The Digital Photo Guy

Black & White Digital Photography

by on Jan.16, 2011, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements, Workshops

Photoshop Elements in 6 Weeks, starts Feb 16
Flash Photography in a Flash, Feb 26
Palomar College – Spring 2011
Spring Desert Wildflowers, late March 2011
Free Photo Critique

Visualizing a B&W Photo on a dSLR

I started with Black & White photography. I learned how to shoot, develop and print Tri-X in darkrooms, real darkrooms lit with dim red bulbs and smelling of fixer. When I could afford it, I changed over to color slides and prints and never looked back. Now, in the digital age, we can have our cake and eat it, too. We can make color images and convert to BW in Photoshop. Unfortunately, I’ve lost my ability to imagine an image in B&W. It’s a struggle to ignore the colors and evaluate the B&W tonalities.

Recently, I read an article by Rob Sheppard in Outdoor Photographer, one of the few photography magazines to which I subscribe. In it, Rob talked about using the Monochrome Mode in most modern digital cameras to make BW images. I’ve never subscribed to this idea because you don’t have a color image to fall back on if your BW doesn’t turn out well. I also feel that converting a color image to BW gives better control over the final image.

(This photo was made with a Canon 7D and 24-105 at 47mm, f/4.0, 1/2500, ISO 200. I used bare branches as a cucoloris and cut off the very top to create tension.)

However, my beady little mind had an idea. How about using the Monochrome Mode in a dSLR to previsualize the image before releasing the shutter? In Monochrome Mode, the LCD image is BW. That let’s me see the tonalities. But, how does one go about changing the camera from RGB to BW and back without disturbing the composition or fiddling with the camera between each frame?

Here’s where my genius came to the fore. I programmed a Custom User Setting for Monochrome. On a Canon 7D, it’s called C1, C2, C3. A Canon T2i calls it User Def. 1, 2, 3. For Nikon D5000/7000 check for Picture Control and USER on Pentax. I composed on a tripod and by simply turning the Mode Dial on a Canon 7D from C1, my normal color setting, to C3, the Custom Monochrome setting, I can quickly view a gray scale image on the LCD. If I like what I see, I return to my normal Custom User Setting and make a color image knowing that I have what’s needed for a good BW when I’m back on the computer.

If you have a newer dSLR with Live View (same name most dSLR), you can also use that to review the BW version before shooting in color mode. Some dSLRs may require you to go into the menu to change the custom settings so you have to decide which is faster and easier on your camera.

There’s another way a color image can be captured while reviewing a BW image on the LCD. Who will be the first to describe this last method? Put it into the Comments (below).

Workshops and Webinars

Photoshop Elements for Digital Photographers, Six Weeks starts Feb 16

In just 6 weeks (1 hour each week) learn to enhance and edit digital photos using Photoshop Elements (PSE). From the comfort of your own PC or Mac, attend via webinar every Wed evening, Feb 16-Mar 23 from 7PM-8PM. This intermediate level class is for photographers who want to jumpstart their photo editing skills. All techniques in this class also apply to Photoshop. Start with an overview of a basic workflow then dive into Selections, Cloning, Healing, ACR (Adobe Camera RAW), HDR (High Dynamic Range), plug-ins and output. Register HERE.

Flash in a Flash, Sat, Feb 26, 2011, 10AM-1PM

If your flash baffles and scares you, this workshop is for you. Learn to take control of your external flash (aka, Speedlite, Speedlight, strobe, etc) and make great flash photos that don’t scream, “This deer-in-the-headlights look created with FLASH!” Learn what all the knobs, dials, switches and menus do on the back of your expensive flash. Register HERE.

Palomar College – Spring 2011 Schedule Posted

Palomar College has posted my Spring 2011 classes. I’ll be teaching both Digital SLR for New dSLR Owners (Feb 1 & 3) and Beginning Adobe Photoshop Elements (Mar 1 & 3) via webinar so you can learn from the comfort of your own home computer. Back by popular demand is the my popular Hands-On Photoshoot (Apr 2) at Kit Carson Park in Escondido.

Spring Desert Wildflower Workshop, late March 2011

One of my perennial favorites, spring is a magical time in the desert when everything comes to life. Get down low for amazing macros of flowers. Get up high for gorgeous sunsets and landscapes. Make beautiful photos from almost every vantage point in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. More details as conditions in the desert firm up and I can better predict the spring bloom.


New Benefit for Students

Current and former students of The Digital Photo Guy can now receive free critiques of their work to judge their progress.Once a month, send me a recent photo for an in-depth analysis of what works, what doesn’t work and how you can improve the photo next time.

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