Black & White Mastery

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Explore the wonderful world of black and white, a very special form of color.

 

Expanding The Definition Of Black & White
The term “black & white” is not as simple as you might think..

How Gray Is Gray ? 
Both context and personal preference make this a surprisingly challenging question.

What’s Unique About Black & White 
Black & white is special, in so many ways.

Why You Need To Understand Color To Get The Best B&W Images
Color affects the exposure, processing, and printing of B&W images.

Seeing In Black & White
Learn what’s unique about black & white and how to best adjust and print it.

An Overview Of Color To Black & White Conversions
My preferred workflow for color to black & white conversions.

Optimizing Files Before Black & White Conversions (Coming Soon)
Prepare your color images before conversion to black & white to gain maximum control.

B&W Conversions Simple 1 – B&W Adjustment Layer | Download
The easiest way make color to black and white conversions.

B&W Conversions Simple 2 – Dual Adjustment Layers | Download
Dual adjustment layers offer even more control.

B&W Conversions Complex – Channels as Layers | Download
The most advanced color to black-and-white conversion method.

Adding Color To Black & White | Download 
Adding color to a neutral image can enhance the expression of any image.

Simulating Infrared | .99
Create the look of infrared with Adobe Photoshop (all versions)

Enhancing Local Contrast In Black & White Images
The best ways to dodge and burn detailed.

5 Strategies For Adding Color Back Into Black & White 
There are as many reasons to add color back into B&W photographs as there are ways to do it

Top 5 Ways To Add Color To Black & White 
By adding color to your b&w photos, you can enhance their expressive qualities.

Epson Driver – Advanced B&W Photo
Use the Epson driver to make the best black & white prints.

Black & White Signature Styles 
Like so many other artists, you too can learn to craft a unique black and white look.

5 Photographers With Signature Black & White Styles 
Study the masters to find new possibilities in black and white photography.

Watch The Essence Of B&W Mastery.

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Why You Need To Understand Color To Get The Best B&W Images

IMG_3522_BWColor

Why do you need to understand color to get the best black-and-white images?
Let me count the reasons.

1          Understand How Flexible The Luminosity Of Saturated Colors During Exposure And Conversion
Understanding how light and/or dark you can make saturated colors will help you pre-visualize the tonal possibilities within an image before exposure. When post-processing, while you’re converting color images to black-and-white, I recommend you make all of these ideas visible realities, making many different black and white versions and comparing them side-by-side. At the same time, you need to understand how neutral and near neutral colors do not offer the same flexibility, which will improve both your vision and your efficiency.


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The Problems With Calling Them B&W Photographs

Suffusion VIII
You may not think there’s a problem. You may think you know the difference. It’s obvious right? But is it? Do you? After a lifetime spent in the arts, I find photographers’ ability to describe color woefully limited, and this is never truer than when describing “black-and-white” images.

Most antique processes are black and white, right? Certainly, silver gelatin is black and white. But what if you tone it? Is a platinum print black and white or brown and white? Is a cyanotype black and white or blue and white? What about hand-tinted photographs? They were black and white but then they became colorful again, but it’s a different kind of color, isn’t it? And if only a little color is added is it still black and white? At what point does an image become black and white?

The problem is that having only two terms – color and black and white – for a wide array of color palettes limits not only our communication but more importantly our perception and thinking.


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Why Black & White And Color Images Don’t Mix

Revelation XXVI

 

Can you effectively present a project or body of work that contains both black-and-white and color images? It rarely works, but in rare cases it can.

The problem is that color and black-and-white images appear to be from different times or even different worlds and sometimes both. They’re so different from one another that presenting them together breaks the continuity of the larger story being told (Even a collection of separate poems creates a larger story, albeit with a much looser narrative and context than an essay.) and it undermines the suspension of disbelief required to imagine that a small two-dimensional image accurately represents our much larger three-dimensional world. Viewers end up paying more attention to the way the images are presented and our attention is deflected away from their content. We spend time and effort trying to figure out a pattern between images that are color and images that are black-and-white and the reasons why they’re different from one another, which is wasted if there aren’t any. “It looks better.” isn’t a strong enough reason to break continuity and suspension of disbelief. If there is no reason that contributes to the content of the series, then it’s a few small wins for individuals but a big loss for the team, and we leave the work feeling confused and frustrated. (“I don’t get. Is it me?”) For these reasons it’s best not to mix color and black-and-white images. Instead, present them separately.

 


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Optic 2018 | Myth, Magic, and Mojo | Keith Carter


“At B&H’s Optic 2018, photographer Keith Carter talks about myths, magic, and mojo. He believes that the best way to elevate your photography is to tell the truth as you know it through your photos, and he stresses that there are great lessons to be learned by revisiting history. We can learn a lot about how to shoot well – even in this digital age – by studying classic photos that pre-date digital photography.”
Find out more about Keith Carter here.
Read our conversation here.
Read quotes by Keith Carter here.
View 12 Great Photographs By Keith Carter here.
 

Bernice Abbott Documenting Science


“Berenice Abbott’s Documenting Science was a partnership with MIT for use in school textbooks. Its subject and design elements are as timeless as nature and science themselves.”
View 12 Great Photographs By Bernice Abbot.
Read Great Quotes By Photographer Bernice Abbot.

View more 12 Great Photographs collections here.

Explore The Essential Collection Of Quotes By Photographers.
Explore The Essential Collection Of Documentaries On Photographers.