What Makes a Black & White Image
What we're going to look at is, we're going to look at what makes a black and white image. We fell in love with a black and white image. My I would venture to guess that each and every one of you, or the vast majority of you, it's, not speaking absolute. I absolutely think that people, that speaking absolute. You saw photograph and it grabs you right it took you it took your breath away and you said I want to express myself that way that's what I want to do and I would venture a guess that that image was a black and white image now let's look at why black and white is important when do you see in black and white when do we as creatures of the forest see in black and white when it's dark that's when there's not enough light for our cones to be able to register color so we see things in black and white there are creatures that live in that force it see better at night than we do so when we're seeing things in black and white or in a gray scale we are on a reptilian brain level at our mos...
t vulnerable which is why the black and white image grabs us I think this is a thought a conversation I would stevie colima that when we're looking at it in full color we're looking at something we're not supposed to be looking at so we have this thing with it where it's like if I'm looking at if I'm seeing this way I'm supposed to be vulnerable but I'm not fun or what I am but I'm not but I am but I'm not and I think that's one of the reasons why it grabs you think the other reason why grabs if you're into interior decorating is that grey goes with everything so it's a lot easier to put a black and white picture upon the wall than this but a color picture. No, but let's, take a look. Let's, get a working definition of what a black and white image is. So let's go to my working definition of a black and white lynch. First off, we're talking about digital photography, correct for this discussion, and that means that we're going to most likely print it on a printer like this absent now, if that's indeed the case, we're going to print it with ink and were in a digital or rgb world. Black and white literally means black ink on white paper. Now it is, I think, a better way to conceptualize it that we're making a chromatic gray scale like pan chromatic film all color film. Chromatic gray scale is a grayscale that will be made up of equal values of red, green and blue. So let's come up with a definition of what a black and white or chromatic grayscale images. It will have paper white so far with me. It will have black of ink. It will have middle gray one twenty eight gray, and it will have a grayscale ramp in between. Do we agree? So if I refer to it that way, we're all on the same page. Perfect. When we further agree that all of those colors are different, or that those colors are different, that the reds of the reds agreeing to the greens and blues of the blues, yellows, yellow science, science, right. So we have red, green, blue, yellow sayin magenta. All right what we fell in love with was film photography analog silver photography that is most likely what grabbed you the print that you fell in love with is most likely made with metallic substances using film pan chromatic film printed on ortho chromatic paper which means that it wasn't sensitive to certain frequencies of light so you have a film that was capable of recording color even though it rendered it in a gray scale and you have paper that was sensitive to different variations of the intensity of colored light so color mattered one of the great issues I find in teaching digital photography and having a research my book was a lot of the misconception of what constitutes a black and white conversion and what is really important now how many y knows I mean how many wine drinkers do it do I have in here? All right bottle of wine is eighty percent water ten to twelve percent alcohol five to seven percent tannic acid malic acid star traits sugar's bug parchment stuff crap in two to three percent diffused aromatic gas it is the two to three percent diffused aromatic gas that gives the wine one hundred percent of its flavor now I can get to chromatic grayscale or gray scale really quick the key is how effective can I be to get the maximum amount of tonal structure and the maximum amount of image structure and the maximum amount of control over? The image. The discussion that we're gonna have. And we're just going to use photo shop. We're not going to use any third party plug ins. I'm just going to do the discussion of this theory with something that you already rent, which is photos in a photo shop now. Film had something called a tonal reproduction curves. Anybody familiar with that terms? Okay, total reproduction curve was the way in which the film recorded the collision between red, green and blue. So the first thing in film photography, first versus digital photography, is that in film photography, black and white was never an afterthought. It was the only thought you put black and white film in the camera. So you made a decision to do what photograph of black and white image that's, what it was going to be in digital. Frequently, what happens is it's not working in color. They tickle the color out, make it black and white. Colin hart. It's not an afterthought. It is the on ly thought. I have yet to meet an image that has not informed me at the moment that it took me that it was going to be a chromatic grayscale image. Why is that would be the question? The reason why we want that that occurs is because when you're looking at a color image, a black and white image calls to you. The gesture is so strong in the image that the color gets in the way. The photographer j mais elle. If you have ever have an opportunity to hear that man speak or take a class with him, you should do it. I'm blessed to have known him for years, and that he has been a mentor of mine to me. Said that the third three key elements to photograph light gesture in color because I can't leave well enough alone, therefore, key elements like jester, color in time. But let's, just talk about maysles light, gesture in color, light and color obvious. But it is gesture that is the most important, and it is gesture that is the most telling and it's a gesture over everything. And when a black and white image calls to you what it is, is that the gesture of the image, this story, that it is telling it's so strong that the color gets in the way of telling that story, that how you know now what I would invite you to consider and just think about this is stopped taking pictures. For did I just get a bunch of blank stares, be taken by your pictures? Don't go looking for the picture. Let the picture take you the minute that the picture rips you through the lens. You're going to have a higher success rate of pictures that floor you and b. You'll probably take more black and white pictures, too, because the gesture is so strong that it takes you. And if you get into the habit of just allowing the picture to take you what will occur as the conversation of what should have black and white, you're chromatic race, go beyond what shouldn't will be moved. Now. Let's, take a look at simply doing what everybody has done when they make a chromatic grayscale image for the very first time is, well, it's, black and white. That means I got to get rid of the color it. Right okay now film is log rhythmic which means that it is non linear human perception is log rhythmic which also means that your perception is nonlinear digital is linear therefore it is non log rhythmic what does that mean simply this if I put sugar in a cup of coffee it will taste sweet right if I put two packets of sugar into a cup of coffee in human perception it will not taste twice a sweet it will taste sweeter in a linear world two packets of sugar would make it twice as sweet film was log rhythmic and it mimicked human perception that was the way it was designed so let's simply do this let's remove all of the color does this meet my definition black white a middle grey and a grayscale ramp in between how many people say yes I have a black a white middle grey and a great scrabble scale ramp all the way in between but something evil just happened didn't it something truly evil which is I lost two thirds of my data in one point of density that I lost the two to three percent diffused aromatic gas that gave my little chart all of its flavor so you don't want to do that right yes you do it's predictable I can predict what's going to happen so let's take a look bear with me here take you a little way out of the way to bring you back home this is what film look like. This is t max. One hundred. This is hp five, plus my favorite film, this is f p for do you see that all of these air different. This is agt foe pan atomic x, probably the greatest someone the world for landscape and t max four hundred t max four hundred looks different than team max. One hundred pan atomic x looks different than t max. We picked specific films based on the way in which they recorded the collision between red, green and blue. Now, when you put black and white film into a film, cameron, you look through the viewfinder. Didn't it trip you out that the picture was in color? So the first rule of doing a grayscale conversion is that you have to make the absolute most perfect color image that you can possibly make that the picture has to be utterly perfect to stand alone as a color image and then you will remove the distraction of the color to get the abstraction of the gesture that is important first second I have to think of a polite way to say this it would be ill advised to do chromatic gray scale conversions in a raw processor the reason for this is that it is not at that point of the workflow that it is appropriate to convert the image in a raw processor the approach to converting an image that I'm going to show you cannot be done in any raw processor that exists you can do chromatic gray scale conversions in rob sisters don't get me wrong but you can't do this particular way of doing it now the reason why I suggest that you don't do that is that there are many, many more things and making the image looking pretty in color that have to occur before you zap it into chromatic grayscale there's all sorts of retouching that needs to occur there's all sorts of smoothing that needs to happen there maybe multiple images that need to be added so those things have to occur in photoshopped photo shopped for fine art black and white conversion in my humble opinion is the only software environment that you should be working in to do it correctly. Can you do something in a roll process? Assure if you need to get something out, quick, it's all a matter of application. But if what you want to do is make something that takes people's breaths away, the best software is the more powerful one, which is photoshopped.