First try at B & W

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
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Not to totally hijack this thread, but with b&w photography, what kind of look should a photographer be aiming for? Do you aim for high contrast? Low contrast? If I shoot RAW, and I'm quickly editing in Lightroom, how do you know which of the 8 coloured greyscaled mixers to fiddle around with? In colour, I'm not completely dissatisfied with what I'm doing (although I don't know if others agree or not).

To me, it seems that many portraits are either very low contrast, or very high contrast with lots of shadows. Landscape shots usually appear low contrast to me, except for the very dark areas of the photo. I thought maybe the highlight end would have a longer "tail", while the darker regions didn't. Does this question/remark make sense?
 
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HomeingPigeon

macrumors regular
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Aug 1, 2007
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That made no sense at all. I dont know if I just dont understand it or if you are speeking greek. I cant tell. If you could translate that to english allitle that would be great.

thanks
 
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Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
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Ah, that's a good website. Thanks :)


@HomeingPigeon: I don't understand where the confusion lies, so I don't really know how to make it more clear. I don't think your post was very clear, either.

If I had to re-word my question, I'd like to know whether the tone curves for b&w photography should be different than for what I do with colour? I'm sort of happy my general photography, but not with b&w. I don't know what a nice skin tone looks like in b&w, amongst other things.
 
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seenew

macrumors 68000
Dec 1, 2005
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Brooklyn
If I had to re-word my question, I'd like to know whether the tone curves for b&w photography should be different than for what I do with colour? I'm sort of happy my general photography, but not with b&w. I don't know what a nice skin tone looks like in b&w, amongst other things.
look up the Zone System. Zone 0 is pure black Zone X is pure white, and Zone V is middle (18%) gray. Caucasian skin would be normally a Zone VI.
I just took a "black and white craft" course with the most tech-heavy professor ever, so I've got all this stuff drilled into my head. Half the semester all we shot was blank white walls at different exposures, measured density, drew parametric graphs, etc. Haha. I could go on and on about black and white.

I think basically what you want in a black and white image is to keep a tiny little bit of detail in your highlights as well as your shadows. You want to try to keep anything from going pure white or pure black. At least, that's what SHE preferred. I tend to side with her, now that I'm done with the class. However, certain occasions call for more contrast.

edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_system
 
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Doylem

macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2006
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Wherever I hang my hat...
Constructive criticism? Well, rule number 1 in photography is 'point the camera at something interesting'. If the pic is a bit dreary (and it is...), it makes little difference whether it's black & white or colour.
 
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Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,415
124
Location Location Location
look up the Zone System. Zone 0 is pure black Zone X is pure white, and Zone V is middle (18%) gray. Caucasian skin would be normally a Zone VI.
I just took a "black and white craft" course with the most tech-heavy professor ever, so I've got all this stuff drilled into my head. Half the semester all we shot was blank white walls at different exposures, measured density, drew parametric graphs, etc. Haha. I could go on and on about black and white.
Thanks. I looked that up once, but Wikipedia's answer was more thorough than what I read. :eek:

I don't really understand, though. With the Zone system there are 10 zones, and each zone represents 1 stop. This means the full tone range is divided into 10 stops of dynamic range. What if the film you use has 12 stops? DSLRs generally only have around 7-8 stops. Does the zone system then go from Zone I <--> Zone VIII? :confused:

Also, digital sensors always area always better at keeping shadow information than highlights. There's usually 5 EV of info below middle grey, and only 3 EV of info at the highlight end. Knowing this, do you change the zone system to account for this imbalance by spot metering the subject and placing it in the correct zone -1 EV? I mean, is Zone V considered middle grey in the DSLR world, or is it still considered Zone IV?
 
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