Perfect Black and White

Shooting black and white in this digital age isn’t as simple as desaturating (turning off the colour) in a colour photo. Okay, well, maybe it is that easy but you don’t get all the range and nuances that a properly developed black and white image can deliver.

Did I say developed?

When I ran the black and white darkroom at a daily newspaper I would wonder why sometimes the photographer’s images looked so wonder. The blacks would be pitch black and the whites would just seem so lovely and the silver would shimmer. Well of course it was because the exposure of the image captured the whole range of tones available on film.

In the digital darkroom, there is no film but the need to get the exposure right is still there when you’re shooting.

So what happens when you get the exposure right? (Using an external incident lightmeter sure helps.) Do you get a perfect image well yes but it’s in colour (always shoot in colour as you get the benefit of the three channels of information that is developed by the colour sensor) and just turning off the colour isn’t the way to go.

So what is the way to go? (Anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis knows where this is going…) The way to go is NIK’s Silver Efex 2.

But don’t believe me. Here’s a link to a great review on a site called Seven By Five that says it all. The image above was taken on -15 degree C day at the Mountsberg Conservation Area. Shot in colour and edited in Silver Efex 2 that allows for an added border (very cool) an a bunch of snappy presets. Boy do I wish we had this technology back when I was getting my hands wet in the film darkroom.


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