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Old Jul 30, 2003, 1:15 AM   #1
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Default black and white photos with digital camera???

Id like to shoot black and white photos on a digital camera...but how do I know what to look for in a certain camera? (im new to digital cameras)

also, if i took a photo and processed it in b&w ...could it lookas good as this picture?

Keep in mind that im aware that this photo as taken by a professional with a VERY expensive camera....I assume

example:


http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/IMA/F40.jpg
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 1:34 AM   #2
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Well, many digital cameras have a B&W mode built in, and the benefit of that is you can see the B&W picture ahead of time on the LCD/EVF. If not, you can convert the picture to B&W in most photo editing programs.

Note that you won't achieve the quality of that professional photographer with a consumer digital. Especially since the professional is probably using B&W film while in digital you are converting colour images to B&W (either in camera or the computer).

But the most important thing with photography like your sample is proper lighting.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 1:48 AM   #3
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Also when shooting b&w, make sure the subject is contrasty enough, otherwise it could look muddy gray and dull. See how the eyes of the cat contrast with its wet fur, and the border around the bath tub with the gray background? That adds interest. A great photograph doesn't necessarily require a great camera or the highest resolution film/digital medium.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 3:56 AM   #4
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I love balck and white photography and when I selected my current camera, the Fuji 602, the fact that it would take B&W images was a selection factor for me. Having said that, I hardly use it - purely because with the development of tehnique, I find I can achieve much better results with software and very variable results - there are many different ways to de-saturate a colour image and achieve diferent results. If you take the image in B&W, you only have the one version and the normal manipulation you can do to one image. If you take it in colour, you still have the colour original to return to and can make an infinite number of monochrome versions of it, depending on the effect you're after.

As already mentioned, what looks good in colour, doesn't always work in B&W, the image needs different qualities to work - for example, in colour, red and green look very different, but in greys, a red and a green can look exactly the same tonally. This is where the black and white settings on new digicams comes in handy - what I do is use the setting to preview (the 602 gives you the image in the EVF in monochrome) an image I envisage treating in black and white to see if it does in fact work. Often I simply just take all my photos in colour and later think certain ones will work well devoid of colour. But if I preview in advance, it shows if it will be likely to work, but then I return to a colour mode and shoot it in colour anyway and work on it later in software.

It probably rather depends on how skilled and knowledgeable you are with image manipulation and how familiar you are with your software. If you're simply going to convert to grey scale, you might as well shoot it in black and white, but there are many much better ways of doing it than just a grey scale conversion. If you're not sure at this stage, shoot in both colour and black and white, you can then return to the colour file later as your abilities improve.

By way of an example, this image was shot in colour and the second one was converted by using various de-saturating layers and different blend modes - as you can see, the black and white is much more dramatic than the colour version - had I just converted to grey scale, it would have been much less contrasty and dynamic.





Another technique I've played with is just de-saturating the colour image - but not completely, leaving a hint of colour behind, this image is desaturated about 97%, just leaving a warm tone.



I hope this has given you some ideas about how much more flexible it can be to take a colour image and then work on it later.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 3:25 PM   #5
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Boo,

I've read a lot of threads by b/w enthusiasts advocating different methods of converting a colour image to black and white. I confess that the benefits are usually too subtle for my eyes.

I played for a while with your dandelion, in particular using Nik's B/W Conversion filter (which emulates any colour filter at any strength). This yielded some interesting variations with minimum effort.

However, in general, I would make the following observations:

- Desaturating the image and then adjusting the contrast achieves a result indistiguishable (to my eyes) from your b/w version

- Adjusting the contrast before desaturating achieves an identical result

- Converting either of the above to grey scale (256 levels) yields a result that is indistiguishable from the original

- Converting the colour image directly to grey scale and then tweaking the contrast of the resulting 256-level b/w image yields a result that is virtually indistiguishable from all the others.

So, I remain puzzled by the mystique that surrounds working with b/w. What operations did you go through to convert your dandelion? What layers did you use? What effect did they have? Given that I can't tell the difference on my monitor, is there an advantage when printing that I have failed to appreciate?

I worked for years with b/w using traditional chemical processing. Colour balance can be adjusted at the time of taking the picture by the use of filters. Tonal range can be controlled through exposure. Once the image is taken you have some control of tonal range and contrast by tweaking development and choice of paper. In the digital world, it seems to me that there is very little point in shooting b/w in the camera as the potential for filtering in software is lost. Once the image has been desaturated and has become a 256-level or 16 million-level monochrome image, changes to tonal range and contrast can be achieved through the use of curves or histogram adjustment.

I don't for one moment doubt the impact that a b/w image can have but I'm really not sure that it's necessary to adopt such elaborate means to convert the image from colour. Please convince me otherwise!

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Old Jul 30, 2003, 5:35 PM   #6
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I have absolutely no idea how to answer you, if you don't have any desire to play with software or settings to see what it can produce when de-saturating a colour image for the pure pleasure of that creative process (hardly 'elaborate means'), then I'm not going to make any effort to 'convince you otherwise'. I was citing reasons to the original post as to why taking the photo in colour and later converting might have creative advantages over simply shooting in black and white - hence me posting different photos to illustrate two different approaches.

As you also stated, there are several ways to achieve similar results, although I'd be surprised if they were all actually indistinguishable from each other. I personally prefer to use adjustment layers as you can tweak and preview in real time and then fidlle with transparency to vary the effects further and try different blend modes - in the dandelion I used 'soft light' to increase contrast in that instance.

My initially summary comments were the point of the post:

Quote:
I hope this has given you some ideas about how much more flexible it can be to take a colour image and then work on it later.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 5:59 PM   #7
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I'd say the answer is simply by shooting in colour you can still achieve the same end result as if you'd shot in black and white in the first place, but you also have a colour copy of the photo that you could never replicate if you'd shot in black and white to stast with. You may not ever want them, but they're there if you do.
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Old Jul 30, 2003, 9:51 PM   #8
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MrPogo nailed it spot on. The original in-camera image capture is through the R-G-B filters overlaying the CCD (or CMOS) sensor array. The image data at best is three versions of the same scene--one seen through red filter, one seen through a green filter and one through a blue one. You might as well take all of this data to your digital darkroom cuz anything that you elect to do by way of combining these data sets in-camera will at best do nothing but lose the color separation information (chrominance) and at worst actually loses lumanence information.

If you capture the image RAW as it comes off of the sensor (or using the highest quality capture settings available), you have lost nothing (but space on the memory card), and if you change your mind, you can always make a color print of your image.

Rendering B&W prints from your typical pro-sumer digital cameral and printer that are comparable to good film/wet-paper prints is a huge challenge. B&W film with proper processing and printed on the appropriate contrast paper has a dynamic tonal range 2 or 3 times that which can be achieved with normal digital cameras (10-15 stops) and ink-jet printers. (although I find that it's lots of fun trying).
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Old Jul 31, 2003, 12:17 AM   #9
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Default .

thanks for the responses

What kind of software is out there, is it called "photoshop"? Is there something specific I should look for or to stay away from?

Does anyone know if it comes with a digital camera or can it be downloaded off of Kazaa or Grokster?

thanks again
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Old Jul 31, 2003, 4:15 AM   #10
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I certainly don't condone illegal software by the route you suggest.

Adobe's Photoshop is the industry standard for image manipulation software, but it's expensive and requires a certain degree of skill and an investment of to master. What some people unkindly call the poor man's Photoshop, which has a slightly more friendly user interface is called Paint Shop Pro (which I've used since v.4), which has all the tools you'd need for the task. V.8 has just been released, but you can get cheaper copies of earlier versions and earlier ones are often given away on magazine cover discs etc. Something that sophisticated is unlikely to come packaged with a digicam, unless it's some special offer package by a retailer. PSP is sold by http://www.jasc.com and you can download a trial I think, although it will be a huge download from memory.

Photoshop Elements is another to consider, although I don't know much about it, but I think it's a lite, very cut down version of Photoshop and I think that does sometimes come with cameras. You'll have to see what your chosen seller is offering and if you're buying from a high street shop, perhaps barter - the more you're spending, the more potential you have for brokering a deal - assuming they supply software as well.

Another super program to look at is Photo-Brush from http://www.mediachance.com/ and retails at $38 US. It doesn't have as many of the same features as PS and PSP, but has some very nice ones of its own and I use it daily in conjunction with PSP - it has a nice proportional cropping tool and barrel and perspective correction. I also like the Lanczos3 resampling algorithm and now use it for all my resizing.
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