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B/W question

photo12345

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from watching endless YouTube videos as my main source of information I often hear "shoot for the highlights" or "under expose in situation x to save the sky in post".

I understand this concept.

If you come across somthing to photograph and think to your self "this would make an awesome black and white" do you do anything different that you normally wouldn't do if you were shooting with the intent of leaving it in colour? Or do you do everything the same until post?
 
I usually shoot in raw, so I have a color data file to work with in post. Converting in post is the best way to create b&w as you aren't limiting yourself to using the one, single in-camera method. I employ about 12-15 various methods of converting at the moment.

Some people will shoot raw, but set their camera to b&w or monochrome. This gives them a b&w JPEG to view on the camera monitor and they use that to sort of 'proof' the image as b&w. But the raw file will still have all the color data saved.

What I 'do different' is analyze the scene, and while shooting the subject I will make a mental note of which of the several post options I have will best suit the subject and my monochrome vision of the final rendering.
 
In addition to Sparky's advice, I would recommend shooting the scene at a couple of different exposure; 2/3 - 1 stop over and under-exposed so that you have lots of options.
 
Use raw capture and convert it after.
 
photo12345 said:
If you come across something to photograph and think to your self "this would make an awesome black and white" do you do anything different that you normally wouldn't do if you were shooting with the intent of leaving it in colour? Or do you do everything the same until post?

I'm one of the people who advocates for shooting RAW + JPEG Monochrome in-camera, with a color filter effect applied, such as the Yellow Filter, and also the Sepia image toning applied to the jpegs the camera creates, as well as setting the sharpening fairly high. What this does is it gives you a sharpened SOOC JPEG image, but much,much,much more-importantly, it allows you to actually SEE for yourself, with your own eyes, at the time you're shooting, what the shot looks like in B&W. Actually shooting, reviewing, and evaluating and making adjustments to an on-the-back-of-the-camera B&W image gives you a big advantage over "imagining" how good the subject will look in B&W. Some subjects are gonna SUCK as B&W's because the lighting, or the type of subject matter, just does not work well for a B&W image.

Black and white images rely on contrast, and tonal variations. If you do not apply a filter effect in-camera, you'll see blue skies rendered ugly white. Black and white images work better with a bit higher contrast lighting than most color images; when color is removed, things tend to blend together,mush together. A color shot and a B&W image can have vastly different lighting; B&W emphasizes lines, shapes, masses, tonal variations and tonal differences, B&W works great to show patterns, to show repetition, to show dissonant elements. B&W works great when shooting contre jure, or "toward the light" or "against the daylight", whatever translation you want to apply to the French word. B&W works well with harder light that reveals dimensionality via shadows, and via showing texture through angled light, or sidelight, or raking light. If a subject has a lot of similar tonal values, like say, a LOT of light, pastel hues...it's not going to look the same in B&W if everything is "light" and "pastel".

B&W reveals a subject in fundamentally different ways than full-color does. Watch a late 1940's or early 1950's film noir movie, and see what outlandishly high lighting ratios look like when filmed in B&W, then compare a modern film, shot and lighted for COLOR. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was, when lighting for color, use smaller light modifiers, or more high-contrast lighting than you would when shooting for color.
 
photo12345 said:
If you come across something to photograph and think to your self "this would make an awesome black and white" do you do anything different that you normally wouldn't do if you were shooting with the intent of leaving it in colour? Or do you do everything the same until post?

I'm one of the people who advocates for shooting RAW + JPEG Monochrome in-camera, with a color filter effect applied, such as the Yellow Filter, and also the Sepia image toning applied to the jpegs the camera creates, as well as setting the sharpening fairly high. What this does is it gives you a sharpened SOOC JPEG image, but much,much,much more-importantly, it allows you to actually SEE for yourself, with your own eyes, at the time you're shooting, what the shot looks like in B&W. Actually shooting, reviewing, and evaluating and making adjustments to an on-the-back-of-the-camera B&W image gives you a big advantage over "imagining" how good the subject will look in B&W.

photo12345, if need be an experienced photographer can see in b&w to recognise and acquiring an image.
Derrel, I think in many scenarios your method isn't practical, the shoot, chimp, adjust, reshoot. The adjustments are all available in the pp phase of raw convertion (I can't think of any that aren't can you?).

IMO if the idea is to work (pp/output) from the camera jpg, that introduces other problems depending on the camera, and an inevitable loss of image quality. The best digital b&w images are are achieved from using all the RGB signal captured (and color using native kelvin setting with 80/81 etc series filters to correct if desired). If you're not intending to use the camera jpg for anyhing other than reference, you'll still have to mimic the look of the jpg anyhow. Not much benefit, duplication of effort.
 
The "effort" you speak of involves about 15 seconds' worth, maybe 45 seconds' worth if you're slow, devoted to selecting your basic B&W RAW + JPEG custom function settings, and then assigning it to a Custom Settings Bank on a pro Nikon, or to one of the User modes on a consumer or prosumer-grade Canon or Nikon body.

So...after you've spent 15 to 45 seconds deciding on a basic B&W display settings set for evaluating images as B&W images on a million-plus pixel LCD that's 3.0 to 3.2 inches diagonal measure, you have the ability to shoot a shot, and then the ability to literally SEE that shot, displayed as a B&W representation of the scene. How much easier do you need it to be? What part of different lighting for B&W and different lighting for color did you miss?

How much easier to you want it to be? Maybe try it for a bit, like say three or four afternoons, so you actually know how it works, eh? Or just continue spouting the, "Guess at what it will look like when converted later, and we'll just fix it in Photoshop," philosophy.

The idea is NOT to "work from the camera JPEG". The idea is to shoot in a way to get the most-compelling B&W images, by using a modern tool in the most-sophisticated manner yet devised, not by "guessing" what the final image might look like. You have a 14-bit RAW file to make a killer conversion from. AND you actually get on board, and shoot, review, meter, compose and expose with the actual idea that you are working in B&W. Thinking in B&W. Making decision based on a B&W image you can see, on the LCD. Making an actual commitment to B&W. Not hedging a bet.

You've utterly missed the fundamental message: you light B&W differently than you light color images. The OP is a beginner or intermediate shooter asking for some actual experience. I actually have been shooting this way for a decade. You?

Again--look at the noir films of the film noir era and the kind of lighting ratios that create drama. Those films were LIGHTED and SHOT--as B&W. Alllll the way. Why do you suppose there exist RAW + JPEG Monochrome capture settings in modern d-slrs?
 
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Thank you all for the input . It has given me a lot of things to research. The "to lookup" list has grown longer :1219:
 

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