Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The Technical Side Of B&W
Shoot Monochrome Or Convert Later? • Filters For Digital B&W • Best Choices For IR Conversions IR: Fake Or Real? • Printing Digital B&WIR: Fake Or Real?
Q A photographer can duplicate the look of infrared in Photoshop. Why should I invest in converting a camera when I can take any image and make it look like infrared in minutes?
Los Angeles, California
A Simulated infrared images can look somewhat like the real thing, but usually they fall short. When a digital camera is converted to IR, the cutoff filter that keeps infrared light from hitting the sensor is removed, allowing the invisible IR spectrum to record. So far, after-capture processing of color digital captures to achieve the IR effect isn't as effective as the real thing because you're trying to re-
create information (the IR light) that was never recorded at capture. The best you can do is to alter your color file to resemble the visual effect of IR.
To simulate IR in Photoshop, the photographer uses the Black and White Adjustment Layer or the Channel mixer. The best examples of simulated IR are with scenes dominated by green foliage, which is rendered white in IR because it's relatively easy to change a dark tone to a light one in black-and-white conversion. There are a number of Photoshop Actions available that will make the changes automatically. One is available from Fred Miranda at www.fredmiranda.com/DI/.
Printing Digital B&W
Q Which digital printers are best to get the highest-quality black-and-white prints with great tonal gradations?
Via the Internet
A First, understand that a typical small inkjet printer with only one black ink won't give you the tonal range you need to bring off an excellent black-and-white print. So if you're really into black-and-white renditions, you'll need to invest, or get access to, a professional-level printer that offers a better range of gray to black options.
It's all about the inks. When digital photo printers first became available, they offered four ink colors (red, green, blue and black). Later, a medium black was added, but today we have three blacks and a variety of other color tones that, combined, offer extraordinary detail and range in both color and black-and-white images. Some printers offer both a matte and regular black ink. The matte is effective on matte-surface paper, and the regular is designed for gloss papers. The printer that I regularly use is the Canon iPF6300, which has a total of 12 inks, including the four blacks, of which only three are used at any time, depending on the print medium. The same range is available in smaller Canon imagePROGRAF printers.
Another consideration when choosing a printer for either black-and-white or color printing is the archival properties of the inks. Most of the large-format printers use pigment inks that will last 100 years or more with proper display and storage. Dye-based inks don't have this kind of archival property because the dyes contain various chemicals that aren't completely stable while pigments are essentially inert compounds. Considering that black-and-white, silver-based prints have always been regarded as the longest-lasting prints available, a serious photographer using the digital process should use pigment inks and archival papers to match these possibilities.
For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit www.georgelepp.com. If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at www.georgelepp.com.
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