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  #1  
Old 10-15-2007, 10:25 PM
Newair Newair is offline
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Default black and white conversion or shooting in cameras BW mode?

Hello world.

Which is better, shooting with my DSLR's BW setting or converting it to BW via photoshop. Also, I have practically no experience in BW conversion besides "desaturate" which is exceedingly limited. Some people have amazingly consistent black and white photos with great tonal range. designsoul comes to mind. Any suggestions of how to accomplish this? Thanks for your time,

Alan
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  #2  
Old 10-15-2007, 11:09 PM
AdrianW AdrianW is offline
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Default Convert or B&W in camera?

I'd shoot in colour and then convert using ChannelMixer. Why? Well, first up, you have more flexibility with the conversion if you base it on a colour original; secondly you can still use the image in colour if you have a colour image, you can't easily recreate the colours that aren't there if you have a B&W. You simply have more data to work with if you keep the colour original.

If you're a Canon shooter and use RAW then DPP also has some simple tools for B&W users; you can convert to mono and specify the filter in DPP, you can also choose a colour to tint with as well if you wish.
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  #3  
Old 10-16-2007, 09:42 AM
greg greg is offline
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Default Re: black and white conversion or shooting in cameras BW mod

I'd use the b/w setting and raw - the colour information is still saved in the raw if you want to make a more complex conversion, but you get a better idea of what you're getting with a b/w preview. Unfortunately, my Nikon doesn't have a b/w mode...

There's nothing wrong with 'desaturate', but it's just a beginning point. Look into levels and curves, and the dodge and burn tools, and keep away from 8-bit processing.
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  #4  
Old 10-16-2007, 01:24 PM
Davids Davids is offline
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Default Re: black and white conversion or shooting in cameras BW mod

Alan,

I use both techniques.
My camera is simple, but I started with B&W because my father would give me his camera, and since he was colorblind . . . only B&W :)
This summer I experimented. First I take a color, then I go to B&W.
What I found out is that the B&W on my camera is better, but like you say, the post-processing possibilities are less.
First you have to know what you are looking at, visualizing the result. With the digotography, we tend to loose this patience.
With my zamera a second step follows, I have to take several photos, all with different underexposures.
I didn't post any of these photos, because they are more for TL, simple concrete constructions, and they don't teach us anything :)
The B&W I posted, are all converted photos. I go straight to the remove color command when I decide to go for B&W.
For me B&W doesn't have to have this great tonal range. They need to go with the theme, the composition. They need to get a process starting in the mind of the person watching them. In combination with the note, I try to get this started.

Anyway, my two cents, another way of looking at photography.
succes!
David.
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  #5  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:16 AM
Newair Newair is offline
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Default Re: black and white conversion or shooting in cameras BW mod

Your replies have been pretty helpful, thanks. I will probably continue to shoot in color to give myself more freedom. Though, I still don't know what else I can do besides desaturate to yield a black and white photo from color. I mess around with the history brush sometimes but usually the black and white photo that results just doesn't have a nice range of tones.
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  #6  
Old 10-17-2007, 11:53 AM
AdrianW AdrianW is offline
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Default Re: black and white conversion or shooting in cameras BW mod

As I mentioned, the best way to convert is to use ChannelMixer; in Photoshop that's Image/Adjustments/ChannelMixer. Tick the monochrome box, and then experiment with the sliders.

Conversions based heavily on the Red channel tend to give the most impressive skies if you have a mix of clouds and blue sky; similar to using a red filter on B&W.

Conversions based heavily on the Green channel will be closest to most standard B&W films; and due to the arrangement of the Bayer filter pattern should be least noisy.

If you pull the "Constant" slider down below zero and compensate by moving the other sliders up, overall your contrast will increase; if you push it above zero and compensate by moving the other sliders down contrast will decrease.
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  #7  
Old 10-17-2007, 04:15 PM
Darren Darren is offline
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Default Re: black and white conversion or shooting in cameras BW mod

While I would hate to argue post processing with Adrian, I would say that the Channel Mixer method, while being a very good method, is not necessarily the best. Personally, I have found a way that gives similar results/control, but is faster and easier to do. The problem I have with the channel mixer is that you are always trying to get the total to come out to right around 100% Because of this, you don't really know what your result will be from adding to one channel until you have subtracted from another, which just isn't that smooth for me.

What I do is not quite as precise, but much easier to use and with a little luck can give results every bit as good. On top of the photo layer, add a hue/saturation layer and change the layer mode on that layer to Color. On top of this layer, add another hue/sat layer, leave that layer on normal mode, and bring the saturation down to -100. Then, go to the middle layer and slide the hue slider back and forth until you get the look you want. The results here IMO are very similar to the channel mixer method, but you can see all changes in real time. As a next step, I add another hue/sat layer (you can also use color balance, right above the original image and I change that layer mode to either soft light (my preference) or overlay. This gives a more contrasty and appealing look in many cases. If it becomes too contrasty, you can lower the opacity of this layer to taste.

There are tons of actions out there as well which can help with conversions. A simple google will give you thousands of hits. I have an action that I really like that I use quite often too; it is not true b&w, but toned monochrome. Can't remember where I found that one though.
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  #8  
Old 10-18-2007, 01:48 AM
AdrianW AdrianW is offline
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Default Re: black and white conversion or shooting in cameras BW mod

I'm not going to argue; yours is an interesting approach!

I still prefer ChannelMixer, but I can definitely see the appeal of your method too; particularly if you create an action to do most of it automatically :)
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  #9  
Old 10-27-2007, 09:40 PM
Newair Newair is offline
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Default Re: black and white conversion or shooting in cameras BW mod

Thank you for your help everyone, have a pleasant weekend.
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