You clearly shoot lots of location work. Do you shoot mainly on location? MB: While I do prefer location, I shoot about 70% location and 30% studio. I prefer location because I like the interaction with the surroundings. It presents infinite possibilities. DP: Do your clients prefer shooting on location? MB: I find my clients are much more relaxed and at ease on location, which helps to capture a more natural feel and more of their personality, as opposed to being in the spotlight within a studio environment. DP: How do you choose your locations? MB: I spend many hours scouting locations in the off-season. I am constantly looking for new locations as I like to keep my photographs looking fresh and interesting. It’s good for the photographs and for business! DP: What lighting equipment and camera do you use? MB: I am shooting with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II N and mainly use a Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L as it creates a nice length for portraits and works well on locations. As for speedlights, I use the 550EX, 580EX-II and 430EX. They have good power range, are extremely portable and Canon’s ETTL fits my style of constant movement without the need to constantly re-meter.

© Christian Hough

DP: How do you meter the lights? MB: 80% of my location shooting is shot in Aperture Priority mode with speedlights set to ETTL. I dial in anywhere from 0 to -2 exposure compensation and +1/3 to +2/3 flash exposure compensation. This allows me to drop the ambient exposure, giving my subject more ‘pop’ and nice blue skies. There are, of course, occasions when lighting is tricky and I will manually meter.

large softBox (140cM)



steel structure




2 sMall softBoxes (60 x 60cM)

faux daylight

A single large diffused light source from the front of the model, such as a large softbox or shoot-through created the nice flat light, while a second large softbox from behind gives the impression of daylight through a window Settings: 1/125sec, f8.0, ISO 250


Dual sPeeDlIghts & translucent shoot-through uMBrella

8two’S company

Dual speedlights mounted on a single stand and shot through a translucent ‘shoot-through’ umbrella. The shot was taken on a bright, sunny day, so needed to utilise the power of both speedlights Settings: -2/3EV, Mode: Av, f2.8, 1/5000sec

© Mel Boonstra Jr



© Christian Hough

Shooting skills

102 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Understanding your flash

© Mel Boonstra Jr



subject subject



speedlight & small softbox (fill light)

less is more




Using a Bowens QuadX power pack and a 3kw Ringflash was all that was needed to get this moody and striking shot – a little goes a long way settings: f10, ISO 100

speedlight & small softbox (key light)

sunset shot

Small softboxes were used to create soft flattering light and utilise the warm sunset as the backdrop. Utilised Canon’s ETTL, set to 2:1 ratio with the Canon STE-II on camera to trigger the flashes. mode: Av, Camera set to -2/3 EV with exposure locked on subject’s face

modifiers you can use greatly increase their versatility and appeal to professional photographers. The trade off, of course, is portability. Many wedding photographers tend to stick with speedlights for their size and portability, whereas photographers who shoot a lot of group portraits and need a little more power may well use a monobloc and battery pack to light a greater area. It’s time to think ahead a little and picture where you see yourself heading in the photographic world! Another option is multiple flash, which many people are put off using simply because they are worried about controlling the light and how best to use it. Yet given a little practise and understanding of the techniques, it will soon become second nature and you’ll be using them without thinking in no time. You may have heard the terms ‘key’ and ‘fill’ before and they apply to all areas of flash photography, regardless of flash equipment. The term ‘key light’ refers to the main flash lighting

the subject. The term ‘fill light’ refers to a flash that is used to lift or ‘fill’ the shadows and create a softer-looking image. Professional portrait photographers will use the key light to shape the face and then add a fill light to control the amount of shadow detail they want, making the image look softer or harder. For example, if you were to photograph somebody without any flash in the evening sun, you would have one side of the subject brightly lit, whereas the other side would have dark shadows. If you decided to add a flash to lift the shadow detail, then you would be ‘filling the shadows’. The principle is the same with flash, although the main flash, known as the ‘key light’ acts as the sun and the secondary flash, the ‘fill light’, brings back some of the shadow detail. There are any number of ways you can use your flash to light your subject, but there are also some tried-and-tested methods to get you started. Many professional portrait photographers will use their key light off-axis for standard portraits, simply because it can be used to create a flattering shape to the face. The fill light is usually used on axis or close to the camera to simply fill in the shadow detail and avoid cross lighting. Remember, your fill light should be at least one-two stops lower to avoid flat-looking portraits. Dragging the shutter is another technique worth exploring; basically this is a really simple way of allowing the ambient light back into your portraits. Roughly translated, it utilises a slow shutter speed with flash. Start by metering and setting your aperture correctly for the flash at 1/125sec, but instead program a lower slower shutter speed into your camera. The subject will be frozen and properly exposed by the flash, while the slower shutter will allow some of the darker surroundings to properly expose. It’s also a great way of allowing ambient light to balance the colour in your photograph and remember that a tripod can be a very useful accessory on slow shutter speeds. You can also use your additional flash in other ways, for example to light the background behind the person you’re photographing or even to light specific parts of them, such as their hair, etc. There are a range of different modifiers and lightshaping tools available to help you create some great effects and give you more control over the light too. Of course, there are tried-and-tested methods, but with a little creativity and experimentation it may still prove to be very beneficial. Get creative and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can produce with even the simplest set-up. Remember to plan your shoots and leave nothing up to chance. Studio lighting and fill in flash may appear daunting and confusing at first however with a bit of practice they are simple to master, so keep going. The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 103

Shooting skills


Achieve perfect studio lighting

Achieve perfect studio lighting Progress into the world of sophisticated studio photography and explore ways in which to turn your own home into a mini black-and-white studio


Shooting skills

“It’s a good idea to start small and expand your equipment as your skills and experience increase” lastolite collapsible velvet background



prop it up!

Using simple things like coloured fabrics and scarfs can give a sense of mystery. Cropping in tight on the image and using the portrait format really concentrates on the eyes. A single softbox to camera left metered at f11 is all it takes


© Yoke Matze

106 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

softbox at f13


t’s a common misconception that you need lots of studio lights to make a great portrait. In fact, all you really need to get yourself going is just one, solitary little light. It’s all a matter of controlling and shaping the light and where you place it that counts. That’s not to say you cannot make great photographs with several lights, either. As you would expect, the more lights you add, the more creative you can be, but the more control and understanding of your lighting you will need. Luckily, we’ve got great tips to guide you through the basics of studio portrait photography and some example lighting setups to get you started. So, what equipment do your purchase for your home studio? If you’re just getting into studio lighting, it’s a good idea to start small and expand your equipment as your skills and experience increase. There

are several 500w/s two-head lighting kits available, and they’re a great place to start. They come with most of the essentials you’ll need to get you up and running, such as stands, reflectors, umbrellas and/or softboxes. Your choice of brand will inevitably depend on your budget; however, its always a good idea to stick with the main, well-known manufacturers, such as Bowens, Elinchrom and Profoto for example. All offer good reliability and UK support. You’ll also find that these systems are the most widely available, which make them perfect for expanding and buying extra accessories for as your demands grow. While backgrounds aren’t the most exciting things to think about, they can really make your image pop. Each type of background has its pro and cons – it’s all about finding what’s right for you. Seamless background paper is the most

Achieve perfect studio lighting

widely used and is available in two widths (1.35m and 2.72m). They are available in a huge range of different colours and are fairly cheap. The cons are that they crease and tear easily and will eventually run out as your trim off the soiled lengths. There is also a small range of vinyl backgrounds, which are more robust than the paper and wipe-clean, but they’re only available in a few colours, and they’re more expensive too. Another option is to use a fabric background, which is similar to a giant sheet and cheaper than both paper and vinyl. The fabric can be stored and transported easily, plus simply popped into the washing machine when dirty. The downside is that the fabric creases easily, ruffles around peoples’ feet and is not suitable for background lighting effects. Finally, it’s also worth considering Lastolite’s collapsible backgrounds. These are good quality, very compact, extremely portable and very quick to set up. You’ve got your first customer, set up your studio and you’re ready to go. Most people are a little nervous and selfconscious within a studio environment, so it’s your job to get them to relax: a relaxed subject can make or break a shoot. It’s time to utilise your interpersonal skills and establish a little rapport! Portrait photography is as much about dealing with people as it is taking pictures, and a little conversation while you’re metering your lights can work wonders for your shoot. Try to establish a common interest, such as travel and holidays. These are often a good place to start and tend to invoke happy black seamless paper background

subject 500w head with red gel 500w head with blue gel

camera 60 x 60 softbox

gel with your model


Adding a couple of coloured gels to your setup can make the image more visually appealing. Meter your key light (camera left) at f11 and then increase the colour of the gels until you achieve the desired effect. The power needed for the gels will vary, depending on the skin and hair tone of your model. In this setup the 500w head with red gel is mounted on the ground and the 500w head with blue gel is mounted high above the subject on a boom stand © Christian Hough

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 107

Shooting skills

keep it simple

A two-light setup against black seamless paper really works for this image, which makes the most of the landscape framing. Meter your key light at 45 degrees (left) and then your fill light between one and two stops lower (around f5.6-f8). Place the fill close to the camera axis (right) to help lift those shadows © Christian Hough

Useful tips

© Yoke Matze

black seamless paper background

Home studio helpers


Histogram and HigHligHts: The histogram is a useful visual tool to help you judge your exposures at the time of shooting and assist you in spotting and rectifying problems straightaway. As you shoot more studio photography, you’ll see that the histogram will behave differently when you change backgrounds and lighting. A rule of thumb is to expose properly and achieve a full histogram. However, if you are shooting on a very dark background, you’ll notice the histogram shift to the left. If you’re shooting on with a high-key background, you should try to achieve a fairly full histogram with a noticeable spike at the far right-hand edge where the highlights are just clipping. The flashing highlight function will help you to see if you’re clipping that all-important highlight data!

60 x 60 softbox at f5.6

lastolite collapsible velvet background


softbox at f13



108 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book


black polyboard

raW: It always pays to shoot RAW for maximum flexibility when adjusting images in post-processing. Think of a RAW file as a digital negative: it contains more information than a compressed JPEG and will therefore give you the highest level of flexibility when it comes to adjusting the exposure, contrast and dynamic range in your shots for example. It also opens the door to more aggressive post-shoot noise removal, if necessary.

60 x 60 softbox at f11

simply black & White

A single softbox to camera left at f11, a velvet hood and black velvet background really give this image tons of shadows. Add a simple blackwhite conversion and you’ve got loads of drama!

© Christian Hough

Achieve perfect studio lighting expert advice

Yoke Matze shares her favourite lighting setups and settings Yoke Matze is a seasoned portrait photographer and lecturer in London, with 20 years of experience. Yoke runs her own portrait school in London and her work has been widely exhibited. Digital Photographer meets up with Yoke to find out how she goes about her portrait sessions. DP: How do you meter your lights? YM: For a single light, I meter the reflected light at the subject. However, for dual lighting, I tend to meter each light individually. As for a hair light, I carefully avoid burning out the highlights and adjust the light depending on the hair of the model. DP: Do you have any preferred lighting setups? YM: Not really. I generally work instinctively and react to each person, so have no ‘fixed’ lighting per se. My starting point is always a key light at 45 degrees and a little fill light nearer to the camera. I tailor the lighting towards each subject. DP: Do you change the lighting when shooting the same subject? YM: Once the person feels relaxed and confident I suggest trying something different, both in terms of lighting and poses. I usually do this towards the end of a session. DP: What are your favourite reflectors for the home studio? YM: Less is more. I use a softbox as the main light and an umbrella as a fill. I really like to use a single light without a reflector, to create a strong theatrical feel to the image. DP: How do you get your subjects to relax? YM: I tend to treat them with respect and usually chat before the session. We look at some photo books, which help to guide me in terms of the type of photograph the person likes. Effectively, the model becomes part of decision-making process.


lastolite Hilite


The Lastolite Hilite background gets the high-key background in small spaces. Single reflective umbrella to camera left at f11, with two studio heads in each side of the highlight; powered background lights clipping histogram

500W HeaD

500W HeaD subject

60 x 60 softbox at f11


“A relaxed subject can help to make or break a shoot” memories, which naturally make the subject feel more positive. Get organised and ensure that all of your equipment is set up before your subject/s arrive. This will help you to create a relaxed atmosphere and concentrate on the person in front of the lens. It’s now time to guide and pose your subject. A good pose really makes a photograph, so it’s a good opportunity for you to think about shape and how the lens exaggerates certain aspects of

the body. You’ll also find that some poses work better for women than for men, and vice versa. For example, male subjects look more masculine when the head remains at 90 degrees to the shoulders or leaning on the far elbow. A female subject, on the other hand, tends to suit a tilt of the head towards the near shoulder, with the hands placed in the lap. Experiment with lots of different poses. Utilise the legs, arms and hands to help create shape and interest, but be mindful of them getting in front of the face. Try purchasing a couple of different backless seats and stools and see which one works best for your subject. Finally, don’t be afraid to get stuck in and demonstrate the pose yourself. THE bLAck & WHITE PHOTOgrAPHY bOOk 109

Shooting skills

Take portraits in natural light We step out of the studio and use the power of daylight to produce black-and-white portraits 110 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Take portraits in natural light


How best to transform a best friend’s picture into something else? Be prepared when he or she is not. It’s not only the eyes that produce a nice photograph shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 85mm f1.2 lens at 85mm, f1.2, 1/4000sec, ISO 100 lighting setup: Sunny end of the day at the beach

© Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 111

Shooting skills


© Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

Surf’S up

Munich, Germany. Taken on the perpetual wave. The bridge just next to this world renowned surf site allowed me to have this unusual point of view. I lived there for two years, trying as much as I could to get the shot of a surfer Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 70-200mm lens at 73mm and f2.8, 1/320sec, ISO 100 Lighting setup: Natural light on a grey day, diffused through clouds and nearby trees


Mont Saint Michel, France. Not the place you’d think about for portraiture, but the coast and its always-changing weather produce a wonderful light for black-and-white portraits Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 85mm lens at 85mm and f1.2, 1/3200sec, ISO 100 Lighting setup: Natural light, a bit overexposed to get a high-key picture with postproduction

“Natural light portraits provide perfect opportunities to work outside the studio”


atural light is a real gift for photographers – and a free one at that. It’s amazing what can be achieved using a large window and a few key accessories. With a well-positioned model and the tilt of a reflector, you can achieve stunning black-and-white portraits all without the flicker of a single studio light. Natural light portraits provide perfect opportunities to work outside the confines of a studio. Whether you opt for an environmental family portrait in a beautiful garden or a moody model shot gazing out of a window, there are plenty of opportunities to grab hold of. When shooting naturally lit portraits indoors, your first step should be to identify the best light source. Ideally this should be a large unobstructed window that spans as wide and high as possible. Windows that are positioned low to the

112 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

floor are perfect for creating a glorious light box to illuminate the whole of your subject rather than just the face, whereas windows positioned very high in the wall or Velux windows in the roof space are trickier to work with. It’s often useful if the window has net curtains as these act as a great diffuser to soften the light. For a stronger, contrasty look, use bulldog clips to pin the nets up and out of sight. It’s also worth noting what lies directly outside the window. Watch out for objects such as cars, painted walls or dominating foliage that could cause colour casts in your shots. This obviously is more of an issue when shooting in colour, but it can also affect the temperature of your shots in black and white too. When shooting in natural light, you need to be aware of its direction and its effects and remember soft light are easiest to work with. It’s the kind of light that hits

the subject gently on one side of the face and tapers out to create soft shadows on the other side of the face. Hard light is direct and is intensified when the source is made smaller. A small window, for example, will produce a harder beam of light as opposed to a big window. The result of hard light is harsh shadows and very bright highlights. The harsh light of the midday sun can create unsightly shadows in portraits. Since it sits high in the sky at this time, the light hits the top of the model’s head and produces ugly shadows under the nose and in the eye sockets. Unless you plan to create an edgy, high-contrast portrait, avoid shooting in direct sunlight at midday. Look for shady areas for a softer effect or head indoors to create a window portrait instead. For a classically well-lit window portrait, you should position your model side-on to the window, creating highlights on one

Take portraits in natural light Kit advice

Consider this kit to create compositions to be proud of

VelVet What it does: Gives you more control over the natural light Using dark coloured velvet, you can help control the light and subtract or ‘dull’ it. Black velvet has the most colour absorbing properties, although any dark shade will do the trick nicely.

ReflectoR What it does: Bounces light and fills in any unwanted shadows To bounce light, use a reflector to direct light into the face. You can buy reflectors in silver, gold and white or you can easily make your own using a piece of card covered in kitchen foil. It’s a cheap, quick fix.

WindoW light What it does: Enables you to create portraits with natural light while indoors Of course the most important thing in any photo is the perfect light. A large window is all you need to create a stunning portrait in black and white. The lower it is to the ground the better.

© Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

“Watch out for objects or dominating foliage that could cause colour casts” The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 113

Shooting skills EXPERT ADVICE

Nicolas OrillardDemaire tells us how to get great portraits What are the main considerations for successful portraiture? NOD: You need to keep in mind that your model, whether pro or not, will have a limited attention time frame. Even if it’s physically there, the time to catch the life in their eyes can sometimes only last five minutes. You need to hurry before they get bored. Beauty comes from every single person on Earth – you just need to find what exactly can make your subject stand out from the crowd. And be relaxed; talk with the person behind the lens. You can see stress on people’s faces, even if they are laughing… What are your preferred techniques when shooting in natural light? NOD: More than anything else, using a very large aperture (f1.2) to let the bokeh transform the picture. I focus on the eyes and all the rest is ‘sweet’. I generally try to catch a moment. I don’t really like people posing for me; I like natural poses as they get on well with natural light! Do you find certain faces or characteristics work better in black and white? NOD: For me, wrinkles, freckles, scars and natural skin texture


I could look directly in his eyes, touching his soul, reading a part of his past life, full of anger and sadness. Quite an intense moment where I needed to act quickly Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 85mm f1.2 lens at 85mm and f1.2, 1/125sec, ISO 100 lighting setup: Rainy day in an alley of trees, making light and shade everywhere on his face

have more character than any hard post-processed fashion pictures. These little details are often wonders when correctly used in a B&W portrait. They tell the story of a person, as it’s part of their life. And as beautiful as a picture can be, most of the time if you see the ‘wow’ factor, it is because it tells you a story. You can read the picture, and not just look at it. What is the appeal of naturally lit B&W portraits? NOD: First of all, natural light is free of charge. No need for soft boxes, flashes etc. I prefer to shoot when the sun is far from its highest point – often in the evening – as this makes hard shadows disappear, creates fewer contrast differences and gives you a more natural photograph. What are your top shooting tips for the genre? NOD: Think black and white. Try to see structures, lines and contrast more than colors. - Avoid direct sunlight, especially between 11am and 4pm. - If possible, use prime lenses. Build and optic quality is at its best, and most of them have a large aperture that enables you to play with the depth of field. - Focus on the eyes. Eye contact is a great way to make a portrait ‘come to life’. - Rain and clouds are your friends – be prepared to get wet! - Don’t forget to talk with the person you are shooting. Try to catch attentions and motivate the crew! - Act quickly. The sparkle in a model’s eye can quickly fade.

side of the face and soft shadows on the other. This provides a three-dimensional look, unlike the flat effect you would achieve if you positioned your model facing straight towards the window. You can use a white wall or white reflector on the opposite side to the window to bounce light and fill in the shadows a little. Likewise, if you needed to subtract light, then a black surface will help absorb light and tame the highlights. Black velvet absorbs light particularly well, so pick up a scrap from your local textiles shop and mount to a piece of card for a low-cost accessory. This is known as subtractive lighting. A well-placed piece of black card either side of the face can produce a wonderful effect, adding definition to the temples and cheekbones. Since you are relying on nature to provide your light, it’s a great help to work with a lens that has a large aperture, so it can let as much light in as possible. An 85mm or 50mm lens at f1.8 or even f1.2 will help you achieve stunning portraits even when the light is limited. Using a wide aperture will also mean you can achieve wonderfully creamy backgrounds, while your subjects, or parts of, remain pin-sharp in the foreground. Just because you’re shooting in natural light don’t let all your basic portrait skills go out the window. Remember the classic portraiture rules. Always focus on the eyes and ensure they’re the sharpest part of your image. Use a large aperture to create a good depth of field, throwing your background out of focus and keeping the attention on your subject. Finally, always shoot in RAW if you can. This means you have ultimate control over your image after it has been captured. You can tweak the exposure, add fill light and generally improve on things if the lighting was not quite as expected. It’s the best back-up plan if you want to get creative post-shoot.


The first model you have is you! A great way to try to test your gear and how the light works is by taking a self-portrait Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 50mm lens at 50mm and f7.1, 1/40sec, ISO 100 lighting setup: In a dark room with natural light coming from a window and a small lamp giving a bit of directed light

© Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

114 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

© Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

Take portraits in natural light

Top tips when shooting in natural light 1 Avoid shooting when the sun is low in the sky and at window level 2 For a low-cost accessory, use white card to bounce the light and black card to help absorb and subtract it 3 For a straight-on portrait, face your subject straight on into the light and use black card either side of the face to add shadow definition to the cheekbones and temples 4 By positioning your model around two metres from a wall or background you will be able to create a dark or black backdrop due to the fall-off of light 5 Use a reflector on the darkest side of your model to balance the light in their eyes

6 For indoor window shots avoid shooting when the sun is low in the sky. When shooting outside, embrace the low-lying sun 7 Fill-in flash can give natural portraits an editorial feel. Use it when shooting on the beach to create a polished look 8 Position your subjects away from the sun on bright days to avoid squinting 9 Outdoor portraits work will in the dappled light of tree branches. The shadows can produce great textures in black and white 10 For a harsh contrasty effect, position your subject next to a window with slatted blinds to create a patterned effect on the face

Rainy poRtRait

The end of a rainy day outside shooting with model Solenne. That was her first time posing. She has such a great presence and beautiful eyes Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 85mm f1.2 lens at 85mm and f1.2, 1/200sec, ISO 100 Lighting setup: Taken in my garden on a rainy day, the foliage of the trees was a useful diffuser © Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 115

Shooting skills

Black & white portrait tips Perfect your monochromatic portrait skills as the pros in the genre reveal

their top tips 1 Use natural light

© Anya Brewley Schultheiss

Photographer Anya Brewley Schultheiss ( captured this black-and-white portrait using natural diffused light from a side window. “I wanted the setup to be uncomplicated and produce soft, smooth tones, which the black-andwhite conversion also adds to. The photo has the feeling of delicacy and innocence, which is what I wanted to convey.”

2 Children

Children and babies take particularly beautiful black-and-white portraits, and if you’re looking at it from a business perspective then the monochromatic finish will sell particularly well to parents and grandparents.



Black-and-white portraiture works effectively in high-contrast settings. Look for plain dark or white backgrounds to enhance the subject. This style of photography works particularly well with baby photography in the studio.

surrounding scenery 5 Include

© Anya Brewley Schultheiss

3 Blur the background

To keep the subject matter in focus and have a bokehblurred background effect, set your camera to a shallow depth of field and keep your focal point on the eyes. A prime lens will work best for this effect, and the wider you can open it the better.


To give your portraits context, include the surroundings and relevant objects in the scene. Mayra Roubach (www. captured this image of Afro-Cuban folklore performers inside the cave of El Palenque de los Cimarrones. “[It] is a cave that used to be a runway for the slaves who escaped from the plantations in Vinales, Cuba. They used to seek refuge in this hideout.”

© Mayra Roubach

Black & white portrait tips 6 Go vintage

Photographer Dave Kai Piper (www. took the shot to the left with a single Speedlight modified with an Orbis ringflash adapter. His simple setup shows you don’t need lots of fancy equipment to do a high-end shoot. The soft lighting adds impact to the vintage styling of the clothes, hair and makeup.

7 Use negative space

© Dave Kai Piper

In this image, Andy Teo has used the dark space and shadows to create a dramatic portrait. “Despite emerging from a mud hut, this Malawi gent was immaculately dressed for church,” he explains. “This was taken on a medical mission to Malawi I was part of in 2009. I used the natural window light and a Canon EOS 5D with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens.” Andy finds it easier to visualise the scene in black and white before he presses the shutter. He remembers to take a close look at where the shadows are falling and makes sure they are generating some sort of interest before he commits.

© Andy Teo

© Eric Fabico

8 Think fashion

Eric Fabico took the high-end fashion portrait shown above called Monochromatic Eve. The choice of clothing, makeup and hair all stand out in a black-andwhite finish.

9Textures and patterns

The textured hair in this shot enhances the model. Look for contrasting textures to make an impression. If your subject has textured skin, take advantage of this by cropping in close to the face.

10 Emphasise the eyes

Putting emphasis on the eyes of the subject will create drama for the whole image. The eyes are key to many successful portraits – if the model is looking at the camera, make sure the focal point is on them. The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 117

Shooting skills 13 Document the event

© John Powell


Use props

© Dave Kai Piper

One way to transform your blackand-white image into something different is to use props and makeup, as Dave has demonstrated with his image Ice Queen. “Originally shot for a magazine a couple of years ago, the Ice Queen seems to be somewhat of a standout photo in my portfolio,” he explains. “It’s one of my favourites; I particularly like the catch lights. I shrank photos of the Earth into her eyes to create them. When the photo is printed large, you can make out the shape of England.”

12 Take a candid portrait

Snapping documentary images on the go is great fun. A candid street portrait finished in black and white, if shot in the right circumstances, looks great and traditional. Neha Singh ( took this image of a coconut seller in Hampi, India. Neha felt the melancholy look on this old man’s face stood out. Glimpses of his life are included in the surrounding scenery.

© Neha Singh

118 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

© Hannah Couzens

The image to the left was taken in freezing cold temperatures (-5 degrees celsius) at the world’s toughest endurance course: The Tough Guy Challenge. Photographer John Powell (www. explains how he captured the moment: “Here, runners are shown soaked to the skin, having to wait their turn to negotiate a 12-foot-long tunnel of tractor tyres after having just waded through ice cold water, four feet deep!” To get the most from the situation, John advises: “Make sure your image contains a full range of tones and that your subject has feeling and atmosphere, and also try to capture the mood of your subject and their surroundings.”

14 Side-light your subject

Photographer Hannah Couzens ( snapped this black-and-white portrait of professional footballer Jay Bothroyd. “I used side lighting to accentuate his athletic physique and to create a strong contrast within the image,” she tells us. “This was a three-light setup using Bowens 500W Esprit gridded heads.”

Black & white portrait tips © Anya Brewley Schultheiss

© Kim Aldis

15 Add a subtle tone

Kim Aldis ( took this character close-up portrait of a man named Rusty in South Devon. To enhance the portrait she added a tone, as she explains: “Digital monochrome can sometimes look a little clinical, and in the film days bromide printing paper had a hint of colour to it. I like to replicate this effect by toning the image a touch with a little warmth in the highlights and alter some blue blacks. Keep it subtle, though, as it’s easy to overdo.”

16 Frame the moment

Photography enthusiast Bryan Rapadas ( got the timing of this portrait just right. “When the smoke machine blew smoke at the front stage, Jay Contreras, the lead vocalist of the Kamikazee, puffed some and blew it as if he was smoking with a cigarette.”

17 Take a self-portrait

Anya Brewley Schultheiss wanted her self-portrait profile to jump out, especially the hair, so she selected to backlight it and converted the image to black and white. “The black-and-white finish highlights the curves and lines of the face and the wildness of the hair exactly as I pictured it,” she says.

18 Silhouette

Detail is not always necessary, as this example shows. Look for interesting profiles. If you want to take this style of image, try to keep the background as plain as possible. You can push the darks and lights at the editing stage if you don’t capture it first in camera.

19 Converting

Although there is the option to shoot in black and white in most cameras, it is recommend you shoot in colour and convert later. When at the editing stage, use the channel mixers so you can have full control over the tone and contrast of the image. Tweak the image in Levels if it needs it to finish it off.

20 Communication

Unless you want to take a candid image then communicating with your models is important to ensure you’re getting what it is you want out of the shoot. If it’s a set-up shoot make sure you pre-plan what you’re going to do and don’t leave it to chance. You can experiment with your approach once you’ve achieved what you set out to do.

© Bryan Rapadas

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 119

Shooting skills

High & lowkey lighting Find out how to master modern high and low-key photography techniques and enhance your blackand-white portraiture


High & low-key lighting


Shooting skills

We delve into the world of high and low-key photography


he subject of high-key photography is a great place to start this feature. However, we need to break this down into its commensurate parts if we’re not going to get confused between the two different types of high key. It’s therefore a good time to make the distinction between high-key photographs and the high-key background, as they are both frequently confused. The high-key background is just that – white – whereas a high-key photograph is more commonly described as a photograph consisting of predominantly light tones. We’ll look more at achieving the highkey background in this section and will cover different setups, plus ways in which it can be achieved, as this tends to be the more difficult to grasp. With regards to the high-key photograph, we’ll get some

© Christian Hough


The Lastolite black velvet collapsible background works really well for close-proximity portraits and keeps that background looking black. Add a single light to really cast those shadows and add a touch of drama Lastolite collapsible black velvet background

Subject and sax

Studio light fitted with 60 x 60 softbox

Camera at f11

Essential kit

advice from professional photographer Annabel Williams and look at a very quick alternative post-processing technique that can be applied to almost every high-key image to give your photograph that overall light-contrasting appearance. The beauty of the high-key background lies in the fact that it’s uncluttered, totally neutral and places the emphasis of the shot on the most important thing – the subjects. Not only does it work well with all types of mood from happy to sad, it also has an added dimension when printing. The high contrast of the high-key background makes it perfect for all types of printing medium, from paper to the very popular canvas. It’s true that whether you’re in the studio or on location, the overall tonality of the shot will determine the photograph’s suitability for any form of post-processing. So if you have a lot of very dark areas, it probably wouldn’t be suitable for high key. However, you will often find that the highkey effect is exacerbated in post-processing, either by curves or other Photoshop techniques. This only applies when the tonality of the shot is right to begin with. Start by exposing your shots properly and think about your post-processing afterwards. By exposing ‘properly’, we mean exposing to achieve a complete histogram, or so that the subject has a balance of highlights and shadows. This will give you maximum flexibility for both editing and retaining highlight data where it is needed. It’s important to look after that important highlight detail as most image data resides in the shadow areas. Hence, it is easier to retrieve shadow information than highlight detail. By deliberately overexposing to make the image high key in camera, we are likely to get a very washed-out and flat image, plus risk losing the important highlight detail that we may

Useful products for your high and low-key shots

Flash heads

A decent set of flash heads is a prerequisite for studio photography, regardless of whether you’re shooting high key or low key, or indeed portraits – if you’re going to shoot products these will come in handy then too. The Bowens Gemini Heads (pictured) are a great investment and come with a great range of modifiers and accessories when you eventually decide to expand your setup. You will likely also get stands and accessories when you purchase the heads, but make sure this is the case before you buy.


Collapsible black velvet background

If you’re interested in low-key photography, then a black velvet background is absolutely essential, and the Lastolite Collapsible Black Velvet Background (pictured) is a great place to start. The crease-resistant velvet fabric absorbs the light to give a deep, even rich black background colour, and it folds into a third of its original size for easy transportation. If you’re lucky enough to have a sizeable piece of black velvet lying around, then this will work well too, but be aware that it probably won’t be as easy to transport around.

Illuminated background

An illuminated background is perfect for high-key images. You can get your subject right up to the background without any resulting spill light, and say goodbye to awkward background supports, white sheets and washed-out images. The Lastolite HiLite (pictured) is one such background, and it provides a quick and easy way to achieve a high-key background. If you’re interested in an illuminated background, make sure you know what size you need – not only can the wrong size affect your studio setup, you may be spending far more than you need to.

High & low-key lighting White Background Paper

Studio lights fitted with Bowens High performance reflectors

Subject Fill light and softbox at f5.6 mounted up high on stand

Key light and silver umbrella at f11


“Start by exposing your shots properly and think about your post-processing afterwards”


Soft light for children always works beautifully, as their faces still have very gentle contours and relatively few creases. Adding a touch of fill with a second light really helps soften their features even further. Be sure to get that fill light up high, just right to the camera axis, avoiding the second catchlight in the eyes


Shooting skills Lastolite HiLite background

Studio light fitted with standard Bowens reflectors Baby on Lasolite Baby Poser

Studio flash and small silver umbrella at f11



© Christian Hough


Babies can be difficult subjects to photograph, but the lighting setup is easy and can be done in a small space. Set up your Lastolite HiLite or other white backdrop and throw a fur rug over the baby poser. Then simply meter your key light to about f11 and adjust the background power as necessary. It’s quick and very easy to do!

High-key processing in Photoshop

your image and select Hue/ Saturation from the Layers palette. 1Open

the image using the 2Desaturate Saturation slider and click OK.

We could use the Curves palette, but let’s play with another very simple technique to give your images a different high-key feel. It’s super-quick, very simple and can be modified and adapted to suit your own images and photographic style. You can, of course, vary the layers and saturation, selectively colouring or keeping it mono. Be creative, play around with the image and experiment to see what you can create.

the Hue/Satuation layer by the menu on the Layers palette, Simply adjust the opacity of the Hue/ 3Highlight 4From 5Saturation clicking on it once. select Overlay and blend the layers. layer to your own taste.

124 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

High & low-key lighting

“Low-key photography is just as effective as high key, but it’s preferred when the photographer is trying to create a more serious mood or dramatic feel”

High-key tricks & tips

Annabel Williams is no stranger to beautiful high-key images. We find out how she approaches her modern lifestyle photography and stunning high-key photographs Check out one of Annabel’s many seminars to help get you started… Tel: 01539 821791 Email: [email protected] Web:

the face is the key thing for me and can even help the background wash out even more, making the image become softer and lighter.

Q: When you shoot, do you envisage the outcome of the image before or after post-processing?

Q: We know you’re a bit of a master at high-key photography. What do you consider to be important factors for a high-key photograph?

AW: As the term relates to indoor studio lighting, it’s been years since I’ve shot against a high-key background! However, when I think about high key, I see it as a washed-out light feel to my images, which has been shot outdoors on a beach, for instance.

Q: What sort of lighting conditions do you prefer for your high-key work?

AW: I prefer very soft and flat light on the subject’s face, but it doesn’t end there! I love bright sunlight in areas of the background or across parts of their clothes, but always keep the light soft and even on their faces.

Q: What considerations do you make when setting your exposure?

AW: I’m not one for checking the histogram, as I am too busy relating to the person to ensure I get the most natural expression possible. I always shoot on AV with a wide aperture. Exposing for

be unable to retrieve later. So bag your image first and the rest will follow! There are several ways of processing your images to achieve that high-key feel, from curves to layer blending. Low key is simply the reverse of high key. Instead of the image consisting of a lot of light tones, it will contain mainly dark tones and deep shadow areas. Low-key photography is just as effective as high key, but it tends to be preferred when the photographer is trying to create a more serious mood or dramatic feel. For example, location shots at night work really well and will help you maximise the shadow areas, which would be difficult to do in the midday sun. Shadows are just as important as light, and will be used to give shape and texture to your subject.

AW: I always envisage the image as I shoot it. I aim to get it right in camera, from cropping and positioning to exposure. The only thing I do afterwards is use curves to slightly brighten up the image. 99% of my work is in the original image.

Q: You shoot mostly natural light and on location. What pieces of equipment wouldn’t you be without?

AW: My Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, spare body, 70-200mm IS and 35-70mm IS. I don’t use flash on portrait shoots, but occasionally use a reflector on a commercial shoot if I have no choice about the lighting. Keep it simple, that’s my motto!

Q: What three things would you recommend for somebody wanting to shoot high-key portraits?

AW: Shoot on a wide aperture to get shallow depth of field. Try to use a light background, such as soft sand on a beach. I also find that soft-coloured clothes blend with the background, and give an overall light effect. Avoid deliberately overexposing, but overall, just don’t worry about it all too much and go out and shoot.

There are several ways to achieve a low-key background within a studio environment, ranging from paper to fabric. The amount of space you have will help determine the type of background you choose, the modifiers you utilise on your lights and how far you position your subject from the background. In a large studio, black or thunder-grey background paper is ideal, as the lights can be placed where they won’t reflect off the background and you’ll have enough depth of field that the creases will not be noticeable. In a small studio or living room this won’t always be ideal, but don’t panic – we’ll look at some excellent products to help you maximise the potential of your space.

more poWer


Make the light even softer by literally just lighting the background with a bit more power. Use a couple of white reflectors or polyboards to reflect light back onto the subject. This creates a very gentle summer haze and works well with a touch of movement

White reflective wall

High-power Bowens lights fitted with Bowens Highperformance reflectors

Subject f13

© Christian Hough

White polyboards


ThE black & WhiTE PhoTograPhy book 125

Shooting skills

Control images with filters

Be it for sweeping landscapes or simple portraits, black-and-white images are often bettered with the right filter – learn how here Images © Matt Golowczynski


Control images with filters


Shooting skills

Master the use of filters in digital photography ARCHITECTURE

Complex architecture with strong geometric shapes like this building works best if there’s plenty of contrast in your shot. As with the other image on this page, an orange filter helps to provide this contrast boost and really bring out the shapes and smooth textures of the structure, for added impact Shot details: Canon EOS 350D with 18-55mm lens at 18mm and f11, 1/100sec, ISO 200


Architecture is another subject which can lend itself well to black-and-white filter photography. Here, an orange filter has helped separate the shadow and highlight details in the structure, boosting overall contrast Shot details: Nikon D700 with 24-70mm lens at 24mm and f11, 1/8sec, ISO 800


s with a number of other traditional photographic practices, filters have fallen a little out of fashion since the advent of digital capture and manipulation. What was once a useful way to control tonality, and a way for a photographer to accentuate key elements within a scene, has today been sadly lost among a number of post-capture processing options. So what argument remains for the use of filters prior to capture? Getting it right in-camera offers more than just the immediate satisfaction of seeing your envisaged results instantly – something Photoshop will never be able to replicate. Using filters to achieve a particular aim hones the photographic eye, and enables the photographer to recognise scenes with potential for striking black and white images. Whether you intervene to bring out a few clouds in a landscape, or boost contrast in the strong geometry of an architectural image, the application of filters is a useful one to understand. Both coloured and non-coloured filters can be used for black and white photography. Coloured filters work by filtering out certain wavelengths of light and letting others through. These wavelengths correspond to the different


colours we see, all of which can be created by mixing different proportions of red, blue and green light. The role of any filter is to change something about the light coming into the lens – and by using a coloured one we can decide which wavelengths ultimately reach the sensor. The most common types for black and white are red, green, orange and yellow, each of which transmit their own colour and absorb others. What results is the same colour recording lighter next to the absorbed colours, which record darker. Yellow filters are typically the first port of call for landscapes and portraits, as their effects retain a neutrality which is lost with other filters. As well as lightening yellows, they also lighten some reds and greens while darkening blues a little – which makes them useful for bringing out clouds from skies. Orange filters serve a similar purpose, darkening blues and greens while lightening reds, greens and yellows, the result being that blue skies are darkened even further to provide a much more noticeable contrast. With red and green being two of the three primary colours, their effects are easier to understand: red filters absorb blue and green while green filters absorb blue and red. A red filter used in the same scenario will have the greatest

Control images with filters Filter tips and tricks

Award-winning photographer and author Ross Hoddinott is as good an authority on outdoor photography as there is. The author of six photography books, including The Digital Photographer’s Guide To Filters (2007), Ross was awarded the accolade of ‘British Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ last year, and together with photographer Mark Bauer, runs a series of workshops where he shares his expertise of South West England with other photographers. For more information on Ross visit, and for further details of his workshops visit

What camera equipment do you use?

Do you have any preferred type of filter system?

RH: I’m a Nikon user, using both D700 and D300 bodies, along with a host of Nikkor, Zeiss and some Sigma optics.

RH: For quality and versatility, the Lee Filters system is, in my opinion, unrivalled. Its 100mm size is just large enough to be used in combination with superwide angles without vignetting occurring, and being customisable, you can have one, two or three filter slots and also add an adapter ring to take a polarising filter.

Which filter do you find the most useful for black and white work? RH: In my view, the most useful filters for atmospheric black and white landscape photography are neutral density filters, particularly extreme density versions like the Lee ‘Big Stopper’. 10-stop ND filters are currently very popular and used appropriately they create striking, surreal looking results. They are particularly effective in overcast light and their effect suits conversion to mono – I would say they are definitely a must-have for black and white landscape photographers these days.

What tips would you have for anyone who is starting out using filters? RH: Avoid the temptation to overuse filters. Filters are essential accessories, but their effect can be very seductive through the viewfinder. Although filters are primarily designed to correct and enhance an image, used incorrectly they can also ruin a great shot just as easily!


The medium contrast of an orange filter is ideal for enhancing landscape images such as this one, bringing greater contrast to the building as well as the sky Shot details: Nikon D700 with 24-70mm lens at 24mm and f11, 1/125, ISO 200


Shooting skills What to look for

Once you’ve decided to invest in a filter or two, the next issue is which type to go for. Filters may be circular and threaded onto a lens, or square and mounted in a holder. The advantage of the former is that it’s all you need – simply screw it in and you can start shooting. Some also allow you to continue using a lens hood when in place. The disadvantage is that it will only fit one particular filter thread, meaning it may well only fit

one of your lenses. Stepping rings offer a solution, with one side screwed into a lens and the other into a larger diameter filter. Square filters differ in that their use isn’t dictated by a particular filter thread, although they require an adaptor and holder for them to be mounted. Even so, they allow for the same filter to be used across different lenses simply by changing the adaptor – which is often cheaper than the price of an additional filter. Filters also differ in how they are made, with resin, glass or polyester filters being the most commonly used materials. Glass and resin filters are recommended for optimum quality – and this will typically be reflected in their price – but the former is more susceptible to damage if mishandled.

“The filter you should use will be the same colour as the details in your scene you wish to emphasise” effect, rendering blue skies and foliage as black to introduce a sense of drama. Green filters, meanwhile, are perhaps used less, but are called upon when shooting foliage. Blue filters also exist, though they are seldom used in black and white photography. It’s not just coloured filters that find their place in black and white photography, though. Polarisers can still be used to eliminate reflections and boost contrast, just as neutral density graduated filters can be called upon to help balance brighter areas against darker ones. Furthermore, standard neutral density filters are especially useful for cutting down the exposure by a few stops – particularly when a slower shutter speed is desired. Knowing which to use in a given situation takes some practise, but understanding which colours a filter absorbs and transmits is key. Broadly speaking, the filter you should use will be the same colour as the details in your scene you wish to emphasise, although it’s useful to consider how such a filter will affect the other colours in your scene. Other filters such as polarisers and neutral density types should be used with the same considerations, and in the same way, as for colour photography. As all modern DSLRs use TTL metering to calculate exposure, you’ll find that fronting their lenses with a filter automatically adjusts the reading. As such, it will only be necessary to decide whether these exposure settings are still suitable for the situation, though occasionally you may need to apply exposure compensation depending on the scene and filter you have chosen. One way to work out whether any adjustment is necessary is to use live view in conjunction with a histogram, if you 130 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

camera has both of these options. That way you can check whether the exposure at which your image will retain a good tonal balance, and you will also be able to witness the effects your filter has on the scene. It’s also a very quick way to see whether any vignetting has occurred through filter use, which is particularly noticeable with circular threaded filters used at wide apertures. Of course, there’s no requirement for you to use a filter for each black and white image that you take. Indeed, many won’t require one at all, and some images may suffer from an incorrectly used filter. It may also be tempting to reach for the strongest filter you have for the greatest effect, but these will not always be suitable. You will need to bear in mind that filters tend to work best in fine conditions, such as when there is already a good contrast in the scene. In the case of a landscape, for example, this could be when there are already defined clouds against a deep blue sky.


The subtle contrast of a yellow filter has helped separate the main focus in this image from the surrounding buildings Shot details: Nikon D700 with 24-70mm lens at 24mm and f10, 1/160sec, ISO 400


A polariser was used in this image, which has helped increase the contrast between the blue sky and the white clouds Shot details: Canon EOS 350D with 18-55mm lens at 18mm and f11, 1/100sec, ISO 200

Control images with filters

Compare and contrast Thedifferingeffectsofcolourfilters As different as the colours are in this image, the black and white conversion shows how similarly the two colours have recorded in tones. Different colour filters show the ways in which this can be altered, either by a red filter to make the flower brighter than the background, or a green one to make it darker.


Shot details: Nikon D700 with 24-70mm lens at 70mm and f8, 1/40sec, ISO 400


Shot details: Nikon D700 with 24-70mm lens at 70mm and f8, 1/40sec, ISO 400


Shot details: Nikon D700 with 24-70mm lens at 70mm and f4, 1/25sec, ISO 400


Shot details: Nikon D700 with 24-70mm lens at 70mm and f4, 1/15sec, ISO 400


Shooting skills


Master composition

Master composition

Follow this in-depth guide to discover the principles of good composition in black-and-white photography


To accentuate perspective, choose your lens and viewpoint carefully. A wide-angle lens and a central viewpoint will emphasise distance within a shot


Shooting skills

Rules of composition: when to use and when to break…



Look for pattern and texture in your subjects. These can produce great abstract images if photographed close-up, or add interest to an otherwise flat image

omposition is a tricky thing to master. Unlike the technical aspects of picturetaking, composition cannot be measured like exposure, white balance or focus. It’s a subjective thing that requires personal taste and an appreciation for a range of aspects such as line, shape, perspective and value – to name a few. Without a solid set of rules, composing photographs well can feel a little overwhelming. Over the next few pages you will discover some of the aspects that contribute to a well-composed shot. It’s up to you to figure out the best combination for your shot, put them into practice and assess how you can use them to emphasise your scene. It’s about self-expression and evoking mood and atmosphere, rather than replicating the scene as your camera sees it. The word ‘composition’ is defined as ‘a mixture of ingredients’ – here we’ll provide the ingredients, but then it’s your job to make the cake. One of the first things you need to establish in your scene is what to keep and what to discard. As a photographer it’s your job to actively edit your scene to get the best from it. This could mean waiting for a person to get out of your shot, gardening a few distracting blades of grass away from the flower you want to photograph or simply deciding to only photograph part of the scene rather than all of it. If you learn one thing about composition, the key is to simplify your scene as much as you can. Photographing the bare essentials will

provide a far more striking image than a muddle of conflicting elements screaming at the viewer from every direction. A simple crop, moving in closer or removing the unnecessary extras can all work wonders to help you achieve top shots. Once you’ve decided what to retain and what to discard, the next job is to consider your viewpoint. You can easily transform a scene by looking at it from above or below. Assess the available vantage points of the scene and consider whether it could look better shot from a different angle or height other than eye level. This approach can transform bland objects into something exciting and original. A spiral staircase can really benefit from being photographed from above, in order to emphasise the height and curve of the structure. Likewise, a monument or large imposing structure can be made to look even more dramatic by shooting from below and looking upwards, exaggerating its height. This leads us nicely onto the idea of perspective. Our eyes are capable of

determining the depth and perspective of scenes before us, such as never-ending tunnels and rolling mountains in the distance. However, the camera needs a helping hand to transform what would be a flat photograph into the depth-filled image that we see before us. If your scene would benefit from a bit of oomph in the depth department, then this can be controlled with a carefully considered choice of lens coupled with a decent viewpoint. To exaggerate the effect of distance in a tunnel or a long straight road, for example, you need to emphasise the converging verticals – a term referring to appearance of the scene squeezing to a point in the distance. Do this by using a wide-angle lens, which will exaggerate the width at the start of the scene and the narrowness at the back. Position yourself centrally so the converging lines look longer and consider giving the camera a slight upward tilt to maximise the sense of distance between the beginning and end of the scene.

“Offsetting your subject towards the corners of the frame helps to create a more free-flowing image”

Important elements Abriefguidetosomeofthemostoft-usedrulesofcomposition SYMMETRY

Be careful when considering symmetry in your images, as it can be too easy for the viewer to flit over it. For a decent symmetrical image to work, there needs to be a sense of tension, which can be created by elements of suspense or surprise.



When organising space, depth of field can play a big role in how the image will look. Think about what you want to see sharp and then adjust your depth of field accordingly. Macro shots generally look best with the background out of focus.


If your scene is a source of action, pre-focus in order to capture the moment in time. Anticipation is key, so be prepared and choose your moment carefully. Alternatively, use Continuous Shooting mode to capture a sequence in time.


To really appeal to the viewer’s senses, incorporate texture into your shot. The appearance of texture can be heightened with the aid of good lighting. A light source raking across the textured surface will exaggerate it beautifully.

Master composition

Just as lines are important to perspective, they also play a vital role in other aspects of photography too. The term ‘leading lines’ is frequently thrown around in photography and refers to structural elements in a photograph that lead the viewer’s eye into the picture. The most obvious line used in photography is that of the horizon – a perfectly straight line by which everything else is arranged around. Just think how obvious it is when a scene has a skewed horizon – it’s the epitome of distraction and a serious schoolboy error, which separates the amateurs from anyone more serious about their photography. There are plenty of man-made lines to think about too, including buildings, power lines, cranes, vehicles and structures. Think about how lines feature in your scene and where they are leading. Are they a main feature of the scene? Are they leading your viewer into the scene or are they causing a distraction to the main event? Consider your viewpoint and perspective to establish how you can make the lines work well in the scene. For example, certain lines impart different qualities. A diagonal can give the impression of speed, curves can have a calming influence and angular lines often impart a sense of discord. A great example of this is with fine art photography, which relies on the soft curves of the body to achieve a calming natural flow throughout the image. A racing car’s speed can be accelerated by capturing it on a diagonal or a slight tilt, while an abstract image is given energy


Lines can help draw the viewer into the shot and direct them to the point of focus. Alternatively, they can also act as a distraction, so be careful how the lines in your scene lay


Tone relates to the full range of greys present in the scale from the blackest black to the purest white. For a tranquil appeal, it’s best to aim for low-contrast images. To emphasise extremes, opt for a high-contrast effect.


To take an image that really appreciates form, look out for areas of shading within your subject. The greater degree of shading and number of tones there are, the more pleasing the subject. Position yourself to capture as many shades as possible.


Assess your main subject and consider whether it will benefit from colour treatment. A bleak black and white scene can sometimes be made more dramatic by selectively colouring a single element. Pick out key items from your image and emphasise them using this technique.


Shooting skills


When photographing moving subjects, always ensure there is room in front of them. This gives the picture a sense that there is room for your subject to move into and emphasises their journey


The rule of thirds is a common practice for many photographers. This compositional technique works by dividing the scene using a grid system of two vertical and two horizontal lines, dissecting the image into thirds. The ideal placement of your subject should be at one of the points where the lines intersect. Decide in which of the four intersections you want to place your main subject and then compose the scene accordingly around it. Obviously not every scene will line up precisely with the grid, but a rough adherence to the rules will provide you with a well-composed image. Many cameras come with a display option which can be turned on, superimposing a grid on top of the image on your LCD or within your viewfinder for accurate rule of thirds composition. The rule of thirds is generally a good system to go by when in doubt, but be careful not to rely on this theory for shot after shot, as images will become bland and unexciting. Some of the best photographs come about by knowing the rules and consciously breaking them.



Looking for natural frames within a scene is a great method of drawing the viewer into your photograph. They focus the eye and give the viewer a sense of secrecy, as if they are witnessing a private moment

Master composition

“Just think how obvious it is when a scene has a skewed horizon – it’s the epitome of distraction and a serious schoolboy error, which separates the amateurs from anyone more serious” and dynamism by accentuating its angles and edges. Pick a theme you want to emphasise and use the available lines to your advantage. Line usually gives way to shape, which is another important compositional aspect you should be considering in your photographs. Shape can appear from unsuspecting influences such as light and tone. Consider the striking effect of a silhouette cast on a stonewall, or a bundle of bright fuchsia petals forming an interestingly shaped cluster on a pathway. Alternatively, shapes that can be misinterpreted as something else can also make interesting images – clouds, trees and close-up shots of vegetables often offer quirky shapes within them. Whatever your shape, it’s important to think about the balance within the image. Where there are a variety of shapes in the scene, the largest or darkest in tone will generally be the dominator. Ask yourself whether this is the effect you want to achieve – if not, then recompose the shot so the dominating shape is no longer in the scene. Some shapes, however, can actually go a long way in helping to define the main subject. Blacked-out areas such as silhouettes offer an ideal opportunity to frame or accentuate a coloured part of the scene and bring it to the forefront of attention. Successful composition relies heavily on a good sense of framing. A badly framed image will leave your subject looking lost and unimportant. Remember that - thanks to cropping - you are not restricted to the aspect ratio of your camera. It’s important to visualise how you see the final picture, and compose your shot in accordance with this vision. The actual cropping process can be done in-camera or in Photoshop later on, but bear in mind you’ll sacrifice image quality if you choose to go with the latter option. Another important factor is the placement of the subject within your frame. Amateurs will commonly place their subject centrally in the scene, which rarely makes for an engaging image. Offsetting your subject towards the corners of the frame creates a more free-flowing image and offers suspense. It’s important to give

living subjects room to move into. For example, if you photograph a local walking down the street from left to right, place the man on the left and leave space on the right for the man to metaphorically walk into. For objects, sizing should be considered. A macro shot of a flower looks so much more dramatic when it’s positioned to fill the frame, whereas it can look rather puny in an expanse of space. A clever compositional technique is to look for a frame within a frame. Shooting a scene through a window gives viewers a chance to step back, separate themselves and get a sense of what it feels like to be the photographer. These are just a few of the elements that should be considered when composing an image. Your job as a photographer is to determine the importance of each element in the scene and react accordingly, making sure the right parts are emphasised. It’s your photo, and you have a certain set of emotions and ideals you want to convey. Composition will help you express these emotions, taking a regular scene and transforming it into something with meaning that’s personal to you. Composition is something that is always done, whether you’re a good photographer or a bad one. What distinguishes you from the bad photographer is the ability to know how to compose your shot well. Taken on board, these pointers will help you consider the scene and its outcome before you press the shutter.


The golden section is a compositional rule, which hails from a twelfth-century Italian mathematician known as Fibonacci. This historical figure is famed for his discovery of a number sequence, which starts with 0 and 1. The series forms by adding the previous two numbers together, hence the formation: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, etc. When you divide each successive pair, you come up with a result of 1.6. Known as the ‘golden number’ as highlighted by the Greek letter Phi, this is the essential key to mathematics and proportions, which is where composition comes into the picture. A rectangle can be divided into golden number proportions, which is meant to demonstrate harmony in an image. This ratio can be used to decide where to place the main subject, where to place the horizon and generally how to divide the frame. As always, this is not a fix-all solution and should be used with care.


Shooting skills

Understand metering

Whether you’re shooting on the move or have all the time in the world, it pays to know metering modes inside out. Read on to shed some light on fine-tuning your images…


Understand metering

With lots of contrast in this scene, it’s vital to measure the metering spot-on


Shooting skills

W 


The low sun hits the subject side-on; the beach and sky are illuminated enough to balance all shades, ideal for applying Pattern metering Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with 28-70mm lens at f8, 1/1000sec, ISO 200

ith an overwhelming number of camera settings at your disposal, it’s easy to convince yourself to stick to a few basics. Apply the shutter speed, stick to your favourite aperture and away you go – click, job done. However, by taking time out to delve deeper into your gear’s capabilities, you suddenly arm yourself with a wealth of creative arsenal that will make your work stand out from the crowd. All those fine tweaks and handy tools will finish the job off nicely. Metering modes are a testimony to all this. When you start off, it will be a case of trial and error; the more you push yourself creatively, and the more images you take, sooner or later you will grasp an understanding of how to interpret what metering mode is best suited to any number of given scenarios. Metering modes offer you the chance to stick with an overall Pattern mode, or to step out of your comfort zone and become that little bit more experimental. These modes take light readings, work out what’s

© Michael Bosanko

Know your modes

© Michael Bosanko

Metering jargon messing with your mind? Allow us to help…


This ‘do-it-all’ mode is great, but you’re at the mercy of what the camera ‘thinks’, rather than what you actually see. For most occasions, Pattern metering is good for when there’s a good mix of tones in the entire scene. Street scenes, landscapes without too much shade, your standard family snaps – all of these are fair game. Pattern metering is also good if you’re on the move, in search of those elusive decisive moments. Depending on your camera model, this could also be called Matrix, Honeycomb, Evaluative, Segment or Multi-zone metering. On some cameras, this is the default setting.


what and aims to make sense of them. The metering itself does not work off colour but rather the reflected light itself, trading off the good, the bad and the ugly until the exposure settles on what is best for the mode you’ve chosen. Some cameras will have at least three metering modes, while most will have four, and not all of them will be called the same thing. For instance, one of these modes covers pretty much everything; a kind of Jack of all trades that is often referred to as ‘Pattern metering’. Canon will call this ‘Evaluative metering’, Nikon’s choice of flavour is ‘Matrix’, Olympus goes for ‘Electro Selective Pattern’, Sony has ‘Multi-pattern’ and so on. While all brands and makes have their own unique way of dealing with Pattern metering, in essence they all do the same thing. Almost all these brands will share names for the other modes, namely Centre-weight, Partial and Spot, which will make using terminology in this article about 75 per cent easier! Just to throw a spanner in the works, some brands will allow you to make tweaks to Centre-weight mode with various allowances of how much of the image is metered. While we try to make sense of them in this small piece, it is strongly advisable to read up on your camera’s manual for a more indepth understanding. If you are in the good habit of taking your camera everywhere, then it helps to leave the settings to something simple like Pattern metering. Most brands, if not all, do a sterling job of evaluating the entire composition, which is ideal for those moments of spontaneity. There will often be times when you are more concerned about bagging a photograph on the move and have little to no time to spend messing about with the complexities of fine-tuning. When you’re shooting street candid photography, sporting events or wildlife, capturing the moment is much more crucial, so it seems common sense to leave the camera to work out all the


Metering in Centre-weighted mode will evaluate the entire scene yet throw strong emphasis on the central part of the image, anything from ten per cent upwards. Some cameras will allow you to make adjustments to coverage. This is a great mode if you want to concentrate on a main foreground topic. Partial metering falls between Spot and Centre-weight, while ignoring the area outside its limit. There’s often a preference trade-off between Centre-weight and Partial depending on the brand of camera or creative leaning, but if you’re going for portraits, experiment with both until you get the best results.


This metering mode is where creative flair truly comes into its own. The area you expose is pinned down to around 1-3% at the centre, although some camera models allow you to switch the spot position to any active focus point. This is the most accurate mode purely because you read from a minute area; this also makes it the most difficult way to meter, but with practise you’ll soon understand how it can apply to unusual lighting situations. It’s the most difficult metering mode to perfect, but once you’ve mastered it, it’s hard to let go!

Understand metering Centre-weighted around the hut, as the subject matter dominates the composition Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with 28-70mm lens at f8, 1/250sec, ISO 200

  © Michael Bosanko

The main focus area here is the foot grill. Centreweighted, you are drawn deep into the centre Shot details: Canon EOS 400D with 10-22mm lens at f5.6, 1/160sec, ISO 100

© Michael Bosanko

A chance to get creative, a choice was made to blow the highlights on the outside to throw emphasis on how small the people are in relation to the cave. Spot metering was used on a darker area of the cave Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with 10-22mm lens at f3.6, 1/10sec, ISO 200 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 141

Shooting skills

© Michael Bosanko

Middle grey Mid-grey is what your camera will try and return the exposure to. If your composition is awash with dark or light areas then there’s every chance your metering will struggle to produce a desirable exposure, depending on the end result you want. A handy item to carry around is a grey card (18% grey) for the purpose of metering. Most camera shops will sell these , or do some online bargain hunting. Some websites will display a portrayal of a grey card, but keep in mind the brightness and various calibrations a monitor gives off; hardly an ideal scenario for comparing an object in the real world with a bright picture on a monitor. These cards will usually be labelled 18% grey, as most metering systems are calibrated to this figure. You will need to hold or place the card in front of the lens, then adjust the exposure accordingly. Place the card down, recompose, and then take the final shot.


Understand metering

Here a good amount of light hits all sides of the main subject, perfect for Partial metering Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with 28-70mm lens at f5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 200

Bracketing There will always be the odd occasion where a scene will prove a nightmare to capture. Luckily for us digital photographers, we have another trick up our sleeves – bracketing. In your camera’s menu there will be an option to bracket three images, with the ability to toggle how light and dark you want your images either side of a normal exposure. This is by no means a get-out clause and shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement to metering, but you get a fighting chance to pin down the correct exposure, should the metering be fooled. Things can still go wrong when bracketing, and the same metering rules apply when taking readings. If you are content that you have done all you can yet still want to bracket, then invest in a tripod and cable release. Make sure your set-up is as solid as possible, then fire off your bracketed shots. The first shot you take will be a midway exposure, the second will usually be darker and the last shot will be lighter. Because they have been taken using a tripod, there’s a chance that all three images have the exact composition with little or no camera shake. When you finally download them, you have the option of blending these images in a photo-editing program to create a combination of all three exposures. The quickest way to bring out light and dark areas is to use the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop. However, there’s the danger of destroying image quality.

 Partial metered for the background using the entire dark tunnel area to frame the image Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with 10-22mm lens at f8, 1/60sec, ISO 200

© Michael Bosanko

© Michael Bosanko

Many tonal differences going on in this image. Spot metering was taken from the side of a pillar; the mid-tone helps balance out the rest Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with 28-70mm lens at f5.6, 1/200sec, ISO 200

An opportunistic shot. Pulling the car over, the camera was whipped out left in Pattern mode, leaving only shutter and aperture to worry about Shot details: Canon EOS 400D with 10-22mm lens at f8, 1/200sec, ISO 100

© Michael Bosanko

“When you’re shooting street candid photography, sporting events or wildlife, it’s common sense to leave the camera to work out the metering” metering and to average things out. Of course, we do not want to rob ourselves of having ultimate creative control, but it is in these spontaneous moments where your favourite player scores a goal, or when someone has a Laurel and Hardy moment where they slip on a banana skin that you will kick yourself if you spend any more than a few seconds mulling over the best metering mode, let alone any other settings. If you’re in the habit of grabbing quick close-up portraits of people out and about, then you can easily get away with leaving the metering set to Centre-weight or Partial, as for most of the time it’s the head shot that’s important, far outweighing the lesser important background detail. This is often thrown out of focus, especially when using a very wide aperture at close proximity to the main subject matter. Spot

metering comes into its own when you have plenty of time to play with and can afford to properly assess the entire scene, picking out those mid-grey or mid-tonal areas with a fine-toothed comb, which will in turn lead to a superb overall balance of light tones. A great exercise to try out when Spot metering is to switch your gear into Monochrome. In doing so, you are then free to play target practise with those mid-grey areas and seek out the best overall exposure. Take exposures at different settings, then check the results on your monitor when you get home; you’ll soon see the difference in your photographic work. After a few trials, switch to colour and pick out those neutral hues. It may well take a few attempts, but stick with it. Before long, it will become second nature. THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 143

Shooting skills


Discover RAW

Discover RAW Everyone talks about how good RAW files are, but what are they, how do they work and do you really need them for black & white?


Shooting skills



AW files give you three things: quality, control and choice. The improved picture quality can include better detail rendition, an extended contrast range (less highlight ‘blow-out’, in other words) and sometimes reduced noise and/or colour fringing. So why should RAW files produce better quality? Think of it this way: the camera’s image-processing engine has just fractions of a second to apply all these adjustments, but a RAW conversion program is a much more sophisticated piece of software, running on a machine with vastly more computing power. Not only that, but you get more control over how your photos turn out, too. With JPEGs, the camera


After adjusts things like the colour saturation, contrast and white balance as it saves the image, but if you work with RAW files instead you can control these adjustments manually. This is the other point about RAW files – they let you postpone many of your picture-taking decisions. Instead of setting the white balance on the camera, for example, you can shoot a RAW file and then open it on the computer and experiment with different white balance settings to see which one works best for each particular image. The key to understanding RAW files is to think of them as like undeveloped film. If you shoot JPEG files, the camera records the image on the sensor and

then ‘develops’ (or processes) it internally to produce the JPEG file saved on the memory card. When you shoot a RAW file, however, the camera doesn’t do this processing. Instead, it saves the ‘undeveloped’ image as a RAW file onto the memory card. However, the image still needs to be ‘developed’, or processed, but this time you do it on your computer instead of leaving it to the camera. RAW conversion software processes these RAW files to produce JPEG (or TIFF, in Photoshop) image files that you can view and work on directly. Camera manufacturers provide their own RAW conversion programs either free with the camera or as paid-for extras, and there are many third-party RAW conversion

Discover RAW Third-party RAW converters It’s impossible to say which of the many RAW conversion programs on the market is best – each has its strengths and weaknesses and a lot depends on which camera you’re using. There are, though, some clear differences between the manufacturers’ own RAW converters and third-party programs like Photoshop; not so much in quality as in tools and practicality. When you use a program like Canon’s Digital Photo Pro, for example, you get is an exact duplication of the image settings on the camera, so you can apply the camera’s Picture Styles, such as ‘Monochrome’ on the computer. The maker’s own RAW converters mirror the camera controls exactly, so you can get familiar with what the camera can do and reproduce it reliably. Third-party RAW converters like Adobe Camera Raw ignore this. If you shoot a picture in Monochrome mode on your Canon, the RAW file will be tagged with this data, but ACR will pay no attention: it will display generic colour files which you have to convert to mono yourself . Thirdparty RAW converters may be slicker and more convenient, but they sacrifice the camera’s own colour, tone, contrast and sharpness controls.

programs too. Adobe Photoshop and Elements have their own in-built RAW conversion tools, in the form of the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in. In the old days, photographers use to swear by one brand of film developer over another; in the digital age, the arguments continue, only now the debate’s about RAW converter does the best job rather than which chemical formulation. There are some more technical reasons why RAW files are superior to JPEGs, which help explain why different programs can produce different results and why RAW files are very important to professional photographers. Each RAW converter uses its own ‘demosaicing’ system. This is the process whereby the ‘mosaic’ of red, green and blue pixels captured by the sensor is interpolated into a full-colour image. The differences between different demosaicing systems are only visible under high magnification and even then may not be obvious, but this is one of the factors that can produce differences between RAW converters. While JPEG images contain eight bits of data for each of the red, green and blue colour channels, the RAW images captured by the camera are at a higher bit-depth and contain subtler colour information. RAW converters can use this to output 16-bit files instead. These are twice the size and cannot be opened by all image-editing programs, but while it may be impossible to spot the difference under normal circumstances, 16-bit images do tend to survive heavy manipulation better than 8-bit images. Finally, when you convert a RAW file you can choose which colour mode to

save it in, notably sRGB (for general photo display and printing) or Adobe RGB (which is better for commercial printing processes). You can set this in the camera when shooting JPEGs, but RAW files give you the option. One of the big advantages of using RAW files is that they allow you to postpone some of your decision-making until later, as we’ve explained. The other point is that the original RAW image is never changed. Your adjustments are saved by the RAW converter, either in an internal database or as ‘sidecar’ files. All that’s being saved is a set of processing instructions – no changes are made to the image data itself. With that in mind, what settings can you actually alter during the RAW conversion process? RAW Pentax DSLRs can shoot generic Adobe DNG RAW files. The format hasn’t really caught on, though, and other camera makers still stick to their own proprietary file formats


This is our starting point, a straightforward conversion of a RAW file. Much of the time this is the sort of conversion you might want to produce – simply tweaking the exposure, white balance or sharpness settings, to improve on the original.


You can adjust the white balance to give a much ‘warmer’ look, like when the sun is low in the sky. We’ve also used the software’s vignette correction tool to darken the corners of the photo.


This time we’ve created a black-and-white version, emphasising the red channel to create the effect of a red filter with black-and-white film. This increases contrast, creating a strong, dramatic look.


By applying an overall blue colour, increasing the contrast and reducing the brightness, we’ve achieved a moonlight effect. All four images were generated from a single RAW file, which in itself remains unaltered.


Shooting skills Anatomy of a RAW converter

AdobeCameraRawisoneofthemostwidelyusedRAWfileconverters.Here’saquicktour… Camera Raw window Adobe Camera Raw is a Photoshop plug-in. It launches automatically when you open a RAW file

Colour mode & bit depth Because of the extra data in RAW files, you can generate sRGB or Adobe RGB photos

Adjustment tools You can rotate and crop photos, use the white balance eyedropper and even fix red-eye with these tools

Exposure controls These enable you to make full use of the extended tonal range of your RAW files compared to ordinary JPEGs

converters usually include an Exposure (EV) Compensation slider, designed to correct over- or under-exposure. However, this can’t change the shutter speed, lens aperture and ISO settings used to take the picture, and they can only work within the range of tones captured by the sensor. Nevertheless, the RAW file will usually contain additional highlight detail over a JPEG image, and some RAW converters can take advantage of this to provide a little extra latitude and recover some ‘blown’ highlights. 148 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

Image preview You can see the effects of changes on your photo as you work, so you know exactly what the processed photo will look like

Colour intensity The Saturation slider intensifies all colours equally, but the Vibrance slider intensifies only the weakest

White balance controls Correct the white balance if you didn’t get it quite right at the time of shooting

White balance is another setting you can change. When you shoot JPEGs, the camera uses the white balance setting during the image processing to adjust the colour balance and discard data it thinks is unnecessary. The RAW file, though, will contain all the original colour data, so you can decide for yourself which white balance setting works best. The same applies to the sharpening level used, the contrast, colour saturation and picture style/tone. All of these settings are applied by the camera when it converts the RAW data into a JPEG image. When

Histogram Use this to check whether the shadows or highlights are clipped and adjust the exposure accordingly

Further adjustments You can correct lens distortion, for example, and chromatic aberration

you work on the RAW file on your computer, you can choose different values. So is it worth making these adjustments on the camera at all? Well, they’re embedded in the RAW file and if you’re using the camera maker’s own RAW conversion software, it will be able to recognise and apply these settings so that you hit the ground running. If you use a third-party RAW converter they are largely ignored, though it can still be useful to make these settings on the camera so you can evaluate images on the LCD when you review them.

Discover RAW Right first time!

RAW files have many advantages, but they can also be an excuse for laziness. Why bother getting the white balance, colour settings, contrast and even the exposure right when you can ‘fudge it’ later in your RAW converter? There are actually three good reasons for getting it right first time: 1) The closer you get these settings when you shoot, the less work you’ll have to do later on the computer. 2) Exposure is critical, whether you’re shooting RAW files or not. RAW files may give you a little extra leeway, but it’s a dangerous game to play. 3) If you get into the habit of shooting JPEGs and RAW files simultaneously and work at getting the pictures right first time, you may find that most of your JPEGs are perfectly good and that you only need to resort to RAW files now and again, rather than having to convert the whole batch.

In-camera processing

RAW sensor data

Processing/ conversion

Digital image

RAW converter The RAW data captured by the camera’s sensor must always be processed/converted into an image file. When you shoot JPEGs the camera does this internally; when you shoot RAW files, you do it yourself on the computer

What’s wrong with this JPEG? Nothing! If you concentrate on getting the camera settings right when you shoot, you’ll find you don’t need the extra data in RAW files anywhere near as often as you might think.

The other point is that many cameras can shoot RAW files and JPEGs simultaneously. The JPEG versions will be ready for use straight away, while the RAW files can be kept back for those occasional images that require special treatment. If this is how you intend to be working (it’s a lot quicker than having to convert all your photos as a matter of routine), it still makes sense to choose the camera settings carefully. But for all the things you can adjust when converting RAW files, there are a number of things you can’t. These are nothing to do with the way the image data is processed, but unchangeable optical properties of the image itself. You can’t change the shutter speed, for example, nor the lens aperture. It’s

What many photographers might not realise is that different RAW converters are like different film developers. If you process the same RAW file using three different programs, for example Digital Photo Pro (seen here), Capture One and Adobe Camera Raw, you’ll get three subtly different images

impossible to change the point the lens was focused on, or the depth of field. These are optical properties of the image as it forms on the sensor, and there’s nothing the camera’s processing engine or your RAW conversion software can do later. ISO is another setting you need to make on the camera, regardless of whether you’re shooting RAW files or JPEGs. When you increase the ISO on a camera it’s actually amplifying the light levels recorded by the photosites (pixels) on the sensor. This amplification process takes place on the sensor itself before the RAW image data is created. RAW files may give you extra quality, control and choice, but they do mean extra work, and it’s also unwise to assume that they will always provide better quality than JPEGs. This depends largely on how good the camera is at processing JPEG images. For example, the JPEG files produced by Nikon DSLRs are very close in quality to those you can produce from RAW files. There are times when the extra highlight detail in RAW files may be useful, or when you want to pick the white balance and tone/colour settings later, but much of the time a JPEG shot in the camera is perfectly good enough. Canon SLRs are different. Canon’s in-camera processing produces smooth-looking images, but with less fine, textural detail than you can get from the RAW files. The JPEGs are fine if you’re in a hurry or you’re not going to print or display at maximum resolution, but to really get the best from these cameras you need to work from the RAW files. Current Pentax and Sony DSLRs produce really vivid, punchy JPEGs, and it may be hard to improve on their tonal rendition or their sharpness with RAW files. As ever, though, the extra highlight detail in

RAW files may prove useful, and this is especially true of the Olympus E-520/620 and the Panasonic models. These cameras tend to clip highlight detail quite aggressively when shooting JPEGs, and you can get much better dynamic range from the RAW files. It’s unwise to assume that one RAW converter will be better than all the rest, too. Their qualities vary – some are better at noise reduction, some are better at white balance adjustments, and you’ll even get variation between camera models and brands (some programs are good for Nikon files, some are better at Canon files and so on). Which leads us on to some of the more serious drawbacks of RAW files. Some are obvious – the camera takes longer to save them and they take up more space on your memory cards. They must also all be processed later on the computer. Integrating RAW files into your photo-cataloguing system can be tricky, too. If you convert them to produce JPEGs or TIFFs, how do you keep the conversions and the originals together? Your filing system may no longer be quite as simple as it was before. While programs like Aperture and Lightroom make it easier to work directly with your RAW files, they do tie you to that particular RAW conversion engine. There is another way to manage RAW files that might appear more primitive and restrictive, but which is likely to make your life (and photography) much simpler. Shoot RAW files, but convert them once and then put them away out of sight and stick to JPEGs for all your regular cataloguing, printing, slideshows and photo projects. Experiment and find a workflow solution that suits the way you shoot and the way your create your images, and you’ll never look back. THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 149

We guide you through the steps to understanding and creating beautiful black-and-white abstract images

B&W abstracts Shooting skills

150 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

B&W abstracts


Macro abstract image of a metallic bracelet taken straight on in a light cube with a single speedlight to the left providing the only illumination Shot details: Nikon D700 with 105mm lens and f14, 1/15sec, ISO 200 © Chris Humphreys

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 151

Shooting skills

© Chris Humphreys


“All you need is the world around you and your camera. There are no rules – just you and your imagination” headboard

Headboard in a hotel bedroom, the reflective quality of the tiles caught the light well to make a good abstract subject Shot details: Nikon D700 with 50mm lens and f1.4, 1/80sec, ISO 200


(top right)

Macro shot of a Zinnia, the new petals in the centre of the flower have yet to fully unfurl and are almost unrecognisable as petals Shot details: Nikon D80 with 105mm and f25, 3sec, ISO 100


bstract photography is one of the hardest genres to define. One man’s abstract is another man’s fine art. Purists would say that to be truly abstract an image must no longer represent reality or contain any recognisable objects. But where’s the fun in that? Perhaps an abstract image should be one which generates intrigue and makes you question what you are looking at. Or an image that is instantly recognisable but makes you see something in an entirely new way. An early pioneer of abstract photography, Lester Hayes, took photographs of everyday objects and showed them in a different way using only a Kodak Instamatic camera. He once commented that everything is beautiful when photographed from the proper angle and under the right lighting conditions. He looked for opportunities to create abstract images from whatever he chanced upon. However, much of abstract photography, even the early work of Lester Hayes, used colour as a means of creating abstraction and interest. So what happens when

152 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

you take colour out of the equation? We are simply left with shades of grey. In a way this makes the life of the abstract photographer even simpler – we just need to concentrate on tones, shapes, lines and light. Colour cues can help us identify objects, so removing this reference makes the task of abstracting an object easier. The great thing about this genre is that there are no rules – apart from composition, perhaps. Exposure, focus, ISO and shutter speed are simply a means to an end to achieve a pleasing image. Opportunities are all around – they might be a very small scale or set within a wider context, but you need to train your eye and practise some simple techniques to make the most of them. Look for rhythm and repetition in objects, nature and the built environment. Objects that repeat and align can make great subjects for abstract photography; balustrades in a stair, street lights, trees in a wood. Remember that, for black and white abstract photography, you need to think in terms of light and shade. Is a shadow cast? Is the shadow more interesting than the

subject and can that be used as a way of creating abstraction? Probably one of the most commonly used methods of creating abstract photography is macro. Taking recognisable objects and closing in to see detail that is usually missed by the human eye is a great way to create surreal images. Removing colour cues from a macro shot of a plant, for instance, can make for a very abstract image. Look for macro subjects that contain a large amount of surface detail and contrast which will work well when converted to black and white. There are many abstract subjects in architecture and the built environment, probably because buildings contain a good amount of repetition and structural elements within larger compositions. Light plays a vital role in successfully capturing a black and white abstract image; architecture provides opportunity with reflections and transparency. Look also for geometric patterns within structural elements, repetition of structure and interaction with light and shade can produce strong compositions.

B&W abstracts Simple lighting setups

How to light your abstracts

Abstracts can be done anywhere at any time, but it is useful to practise with objects around the home. A simple lighting setup can assist, particularly if the image is to be converted to black and white. A single light source will create dynamic shadows and tonal contrast.

SINGLE WINDOW Natural light is free, but it isn’t particularly controllable. There are, however, some things you can do to introduce some level of control. Think simple; a darkish room with a single small window will provide a good soft light source that will produce very pleasing ambient light. A reflector can be used on the opposite side to bounce light back onto the subject and a sheet or blind to limit the light intensity. PAPER BACKDROP




LIGHT CUBE Light cubes come are usually associated with product photography; however, they offer a huge degree of flexibility and are very easy to set up and use, so are well suited to taking abstract shots. The subject in the cube can be lit from any number of lights or flashes around the sides. To keep things simple, start with the flash to the left or right and experiment with different shades of infinity background to affect how the light reflects around the cube. The advantage a light cube offers more control over ambient light than either a natural light or shot through umbrella setup, but at the expense of flexibility.

© Chris Humphreys


Looking down a void with vertical balustrading gives an unusual view. The shot needed to be handheld so the ISO was ramped up and the VR lens helped to keep the shot stable at a slow shutter speed Shot details: Nikon D700 with 16-35mm f4 lens at 18mm and f5, 1/30sec, ISO 2500


UMBRELLA Shoot through umbrellas turn your flash gun into a soft light source for minimal expense. The single light umbrella setup is also portable, giving you more options for subjects to shoot. Set your flash to remote setting and use your built in flash or a wireless flash trigger to trip the flash. You need to try to minimise the effect of natural light in the room so use a combination of aperture and shutter speed to underexpose the image by 2-3 stops. You then control the flash from the camera, turning it up and down accordingly. PAPER BACKDROP



© Chris Humphreys


© Chris Humphreys

Shooting skills

frost plant

A heavily frosted plant shot against a dark background with levels adjusted to create a high contrast abstract. The centre of the plant was placed at the intersecting thirds for strong composition shot details: Nikon D80, 18-135mm lens at 135mm and f22, 2.2 sec, ISO 100

Take this shot A cardboard box with cut-out sides and translucent film or thin paper taped to the sides makes an effective home-made light cube. A larger sheet of paper rolled up the back of the box on the inside can create an infinity background and a single remote flash on either side of the box gives an even but dynamic lighting effect. 1 Setting up Set up your home-made light cube on a table, put your camera on a tripod and if possible use a macro lens, or at least one with close focusing capability. A piece of blu-tack is useful for positioning your object at different angles. Set your camera to manual and select a fairly narrow aperture (even a narrow aperture will give a shallow depth of field at macro distances).

2 Position flash Position your flash to the left or right of the box, experiment with the angle of the flash and with the distance it is from the box. Start with a setting of 1/30th power – this will give you plenty of scope for increasing or decreasing the intensity. You want the flash to be providing most of the light, so set your camera to underexpose the object.

154 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

3 Adjust, rotate and crop With an abstract image we can take some liberties with post-processing. Cropping, rotating and flipping the image can all be used to create a stronger composition. Use the ‘black & white’ adjustment layer tool to convert the colour image to B&W – this enables you to take control of the individual colour channels and make finer adjustments.

© Chris Humphreys

© Chris Humphreys

B&W abstracts

Boost micro contrast

1 Adjust levels Open your black-and-white abstract image, using the Levels tool in Photoshop, hold down Cmd/Ctrl and Alt then slide the left and right markers in on the histogram until you can just see clipping in both the highlights and the shadows (represented by patches of black and white).


Black-and-white imagery is all about tones and contrast – as a general rule it is good to try to make your darkest part of the image black and the lightest pure white. Use levels adjustment to achieve this. Curves are usually used to increase contrast and create the ‘pop’ in an image; however, curves can sometimes affect the overall balance of a photograph. This useful trick in Photoshop will enable you to create a controllable amount of micro contrast without affecting the overall tonal balance of your image. This can be used on colour images also but works particularly well with black and white:

Patterns often help us to identify objects whether they are organic or man-made. But taken out of context, a pattern itself can become abstract. Bark from a tree may be instantly recognisable, but its own pattern and rhythm can still be considered abstract. Deep bark with plenty of texture works well when photographed under strong sunlight, remembering that all we are interested in for black-and-white abstracts is light and shade. We can also use some simple photographic techniques to create abstract images, for example selective focus and depth of field. By using a very shallow depth of field (with a wide aperture) and focusing on a specific part of an object, we can throw the rest of the object out of focus and remove some of the visual cues we need to understand what we are seeing. This is a great method of creating abstraction from simple everyday objects and works particularly well when used in combination with macro shots. Another easy technique to try is zoom abstract. Using a long shutter speed (around 1-2 seconds) focus on a subject with the telephoto end of a zoom and during the exposure slowly change the focal length to the wide end. This can even be combined with a rear sync flash at the end of the exposure to highlight a specific part of the subject. Again, look for subjects with high tonal contrast which will work well when converted to black and white. So there you have it, black-and-white abstract photography is a genre that you can practise any time and any place. All you need is the world around you and your camera. There are no rules – just you and your imagination.

BridGe (aBove riGht)

Looking down directly up at a translucent bridge in a shopping centre, the shot was timed to include the shapes of people walking over the bridge shot details: Nikon D700 with 50mm lens and f4.5, 1/640sec, ISO 200


PaPer curves (toP middle)

2 Duplicate and high pass Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate the background layer. Then go to Filter>Other>High Pass. Within the High Pass filter use the slider to increase or decrease the effect. This is resolution-dependent, so for 300dpi images a figure of around 60-80pixels works well. Once you are happy, click OK. 3 Soft light Click on the layer blending modes (top of the Layers palette), and start by selecting ‘soft light’. You will see the effect this has on the micro contrast of the image by toggling the layer on and off. You can use the opacity slider for the high pass layer to lessen the effect if wish.

A set-up abstract shot using plain A4 paper curved over itself and stapled together. Shot in a light cube with a speedlight flash to the left shot details: Nikon D700 with 105mm lens and f14, 4/5sec,ISO 200

8Grated (main shot left)

You don’t need to go far to create a B&W abstract shot – just look around the kitchen and pick something with interesting texture. Metallic objects work particularly well shot details: Nikon D700, Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX DG at f14, 1/6sec, ISO 200 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 155

© Sandro Bäbler

Shooting skills

156 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Story behind the still

Story still behind the


Photographer: Sandro Bäbler Website: Location: Studio in Zürich, Switzerland Client: Personal project Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 85mm lens at f14, 1/160sec, ISO 100

nspired to shoot an editorial-style series featuring a male with really dark skin, self-taught professional photographer Sandro Bäbler explains that finding someone suitable didn’t prove too difficult: “I found the perfect model. He’s a sprinter and because he’s an athlete his body is very toned.” Having found his man, the next stage in the process involved designing the ideal lighting setup: “The pictures needed to have a lot of contrast between the white background and the model’s skin. In order to make the most of this, I worked with a red lens filter to make the model’s dark skin even darker. Two studiolights were used to light the white background from either side behind the model. In terms of lighting the model himself, I used a small reflector in front of the model to achieve a soft, subtle lighting effect on his skin and just enough light in his eyes.” Once Sandro got to work in the studio, things went very smoothly and there was certainly no shortage of material produced: “The whole editorial includes about 30 photos,” he reveals. A total of 16 of the images from the session can be seen on Sandro’s website.




“I used two Broncolor lights fitted with standard reflectors and directed them at 45-degree angles onto the white background so the light from each overlapped slightly. A silver reflector in front of the camera meant that some of this light bounced back onto the subject providing just enough modelling on his skin and body shape.” THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 157

Editing 190

Tips and tricks to help you edit your monochrome images like a pro 160 Six black and white conversion techniques The ultimate guide for converting colour images to black and white

168 Create high-key effects Use Photoshop to up the contrast

172 Use Dodge & Burn to enhance portraits Lighten and darken areas under control

176 Create a black & white HDR in Photoshop Blend three black and white images into one

180 Re-create a glamorous black & white portrait Glam it up with some Hollywood style

183 Create actions in Photoshop Simplify your workflow

184 Selective colouring Take control of your editing skills 158 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

190 Create atmosphere Evoke a dramatic mood with Photoshop

195 Graduated filter Use Lightroom to create a dramatic sky

196 Master tone edits Work with tone for masterful monochrome

200 Add emphasis to eyes Apply a rainbow effect to your black-andwhite portraits

202 Classic portraits with gradient maps Get effective B&W with this technique

204 Sepia tone your images Add a traditional brown tone to your photos

206 Blue tone your images Particularly effective for a landscape

208 Fix your old photos All you need to know about restoring your old photographs









Before Before



Editing After A good black and white conversion allows you to enjoy the image by removing the distraction of colour from the building and the blue sky





Six black and white conversion techniques

Six black and white conversion techniques

An essential guide to six different techniques for converting your digital images to black and white using Adobe Photoshop CS5


oing back 15 years, creating a black-and-white image used to be for photographers with a darkroom or a patient family who did not mind giving up their bathroom. This was where chemicals, enlargers, black and white paper and a lot of trial and error were used to achieve a distinctive look, however it normally resulted in one or two decent prints, and a lot of wasted time and resources. These days it’s so much easier and less smelly, and there are no more headaches from not having

enough ventilation! There are numerous ways of creating a black and white image in Photoshop and this workshop is all about deciding which of these techniques you are going to use. We are going to teach you six of our favourite ways to convert an image from colour to black and white. Now, the reason we do not stick to just one particular technique is because different methods are good for different image types and it would be very short sighted to just use a “one technique fits all” approach to making the most of Adobe Photoshop, which provides plenty of options.

There are more ways to convert your colour images, including in Adobe Camera Raw or in Lightroom, but on this occasion we’re going to focus on techniques that can be done from within Photoshop or Elements 8. The key to converting images from colour to black and white is to do it non-destructively so that the original colour image and all the settings applied are retained for the future, just in case you want to adjust the settings for a different look at a later stage as well as keeping the pixels intact and tonal range crisp and bright. Read on to get started on creating your monochrome masterpieces.

Removing colour using Desaturate

Copy background layer You can apply a desaturate Desaturate background copy Now that we have a to the background layer but that leaves you 1withtechnique copy of the background layer. It’s time to apply 2 very few options. By copying the background layer PC desaturate. You can either go to Image>Adjustments>

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer Desaturate produces a very flat image, so we need to correct the 3 tonal values of the shadows, midtones, and highlights.

Adjust the sliders Move the shadow slider towards the Grouping layers All that is left to do is a little right side by bringing it into the edge of the histogram. 4 housekeeping. Hold down the Shift key and click to 5 This will darken the shadows. Use midtone slider and move highlight the levels and desaturate layers. Then apply the

Save and close The image can be saved as PSD or TIFF with all the layers intact and ready to be re-edited at a 6 later date. Desaturate works best with landscapes, flowers

(Ctrl+J) or Mac (Cmd+J) you can apply it non-destructively to the background layer copy.

it either to the right (darken) or to the left (lighten).

Desaturate or apply the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/ Cmd+Shift+U to the layer.

keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+G to group the layers.

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer by going to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels.

and animals etc, but not so well with photographs of people.




Raw effects Although we are not including any of the Adobe Camera


There is a fine line between creating a warm black and white or just sepia toning an image with Hue/Saturation

Raw methods of black and white conversion, that does not mean to say that you cannot save your image as a TIFF, close it, then re-open it into Adobe Camera Raw dialog box. This is where you can take advantage of the Film Grain and Post Crop Vignetting. Try Amount 20, Size 25, and Roughness at 50 for a subtle grain effect.

Hue/Saturation: Creating a warm black and white

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer This Colorize Hue/Saturation After you create the new Adding curves Using the Adjustments panel this time, produces a warm black and white and to be 1abletechnique Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, tick the Colorize box 2 click on the Curves Adjustment Layer icon to activate 3 to do it, you must first of all create an Adjustment Layer from within the Adjustment panel and set the hue to 30 and a new adjustment curve and create a gentle S-curve by by going to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation or via the Adjustment icon in the Layer panels.

the saturation to five. This will produce a warm-toned blackand-white image.

Grouping layers Hold down the Shift key and click to highlight the curves and hue/saturation adjustment 4 layers. Then simply apply the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/

Combining layers Shift-click all layers to create a Hi-pass sharpening Click on Filter>Other>High Pass combined layer copy and apply the following keyboard 5 and in the dialog box set the radius to somewhere 6 shortcut: Shift+Alt+Ctrl/Cmd+E. This will then create a between one and 2.5 pixels. Apply the high pass effect

Cmd+G to group the layers together and then rename the group ‘hue/saturation’.


combined image layer that we can subsequently sharpen, using high-pass.

pulling the lower part of the curve (Shadows) down and higher part (Highlights) up.

and change the blend mode to soft light. Then adjust the Opacity to 85%.

Six black and white conversion techniques After


Channel mixer: mixing black and white with the channels

Creating a Channel Mix In the Adjustments panel click Monochrome The secret to using the Channel Mixer on the Channel Mixer icon to create a Channel Mixer 1Adjustment is to balance the numbers. The channel output 2 Layer. Or alternatively select Layer>New should never exceed 100%. But first things first! Tick the Adjustment Layer>Channel Mixer from the Layer menu and this will also create it.

monochrome box to turn the colour image into a single channel black and white image.

The key to using a Channel Mixer layer is to use subtle adjustments in the red and green source channels

Balancing the numbers Balancing the Channel Mixer numbers is a mixture of science and art. We have set 3 the Red channel at 50% and then divide the remaining 50% between the Green (30%) and the Blue (20%) which adds up to 100.

Color Balance In the Adjustments panel click on Luminosity blend If you adjust any of the colour Midtones and shadows You can adjust the Colour the Colour Balance icon to create a Colour Balance 4 balance sliders while in normal blend mode, you will 5 Balance sliders to taste. In the case of the woodland 6 Adjustment Layer. Otherwise select Layer>New Adjustment apply a colour tone. However, if you change the blend mode image example, we are going to adjust the midtone to 50% Layer>Colour Balance from the Layer menu and this will also create the same effect.

to Luminosity on the menu you will alter the tonal value of the black and white.

Red, then click on the shadows tone and move the slider to 15% Red.



Just because you’re losing the colour doesn’t mean you’re losing the impact of the image


Vibrance: vibrant black and white


Adding Vibrance In the Adjustments panel click on the Desaturate Once you have added a Vibrance Adjusting Vibrance Now that the image is in black and icon to create a Vibrance Adjustment Layer. 1OrVibrance Adjustment Layer, take the Saturation slider from within 2 white, you can slide the Vibrance slider around to adjust 3 alternatively you can select Layer>New Adjustment the Adjustments panel and drag it all the way over to the left the tonal qualities of the image to suit your individual taste. Layer>Vibrance from the Layer menu and this will also create the Vibrance Adjustment Layer.

so that saturation reads -100. This will turn your image into a black and white shot.

In the case of the tulips, -68 worked best by making them a little lighter.

Hue/Saturation Vibrance is so easy to do there is no real step four. But you can add hue/saturation as 4 shown on the previous page and apply a stronger colour

Colour Balance Another option is to once again use a Colour Balance Adjustment with the blend mode set 5 to Luminosity. This combined with Vibrance gives you full

Vignetting Finally, the last optional step is to save the image as a TIFF or JPEG and re-open it in Adobe 6 Camera Raw. While there you can apply a vignette from

tone by ticking Colorize and increasing the Saturation slider to around ten.


control over the image and its tonal range. In the example we use midtones, Cyan -34.

within the Effects panel and also add a little film grain style if you deem necessary.

Six black and white conversion techniques Gradient Map


Default Colours So that you don’t with a weird looking Gradient 1Map,start reset the foreground and

background colours to black-and-white. You can do this by clicking the small icon on the Tools panel or by pressing the (D) key.

The Gradient Map method of creating a black and white is one of the hidden gems of Photoshop

Gradient Map In the Adjustments panel click on the Gradient Map icon to create a Gradient Map Adjustment 2 Layer. Another option is to select Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map from the Layer menu and this will perform the same task.

Adding curves Using the Adjustments panel this time click on the Curves Adjustment Layer icon to activate 3 a new Adjustment curve and create a gentle (S) curve by


pulling the lower part of the curve (Shadows) down and the higher part (Highlights) up.

Heavy contrast If you wish to crank up the contrast a Hue/Saturation Once again if you wish to warm up Save your work This is a pretty easy technique to little then simply copy the Gradient Map Adjustment 4 your image then you can add hue/saturation as shown 5 master but it is still good to remember to save your 6 Layer using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+J and this on the previous page and apply a subtle warm colour tone work as an unflattened TIFF or PSD. If you are using Bridge will double the Gradient Map effect and give you a very contrast-heavy image.

by ticking Colorize and increasing the saturation slider to around five.

and ACR then go for the TIFF. If you use Lightroom then choose PSD.


Editing B&W Filter: black-and-white adjustments

The Black & White Adjustment Layer does what it says on the tin and so much more besides



Add a hint of colour for effect Even though all of these

techniques are designed to give you different styles of black and white with different tonal values. You can also choose to drop the opacity ever so slightly on mostly all of the Adjustment layers. The idea is to re-introduce just a hint of colour back into the monochrome. You can make it so subtle that the viewer would doubt there is colour there at all.


Six black and white conversion techniques

Open image We have saved the best way for last. The Black & White Adjustment Layer is the most 1comprehensive method of converting your colour image

to black and white. First though, you will need to open an image up for conversion.

Black & White Adjustment Layer In the Adjustments Magnify image It is panel click on the Black & White icon to create a Black & normally best to work at 2 3 White Adjustment Layer. Or alternatively select Layer>New around 100% view. So using the Adjustment Layer>Black & White from the Layer menu and this will also create the Adjustment Layer.

Scrubby Target tool The Scrubby Target tool takes a bit of getting used to but basically it allows us to target the specific by selecting different parts of the image. Once your mouse is held down you can drag left or right. 4 tones

Zoom tool (Z), apply the new CS5 scrubby zoom option and drag the Zoom tool to the right to zoom in and the left to zoom out again.

Highlights Target the brightest part of the image to start with then click and move the Scrubby slider to the 5 right to either lighten or darken the highlights. If you watch the panel it will show you which colours are active.

Midtones You are now going to repeat the process but Shadows Next we are going to select the darkest tones Tint Finally, to finish things off tick the Tint option and this time for the midtones which are not the brightest 6 in the shadows. The aim to is to darken them down 7 choose a very subtle blue/white to cool the tones of the 8 nor the darkest parts of the image. The idea is to alter the enough that we can get a good balance between all the image down. We used the RGB settings 241, 242, and 243 colours until your subject looks tonally correct.

tones but leave them with enough detail for printing.

to produce a cool blue tint.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 167


Create high-key effects

We show you how to turn a portrait into a light-filled, detailed black-and-white creation using a few quick Photoshop adjustments


igh-key effects are popular among photographers who are looking to get creative with their images of people. Although the effect can be applied to any style of photograph, it works best when used to bring out the features of a person’s face, such as the eyes, mouth and hair. It’s an interesting way of bleaching out the photo’s highlights to the point of no return and then deepening the shadows in your image, but at the same time keeping hold of details wherever possible. There’s a fine line between overdoing the effect and getting it just right so keep this in mind. If the person in your image

168 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

has become unrecognisable as a living being, though, you can be pretty sure you’ve hit the former. Layer masks and adjustment layers are the tools of choice here, allowing a boost of highlights to be applied to a chosen area. The finished look should accentuate points of interest, while making areas like the skin seem less obvious. Once converted to black and white, the Curves adjustment is put to good use as it’s capable of controlling the variations needed between the highlights, midtones and shadows. Follow this ten-step tutorial to discover how a combination of blend modes, masking and image adjustments can make a stylish high key image from any starting portrait.

Create high-key effects




Desaturate, duplicate and dodge

Convert the image to monochrome and apply a blend mode


Desaturate the portrait Open the starting image from your disc and duplicate the Background layer by going to Layer>Duplicate Layer and hitting OK in the pop-up window. Hold Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+U to turn the layer black and white.


Boost brightness Duplicate the black and white layer by dragging it onto the Create a New Layer button in the Layers palette. To lighten this duplicate version, go to Image>Adjustments> Brightness/Contrast, increase the Brightness slider to 80 and hit OK to apply.

Lighten monochrome Navigate to Image>Adjustments> Curves (Ctrl/Cmd+M) and, using the adjustment’s histogram, bend the top half of the line upwards. Slightly pull the middle of the curve 2 back down (as shown here). This will lighten the highlights, increase contrast and deepen the shadows to start off the effect.

Apply blend mode For the high key effect we need more contrast, so duplicate the layer you just lightened (at the top of the layer stack) and 4 change its blend mode to Hard Light. Lower its Opacity to 80% to reduce the harshness of the blend.

Soften image To create a softer high key effect, go to Filter>Noise>Median. In the 5 filter’s pop-up menu, set Radius to 30px and hit OK to apply the filter. You should see how the entire image goes softer but retains definition within the essential features.

A black layer mask 7 Click the Add Layer Mask button at the base

Enhance catchlight In the Layers palette, move the darkest of the three black and white layers (the first one made) to the top of the layer stack. Select the 6 Dodge tool and in the Options bar set to Midtones with Exposure at 60%. Brush over the eyes and hat of the model to accentuate the highlights and add contrast.

170 The blaCk & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

of the palette and hit Ctrl/Cmd+I to switch the mask from white to black. Using the Eraser tool, set to a soft black brush tip and paint over the eyes and hat to bring the contrast through. Lower the tool’s Opacity to 40% and brush on the mouth.

Create high-key effects

Polish the results

Adjustment layers help to control the effect

Increase overall brightness To create a washed-out appearance for your image, go 8 Reduce wrinkles To reduce the creases to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Brightness/ under the eyes and any other lines that might 9 Contrast and hit OK in the pop-up window. detract, select the Dodge tool set to Midtones, Increase the Brightness slightly to about 5 and boost the Contrast up to 40 to get a really dramatic difference.

Strength to 60% and a small soft brush tip. On the layer where we applied the Median filter, brush over the wrinkles to make them lighter and less obvious.

Tinted black and white Add colour with Hue/Saturation

Although this effect works great with a standard black and white image, it goes well with a coloured version too. When you’ve completed the effect, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer from the Layers menu to give a tint to the image. Inside the adjustment, tick the Colorize box. Boost the Saturation slider to 15 and leave Hue at 0. This will give the image a faint brownish tint. However, by moving the Hue slider around you can create tones and change the mood using other colours. A Hue value of 200 gives a cool blue tint, whereas setting it to 50 gives a soft yellow tone.


Manipulating layer masks When working with layer masks you can use the Shift key to turn it off for a quick before and after, or use the Alt key to reveal a black and white version of the mask, which can then be edited with the Brush or Eraser tools. The Command (Mac) or Control (PC) key can show you the mask as an active selection.

Retrieve details On the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, use the Brush tool with quite a soft tip and set it to black. Paint over the lips and 10 nose shadow on the layer’s mask to bring through the final details and the darker tone from the layer beneath.

Layer structure Understand the effect

Adjustment layer

High contrast B&W

Median filter

Lightened B&W


THE BLACk & WHITE PHoTogrAPHy Book 171




Use Dodge & Burn to enhance portraits

Use Dodge & Burn to enhance portraits

Working with both the Dodge and Burn tools, use shadowing and highlights to improve this portrait


hether you like it or not, photographic manipulation exists. Both the arguments for and against it have grown along with the enhancements in traditional photography and the manipulation of those images. Once you’re trained in the Dodge and Burn tools you can make your own moral decisions to use your powers for good or for evil. The Dodge tool and the Burn tool (try to keep them separate in your mind) are your best bets for enhancing an image, drawing the viewer’s eyes’ attention to a certain area or just to help bring out the shadows and highlights of a photograph. Much like working with Levels or Curves you are basically lightening or darkening the image; however, the freedom that both Dodge and Burn give you is in

that you choose what pixels to work on. This enables you to paint in your shadows and compose your highlights very selectively. If you look at our ‘Before’ photograph, you can see the direction of the light is casting some uneven and somewhat distracting shadows on the face. Also, most of the highlighting is occurring around the centre of the face and the lower neck. We’re going

“The Dodge and Burn tools enable you to paint in your shadows and compose your highlights”

Guide to the Dodge tool

Setting up Hold Alt and click on ‘Create a new layer’; 1 this will open up some adjustable options. Select ‘Overlay’ on the mode option and tick ‘Fill with overlayneutral colour (50% gray)’, creating a nondestructive workflow to edit the photograph.

to use the Dodge and Burn tools to help define these shadows and highlights. To start with, we will work with the Dodge tool, exploring how we can use it to take away from the general imperfections of the human skin and help our subject to glow. In this tutorial we will use a workflow that allows nondestructive editing of the photograph by using a transparent overlay.

After Dodg e

Choose your brush Select the Dodge tool and choose Highlights, which tells the tool what areas to work on. 2 Also, bring your exposure down to between 3-5%. Select

‘Enable airbrush mode’. All these options will help create a subtle but effective look.



Skin Hold down the left mouse button, identify the lighter parts of the skin and start going over Selective areas Ring your brush size down, zoom in and look for specific them with the brush. Be careful not to overexpose the areas. Avoid a patchy effect by evenly 3 highlight/midtone areas that need lightening (eyes, lips, nostrils, light hair). 4 dodging all areas. Zoom out to review your progress, making sure the changes are subtle.

Guide to the Burn tool

Hair Work the Dodge tool over light areas of the hair. Zoom out and review the changes by hiding the grey overlay to reveal your original image. Also notice how imperfections of the skin 5 are lessened. Compare the two.

Selecting your brush Now we’ve used the Dodge tool, our subject looks a little bright. So select the Burn tool and mimic the same options as with the Dodge 1tool,too but this time select Shadows instead of Highlights.

Selective areas Go in close to the image to alter the areas. The easiest way to Shadows Work the skin areas as before, but think about how you want your shadows to cast. do this is to use the magnify tool or navigator bar. Keep coming in and out of the 3 Bring out the shadows on the right-hand side of the face to begin bringing in a dynamic tone to 2 image to check it looks natural. the photograph.


Use Dodge & Burn to enhance portraits


Hair Work the darker patches of hair to bring them out against the highlighted areas. Our model has light and dark patches in his hair, so by the time you’re done the hair should really stand out.

After Burn

Final touches Finally, merge all layers and adjust your colour balance to get rid of any imbalance in colour after using the dodge and burn effect. The more you 5 desaturate the image, the more the effect will work.

“Once you’re trained in the Dodge and Burn tools you can make your own decisions” Landscapes In this landscape example, the shadows and highlights have been enhanced using the Dodge and Burn

tools. The clouds in this photograph have lots of variation in terms of density and how much light they’re letting through. Be meticulous about where you add the dodge effect so as not to completely bleach out the texture of the lighter clouds.





Create a black & white HDR in Photoshop

Create a black & white HDR in Photoshop

Learn how to create high dynamic range results in easy to follow steps


igh Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI) utilises methods to help increase the tonal range recorded in a digital image, from the darkest blacks to the brightest whites. Standard digital cameras struggle to record extreme dark and light tones in a single exposure. A common method to increase tonal range is to shoot multiple shots of the same subject at different exposure times. These shots are then blended together into an HDR image that has a higher bit depth (tonal range). This image is often then “tonemapped” down to a viewable Low Dynamic Range (LDR) for everyday monitors such as LCD or CRT screens. Due to registration issues when combining multiple shots together, HDR is only effective when shooting static subjects such as landscapes, interiors and architecture. HDR in moving subjects will show ghosted edges as positions change between

exposures: faux HDR techniques are better for this, for example shooting in RAW format and then pushing and pulling the exposure of a single frame and layering adjusted frames one above the other in Photoshop and using masks to hide and reveal certain areas. We’ve chosen to photograph this Oak tree in bright sunlight to illustrate how HDR can help bring out detail in the shadows and highlights. We will cover a standard technique to shoot for HDR and then quickly look at the HDR Pro in Photoshop CS5. This will merge our multiple exposures seamlessly into one. We will then take a 16-bit TIF file into Camera Raw to make some more adjustments and then convert to black and white, bringing out some of the rich detail within the image. The final infrared look shows how far you can push and pull images like these to create incredibly dramatic black and white imagery.

Shooting checklist If you’re shooting for HDR from scratch you will need two key pieces of equipment: a 1camera with manual override options and a tripod with

camera head. Optional equipment includes: lens hood, grey card, spirit level and cable release.

“HDR is only effective when shooting static subjects such as landscapes, interiors and architecture”

Setting up your shots Set camera to manual focus and aperture or Aperture priority. How many shots? Typically shoot between five and nine exposures and bracket Compose your shot and meter an average tone. Green grass or a grey card is ideal. Shoot 2 between one and two stops for each exposure. Even if you don’t blend them all, it’s 3 bracketed exposures by adjusting your shutter speed either side of the average exposure. better to have all the tonal range in case you want to blend other exposures back in later.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 177


Bring them into Photoshop Open up your bracketed shots. Use RAW (best quality) or JPEG. Select the images to blend together. We’ve selected six from the nine shots, 4 ignoring the brightest ones. Choose Tools>Photoshop>Merge to HDR Pro.

HDR Pro dialog box Take a break while the images are loading, this takes time. Once loaded, you’ll see the individual thumbnails at the bottom and a merged preview in the 5 middle. Familiarise yourself with the sliders and presets on the right.

Custom presets All the presets are quite subjective, Remove Ghosts Check this is on to help remove you’ll either like them or not. For this tutorial we’re going 6 ghosting in your image. In this case some leaves may 7 to work with the Photorealistic preset. Select this setting have moved slightly in the wind. You can also apply this to from the drop-down menu.

178 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

individual frames by selecting them first at the bottom.

Outputting file Select 16bit mode and then click OK to process. Save the file as tree.tif file and then in Bridge 8 select the file and press Ctrl/Cmd+R to open it up in the Adobe Camera Raw interface for adjustment.

Create a black & white HDR in Photoshop

Camera Raw adjustments Once in Bridge apply the Adding a grad filter Press G to select graduated filter, Black and white conversion Click on the hand icon following settings to bring out detail in the bark and give 9 and hold down Shift and draw a line from the bottom 10 at the top to take you back to the main menu options. 11 it an infrared feel. Exposure: -0.40, Recovery: 30, Fill Light: upwards. Enter these values: Exposure: -0.70, Brightness: Now click on the HSL / Grayscale tab on the right (the icon 79, Blacks: 46, Brightness: 38, Contrast: 13, Clarity: 78.

-11, Contrast: +85, Saturation: +20, Clarity: +43.

that looks like slider lines) Check Convert to Grayscale.

Sharpening to finish Click on the output settings (text link at the base of the image) You can output to a colour or greyscale profile and 16 or 8bit. Finish by a small amount of 13 sharpening either in Camera Raw or Photoshop.

Lith effect You can take your black

Black and white adjustment Now we have a basic black and white conversion we can tweak sliders to create the high contrast infrared feel. To achieve this look, 12 start by inputting the following; Reds: -9, Oranges: -37, Yellows: -33, Greens: +54, Aquas:

-13, Blues: +9, Purples: +15, Magentas: +4.

and white images further and experiment with a number of different tinting techniques. Here we have used split toning in Camera Raw and warmed up the midtones with some reddish brown and cooled down the shadows with a blue/ black. This resembles the darkroom technique of Lith printing where you would over-expose the paper to light and then develop it in Lith developer that is partially oxidised.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 179


After Smooth, polished images are created with a little Brush tool practice and many layers!



Re-create a glamorous black & white portrait

Re-create a glamorous black & white portrait

How to add a touch of Hollywood glamour to your portraits in a few easy steps with Photoshop


he iconic images of Fifties Hollywood still live on in the modern day. This style creates stunning, pro-looking portraits and is all down to Photoshop. Photoshop allows you to add the polished film star treatment to your own portrait images. Building up your images slowly with many layers is the key, using all tools at low opacities and strengths. In this tutorial we show you how to cut out your model and leave the hair looking perfect, as well as how to expertly paint fresh skin using the Brush tool

and cover up common portrait flaws like under-eye bags and stray hairs with the Clone Stamp tool. We’ll also show you how to add dramatic lighting tones to your image with the Burn tool and Levels. Lastly, we’ll show you how to tie this all together to create a convincing Fifties Hollywood starlet. Building up layers as you work in Photoshop is vital when working on a detailed piece like this, so make sure you label your layers suitably for ease. Also make sure you make a duplicate of your original photo layer, as insurance for any mistakes. To do this, double-click on your Background layer to make

it editable and drag it over the Create new layer icon, found at the base of the Layers palette. The start image used here was found at iStock. com (image number 4944807). We picked it because of the classic pose and retro feel, but this effect will transfer well onto your own portraits. For reference we used Google images and used the classic style of Elizabeth Taylor, an iconic star who has had her portrait taken by many famous photographers and artists. So with your start image downloaded from or plucked from your own stock pile, so let’s begin…

“Building up layers as you work in Photoshop is vital when working on a detailed piece like this”

Stage one: Cut out the hair Convert your image to Working on the newly duplicated layer (see the 1introCMYK. text), select the Pen tool. Make sure the tool is set to

Cut out the model If you aren’t comfortable creating a Clean the backdrop Cmd/Ctrl-click on the saved Path with the Pen tool, use the Magnetic Lasso instead Path to create an active selection, then press Cmd/ 2 3 and then press Cmd/Ctrl+J to lift the active selection onto Ctrl+J. With the cut-out model on its own layer, add a new

Sort out the hair Click on the new layer and click the Lock transparent pixel button at the top of the Layers 4 palette. Select the Clone Stamp tool from the side toolbar

More hair work Select the Smudge tool, a size one or Stage two: The face Select a large soft-edged brush. two brush at 90% strength. Drag out pieces of hair Set the blend mode in the top toolbar to Multiply and 5 6 where needed. With enough hair pulled out, select the Blur lower the Opacity to 20%. Alt-click to sample a light skin

the Paths option in the top toolbar. Zoom in and cut out the model as carefully as possible.

and pick a soft brush, 30% Opacity. Alt-click a clean patch of hair and paint over the edge to rid any remaining black.

its own layer. If you are using the Pen tool, complete the path, go to the Paths palette>top right arrow>Save Path.

tool at 30% and soften the hair on the edges. Add a new layer at the top of the stack.

layer directly underneath it (found at the base of the Layers palette) and go to Edit>Fill>White.

colour, go to the Swatches palette and click and name your new swatch. Repeat so you have a selection of skin colours. The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 181


Paint in new skin With your model layer still locked, select 7 the lightest colour and on the new layer paint over the cheek and forehead. A subtle airbrushed effect will be created. Gradually build up layers with more tones – if it looks too much then lower the layer’s opacity.

Take a look Zoom out and you’ll notice that the model Tidy up The areas under the eyes and some stray hairs Finish the face To add more glamour, add white looks a bit dull. Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and need editing. Select the Clone Stamp tool at 30% highlights to the bridge of the nose and left cheek 8 9 10 drag the right slider inwards to lighten her up. Repeating the Opacity, Alt-click a clean area of skin and paint out the flaws. edge. Zoom into the eyes and with a small brush (white painting process select a bold red and paint her lips. Use a small brush so you don’t get the teeth.

We have painted the face, so now paint/smooth out the chest and arm, getting rid of all blemishes.

Add depth To add impact to the model’s eyes, select the Burn tool from the side toolbar, and in the top 11 bar set the tool to Midtones and at 20% Exposure, before

Darken the hair Make sure you’re clicked onto the Final touches The model’s top is a bit too modern model layer and paint over the eyelashes, pupils and for our classic feel. Add a new layer at the top of the 12 13 brows. They will darken and become more sultry. Zoom stack. Select a small soft brush and sample the top’s colour

carefully painting over the irises in her eyes to introduce more depth to their tone.

182 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

out and Burn the hair, concentrating on where the hair is naturally darker.

colour) paint at a low opacity over the whites – don’t forget to paint the teeth too!

(Alt-click) and paint. Lastly, add a new layer under the model and paint on a vignette for true Hollywood style.

Creating actions in Photoshop

Creating actions in Photoshop

After All the steps involved in this mono conversion can be recorded as an action

Want to convert more photos in less time? Actions are the thing for you! If you think about it, there are almost certainly quite a number of processes that you perform in Photoshop on almost every image that you take. This might include sharpening, contrast boosting and perhaps converting to black and white. If there’s a good chance that you’re going to be doing the exact same process on several images, it’s worth taking the time to record a Photoshop ‘action’. Each step that you carry out in Photoshop is literally recorded and the complete process – the ‘action’ – can be played back later for use on other images that require the same editing. Actions can be short, containing just one or two simple adjustments, or they can be very long, containing multiple steps for much more dramatic editing. You can also retrospectively adjust the action so that values and settings in individual steps can be tweaked as you replay it, so that they better suit a particular image. Steps can also be added in or removed at a later date, all of which makes actions not only powerful but also highly flexible too.

Adjust an action

Once your action is complete, you can choose to make some (or all) of the individual steps in the action adjustable as the action plays. In order to do this, simply click the box to the left of the step that you wish to make editable. When you hover your cursor over this box, the message ‘Toggle dialogue on/off’ will be displayed, as you are choosing to make the dialogue for the filter or adjustment appear (or not) as the action runs.

Create new action At the base of the Actions palette, click Create New Action then give it a name. You’ll also 1be asked if you want to set a function key to activate the

action. You can adjust both of these later on if you need to.

Before Actions are ideal for applying edits to multiple images

Record the steps When you click Record, you’ll notice Stop and replay When you have finished recording a red record symbol at the base of the Actions palette. the action, simply press stop by clicking the button on 2 3 Everything that you then do within Photoshop will be built the far left at the base of the Actions palette. Replay your into the action. Try to get each step right as you go.

Action on a new image to ensure that it works correctly.



184 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Selectively colour your black-and-whites

Selectively colour your black-and-whites

Get creative with monochrome and learn how to use layer masks, the Brush tool, clipping masks and selections to create a painting in progress


elective black and white effects have always captured the imagination. They draw attention to the subject in your image through the contrast, adds a different twist to the overall composition and can turn a dull black and white into something really special. But why stop at just selecting colour? Here, we’ve taken a different approach by introducing an actual paintbrush to ‘paint’ colour on our image. Using Photoshop’s pre-installed brush tips, it’s easy to

experiment with different styles of painting. With the help of layer and clipping masks, areas of paint can be added or taken away quickly without worrying about destroying the original image. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out the other approach to this tutorial by using the original canvas in our picture of the hand. Move the flowers onto this image and blend the black and white version with the colour. See our version over the page and you can chose this one if you prefer the effect.

Open starting Open 1yourimage starting image of the hand and zoom in to 50%. Pick the Quick Selection tool and set its brush size to 50px in the Options bar, also make sure AutoEnhance is ticked.

Our two starting images are effective for this type of editing but you can just as easily use any image to paint onto. Simply re-position the hand wherever you want the paint to be applied. All that’s required is a couple of masks to cut out the hand and brush, a dab of paint, and some subtle smudging… well, there’s a little bit more to it than that so follow these simple steps and learn exactly how it’s done. Soon you’ll be a master of the layer mask which in turn will greatly help you improve your other Photoshop skills.

“It draws attention to the subject in your image through the contrast”

Make selection 2 Using the Quick

Selection tool, form a selection over the hand and wrist as well as the brush and bristles. For the background area between the fingers, reduce the size of the tool to 10px and zoom in closer, then Alt-click on the area.

Refine selection Go to Select>Modify>Feather and enter 0.5px and hit OK. Go back into Select>Modify, and this time choose Contract. Enter 1px in the pop-up window and hit OK. 3 Add a layer mask in the Layers palette to apply the mask. The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 185

Editing Smart Objects After the hand has been masked, go to Layer> Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object. This can be dragged onto the image of the flowers and edited in a separate window if you need to. Simply double-click the Smart Object’s layer to edit. The advantage of a Smart Object is that it keeps the hand’s layer mask out of the way, as well as making sure no pixels are distorted if the image is resized.

Drag ‘n’ drop Open the second image and drag the hand onto the image. Resize and move the hand using 4 Edit>Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd+T) for a better composition.

Desaturate flowers Drag the flowers layer onto the Create New Layer button to duplicate. Double-click the locked layer (bottom of stack) to make it editable. 5 Go to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate to remove this layer’s colour, leaving the colour duplicate above.

Choose your brush 7 Select the

Select for painting Use the Quick Selection tool to make a selection around the flowers and the stem above where 6 the hand is positioned. This doesn’t need to be exact. Add a

Brush tool and hit F5 to open the Brushes palette. Select the Flat Bristle brush, found within the Thick Heavy Brushes, with a size to match that of the brush being held (around 70px).

new layer mask to the colour flower layer (mid-stack) to show the black and white underneath.

Use the original canvas Instead of masking out the hand, you can opt for the original canvas from our starting image. All that’s needed is some perspective transformation and work with the Brush tool. First, drag the flowers onto the image of the hand and use Edit>Transform>Perspective to match the position of the canvas. Once placed, duplicate the layer and desaturate (Image>Adjustments>Desaturate) the bottom of the two flower layers. Make a selection of the hand (see steps 1-3) and add a layer mask to both of the flower layers. On the colour flowers, use the Eraser tool to remove the areas of colour and reveal the black and white layer beneath.

Brush dynamics 8 Click on Shape

Dynamics in the Brushes palette. Set the Size Jitter to 50% and Minimum Diameter to 60%. Set both the Angle Jitter and Roundness Jitter to 0%. Make sure that Smoothing is ticked too.

186 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Selectively colour your black-and-whites Better mask If you’re using Photoshop CS3 or later, take advantage of the Refine Edge command. The Refine Edge option has Feather, Contract, Smooth and Radius all in one window, similar to the Modify options we’ve used in this tutorial. This will help make your selection precise and smooth.

Apply paint Select the layer mask in the Layers palette and use the Brush tool with white foreground and black 9 background colours. Paint the blue back into the sky, increasing the brush size to cover the large areas more easily.

Individual flowers Press the X key to alternate between the foreground and background colours, switching between adding and deleting the layer 10 mask. Zoom into the image and remove areas of paint to reveal whole flowers in black and white.

“Where colour meets the black and white, use the Brush tool” Careful transitions 11 Where colour

Different brushes for different styles

meets black and white, use the Brush tool in a vertical movement to accentuate the edges of the brush tip. Remember to resize the brush back to the size of the actual brush pictured when doing this.

The Brushes palette has many preset tips to use for different painting styles. Open the palette to access all the options inside the drop-down menu at the top right. Groups of brushes include Natural Media, Assorted, Thick Heavy and Wet Media. Each group contains a range of traditional brushes and random shapes for applying to your canvas. Whether that’s Chalk, Charcoal, Smooth Round ones, Pastels or Permanent Marker brushes, each can be manipulated using the options inside the palette. Open a blank canvas and, using a bold colour, try different brushes on small patches to compare.

Tidy up Alt-click 12 the layer mask’s

thumbnail to show which areas have been masked and which are visible. Use the Brush tool set to black to paint over any white spots in the bottom half. Alt-click on the mask’s thumbnail to revert back to normal mode. The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 187



Add depth When you’re finished painting, double-click on the hand layer to open the Layer Style menu. Click on Drop Shadow, and select Opacity 60%, Distance 70px, Spread 15%, Size 40px and Angle to 110. Hit OK to apply the shadow.

Detach shadow The Drop Shadow doesn’t sit quite right under the brush tip. Ctrl/right-click on the Drop Shadow’s layer and select Create Layer from the 14 list. Use Edit>Free Transform to rotate the shadow so it’s sitting directly under the brush’s bristles.

Add clipping mask Add a blank layer in the Layers palette, which should be directly above the hand layer. Ctrl/right-click on the new layer and select Create Clipping Mask. Anything 15 added will only affect the hand on the layer below. Pick colours Using the Eyedropper tool (I), pick a dark purple from the flowers. Use the Brush tool with a hard round tip and paint the colour onto 16 the bristles. Do the same for a dark green from the stems and a blue from the sky, adding them each to the bristles.

Set up the Smudge Select 17 the Smudge tool and

in the Options bar, choose the 19px Hard Round tip. Set the Strength to 50% and make sure the Finger Painting option is turned off. Zoom in 100% to the bristles with the paint.

188 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

“Use the brush tool with a hard round tip and paint the colour onto the bristles”

Selectively colour your black-and-whites

Smudge! Use the Smudge tool to blend and blur the purple, green and blue paint together Clone paint Use the Clone Stamp tool, set to 50% Opacity with a size of on the bristles. Smudge up and down the bristles to bring through their direction, and work 40px and Alt-click on the smudged paint on the bristles. Clone to the metal 18 19 the paint around to look like real paint on a brush. parts of the paintbrush and the fingers of the hand.

Layer structure Levels 1 adjustment layer

Paint on bristles & fingers

Hand & brush

Hand Drop Shadow

Colour flowers

Black & white flowers

Adjust lighting At the moment, the hand layer is looking quite dark, so add a Levels adjustment layer and Ctrl/right-click to give it a clipping mask. Brighten the highlights by 20 pulling in the far right marker underneath the Levels histogram, and you’re done! The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 189


Create atmosphere Evoke a dramatic mood with Photoshop


ave you ever wondered how they make those beautiful panoramic landscape prints that you always see around? Rather than forking out your hard-earned cash for a print like that, we’ll show you how you can achieve the effect yourself with a few adjustment layers and some manipulation techniques. You can use the supplied images to create your starting composite and go from


there, or you can use your own photos, for example of your home or your garden. Either way, choose wisely. You want photos with a bit of, or the potential for, atmosphere. Good, clean landscape shots work well, and a slightly spooky building would look great in the final result. With your composite done we’ll show you how to create a punchy black and white effect and change the global illumination of the scene using the Lighting Effects

filter, simulate realistic rain and ripple effects, and employ the Dodge and Burn tools non-destructively to enhance shadows and highlights. A few sneaky blend modes and a beautiful vignette effect will achieve an HDR-style photograph that you’ve created all on your own. Once you’ve finished your dramatic panorama, check out the printing guide on page 216 for advice on how to make your images look as good in real life as they do on the screen.

Create atmosphere

Start images

First decide on which photographs you want use. Try to keep your scene simple using one or two 1stocktoChoose images. It will make your life easier and you will still get the same dramatic result. In this particular case, only two stock images were used.

Create the foreground Open ‘Rocks.jpg’ (or your own image) and use the Quick Selection tool (W) to 2 select the sky. Keep the outline of the rocks fairly smooth

and precise using Refine Edge in the Options bar. Click on Add vector mask at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Add the background Create a new layer under the foreground and paste the second image on it. Use 3 ‘Largo Background.jpg’ from the disc or an image of your

choice. Adjust its position using the Move tool (V)but try to maintain a realistic perspective. THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK 191

Editing Lighting effects One of the most important steps in this tutorial was created using the Lighting Effects filter. Naturally, the eyes will travel to areas that have more light and with this filter you can create a spotlight effect for a beautiful vignette. It’s also a great filter to even out the illumination of the entire image thanks to the various settings that enable you to change the light colour, focus, contrast, direction and other options too.


Water effects We will add some rain later on, so for now create some ripples in the water using the Distort filters. First duplicate the foreground layer so you have a backup and name it Water Ripples.

Ripples selection The objective here is to mimic the water ripples caused by the falling rain. Select the Water Ripples layer and then 5 the Elliptical Marquee tool (M). Make an oval selection, keeping the sense of perspective, but avoid making perfectly round selections.

ZigZag filter With the selection active, go to Filter>Distort>ZigZag. Generally you 6 Create more ripples Once you create a single ripple Black and white If you want a dramatic effect on your images, should use an Amount of about 30-35 you can repeat the process until you fill the surface. monochrome never fails. Add a Black & White adjustment layer on 7 8 and 4-5 for the Ridges. The style we used was You can speed up the process by moving the selection with top of your composition. Use the sliders for manual adjustments or use Pond Ripples.

the mouse and pressing Cmd/Ctrl+F to reapply.

a preset. For this image the Lighter preset was used.

Dodge and Burn tools Dodge and Burn are really powerful retouching tools that are often overlooked by beginners. They are mainly used to enhance local contrast, particularly the rocks in our image. The Dodge tool is used to enhance the highlights and the Burn tool to enhance the shadows. With a bit of practice you can end up with truly stunning results that will catch the eye instantly.

Increase contrast Use Levels or Curves to increase the Change the illumination We will focus the light with a noncontrast between the highlights and shadows. Keep 9 destructive technique using the Lighting Effects filter. This can be 10 it subtle for now – we will work on the contrast in the next used to add light to important parts of the composition and also create step as well. For this image we used Levels to darken the midtones and brighten up the highlights.


a vignette effect. Start by creating a new layer and filling it with white.

Create atmosphere Closer look How to make it rain

Realistic rain Use multiple layers to create realistic raindrops.

Discover the key tools and techniques used to achieve this effect

Increase spacing Use the Scatter setting to increase the spacing between drops and the Size Jitter setting to randomly change the size of them as you paint.

Random angle Slightly change the angle of the raindrops using the Angle Jitter option. A variation of just 2% is enough to create a more interesting rain effect.

Add more depth Depth effects can also be applied to rain. Paint rain on a new layer and apply a Gaussian blur for a more realistic look.

Droplet colour Avoid using a strong white colour when painting the rain, as it rarely looks realistic. Use a light grey hue instead.

The Lighting Effects filter Now go to Filter> Render>Lighting Effects. We used a narrow focus 11 to get some vignetting, reducing the Gloss to -44 and

Ambience to 0 in order to reduce the amount of light. Click OK and change the blend mode of the layer to Overlay.


Dodge and burn Create a new layer above your filter layer, go to Edit>Fill and choose 50% Gray from the Contents list. Click OK and change the blend mode of this layer to Overlay, ready for the Dodge and Burn tools.

Dodge the highlights Select the Dodge tool and use it to brush on all the areas where you see highlights 13 or where you want more light. Use an Exposure setting of 10-15% and brush several times with a medium soft brush. Go over the entire image in this way.



Custom rain brush Creating a rain brush is fairly easy. Create a new document about 500 x 500px and paint two or three vertical black lines 15 with different lengths using a 2px soft brush. Now go to Edit>Define Brush Preset to save it as a brush.

Layer structure Composite


Burn the shadows Switch to the Burn tool and do the same as you did with the highlights, but brushing over the shadows. Use the same Exposure settings and adjust the brush size according to the details you’re painting. This is done to increase contrast on parts of the image.

Add your stock images on separate layers and use layer masks to blend them together. Ripples Duplicate the foreground layer. Apply the ZigZag filter to elliptical selection areas. Black &White Add a Black & White adjustment layer. Use the Lighter preset or adjust the silders manually. Contrast

17 Create raindrops Using your new brush, paint some water drops on a new layer 16 using a light grey colour, for example #a9a9a. We painted the rain on at a 15-degree angle, but varied this in some instances by changing Angle Jitter in the Brush palette to 2%.

Strong sharpening Select the top layer in the palette and press Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E to create a stamp of all the visible layers. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask and set Radius to 25px, Amount to 50% and Threshold to 0. These settings are for our image but will depend on your canvas size.

Add a Levels adjustment and darken midtones and brighten the highlights sliders. Focus reate a new layer, fill it with white and add the Lighting Effects filter. Set to Overlay mode. Dodge & Burn Use the Dodge and Burn tools on a layer filled with 50% grey and set to the Overlay blend mode. Rain Brush reate a simple custom brush by painting vertical black lines on a new document. The Rain Paint the rain adding scatter to the brush. Use different layers and apply blur. Sharpen Apply strong sharpening to the image. Change the blend mode to Darken.


Sharpen the shadows After applying the filter, change the layer’s blend mode to Darken. This has two effects; it will make the shadows darker and sharpen them at the same time. Reduce the opacity to taste.


Sharpen the highlight Duplicate the sharpened layer by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+J 19 or from the menu Layer>Duplicate Layer, and change its blend mode to Lighten. This has the same effect as the Darken blend mode but for the highlights. Reduce the opacity to taste.

Enhance Finish by duplicating the sharpened layer and change its mode to Lighten.

Graduated Filter in Lightroom

Graduated Filter in Lightroom After This landscape image needed some drama, which the tool was able to add


Use Lightroom to transform the atmosphere in three simple steps


he Graduated Filter in Adobe Lightroom is simple to use and will come in very handy for many different occasions. In this landscape image the original sky was lacking drama, which the Graduated Filter was able to add back. By making the clouds appear darker at the top, the composition of the image becomes much stronger and leads the viewer’s eye into the centre of the clouds and to the volcano.

When using the Graduated Filter tool, preset the Brightness to -40, the Contrast to +40, the Saturation to +10, the Clarity to +35 and keep the rest on zero. You can then further tweak the settings if need be. For those who only need to make quick and minor amendments to their images, Lightroom is a quick and easy software solution. Preset and custom settings can also be made if you want to adjust images in bulk which is a great time saver for those needing to do easy and quick edits on a big job.

Basic edits

You can find the Basic Edit bar below the Gradient tool. This is useful for tweaking colour casts and exposure values. Lightroom is a great programme for making minor amendments to your images; however, for anything major you will need to use Adobe Photoshop. Most of the tools work by simply sliding the control up and down on the bar. Custom settings can be programmed to make it easier to adjust images in bulk.

the image Copy the image onto your desktop or Add the filter To add the effect, simply drag the cursor Tweak the results Click and drag either of the outside a folder on your computer. Go to File, Import Photos over the image. You will see the results instantly and lines to increase or decrease the affected area. Tweak 1fromtoImport 2 3 Disk…. Select your image and then click on Develop three lines and a dot will appear. Holding the Shift key the image to the results you’re happy with. To hide the on the right-hand side of the screen. Select the Graduated tool icon and set the tool to the preset settings listed in the text above.

when applying the tool will ensure that the horizon remains horizontal. Click the centre of the pin to reposition the filter at any time.

Graduated Filter press H, and again to bring it back. This makes it easier to assess the image without leaving the tool. When you’re happy, Export the image out of Lightroom.




Master tone edits

Master tone edits We show all levels of Photoshop users how to work with tone for masterful monochrome


lack and white effects have always been popular with photographers. Monochrome images can be created in a host of ways using the power of Photoshop, and it’s up to the user to establish which works best for them. Here we’ll show you just some of the many ways to approach your

black and white digital images, as well as the means to make them that little bit more exciting with additional effects. We’ll look at three core techniques in total. What you must always remember is that just because no colour shows does not mean it can’t enhance your images. Black and white often calls

attention to the colour that is not there and layers and colour adjustments can help with this. Duotone effects are also addressed, as these can be the best method when creating for print. Most printers can’t reproduce the tonal range of a digital black and white image, so we show you how to take out the guesswork when applying this style.

Method one Adjustment layers

Create your black and white image with non-destructive edits

Non-destructive Some 1editseffects change your

image irreversibly. If you want to work with an editable effect instead, we recommend using adjustment layers. Start by going to Image>Adjustments> Black & White.

Black & White adjustment To create a monochrome effect, set the sliders to: Reds -15, Yellows 110, Greens 2 40, Cyans 60, Blues 100, Magentas 80. You should tweak

these settings depending on your own image, though, to get the best spread of shadows and highlights.

Brightness / Contrast 4 The previous

Selective Color adjustment Now, beneath the Black & White layer, apply Selective Color. Set Reds Magenta to +10% and Yellow to 3 +15%. Yellows Magenta is set to +10, Blues Cyan to +100% and Black to

settings will have dulled the subject’s eyes. To remedy this, select his pupils with the Elliptical Marquee tool, apply a Curves adjustment layer to the selection and tweak the highlights. Apply a final Brightness/ Contrast adjustment on top of everything to finish.

-25%. Apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer on top and increase the Saturation to +30 for a boost.


Editing Add colour back in We show you how to colourise your black and white images


Before Before


Method two The Channel Mixer

Adapt the settings of this very specific adjustment layer to transform your image into monochrome. Even though it’s black and white, tweaking the colour channels gives great control over your values

Layer mask To achieve this effect you should have all your layers live so you can apply more adjustments. All you need to do is activate the Black & White adjustment’s layer mask.

Channel Mixer Open your colour image apply the Channel Mixer adjustment. 1Don’tand use this as a fixed application from the

Gradual colour Now paint back in eye colour gradually with a 70% black brush. If you are working with a flat black and white layer, pick similar eye tones and paint these to a selection on a new layer instead.

Adjustments menu as we want to be able to keep editing in a non-destructive way. Select the option from the Layers palette adjustment layers instead.

Value relationships Once in the Channel Mixer dialog box, activate the Monochrome option to transform your image to greyscale. You’ll 2 notice that by default Red and Green are switched to 40% and Blue to 20%. This equates to 100% or perfect black and white.

Give them a name Basically 3 if you keep all the

setting values equating to 100% your image will show through true black and white, without any oversaturated areas of shadow or light. However, you can create different looks by tweaking each of the red, green and blue channels.

Blend modes With your eye colour down, set the blend mode to Color and select the Color Overlay layer style. Apply a warm orange hue then set the Opacity to 40% and the blend mode to Vivid Light.

“Once settled on a look that you like, you can save it to use on other projects” 198 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

Save presets Once you 4 have settled on

a look that you like you can save this to use on subsequent projects. It’s easy. Access the fly-out menu from your dialog box (topright) and choose Save Channel Mixer Preset. Name your effect, save it to an easyto-find location and then load from the same fly-out menu later.

Quick mask Try using a quick mask to select an area. Hit Q on your keyboard to begin and select the Brush tool. Set the Foreground colour to black and start painting. This applies a red-coloured mask to that area. Painting with white erases the mask. Now hit Q again to select everything except what you just painted over, or choose Select>Inverse to select the masked area itself.

Master tone edits High-key effect Enhance the focus and exposure in your monochrome images

Merge layers Applying high-key effects is a great way to draw the eye when there’s no colour. Merge layers (Ctrl/ Cmd+Alt/Opt+Shift+E) and select Smart Sharpen.



Method three Master duotone effects

Monochrome doesn’t have to be just black and white – the darker tones can be replaced by another colour for dynamic imagery. We show you how to achieve this duotone look

Smart sharpen Apply the Smart Sharpen filter with 125% Amount and 2px Radius. Duplicate this layer and apply Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur at a Radius of 2px.

Layer mask Apply a layer mask, masking away from the eyes, nose and mouth, bringing these into focus. Duplicate your sharpen layer again, place on top and apply a Gaussian blur with 20px Radius.

Lab mode When making monochrome images, first you’ll want to even 1outduotone the greyscale so lights and shadows aren’t blown out. The best way to achieve this is to visit the Lab colour mode via Image>Mode>Lab.

Duotone mode Select the Lightness Channel only from the Channels palette, then choose Image>Mode>Grayscale. Flatten 2 your image and select Image>Mode> Duotone, opening the Duotone

Options dialog box. Select Duotone from the Type drop-down options. Duotone presets You can activate the 3 Select Ink Color options

by clicking on the swatch, setting to any Pantone hue you like. Duotone Options comes well equipped with presets, though. Apply Yellow bl 4 from the list and then open the Duotone Curve dialog box.

Another mask Apply another mask on the face leaving the edges blurred. Apply Curves to blow out the highlights and a Solid Fill adjustment (#563705 tone) set to Color mode at 20% Opacity.

Duotone Curve Your 4 Duotone Curve

determines the spread of a particular colour in your shadows, midtones and highlights. 0 is the highlights, 50 is your midtone value and 100 your shadows. However, presets offer an automatic choice that works most times.

Creative additions You can, of course, experiment further and have a little fun, changing black for a blue tone. You could also sharpen some 5 details and bring out exposure by applying a High Pass filter with a 3px Radius (Filter>Other) set to Vivid Light mode.




Add emphasis to eyes

Add emphasis to eyes


hether or not you believe the eyes are the windows to the soul, there’s no denying that they can make or break a portrait. We know that dull and unengaging peepers make for a dull and unengaging image, so you want them to be the best they can be.

Use gradients and Hue/Saturation to apply a rainbow effect to your portraits

And if that want happens to be for maximum effect, check out the technique we applied to our image on the opposite page. It involves calling upon the gradients to wash a rainbow sheet of colour over a selection before using a Hue/Saturation adjustment and blend modes to make the whole effect sit together nicely. You don’t have to stay with the rainbow effect, either. Instead of using the gradient,

you can dab on whatever colours you wish with a brush, then apply a Gaussian blur and blend modes to bring everything together. It works on any image you have to hand (even on pet pictures!) but you get the most impact if applied to a black and white shot. Just make sure it isn’t in Grayscale mode otherwise your rainbow will be black and white!

“Dull and unengaging eyes make for a dull and unengaging image, so make them the best they can be”

the selection You need to first select the eye area to apply the effect. Using the Lasso tool (or any selection method you prefer), 1drawMake around the inside of the eye. Once the selection is made, click the New Layer icon from the Layers palette.

Gradient application Pick the Gradient tool from the Toolbar and then click on 2 the Gradient Editor area in the top Options bar. Pick the Spectrum gradient preset and then click OK. Drag across the selection to add the colour. Repeat until you get a pattern you like.

Blend mode Things are too harsh at the moment, so scoot down to the Layers palette and click on the blend 3 modes drop-down menu. Pick the Color mode to merge the gradient with the photo.

Alter the colours Staying with Hue/ Saturation, you can also use the Hue slider Edit the colour Go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/ 5 to alter the colours in the eye. Simply move the Saturation and use the Saturation slider to tame things 4 Tidy up Press Ctrl/Cmd+D to deselect the area you had selected. slider left or right to get the effect you want. further; simply drag it to the left to reduce the effect. It Zoom in and check that the colours haven’t seeped out anywhere. If 6 This is such a simple edit but makes a massive might be that you want to go further, in which case slide it it has, pick the Eraser tool from the Toolbar and wipe away. Once happy, to the right.

different to the final result.

repeat the process for the other eye.


Editing Before


Classic portraits with gradient maps It doesn’t matter what type of image you are dealing with – it’s possible to make anything look better with gradient maps


nless you create a lot of graphic art, it’s unlikely that you spend time playing with the Gradient tool. For the day-to-day task of editing images, it’s never needed so most of us just leave it to gather up virtual dust by sitting in the Toolbar. Gradient maps, though, are something entirely different. Applied as an adjustment layer,


these will automatically apply a gradient over your photo to instantly transform it. You can go for wild and whacky colours to go with a collage theme, make a shot look like it was taken at a different time of day, or for an instant lift to portraits you can stick with subdued hues. We are going to show you how to apply a black and white gradient over a colour image to re-create

a classic effect. It isn’t difficult to make a black and white image – and there are many ways to create one – but this method gives you the ability to quickly edit the intensity of the monochrome wash. As you get used to the techniques shown, why not print out the same image with different gradient maps applied and hang them together? It will make a great talking point.

Classic portraits with gradient maps

Apply the adjustment Open up your start image. Apply Click to edit The default gradient is blue and definitely Go for black and white The Gradient Editor will open. an adjustment layer, by going down to the bottom of the not the effect we are after. We need to alter this to You can see the preset gradients, so click the Black, 1Layers 2 3 palette and clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer something more classic so click the long gradient bar to White option. This has improved the effect but we can make icon. Select Gradient Map from the menu that appears.

make the change.

things even better.

“This method gives you the ability to quickly edit the intensity of the monochrome wash” The Gradient Editor Become a gradient guru in no time at all

Slide for control Use the black and white sliders underneath the main gradient bar (the Color Stops). 4 These control how intense the dark and light areas are and

Presets This area contains the gradients that ship with the program. Any you have saved will be here too.

it’s just a case of clicking and dragging to make changes. We moved the black stop to 12% and the white stop to 71%.

Pick a colour If you double-click on a Color Stop, the Color Picker will appear. Use this to edit the hues used in a gradient.

Color Stops Click and drag these to add more or less of a colour to the gradient. Double-click on a stop to edit it.

Gradient bar This represents the relationship between the colours in your gradient.

A different colour If you prefer a colour tint, you can change the black and white parts of the gradient to 5 anything you like. Double-click one of the Color Stops to call up the Color Picker. Choose your colour from here, click OK and it will be applied.



Duplicate your background Duplicate your layer by right-clicking it in the Layers palette and selecting 1Duplicate Layer. Name it ‘Sepia’ and choose OK. This will

create a copy that we will work on to keep the integrity of the original image.

204 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Tackle the hues Use the Hue slider to change the Open Hue/Saturation On the top menu, go colour within the image. Moving it left will bring you to 3 Enhance>Adjust Colour>Adjust Hue/Saturation. In this 2 reddish-brown shades. Choose the best colour for your menu we are working with the colour present in the image, hue, and the amount of colour present, saturation. Tick the colourise option in the bottom-right corner of the menu.

image; in this case a value of 25 has been selected. Click the OK button.

Sepia tone your images

Sepia tone your images

Add a touch of sweet nostalgia to your images by desaturating the colour and applying a subtle kiss of sepia


warm sepia tone can add an antique feel to your images, invoking moving memories of yesteryear. Originally used to warm monochromatic blackand-white film images, sepia has come to reference any application of a reddish-brown tint to images – most commonly, these days, through digital retouching. Sepia effects can range from a minimalistic hint of laid-back brown to an unabashed hue of orange or amber. As with all photo editing, the amount of sepia you can apply to your image without making your postproduction corrections too obvious depends largely on the individual image you are working with. Less is always more, as the saying goes, and it pays to apply this to sepia effects. A lightly touched image almost always outshines an over-processed one. Of course, if you plan on making a statement, perhaps pushing the colour norms may be the only way. The subject

of your image also plays a role in what shade of sepia looks natural. Family images, romantic scenes and city settings beg for a touch of sepia attention. Other scenes, especially with modern references, can look out of place doused in a feeling of days gone by. This said, you should always let your personal preference guide you. Applying a sepia tone requires a few easy steps and makes use of only a handful of tools available on standard editing software packages. It’s advisable to use a nondestructive editing method to preserve your original photograph should you change your mind about your changes or wish to add in other changes later. In this tutorial you will be using the enhancement menu to adjust the colour and lighting within your image. To finish off we’ll be sharpening the image to bring out the details. See our tip below to add an optional vignette to your sepia-toned image.


“Sepia effects can range from a minimalistic hint of laidback brown to an unabashed hue of orange or amber” Sharpen up Bring out the detail in 5 the image by selecting

Enhance>Unsharp Mask. Change the amount to 80% and the radius to 2.0 pixels. If your image is particularly soft, increase the sharpness further. Alternatively, if you wish to keep a romantic blur, decrease the percentage.

Add a vignette Creating a vignette on sepia images enhances the vintage

Tackle light Open the Levels Menu by selecting Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels. Adjust the Highlights, 4 Midtones and Shadows in your image by using the sliders.

Again, settle on a value suited to your image. In this example the shadows have been adjusted to 25.

feeling that sepia invokes. To add a vignette to your picture, use the Elliptical Marquee tool to draw out the borders of the image. Choose Select>Select Inverse to work in the area that we are going to fill with black, and in the same menu choose Redefine Edges and add a feathered edge to give your vignette a soft feel. Lastly, fill the selection by choosing Edit>Fill Selection from the top menu. Now choose Black as the fill and decrease the opacity to 75%. Deselect to reveal your newly created vignette.



to monochrome Open up your image and add Increase contrast Add a Brightness/Contrast 1theaConvert Black and White adjustment layer using the button at adjustment layer, make sure the Use Legacy box is 2 bottom of the Layers palette. Adjust the colour sliders unchecked and increase Contrast to suit. A setting of to get a pleasing array of tones, or choose a preset from the drop-down menu.

206 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

around 80 worked well with our image here, but be sure to experiment with your own images.

Add Dodge/Burn layers Now we need to think about dodging and burning. Add a Brightness/Contrast 3 adjustment layer and push Brightness to max with a single point. Invert the layer mask (the blank rectangle) using Cmd/Ctrl+I. Repeat for a layer with Brightness at min.

Blue tone your images

Blue tone your images Learn how to convert your image to monochrome and apply a blue tint to add mood and atmosphere


he art of toning black-and-white photographs goes way back to the 1880s, and a blue tone has traditionally been used to convey a sense of starkness, loneliness, or any other moods of a more solemn and contemplative nature. In the present day, it’s also been used to represent the modern, giving something of a contemporary feel to urban or fashion-style images. And in landscape terms, it’s typically used to add atmosphere to wintry, blustery or seascape scenes. The first point worth remembering is that converting an image to black-and-white and then toning it does not in itself guarantee an image fit for gracing exhibition walls. The emphasis is on enhancing, not transforming, so be sure to pick your best images to start. In the same vein, you need to make sure that your black-and-white conversion is decent, working the colour sliders to obtain the best

possible arrangement of tones and then dodging and burning (lightening and darkening local areas) afterwards to really bring the image to life. Secondly, remember that the eye is very sensitive to colour, and little is actually needed to transform a shot from monochrome. In other words: don’t think you really need to go hard on your blue colour to produce a satisfactory effect. Understatement is usually the more powerful option. Finally, note that toners traditionally showed more effect on the midtones than the highlights and shadows, which meant pure blacks and whites would retain some integrity. It’s for this reason that we’re steering clear of the Hue/Saturation adjustment with Colorize toning technique, which plasters the entire tonal range with colour. Our chosen method is Color Balance, which allows us to target specific parts of the tonal range, maintaining neutral blacks and whites. Here’s how to go about it…


“Don’t think you really need to go hard on your blue colour to produce a satisfactory effect” Add blue tint When your 5 mono conversion is

perfected, it’s time to add some colour. Add a Color Balance adjustment layer, leave the Midtones ratio button selected and use settings of -20 for Cyan/Red and +25 for Yellow/Blue to add our blue tint.

Dodging and burning Dodging and burning are the traditional darkroom terms

Dodge and burn work Select a large, soft white brush 4 at 20% opacity. Select the layer mask on the top layer and gradually build up the adjustment in areas that you think need darkening down. Repeat with the layer below to lighten areas.

used to describe lightening and darkening areas of your image, and the terminology has carried on into the digital age. Without colour, the eye is guided around your image according to the lightness of tones, so it often makes sense to darken the corners and edges to prevent the eye moving out of the frame. Remember too that the eye is drawn quickly to areas of white, so you can lighten areas to draw attention to them, or darken them down to divert attention elsewhere. It’s all about creating balance in the frame.



Fix your old photos

Remove colour casts, fades, rips, folds, cracks, dust and scratches from precious family photographs


his guide is all about repairing, restoring and retouching images. All the images are sourced from original negatives, slides or photographs that have been damaged or have deteriorated in some way. Many of the examples we’ve used are relatively aged photographs, but photos of any age can deteriorate given the right conditions. Direct sunlight, high humidity and gases like paint vapour can bring any photograph or piece of film


to a rapid demise in the right quantities – and that’s before we’ve even considered accidental damage. The most common problems you’ll encounter include dust, rips, scratches, folds and cracks, as well as fading, yellowing and colour shift. Nothing we can’t handle, you’ll be glad to know! Restoring contrast to faded photos and removing colour shift are fairly straightforward tasks. Removing dust, scratches, cracks, folds and suchlike is a bit more challenging. The technique basically centres on using good areas of the image

to replace bad areas, and the Spot Healing Brush tool (J) and the Clone Stamp tool (S) are the staple tools for the job. While using the former is a mostly automated affair, using the latter requires a bit more thought about where you source the information from. It needs to be from somewhere with a similar pixel makeup so it all blends nicely, making sure that no cloning patterns are obvious. Check out the information on the following page to see when and how to use each tool.


Fix your old photos The Clone Stamp tool is perfect for replacing missing areas of an image with information from elsewhere

The Spot Healing brush is unrivalled for removing blemishes in areas of even tone, such as the sky here

Where information starts to get a bit more detailed and complex, the Clone Stamp tool is the safer bet

Healing and cloning When to heal and when to clone


The Spot Healing brush and Clone Stamp tool will be the tools you’ll use most in the majority of repair situations. Spot Healing removes blemishes by using nearby information and blends to match. Clone Stamp just copies directly from one area to another. The general rule is to use the Spot Healing brush over Clone Stamp unless you’re working near edge detail. In these situations you can find the Spot Healing brush ends up blurring detailed edges, or that colour spills over into areas it shouldn’t. Here, the Clone Stamp is the better choice. The Clone Stamp may also perform better in the case of images that contain a lot of blemishes like fungus, dust or scratches which Spot Healing can end up replicating, especially when focusing on larger blemishes such as tears, folds and cracks. It’s best to have a go with the Spot Healing brush in even tone areas and see the sort of results you get. If they’re not good, you’ve got no choice but to stick with the Clone Stamp tool throughout.

Scanning advice Scan in RGB mode not greyscale, and set your desired output size at a given resolution (240ppi is good for print). Work any exposure controls to ensure the image isn’t overly light or dark. Select Adobe RGB rather than sRGB colour space unless your image is for web only.

In severe cases of dust and scratches, the dedicated filter is better than healing and cloning.




Fade and colour casts Eliminate odd colours in your shots The Photoshop Auto Contrast and Auto Color adjustments are a great place to start for removing fade and colour casts. In most cases they’ll get you at least very close to where you want to be, and you’ve got the option of adding a Levels adjustment layer to tweak as desired. Where problems can occur is if fade or colour casts aren’t uniform across the image; perhaps either one is restricted to a single corner or area. In this case the Auto adjustments will be fooled and you’ll have no option but to work manually. In this scenario you’ll also need to make use of the layer masks attached to any Levels layer in order to localise your adjustment changes. For example, if you were correcting for fade that was only in one corner of the image, you’d need to take a large black brush and brush out the adjustment in the remaining area where contrast was okay. In some cases you might need two Levels layers: one to remove the localised fade area and a second to establish good contrast for the image as a whole.


“In some cases you may need two Levels layers” BEFORE

After an initial try with the Auto Contrast function, we used a Levels adjustment layer to add contrast


Fight the fade, cull the cast Photoshop provides Auto adjustments for removing fade and restoring decent contrast as well as removing colour casts from colour photographs. When the Auto functions don’t work, you can use Levels to do the manual work instead. As always, be sure to use an adjustment layer rather than an adjustment directly onto layer content.


Auto Contrast 1StartTry with

the Auto Contrast function to improve contrast and remove any colour casts. Duplicate your background layer with Ctrl+J. Go to Image>Auto Contrast and look at the results.

Levels manual contrast If Auto Contrast doesn’t do the job, we need to work manually instead. Add 2 a Levels adjustment layer and drag the black and white Histogram sliders inwards until the contrast improves.

Fix your old photos Brush it out Sometimes areas of clipped information, like the sky here, can look worse with contrast changes. Brush the adjustment out with a black brush.

Use a layer mask In this case there’s patchy fade, so some areas look too dark with the contrast increase. We brush these out with a black brush and the layer mask selected.

Set contrast We can usually ensure decent contrast to correct fade by dragging the black and white End Point sliders inwards to meet the edges of the histogram info.

Bring contrast and definition back using layer masks and simple editing tweaks

Boost contrast We can increase contrast further without introducing clipping by adding a Curves adjustment layer and plotting a shallow ‘S’ to darken shadows and lighten highlights.

Desaturate For non-adjustment layer corrections we start by duplicating our background layer – in this case to apply the Desaturate command to remove the yellowing.

Try Auto Color To remove a colour cast just use Image>Desaturate on the duplicate 3 Levels manual colour 1 If colour still doesn’t appear totally Levels manual colour 2 Next, select Green from the layer. For a colour photograph, use Image>Auto neutral, add a Levels adjustment layer and click the dropdrop-down menu and repeat. Repeat again for Blue. 4 5 Color instead. Generally it does a good job of down menu that says RGB. Select Red and move the middle grey You can also select RGB and use the middle slider to lighten getting you a neutral result.

slider left to add red, and right to subtract.

or darken the image without affecting colour.


Editing By combining cloning and spot healing techniques, we can repair the damage

Working on the right layer


A note on tool setup and using layers Use the Spot Healing Brush tool and the Clone Stamp tool on blank layers rather than duplicates. Check the box Sample All Layers in the Tool Options bar for healing, or Current and Below for cloning. An essential tip is to add the blank layer above the background and below any adjustment layers, making sure that you turn off any adjustment layers temporarily, using the eyeball icon, if you’re performing healing (Sample All Layers will be checked). This way the repair work is done sampling the background layer only, ensuring that you can alter your adjustment layers at a later date without the repair work suddenly shifting in tone. It is important to make sure you follow this rule. BEFORE

To repair missing corners, add a new layer and use the Clone tool to add in the detail. Add adjustment layers above

Creases and folds

Tears, scratches, folds and cracks are common with old photographs, and are best dealt with through the usual combination of Spot Healing Brush tool and Clone Stamp tool.


“Use the Spot Healing Brush tool and the Clone Stamp tool on blank layers rather than duplicates” 212 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

Duplicate and zoom Create a new layer then zoom in to 100% using Ctrl/Cmd+ Alt/Option+0. Hold down the 1Spacebar and click and drag to where the problem begins.

Fix your old photos


Dust and Scratches The Dust and Scratches filter does soften detail a little, so add a layer mask using the button at the Layers palette base, zoom in and use a black brush to rescue detail in important areas such as eyes.

Multiple Undo We use Multiple Undo with Ctrl/Cmd+ Alt/Option+Z to reverse our healing work, and have a go with the Clone Stamp tool instead, sourcing first with the 4 Alt/Option key.

Spot Healing brush Now press J to select the Spot Healing brush and use the ‘[‘ and ‘]’ keys to size the brush to suit. Make sure Sample All Layers is 2 checked in the Tool Options bar.

work The Clone Stamp tool works far better for this image, so we use it to slowly work away at the cracks, making sure to regularly re-source from nearby areas. 5 Cloning

Remove dust and scratches 6 Create a merged

Try healing Now click a small section of the tear area and keep clicking along to see the result. We need several goes to remove the crack mark, but 3 the result isn’t great.

duplicate with Ctrl/ Cmd+ Alt/Option+ Shift+E and run Filter>Noise>Dust and Scratches. Radius 6 and Threshold 16 does the job.




Top ten tips for vintage pics Top tips on cleaning your photos and slides for scanning, as well as tips for handling, storing and restoring your photos! Old photographs pose many challenges to the Photoshop user, but rest assured there is always a solution at hand. It’s good practice to organise your old photographs on your computer, so they can be accessed quickly and easily. Remember to name them and even archive them by date, generation or family. This saves you lots

of time when you need to search for them later on. Here we round up our essential advice on getting the best out of your images, no matter how battered they may be. Whether it’s a case of getting the best possible scan or choosing a correct repair method, we show you how…

lost areas If there’s a piece of a photograph missing, all 1mayReplacing not be lost. Look at your image and see if the missing bit can be made from other areas. For this image, we simply flipped the good side and used it to patch up the bad!


Scanning care If you’re scanning an image Removing dust Far better to clean your and want to include the border, try not to photos or slides before scanning than to 2 3 get any of the white scanner base underneath, have to do lots of cloning work afterwards. Start as this will fool any Auto Contrast adjustments. If it’s unavoidable, be prepared to use Levels to make your changes.

by trying to shift dust with a can of compressed air or a purpose-designed soft brush.

Stubborn stains For stains, fungus 4 and other blemishes, you

need to use a specialist cleaner like the widely available PEC-12 product, with either cotton swabs or non-adhesive wipes like PEC-Pads. PEC-12 is suitable for cleaning both film and prints.

BEFORE Clever cropping If there’s an area of an image that you don’t 5 feel confident about repairing, don’t

disregard the option of cropping the bad stuff out if you really want the image looking blemish-free.


“If there’s an area you don’t feel confident about repairing, don’t disregard the option of cropping the bad stuff out” 214 THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK

Fix your old photos “Here we round up our essential advice on getting the best out of your images” Good storage practice Photo storage boxes, envelopes, sleeves and albums will all help protect your photographs, 6 negatives and transparencies against light, dust, handling, air

pollutants and rapid fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Never leave materials lying around loose. Bring back some definition to your photo using the Smart Sharpen filter

Handling photos Handle your photos, negs and slides as little as possible 7 and use white cotton gloves to shield your materials from damaging fingerprints. Wash your hands first to avoid gloves getting contaminated with dust and dirt.

Smart Sharpen Photoshop’s Smart Sharpen filter (Filter>Sharpen>Smart 8 Sharpen) can do wonders to rescue blurry photographs. Try both the Gaussian Blur and Motion Blur settings, and experiment with both the angle and sliders.

Feel free to get creative with your old photos and add a nice warm tone


Toning old photoss Even if your image is a neutral monochrome, there’s still nothing to stop you toning it to add something extra. Use a Color Balance adjustment layer with Midtones checked. Combine red and yellow for an old-looking sepia tone.

“Even if your image is a neutral monochrome, there’s nothing to stop you toning it”



More on storage Humidity and high temperatures are the 10 greatest enemies of photographs,

negatives and slides. Store your precious photographs and film in a place that’s as cool and dry as possible – basements are generally too damp and attics are too hot.




Perfect prints

Perfect prints

Edit your photo, computer, and printer’s settings to achieve fantastic physical versions of your images



“You may wish to look at a printer that can print black and white images direct from the standard driver”


© Matt Grayson


here’s more to printing a black and white image than simply cutting out the colour. You need to be thinking in black and white when you take the picture because colour plays a big part in a photograph normally. Removing colour shows the raw image and light is your best friend. Consider the light and use it to create texture and atmosphere in your shot. When you come to the editing and printing stage, remember to work from a RAW file so that there’s as much information as possible. There are a number of ways to cut the colour from an image in an editing suite such Landscape 3 This shot of the landscape on top as desaturation, converting to greyscale of the Snake Pass gives a feeling or messing around with the RGB colour of bleakness except for the channels. Depending on how you’d like the dramatic clouds image to look on your print, play around shot details: Canon EOS 350D with the contrast to harden or soften the with 18-55mm lens at 18mm and f10, 1/250sec, ISO 100 look of the image. A general rule of thumb

218 The black & whiTe PhoToGraPhy book

is to use images that aren’t too burnt out on the highlights, but rules are there to be broken and if the shot still looks good, print it. Despite colour performance being a primary concern when selecting a printer, if you’re going to print monochrome regularly you may wish to look at a printer that can print decent black and white images direct from the standard driver such as the Epson Stylus Pro 3800. Other printers use colour ICC profiles and smaller printers will use colour inks to produce black, which can result in colour casts on your prints. However, over time some casts can dissipate but there’s also a danger of metamerism. This phenomenon gives an image a bronzy look in parts of the print when viewed under certain lights or from an angle. Epson has eradicated this on printers A3 or larger by introducing its K3 technology which uses a new grey ink.

The A3 Epson R2880 also has an extra Vivid Magenta ink to help produce better monochrome images. The type of paper you decide to print on will be determined by the style of image that you are printing and what you’re going to do with the print afterwards. Glossy paper looks great but reflects a lot of light and can be rather annoying to view. Matte finish adds a bit of texture and gets rid of all those harsh reflections. There are many different types of paper available and if you’re a fan of fine art paper, you may want to take a look at a pigment inkbased printer such as the Canon Pro9500, however this printer is incompatible with high gloss papers. Your printer will be supplied with a set of inks that may go down quite quickly, depending on your usage. Most of the larger printers will use individual tanks so you only have to replace the colour

© Matt Grayson

© Matt Grayson


Perfect prints


Of course, having a monotone subject in the first place helps with contrast, but don’t mess around too much or you’ll lose detail Shot details: Olympus E-3 with 50mm lens at 50mm and f4.5, 1/100sec, ISO 100



Changing SettingS

Changing the setting to Grayscale allows you to play with the gamma and clicking Settings will open contrast and brightness

Portraits look great in mono and lack of colour forces you to think of how to use the available light Shot details: Canon EOS 350D with 18-55mm lens at 24mm and f2.8, 1/30sec, ISO 100

The psychology of colour – or lack thereof

It’s all very well printing black and white, but what can these colours do to a photograph and how will the viewer feel if you get the balance wrong? Black is made up of all colours, completely absorbed and mixed together. Its essence is, essentially, the absence of light and it’s because of this that we often perceive it as threatening. Black is an imposing colour that looms and creates a feeling of unease. It envelopes personalities and shrouds everything in mystery. It absorbs all wavelengths of light and too much black can leave you feeling pressured and alone. As the opposite, white reflects all light wavelengths and is associated with tranquillity, happiness and serenity. However, an overbearing amount of light can give the impression of sterility, emptiness and purity, the latter sounding good, but it’s in a “hands off” way. Grey is the only colour in existence to not have an emotional or psychological link. However, it’s quite depressing to look at, which is why it’s good to have a decent amount of pure blacks and whites in the prints instead of as mixture of greys. Grey can give the impression of lacklustre or lack of confidence in using hard black and white.

The black & whiTe PhoToGraPhy book 219

© Matt Grayson


Landscape 4

We love the way the clouds break the monotonous sky up and also cast a lovely shadow on the hillside shot details: Canon EOS 350D with 18-55mm lens at 18mm and f5, 1/80sec, ISO 100

220 The black & whiTe PhoToGraPhy book

Perfect prints

Print tips

Andy Whittaker

Using the products and information listed above will produce professional results worthy of selling. However, if you’re thinking smaller scale, an A4 printer can give perfectly decent pictures. The Epson Stylus PX650 costs around £100 and can produce excellent photographs. It doesn’t have the K3 technology found on the larger printers and prints can come out with a mild cast, but it does tend to fade over a 24 hour period. ICC profiles can be used on these types of printers too, but if you’re looking to save money, you probably don’t want the extra expenditure. If you’re not a Photoshop wizard, you might not have adjusted your images to black and white before printing, but you can still do it. Clicking into the printer properties will give you many choices for adjusting the image from quality to greyscale. Open a picture, convert it to black and white and try all the different settings by printing them on 6x4 versions of the paper you’re going to use. This will give you a feel for the effects that the settings do without using masses of paper.

on numerous shoots, but recently settled down in Manchester to open his own studio shooting fashion for advertisements, editorial and model books. He is currently working on clothing shoots for well-known fashion houses and in the future will be shooting for YQ magazine, along with some of his own personal projects. You can see a further selection of Andy’s work at his website. www. Is there much call for black and white pictures these days?

Over the past 15 years Andy Whittaker (www. has worked in various parts of the photographic industry including taking family portraits, fashion and lingerie. He developed a passion for photography as a child when he picked up a camera for the first time. He has travelled the world assisting

Andy Whittaker: I don’t do too badly from it. There’s something raw about a mono image that stirs deeper emotions in customers. Vintage and retro are very on trend at the moment and it spreads from clothing to interior design and photography. People like to see a collection of black and white pictures because it looks old fashioned.

shADoW lAnDs

Days when fluffy white clouds cast shadows on the land are perfect for mono work shot details: Canon EOS 350D with 18-55mm lens at 18mm and f11, 1/125sec, ISO 100


you run out of. There are third-party ink companies available and you may find that they work well enough, as well as saving you some money. However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that the printer will be optimised to use the manufacturer’s own inks and you may find that some things may not work as efficiently. A well-known problem is the ink levels not showing, so you can never be sure when they’re running out until your print comes out and it has a colour missing. If you’re dissatisfied with the printer profile for black and white printing, you could always use a separate one such as RetouchPRO, QuadToneRIP or ProfilICC who will custom make a profile for you and your computer. It’s also necessary to calibrate your monitor and printer or the contrast and tones on your screen will look different on your print, meaning you spend more on paper to get the balance right. The ColorMunki calibration unit is a popular option for example, because it calibrates the monitor based on a colour test sheet you print off, and performs well.

© Matt Grayson

“Clicking into the printer properties will give you many different choices for adjusting the image”

ProfIle chAnge

Changing the profile is done on the first window when you go to print. It’s found on the right side

Which printer do you use and why did you choose it? AW: I use the Epson Stylus Photo Pro 3880. It’s A2 so it covers a lot of sizes I sell and the pictures I get are spot on. Do you think there’s a better one out now? AW: Possibly, but nothing has caught my eye. I’m happy with how the 3880 works, the quality it produces and the size of it. I thought of a large format printer but decided against it because it’s unlikely I would actually get enough requests to warrant the outlay. Anything larger than A2 I send off to a professional print house. Do you think that manufacturers’ own ink is the best to use or is a third-party type just as good? AW: I always use manufacturer’s own inks because the printers are set up to use them. This is my livelihood and I get

repeat sales based on the first performance. If the inks are unbalanced and the photograph fails, I have to reprint which costs me money and I get an unhappy customer. What’s your favourite paper and why? AW: I don’t really gravitate towards a particular type of paper because it could influence my choice with a shot and I could make the wrong decision. I do really like the warm tone papers though, for portraits. What are your top tips to anyone wanting to print their images in black and white? AW: Make sure your printer and monitors are calibrated properly. If not, you’ll spend ages trying to get what you see on your screen to what you hold in your hands. It took me a while to get used to but once I cracked it, the difference was phenomenal.

The black & whiTe PhoToGraPhy book 221


© Danny Santos II

222 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Take this shot

Story still behind the


Photographer: Danny Santos II Website: Location: Singapore Shot details: Nikon D300 with 85mm f1.4 lens at f1.4, 1/250sec, ISO 200

f you ever take a trip to the world-famous Orchard Road in Singapore then there’s quite a high chance that you may run into street photographer Danny Santos II. he’s influenced by greats such as Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, Garry Winogrand and William Klein, and he has been trying to capture the energetic atmosphere of this particular place in the city. Orchard Road has many interesting characters passing by at all times of the day, and these scenarios that are always occurring are the ones that Danny loves to capture. “I’ve been photographing strangers on the streets for three years now, and in this time I have been lucky enough to take quite a few keepers for my portfolio. As a result, I’ve been commissioned by advertising agencies on a few jobs.” “I’ve always been fond of photographing strangers candidly in the rain,” Danny explains to us. “It’s interesting to witness the kind of human drama that bad weather brings. In this image, I was right in middle of the hustle and bustle when the rain started to pour down quickly and heavily. I heard a group of friends laughing loudly as they ran for cover, so I crouched down and hurriedly took a few photographs of them.” Photographing in the rain can have its drawbacks, as Danny tells us: “I had to stop for a moment to bring out my umbrella else I risked water damage to my camera. It had already been exposed to quite a few large raindrops so I didn’t want to risk it even further.” © Danny Santos II

Danny Santos II on the street, capturing his own reflection. He spends a lot of time on Orchard Road in Singapore to capture the daily occurrences and people passing by THE BLACK & WHITE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOGRAPHER BOOK 223

Improve your black and white photography skills with this guide to shooting and editing your monochrome images

From the makers of Volume 1 Revised Edition

£12.99 ISBN-13: 978-1908955678

9 781908 955678 >