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A question for the B&W digital shooters
Old 02-19-2003, 08:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm starting to get more and more enthusiastic about fine tuning my photographic interest toward retro fetish/glamour styles, and B&W fits this better than color (kinda obvious, huh?). My Fuji S1 has a B&W mode, and I've used it with (I think) pretty good results - see below. My question is: Am I hampering or short-changing myself in terms of overall B&W quality by using this "in-camera" mode, or should I be converting the 16.7M color image to monochrome via another method? Any sites which might shed some light on other methods? As always, TIA...



Model: Amy White

David
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Re: A question for the B&W digital shooters
Old 02-19-2003, 10:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Exactly the opposite -- in my experience. When you take a color image and convert it to monochrome you lose. You can get the image to a state that you are happy with -- but it may not be the image you really shot. Does that make sense?

The in-camera b&w capture creates a monochrome RGB image from the sensor -- with (in my opinion) great results.

Bob

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Re: Post processing and filters
Old 02-24-2003, 09:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm not a B&W shooter but i've read about several digital techniques where you can apply filters in postprocessing in PS when converting color to B&W.

B&W film shooters use red,yellow or other filters to emphasize or suppress certain colors. When you shoot color, you can apply these filters in the post processing step. Although this is mainly used for landscapes, it should be applicable for glamour too. For example a red dress or background could be darker or lighter based on the filter.

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Re: A question for the B&W digital shooters
Old 02-25-2003, 08:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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A program you might also want to look into is Photokit by Pixel Genius. It's a plug-in for PhotoShop (but will also work, from what I understand, with some others) that offers, as one of its options, a very flexible Color to B/W conversion option.

Very versatile, reasonably priced, 30-day free look.

JReynolds

 
 
Re: A question for the B&W digital shooters
Old 02-25-2003, 12:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I don't really know whether the in camera B&W mode gives you a better end product, by I do know that by shooting in color and then treating the color photo as a monochrome in photoshop allows me to tweak the red, green and blue channels independently and you would be surprised at the control you have over contrast using this techniqe.

D1x shooter.

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Either way it is a conversion step
Old 02-25-2003, 04:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Using B&W conversion in-camera simply applies the camera's algorithm for that conversion... it doesn't magically make it a colorless sensor as some people seem to think. While it may give a different looking result from processing the same image in the computer (accepting the computer's defaults), it is really no different. If you use the manufacturer's own computer program, you may actually get the exact same algorithm.

Several posters mentioned the control you have by doing the conversion in PS instead of in-camera... but didn't explain how, and the real trick is in how you do it. Many people just select "convert to greyscale" and go from there... but as the other posters hinted, there are VASTLY superior ways to do it.

Probably the most popular and easy to implement is to create two adjustment layers on top of your base color image. The first, is a channel mixing layer. The second on top of that is a color saturation layer, with the saturation set to -100% (removes all color info). Some people call the topmost layer (color sat) the "film" and the middle layer (channel mixing) the "filter." You can also use a levels or color balance layer in the middle too.

By using this method, the relationship between the colors is altered by the middle layer(s), before it is converted to greyscale by the top layer. If the reds are too light, you can dial down the red so reds are darker. For example, you can lighten/darken foliage w/o affecting a model's skin tones by altering the green content.

If you have ever shot with B&W film, and developed the images and thought "Gee, I wish I had used a [insert color here] filter" well, by shooting digitial color, and altering the color levels in the computer, you effectively can get the exact same final B&W image you would have gotten had you had the filter on the camera when you shot it.

So I always shoot in color. I hope that helps.

Robert Biggerstaff
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Re: Either way it is a conversion step
Old 02-25-2003, 06:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Robert,

Many thanks to you on this. The purpose of my question is simple. If I do shoots in which the final product is to be B&W, I need the best method (or best compromise) between tonal quality and convenience. I cannot imagine attempting to individually convert hundreds of images from color to B&W after a shoot (I mainly do TFP, and the model will want ALL the images converted, not just the few I might like) - unless some workflow can be recorded as an Action in PS.

I'm going to do a test shoot in a few days and shoot the same setup in B&W and color, and then convert the color various ways for comparison...the luxury of experimentation. I'll definately adopt the methods you mentioned for the testing, as well as straight "easy way out" types. Again, thanks.

David
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