Wednesday, August 1, 2007
As Simple As Black And White
Shoot in B&W or convert in Photoshop? That is the question...If you’d like to simulate the results produced by specific films or film/developer combinations, reach for Exposure from Alien Skin. Based on detailed analysis of actual film stock, Exposure not only re-creates the film coloration and contrast, but also actually reproduces the size, shape and color of the film grain. If you like the look of push-processed Kodak TRI-X, for example, you can re-create it digitally—with authentic results. Exposure performs other editing functions as well. The options include a monochromatic toning filter set (blue, gold, sepia, selenium and sulphide) that allows you to re-create the look of old-fashioned image recording techniques.
You can perform superlative grayscale conversions without launching Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom includes robust grayscale conversion and manipulation tools. A set of sliders allows you to adjust eight separate color channels quickly and easily. An Auto-Adjust button provides a good starting point, and a Reset button recovers from overly aggressive modifications.
As with the other editing functions that Lightroom provides, you can evaluate the effect on the fly by viewing pairs of before-and-after images side by side, above and below, or as a single split image. In addition to freehand experimentation, you can select from an assortment of monochrome presets. Options include Antique Grayscale and Grayscale Conversion. What's the best way to create black-and-white digital images? All of the above. Each method has its own special merit. After all, the preeminent characteristic of digital imaging is the ability to create variations that are predicable and fully replicable. In other words, we can get what we want, when we want, over and over again, whether the images are in color or black-and-white.
What to do with those gorgeous monochrome images? Print them using an inkjet printer that’s optimized for black-and-white. The Epson Stylus Pro 3800 inkjet printer, for example, employs a three-level black ink system to produce superior black-and-white images. It uses nine separate ink colors and automatically switches between photo black and matte black ink while utilizing the same physical ink channel. The HP Photosmart Pro B9180 also employs three black inks, automatically switching between matte black and photo black (or using both) to suit the paper being used. The Canon PIXMA Pro9500 uses gray, photo black and matte black inks to produce excellent black-and-white prints. Also, third-party ink suppliers offer special black-and-white products, such as Media Street’s QuadBlack inkset.
Joseph Meehan has been a photographer, editor and teacher for 35 years and is the author of 25 books on photographic techniques. His latest book, Moods, Ambience & Dramatic Effects in Photography, will be released in Fall 2007 as part of the new Kodak Art of Digital Photography series. See more of his work at www.josephmeehan.com.
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