Bake a Cake

Just a bit more info on how certain aspects when editing to BW from Raw are so important.
Lots of mono images you see on forums etc exhibit the same short falls, they often look muddy, blown highlights, shadows that look like soot and lack of contrast, or, too much contrast, over sharpening the list goes on, There are those out there, budding mono enthusiasts that think making a mono image is easy, well let me tell you it's not. so why is that so. lets bake a cake here's the mixture

1, Tonal range
2, Texture
3, Contrast
4/ A moody chef

Mix the ingredients up and if you have all the right measures you WILL come up with a really tasty cake, leave out one of the ingredients and you will end up slinging the cake in the bin, or just put up with poor quality, lets look at the above in more depth.

1/ Tonal Range
A restricted tonal range makes the image seem of less interest, the viewer wants to see INTO the picture but is blocked at every turn because the image is not open or interesting.
2, Texture
When you look at sand its rough, it has shadows, tiny ones, all around it that's what gives it that look, unfortunately the camera does not see that texture very well and the sand ends up looking rather soft looking, its not just sand, wood, grass, even aged skin has it, bring out the texture and you are half way to making a good cake, leave out texture and your cake is gonna look rather sad.
3, Contrast
When you look at a colour image and see the lovely blue sky and the green grass, the water rippling down the river, colour separates them well, unfortunately BW does a poor job at capture, so often the tones are so similar and elements within the picture seem to "blend" as not to show well. contrast can pull them apart and give the picture punch and definition.

4/Moody Chef
Now why a moody Chef I hear you ask, this is the hardest part, the moody Chef is you, well not really you cause you're not moody, but its the artist that has to add feel and mood to a picture, just click the grey scale button on a colour file and it's still the same picture with no colour, now add a little mood to the picture, for instance, pop up the contrast, darken the sky so the clouds look foreboding, give the land texture and variation of tone, let your artistic flair run riot, there are no rules, its you , the picture and your inner self, get it all right and you would get a job at the Ritz, don't get it right and you will be a Chef at Big Macs.

All kidding aside, BW is there for a few reasons, apart from being the mother of photography its ......

1/ When used "properly," black and white accentuates the depth of the photograph

2/ Black and white heightens emotional content

3/ Black and white photography has a tendency to make photos look more like works of art

4/ Produces a clean, crisp look

5/Transforms a dingy or overcast look into a striking photo evoking emotion

So there you go, easy eh

One of the best ways of learning the art is to view other great mono workers pictures, see how they interoperate everyday scenes, failing that you could do a one to one workshop with me "PLUG" where I will show you how its down, its not rocket science it's a form of art, using the LCD as the canvas and PS as the tool, simplicity is the key.

Long live Black and White