Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Make A B&W Digital Darkroom
A master photographer needs a master darkroom. We’ll guide you through the key tools you need in the digital age.
Photography is digital. Even the few photographers who continue to work in film take their negatives and prints in the digital arena at some point in their workflow. Black-and-white digital tools and controls provide you with far more control than a purely film-based workflow ever could. The black-and-white digital darkroom essentials are a computer, software, a good printer and appropriate paper. In this article, we're not looking at computers, but we'll take you through the necessities to get you on the way to making your best possible black-and-white photographs through digital means.
Assuming you shoot RAW, you can process your image as black-and-white with whatever RAW converter you normally use for color: the one provided by your camera's manufacturer or a third-party product like Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, DxO Optics Pro, Phase One Capture One, etc. These RAW converters and image-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop give you good control over your monochrome images. But there are also software programs dedicated to monochrome work, and these provide even more control over results.
Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 is part of the Nik Collection by Google ($149, www.niksoftware.com), available for recent Mac and Windows operating systems. It offers unique algorithms for quick and powerful performance, U Point technology for easy control, intuitive darkroom-inspired tools and even a history browser. It can emulate nearly 20 popular film types, tone images and apply borders, and has an excellent Grain Engine.
onOne Perfect B&W is available as a stand-alone standard edition ($29.95, www.ononesoftware.com) or as a premium edition ($99.95) that works as a stand-alone or as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and Apple Aperture. It's available for recent Mac and Windows systems, and also as an app for iPhone and iPad. Powerful, intuitive tools, a library of effects and adjustment brushes provide lots of control over your black-and-white images.
Topaz B&W Effects 2 ($59.99, www.topazlabs.com) is available for Mac and Windows, and includes over 200 one-click effects. Based around a finely tuned black-and-white conversion engine, the software includes adaptive exposure technology, a Zone System View Mode, integral local adjustments and film grain scanned from actual films.
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