Black and White Images From Digital Files

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Mike Farley
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Joined: Tue 11 Sep 2012, 16:38
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Black and White Images From Digital Files

Postby Mike Farley » Sat 15 Jul 2017, 09:04

Maybe this article will help people prepare their prints for the next Bamber Trophy competition. Some way into the post there is some straightforward advice for both the shooting and processing stages.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.co ... sties.html

Personally, I have been getting good results with the Nik Silver Efex Pro software. The problem is that sooner or later it is going to break now that Google has withdrawn support*. The latest that will happen for Mac users is 2019 when the OS will no longer run 32 bit applications. It is quite possible that Adobe will manage to do something before then. Apparently, one or incompatibilities have already appeared.

The upshot is that I am beginning to look at alternative ways to process monochrome images. One starting point is the camera, given the statement that Fuji X-Trans files are better than those made with Bayer sensors**. Another option are cameras with the Merrill variant of the Foveon sensor, but there are numerous issues associated with that approach. Excellent image quality, but a real hassle to obtain it. One comment to The Online Photographer post also related to the use of the PanaLeica 25 f/1.4 lens on m43. I have had some very pleasing results from that lens mounted on an Olympus E-M10.

* Google started out with the aim to "do no harm". Withdrawing support for Silver Efex is vandalism in my opinion.

** I am not certain why this should be and explanations I have found start to get very technical, very quickly. Maybe this is one occasion when I will simply take the word of those who know better.
Regards

Mike Farley
(Visit my website and blog - www.mikefarley.net)
Mike Farley
Posts: 7210
Joined: Tue 11 Sep 2012, 16:38
Contact:

Re: Black and White Images From Digital Files

Postby Mike Farley » Sun 16 Jul 2017, 07:55

This is the follow up article to the one to which I linked yesterday, showing a reverse S-curve to lighten the mid-tones in an image.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.co ... light.html

This reminds me that at a presentation a year or so ago, I saw someone demonstrate their monochrome conversion technique using Lightroom to produce some excellent results. As I recall, it started off with a counterintuitive removal of colour by completely desaturating the image. I say "counterintuitive" since desaturation on its own gives a very flat result. The presenter then worked on the tonal values to bring the shot to life.

I will need to dig out my notes. If there is any interest, I will write them up as a forum post should I find them. Otherwise, this is all I have to say on this topic for the time being.
Regards

Mike Farley
(Visit my website and blog - www.mikefarley.net)
Steve B
Posts: 127
Joined: Thu 08 Dec 2016, 17:20

Re: Black and White Images From Digital Files

Postby Steve B » Tue 18 Jul 2017, 18:03

Like Mike, I have relied on Nik's Silver Efex 2 for B&W conversions for the last couple of years and have generally been pleased with the results. However, I am starting to experience banding at the bottom and right edges of the frame when I carry out more than the smallest of adjustments in the software which eats into crop. I do not know the reason for this, although at the moment it is a fairly minor inconvenience that I can work around.

As for alternatives, I am trying out the new Topaz Studio editing tool, which is being marketed as a free alternative to Lightroom. This comes with some decent B&W presets and when combined with other tools in this package, such as the precision contrast tool, can achieve effective results with small effort. The black and white conversion tools within Topaz Studio are limited. However, Topaz Studio is integrated with other Topaz Tools, including Topaz BW Effects 2. This package costs $60 although it is available as a free trial for 30 days. I am finding that it has most of the same functionality as Silver Efex, although I am finding it more fiddly to use and don't think the quality of conversion is of the same quality - but perhaps this is because I am still getting used to it. I have never been convinced by the control point system in Nik's software, whereas Topaz BW allows users to paint in local adjustments, such as dodging and burning, which I am preferring.

There are YouTube videos showing how it works for the curious. I plan to bring in a portrait converted to black and white with Topaz tomorrow night.

Steve

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