Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Back To B&W
A lifelong student of the medium, photographer Tony Hertz makes digital black-and-white landscapes with a wet-darkroom sensibility
For photographer Tony Hertz, black-and-white photography represents a return to his roots. He worked as a newspaper photographer during the 1980s, where all of his assignments were shot on black-and-white film, then processed and printed by hand in a traditional darkroom. Having left the newspaper to pursue a career as an independent photographer, he turned to color to meet his clients' needs, but he never stopped thinking about black-and-white.
The return to black-and-white may have been inspired by his history in the darkroom, and while he teaches a film class at the local community college, Hertz is no Luddite. "I teach film, but I'm shooting digital," he says. "Is that an oxymoron? It kind of pulls on me a little bit to go shoot more film, but I love my digital camera and I feel pretty proficient at Lightroom and Photoshop, thanks to the many people who I've learned from over the years. I've been involved with digital since the Nikon D100 DSLR came out. When I started in Photoshop with version 2.0, I knew that photography was going digital, I saw the writing on the wall. I really enjoy the darkroom, but I also teach a digital photography class, too."
"I like good details in the shadows," he says, "and good details in the highlights as well as you can. Diffuse light helps because too much sun will bleach them out, and burning and dodging, too. Let's take 'Worthy Cypress.' I burned down the bottom left of that image, and then I lightened up some of the larger rock in the background and some of the water down below. I really zoom in to very high magnification, 400% or 600%, and then I use very small brushes and Overlay mode for dodging and burning. I don't use the actual dodging and burning brush. I'm doing it on an overlay layer, and then using black or white to dodge or burn. I'll spend a lot of time detailing small areas. I spent many hours on this picture. The tree itself is a whole other ball of wax. See all those small light areas in there? Those were either darkened down—because there was a little too much light—or lightened up, particularly in the shadow areas underneath the thicker branches. I lightened those up in Overlay mode. And then I might use a gradient layer in order to darken some areas of the sky.
"In some ways, I feel a little guilty," Hertz says, "in that it's different than the traditional, and it almost feels like cheating, in a sense. But, then again, it's just another tool. I learned that from George Lepp. He'd say, 'It's just another tool, and Ansel Adams himself would use it, too.'
Page 1 of 3
Get 11 Issues of Outdoor Photographer for only $14.97!
That's 77% off the cover price!