The Weekly Photo – February 30, 2011
Learning to see in black-n-white
It’s hard to ‘see’ in black and white when you are looking through the viewfinder a world full of colour! But here is a neat trick that I use to help me make better black and white photos with my digital cameras. I set the “Picture Style” (Canon) or ‘Picture Control’ (Nikon) to “monochrome” so that the image that plays back on the camera LCD is black and white. But, and here’s the cool thing, I still shoot in RAW mode so that I get a colour image to manipulate in the computer. A colour image gives many more options for post processing into a black and white or monochrome than if I simply shot a monochrome JPEG in camera. And here is another little known fact. If you set your camera to monochrome and then use Live View, you’ll be seeing the scene on your camera’s LCD, in real time, as a live black and white! Pre-visualization has never been easier.
On the last photo tour I asked participants to set their cameras to RAW plus small JPEG. And I asked them to shoot in monochrome so we could share the in-camera JPEGs at the end of the day. If you want to make your monochrome images look even more finished, then you can increase the contrast of the JPEG in-camera and even add toning! Check your camera manual to discover how to do this.
Below is one of the images I made from the monochrome outing. I find shooting small monochrome JPEGS is a quick test to see if the high res RAW files are worth converting to B+W. This photo is made from two in-camera JPEGs set to high contrast monochrome. I used my 17mm TS-E lens and used the shift feature on the lens to create two photos that I merged into one long thin vertical panorama. Now that I see the final test result, I think I will process the high res RAWs into a black-n-white image.