What's your recipe for high contrast B&W?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by Jock Elliott, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    I stand in awe of some of the images I see here, and I would really appreciate it if some folks would share how they get such magnificent high contrast B&W.

    What camera do you start with? What settings? Do you under expose? Over expose? Do you do a lot of post processing? If so, what are some of the basic steps you take?
     
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  2. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Rebel Xsi, G12, Film Camera.. it's all eyeballing it for me.
     
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  3. nikki

    nikki SC Top Veteran

    519
    Sep 12, 2011
    Dublin ,Ireland
    if you shoot in colour - then convert to black and white i feel you get more tones , also silver efex pro is a terrific plug in for photoshop ! except if you use a ricoh grd or leica you get excellent black and white straight out of the camera ! fuji x100 looks great too for black and whites but I dont have one of those ! ( yet!):smile:
     
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  4. Hyubie

    Hyubie SC Veteran

    360
    Jun 8, 2011
    Massachusetts
    I won't pretend to be among those who have "magnificent hi contrast B&W" - but ditto for Silver Efex. Even LR3 has some nice B&W presets.
     
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  5. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Real Name:
    Rajiv
    Shoot in colour, set depth of each colour channel while converting to black and white.
     
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  6. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Real Name:
    Sue
    +1. Also, consider use of adjustments in PS (Levels, Shadows and Highlights)

    Its the easiest way without needing to resort to spending on SEP (which, I might add, is wonderful!)
     
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  7. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Real Name:
    Rajiv
    Hey Jock. Thought about you when I came across this link. Nice read.

    Make the Photo
     
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  8. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Nic
    These days I use silver efex which has certainly made life easier. Prior to that I would start with a colour image and make some basic adjustments like exposure, saturation and tone curves. This step maybe wasn't totally necessary but I thought that it helped to provide definition between the colours when they converted to b&w. When I was happy with it in colour I would convert to b&w using software that allowed me to make adjustments to the individual colour channels. After that I'd probably tweak the tone curves again.

    My starting point for all this was a raw image, or otherwise a plain colour jpeg with no additional sharpening or contrast added in camera. Each camera has it's own methods of in-camera jpeg processing so it's hard to provide any recommendations for doing b&w images that way.
     
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  9. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Boid,

    I put it in my favorites so I can study it and put it to use later.

    Cheers, Jock
     
  10. Grant

    Grant SC Veteran

    249
    Nov 12, 2010
    Lunenburg Nova Scotia
    I start out by shooting in areas that have extreme contrast. For example strong light coming through a window as apposed to soft diffused light. I don't use the average meter settings but I expose for the bright light and the shadows will automatically go black. While you can do fine tunings in post you will find the preplanning will give you wonderfully contrast images right out of the camera.
     
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  11. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Grant,

    I can see right off your mother didn't raise any dumb kids. Planning for high contrast when you shoot?!! What a concept!

    And that's a great tip on the exposure.

    Cheers, Jock