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All you need to know about black and white photography

& guides

Getting started Techniques and tips Edit and share images Go pro

Welcome to

There is something magical yet traditional about monochromatic photography.

All the distractions of colour are taken away and what youre left with is
the structure and form of a place, object or person. In The Black & White
Photography Book you will be guided through all the fundamental aspects of the
medium, including how to shoot professional-looking black-and-white images.
Throughout the book we have essential advice from industry professionals who
shoot black-and-white images in all genres, from portraits and landscapes to
street photography and abstract. But its not all just about shooting techniques
and skills we also have several editing tutorials, so you can take advantage of
image-editing software to turn your black-and-white shots into monochromatic
masterpieces. If that wasnt enough, on the free CD at the back of the book
weve included 11 video tutorials and source files so you can follow along with
many of the editing tutorials at home. Enjoy the book.

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This bookazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein.
The Black & White Photography Book Revised Edition 2012 Imagine Publishing Ltd
ISBN 978-1908955678

Part of the

bookazine series





Getting started in

B&W photography
An introduction and essential tips to the medium

32 Master monochrome
See the world in black and white and discover the
best subjects to shoot

44 The benefits of B&W

We speak to three experts to find out how and
why they shoot in black and white

56 Perfect portraits
James Nader shares his pro secrets and portfolio
of fashion portraits

64 Shoot stunning landscapes

Discover the form and texture of the black and
white landscape image

76 Shooting the streets in B&W

Head outside and photograph the streets in
black and white with our guide

88 Documenting life in B&W

Photographer Carol Allen Storey shares her
incredible career

Essential kit for

B&W photography
The best kit for great blackand-white photographs

98 Understanding flash
Learn about flash techniques

104 Achieve perfect

studio lighting
Take your skills to a pro level

110 natural portraits

Step out of the studio and use the power of
daylight to produce black and whites

116 Black & white portrait tips

Industry pros reveal their top tips

120 high & low-key lighting

Master modern high and low-key
photography techniques

126 Control images with filters

improve your black and whites with filters

132 Master composition

Make sure its all in the frame

138 Understand metering

Shed some light on fine-tuning
your images

144 discover RAW

See the benefits of shooting in the rAW format

150 B&W abstracts

Search for shape, pattern and
structure and go abstract

156 story behind the still

We dissect a shot along with its creator



160 six black and white

conversion techniques
The ultimate guide for converting colour images
to black and white

168 Create high-key effects

Use Photoshop to up the contrast

172 Use dodge & Burn to

enhance portraits
Lighten and darken areas under control



176 Create a black & white hdR

in Photoshop
Blend three black and white images into one

180 Re-create a glamorous black

& white portrait
Glam it up with some Hollywood style

183 Create actions in Photoshop

Simplify your workflow

184 selective colouring

Take control of your editing skills

190 Create atmosphere

Evoke a dramatic mood with Photoshop

195 graduated filter

Use Lightroom to create a dramatic sky

196 Master tone edits

Work with tone for masterful monochrome

200 Add emphasis to eyes

Apply a rainbow effect to your black-andwhite portraits

202 Classic portraits with

gradient maps
Get effective B&W with this technique

204 sepia tone your images

Add a traditional brown tone to your images

206 Blue tone your images

Particularly effective for a landscape

208 Fix your old photos

All you need to know about restoring your
old photographs
THE BLAck & WHiTE PHoToGrAPHy Book 7

Getting started in B&W photography


Getting started in

black white
photo raphy

Getting started in B&W photography


I was only [available] to visit this lovely

location in the middle of the day and the
light was harsh, so I decided to shoot in
black and white and use my Lee Big Stopper
to smooth out the water and give a feeling of
calm against the stormy-looking sky
Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with a
17-40mm lens, f9, 30sec, ISO 100
Helen Rushton

Master monochrome by learning how to

capture incredible black-and-white images

hotography began in black and white.

But with rolls of monochrome film and
darkroom experiments, the equipment and
techniques used were a long way from the
digital cameras and image-editing software
that we have now. With some of the worlds most iconic
images having been captured in the black-and-white
medium, there is a lot of history behind it, but its no
surprise that it remains as popular now as when it was
first developed.
Advancing successfully from film into digital over
recent years, the monochrome medium has improved
dramatically. Even darkroom tools and techniques
have seen a digital revival with computer software,

making black and white much more accessible to

photography enthusiasts. As it works effortlessly with
any photographic genre, the black and white medium is
used across the industry, from landscape to portraiture,
as well as in music, wildlife and street photography.
Over the next few pages you will learn all the
fundamentals of the medium. Featuring great inside
information from industry professionals, you will get
to grips with all essential shooting tips, tricks and
techniques behind taking successful black-and-white
images. By reading this guide to black and white
photography, you will soon be on your way to mastering
monochrome and applying all you have learnt to your
own images.

Before you begin shooting straight in monochrome,

consider your camera settings. Most digital cameras offer a
monochrome filter, allowing you to shoot directly in black
and white; however, this setting is only available when
opting to capture JPEG files. JPEGs are not ideal files for any
serious photographer and are rarely used by professionals.
Compressed image data JPEGs are more difficult to alter in
postproduction, with many decreasing in quality after just a
few adjustments. Instead, pro black-and-white photographers
will always opt to use RAW if shooting a commercial project.
When looking to create great black-and-white images
you need to begin by setting your camera up to shoot in the
RAW image format. Although theyre much larger, RAW
files are ideal for digital black-and-white photography. Youll
be capturing in colour first, but RAW images can later be
converted with much more control, as Antonia Deutsch (www., a professional AOP photographer who
specialises in black-and-white photography, advises: When I
am shooting digitally I shoot in colour and convert my images
into black and white this gives much more information
in the digital files. It is extremely important not to use the
cameras software but to be in control of converting the colour
into black and white in the way that suits your image, in the
same way that you would choose which type of film to use
prior to digital technology.
Setting up your camera correctly is just one part of
capturing a great black-and-white photograph; getting out
there ready to compose is another. When shooting with the
intention to convert your colour captures to monochrome, you
will need to take a whole new approach to composition. Unlike
a colour photograph where you can rely more on the hues and
colour tones, a black-and-white image gets its strength from
the contrast and visual composition.
Work slowly when framing your image, as looking for
more unusual and unique shapes can help to add detail and
texture to an otherwise bland black-and-white shot. Helen
Rushton, a professional landscape photographer who runs
See Life Through The Lens photography workshops (www., remarks: Take your time with
your composition; black-and-white images need to be strong
to work well. With my black-and-white images I am always
looking for bold textures, contrast between layers and lines in
the composition to draw my viewers through the image.
Light is equally as important to consider when shooting
for black and white. Whether its a portrait or landscape,
understanding how it falls can make a noticeable difference
to the success of your black-and-white photographs.
Look carefully for the highlights, midtones and shadows in
your composition before you shoot, helping to ensure you
expose all your captures correctly. Dont be afraid, however,
to slightly overexpose an image that is intended for blackand-white conversion often the worst it will do is increase
contrast, which can in fact be ideal, as Helen adds: Play
around with your exposure to bring out and highlight details
that catch your eye.
Check your images histogram as you work on the back of
your camera. This can help to ensure youre on the right track,
as it is important to note that too much midtone in a histogram
can make an image it appear flat when converted, as it will
lack any contrast or depth.
Not all colour images work well when converted to black
and white, and this is usually due to a lack of tonal range.
Tonal range is largely affected by colour and, along with light,
defines the contrast areas in a black-and-white photograph.
When shooting, you can take some control of this simply by
paying more attention to the natural colours of the subject
youre photographing.
For instance, what may look like a striking photograph
in colour, with two dominant colours such as red and blue,
in black and white you will find these colours are recorded



Dean Sherwood
I am a Grimsby-based
commercial photographer/
cinematographer producing
high-quality imagery for
commercial businesses, retail
sites, portraiture, weddings,
musicians/bands and HD web
TV films for commercial
businesses. Dean specialises in
music photography and has
worked closely and been on tour
with big British bands such as
N-Dubz, Feeder, McFly and
One Direction.

1 Choose RAW

Photograph in RAW if you can.

2 Emotive work

Capturing emotion always looks great in black and white.

3 Contrast rules

Think about the contrast between the main subject and the
background, eg a light subject against a dark background.

4 Throw some shapes

Lines, shapes and textures look great in black and white.

5 Composition is key

With colour removed you have to concentrate on your

composition. The viewers focus is purely the content of the
image so make it good.


Tulisa having her hair and make-up

done before a show
Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
with 24-70mm lens at 35mm and f5.0,
1/400sec, ISO 3200


Smaller venues with good lighting offer a much better

chance to get shots like this
Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with a 24-70mm lens
at 35mm and f5, 1/400sec, ISO 3200


The final shot of the ATN tour. Theres always that glimmer
of doubt: Will they forget Im here? Within a minute of this
photo we were on the tour bus and leaving the venue
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a 24-70mm lens
at 24mm and f2.8, 1/160sec, ISO 2000

Not all colour images

work well in black
and white due to a
lack of tonal range

Dean Sherwood



Getting started in B&W photography

Getting started in B&W photography

Dean Sherwood

Dean Sherwood

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 11

Antonia Deutsch

Getting started in B&W photography

ScotS PineS

From the British

Landscapes Exhibition
Shot details: Nikon
D300 with a 16-85mm
lens at 85mm, f7.1,
1/200sec, ISO 200

Traditional black-and-white colour filters will

help to alter and adjust the colour tones

Quick guide to dodging and burning in Photoshop

Formerly used in traditional darkrooms, the Dodge and Burn tools have
since been digitally converted for image-editing software like Adobe
Photoshop. Located in the toolbar on the left-hand side of the interface, you

can select either the Dodge icon to lighten areas of the image or the Burn
icon to darken, creating a more controlled contrast effect. Here is a quick
guide to using them.



Set the Dodge

Select the Dodge tool first
in order to brighten areas of the
frame. Adjust the brush size to
a suitable diameter and select
a soft edge to help blend the
effect. Using the Range dropdown menu, select the Midtones
as you dont want to make the
highlights any brighter.

Apply the effect

Adjust the intensity of the
effect by pulling the Exposure

slider down low; this will allow

you to build up the brightness
effect carefully. You can now
gently brush over the areas you
wish to lighten.

12 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

to burn
Hold down the Dodge icon
an option menu appears

and select the Burn tool. Again,

adjust the brush diameter to a
suitable size and choose a soft
edge. Select the Midtones or
Shadows from the Range option
depending on the areas you
want to darken.

Build up slowly
Now lower the Exposure
slider so that you can build up
on the burn effect over time.
You can now slowly start
sweeping the brush over the
intended areas.

Getting started in B&W photography



Quiet, thoughtful portrait

Shot details: Hasselblad
with 150mm lens and f11,
1/125sec, ISO 125, FP4 film,
scanned at 300dpi at 400%
magnification full frame


Antonia Deutsch

similarly in tone and therefore your black-and-white

conversion will lack any definition or contrast. Helen Rushton
shares a great tip for ensuring a colour scene will work as
black-and-white photograph: I often set my Canon EOS
50D to the Monochrome setting, which gives me an instant
understanding of whether the tones and shades work together
to make the image I am trying to create, but as I always shoot
in RAW the image is still captured in colour and then I convert
that back to black and white in post production.
Even if a photograph doesnt appear promising in
monochrome, there are a few other ways in which you can
control how colours are recorded in your black-and-white
photograph. Traditional black-and-white colour filters, which
can be attached to the front of your camera, will help to alter
and adjust the colour tones in an image, whether it is to soften
certain colour tones or enhance others for contrast. You
can also use digital conversion tools in most image-editing
software, allowing you to make specific adjustments to certain
colour channels for increased contrast results.
Another way that you can boost contrast in-camera is by
using popular ND filters. Mainly used by landscape and
traditional black-and-white photographers, there is a range
of different ND filter types. Straightforward ND (Neutral
Density) filters are commonly used for longer exposures,

most notably in seascape scenes, softening moving water and

turning it into mist. Graduated ND filters, however, are often
used to darken skies.
Most professional photographers still consider filters
as essential pieces of kit, as Helen points out: My
photography is all about getting the image right in-camera
without lengthy processing techniques, so for me the grad
filters balance out exposure and the ND grads allow me to be
creative in-camera and convey the emotions I am looking for. I
use the same filters shooting black and white as I do in colour:
my Lee ND Graduated filters and Full ND filters.
Antonia agrees that filtering is important, particularly for
landscape photography: When shooting landscapes on film
I used to use a yellow filter by default, and sometimes a red
filter, she says. Now with digital photography, I filter in
Adobes Camera Raw software. I think that filtering is essential
for landscapes.
Although it fits comfortably into almost any genre of
photography, black and white is often considered a genre
in itself. Many photographers like Antonia have chosen to
specialise solely in black-and-white photography, something
that she now runs workshops on: As I child I used to watch
old black-and-white movies and was captivated by the imagery.
I think that this influenced my decision to specialise in black



Getting started in B&W photography

Using filters in
your photography
Colour filters
Red: Popular with landscape photographers, red filters

have the biggest impact on contrast and are used to

enhance dramatic skies by affecting the blue and green
tones in a black-and-white image.
Yellow: A relatively subtle filter effect, the yellow colour
tends to lighten red, orange and yellow tones.
Green: You can enhance a dramatic sunset using a
green filter, which will darken the red and orange tones.
Blue: Lightening the green and blue tones, the blue filter
works similarly to the green colour filter in darkening
reds and oranges.
Orange: The orange filter will darken blue and green
tones and lighten yellows and oranges. It is often used
in black-and-white portraiture to remove freckles and
blemishes from the face.

ND Filter (Neutral Density)

ND filters allow you to extend your cameras shutter

speed without overexposing the image, as it filters light
through slowly to the lens and is often used to create
misty smooth water effects in seascapes and waterfalls.
You can also get different strengths of ND filters
depending on how much light you want to filter.

Graduated ND filter


A graduated neutral density filter works in the same way

an ND filter does except that one half of the filter is clear,
gradually working up to ND filtration. These filters are
most commonly used by landscape photographers in
order to darken bright skies and get an even exposure
throughout the entire image.


Teenage rugby player

with a battle-worn
face, but shot in a
romantic way
Shot details:
Hasselblad with
150mm lens and f11,
1/125sec, ISO 125,
FP4 film, scanned
at 300dpi at 800%
magnification and
cropped to suit
Antonia Deutsch


and white from an extremely early stage. For me black and

white is a purer image which allows greater drama and more
expression, be it a portrait or a landscape.
Landscapes are also a popular subject matter for black-andwhite photography and have been since the early days of
film. One of the key elements to great black-and-white
landscapes is composition. Looking for stronger lead-in
lines and shapes, you need to build depth and layers in your
landscape photograph. Professional landscape photographer
Helen Rushton remarks: There are some locations I go to
and they scream black and white to me because of the
ambience. For me, great black-and-white images fall into
two categories: very dramatic with stormy skies and bold
compositions, and at the other end of the spectrum a sense of
calm and minimalist composition.
Lighting can also affect the contrast levels in all
black-and-white images, particularly daylight in a landscape.
Midday sun will create darker contrasting shadows, for
example, whereas morning light and early evenings create
a softer palette of tones. For black-and-white landscapes I
concentrate on the graphic elements of a scene, and the nature
of the environment, whether it is stormy or tranquil, says
Antonia. My British landscapes are taken only during the
winter months when the light is lower in the sky and the trees
are more sculptural.
Popular in portraiture and street photography for its
timeless perception, black and white is considered most at
home in this genre. Antonia points out the benefits of shooting
a portrait in black and white as opposed to colour: When
shooting a portrait in black and white you are not distracted
by the colours and it is much less confused; this allows me to
capture the character of my sitter. My portraits are very calm
and, I hope, timeless. I strive to make each portrait a true
reflection of the individual.
Professional music photographer Dean Sherwood (www., who shoots black-and-white portraits
as part of his work, says: I think every subject deserves
to be treated as just what they are, an individual. Its quite

Getting started in B&W photography


Even when you only

have a few moments
to get a portrait, you
still have to think
about composition
shot details: Canon
EOS 5D Mark II with
a 24-70mm lens
at 24mm and f2.8,
1/80sec, ISO 3200
Dean Sherwood

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 15

Helen Rushton

Getting started in B&W photography


I loved the way these waves were breaking against the shore coupled with the lines from the slipway batons in
Biaritz, France. I wanted to freeze the action, but also give some slight softness
Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with a 70-200mm lens, f7.1, 1/6sec, ISO 100


Rural landscapes work

just as well as coastal
ones in black and white.
Check our filter guide on
page 14 to see how you
can enhance them

often I will think this is going to look great in black and

white though. In fact, Im not sure Ive ever seen a blackand-white photograph and thought that would look great
in colour. He adds: Music photographs in black and white
are timeless. I can definitely recount more black-and-white
music photographs I love than I can colour ones. Black-andwhite music photographs carry a similar edge to that of a
documentary photographers work. Take away the colour
and you are left with a stripped-down clear defining moment
that happened in the real world; no distractions, just a pure
document in front of your eyes.
Street photography is also commonly shot in monochrome
as it enables photographers to create a uniformed collection of
images that work like a narrative. Often gritty with noise
grain, many street photographers tend to use higher ISO
numbers when shooting in order to create a retro film-like
effect. Noise, however, can be distracting and will decrease
the quality of an image. When it comes to using higher ISO
numbers, in this instance it is often best to add grain in later
during post-production. This will give you much more control
over the intensity of the effect. Noise can add an interesting
texture to your images, so its considered great for street
photography and stylised portraits, but its best avoided when
shooting landscapes.
Eventually you will need to convert your colour captures
to black and white. Image-editing software such as Adobe
Photoshop, however, makes this a relatively simple task these
days. Featuring countless conversion tools there is no right or
wrong way to edit, you can still apply the same old darkroom
principles including using the Dodge and Burn tools for
specific enhancements. Dont be afraid to experiment;
black and white is a creative and artistic form of photography
and, as long as you save the original file separately, nothing
cannot be undone.
So, if youre ready to explore monochrome, keep in mind
some of Antonia Deutschs top tips:
Connect with your subject
Compose carefully
Use your light to sculpt your subject
Be patient and calm
Be selective over what you shoot

Getting started in B&W photography



Helen Rushton


This image was taken at one of my favourite

locations on the south coast, Hengistbury
Head. I had found the groyne on one of
my trips there when the tide was lower
and planned to come back when I could
get water covering the top to smooth out
the ugly areas. A very long shutter speed,
coupled with a freak big wave, saw me very
wet but very happy with the image I had
wanted to create
Shot details: Canon EOS 50D with a
17-40mm lens and f11, 4mins
using a Lee Big Stopper, ISO 100


Getting started in B&W photography


Shooting for black and white

Set up the tripod Once you have selected the

scene you want to shoot, you will need to set up your
Begin by assembling your tripod. Pulling the


legs apart from the centre, unclip each section. You can
pull down to extend the length of each leg. Ensure all of the
legs are straight and the correct length before clicking the
fastenings back into place.

Camera ready Ensure you have inserted a fully

charged battery and empty memory card correctly
into the camera. Turn on your camera and search through

your cameras menu interface in order to format your

memory card. This is important before a shoot as it deletes
unwanted data that could slow the cards performance.

ISO option Ensure your

ISO settings are low
and set between 200-400
ISO to avoid distracting
noise in your black-andwhite conversions. If you
want to add noise later
for aesthetic reasons, you
can do this during post
production with more
control over the effect.


Are you level? Check your tripods bubble level to ensure the tripod is level. You may
need to extend or shorten one leg to accommodate for rocky or uneven ground. You
can now attach your camera to the top plate by screwing it correctly onto the mount. Place
the plate back onto the tripod head and click it securely into place.

File format You can now set your camera to shoot either just RAW files or RAW+JPEG
files. RAW+JPEG will allow you to set your JPEGs to monochrome capture separately so
you can preview the black-and-white results while retaining and still capturing a colour RAW
file for editing. Be aware that this option will take up more memory space.

Getting started in B&W photography

Attach the filter You will now need to attach the filter ring to the end of your lens; this
Line it up You can slide your filters into place. Begin by selecting the right filter type and
will allow you to connect the filter and filter holder onto the end of your camera. Ensure
strength; hold it around the edges to avoid getting fingerprints on the front. When using
you have the correct diameter filter ring for your lens and gently screw it into place. Now
a grad ND filter, use your cameras viewfinder or live view ensure the grad line sits perfectly
slide the filter holder on top.

on the horizon.

Final adjustments Make any last-minute adjustments to your composition using the
Check the histogram While shooting remember to keep checking your histogram at
the back of the camera for a good idea on how the shadows, midtones and highlights
tripod. You can now change your exposure settings, adjusting the aperture and shutter
are looking. If you opted to shoot RAW+JPEG with a monochrome filter on the JPEG files,
speed to suit the scene. Check your cameras in-built light meter through the viewfinder as
an exposure guide.

now is a good time to see how the RAW images will look when converted.

shooting, keep
checking your
Photoshop Use a card reader to
open your colour image in Photoshop
to convert. Begin by selecting an image,
go to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate
to remove all the colour and use Image>
Adjustments>Levels to enhance and boost
contrast by adjusting the shadows and
highlights sliders slightly, but paying more
attention to the midtones.


Getting started in B&W photography



When converting your colour

captures to black and white,
keep it simple. There is no right
or wrong way to convert; just
experiment in your photo-editing
software. A good adjustment
tool to look out for to begin with
is Desaturate or Convert to
Monochrome. From there you
can build on contrast levels.

Shoot in colour

Texture and

When composing, think

carefully about how textures
can be recorded in black and
white in order to add a feeling
of depth. Stormy skies in a
landscape is a great example,
giving you interest at the top
of the frame that will still help
to draw your eye down into the
focus of the frame.


While shooting, remember to keep

an eye on your histogram. A good
exposure should show an even range
with no peaking at either end of the
graph. Remember that you dont want
too much information compressed
within the midtones. Ensure there is
enough information/mountainous
range in the shadows and highlights.

File formats

RAW files offer you a lot more

information, which is ideal for
editing and black-and-white
conversions. Unlike a compressed
JPEG file, a RAW one wont
decrease too heavily in quality as
you make adjustments. Its worth
noting that you may also need a
bigger memory card to shoot in
RAW as they take up much
more space.
20 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Shoot your black-and-white

images in colour first and
convert them to monochrome
later using photo-editing
software. This will give you
more control over the results,
particularly the strength of the
overall contrast. It also means
that if the image doesnt work in
black and white you still
have the colour copy.

Getting started in B&W photography

Light and shade

Look for light when shooting in black

and white, as contrast is important if
you want to avoid flat image results.
Think carefully about the time of day
you shoot in, as this can also impact
your images contrast levels. Midday
sun has a stronger light and brings out
darker shadows, as opposed to early
morning and evening light.


Dodge and Burn

Popular in darkrooms of the

past, Dodge and Burn tools
are now digital and can be
used in much the same way in
Photoshop. Use the Burn tool
to lighten specific areas of the
image, focusing on midtones
and highlights. Use the Dodge
tool to darken the rest.

Slow down when composing a black-andwhite image, as this is the most crucial
element for your photos success. Look for
strong shapes and lead-in lines to
draw the eye into the image. Find more
dynamic forms to focus on which will also
engage your viewer.




Dont be afraid to use filters

when taking a photograph; you
will be surprised by the instant
improvement to your shots.
Invest in some great-quality
grad filters to darken the sky,
ND filters for longer exposures
and colour filters for more
creative tonal adjustments
in black and white.

Colour tones

Pay attention to the colours

within the frame before you
shoot. Not all colours translate
well together in black and white;
what may look contrasting
and strong in colour can often
convert to similar in tone and
ultimately flat in contrast.


Getting started in B&W photography

22 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Essential kit

Essential kit for

B&W photography
If youre looking for the best equipment for a
monochrome workflow, then this is the guide for you

his whole bookazine is dedicated to

the intricate art of black-and-white
photography, and one area that really
has to be considered to get the best
results is the kit that you choose to
use. Over these eight pages, we will explore all the
top kit from your cameras and lenses, to software
and printing, to finally presenting your work. There
are loads of genre-specific features that you need to

look for, and we will break these down as we move

through this kit guide.
One decision that you will need to make when
it comes to monochrome photography is whether
you are going to shoot in black and white, or convert
it after in post-production. There are advantages to
both. If you shoot in black and white, then you can
see how the tones and contrast are applied in the
image, which means that you can correct the shot.

We have included cameras that have monochrome

modes for this, as well as lenses and filters that will
improve your black-and-white shots.
However, we also take a look at the best software
options to do the conversion for you, the advantage
being that you can keep the colour version and work
on the mono version separately. Think carefully
about your requirements and then read on to find out
what your kit bag is crying out for

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 23

Getting started in B&W photography

More options

From DSLR to compact

system cameras, here are
some great camera options

If you would like an alternative to Canon

systems, you could try a Nikon camera, like
the D5100 pictured below. This model offers
Live View and a Vari-angle LCD screen, which
means that composing a shot accurately is
super simple. It also has a new special effects
mode, which has seven effects including
selective colour and monochrome. It has a
powerful 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and
exceptional low-light performance, as well
as an HDR function and Active D-Lighting for
extreme contrast.

Compact creativity

Picking a camera for monochrome work isnt so different
from choosing a camera for colour work. Indeed, its
unlikely that your only use for a camera will be black-andwhite imaging. However, ensure that your chosen model
has features that will help you to capture the subjects that
you want to portray in mono. Ensure that you look for a
camera that offers high quality, detailed images, as sharp
images are especially suited to monochrome conversion.
Also look at the ISO control, as noise will be enhanced in


Entry-level models like the Canon EOS 600D

shown here are great options for those
moving up into the DSLR arena for the first
time, but still have plenty of technology and
functionality for the more seasoned user too.
Theyre often designed to allow for creative
shooting, and in the 600Ds case the dedicated
Monochrome Picture Style allows for striking
black and whites in camera.

Lens compatibility
DSLRs are
compatible with a
range of manufacturer
and third-party lenses,
so theres flexibility

Live view
Live View mode in
the 600D enables
you to check that a
shot works in mono
before capturing


We have featured DSLRs or CSCs in our roundup

here, but there are some good compact options
out there, especially in the new breed of high-end
solutions. These give excellent image quality,
plenty of manual control and a selection of
shooting options that includes monochrome.
We like the Nikon CoolPix P300, which has
a tough build, a fast aperture and ultrawide lens ( for
more information).

monochrome so unless you are going for a particularly

retro effect, then this isnt preferable. We mainly focus on
interchangeable lens cameras here, as these are the best
option for covering all manner of photographic projects.
Whether you are into shooting landscapes or portraits,
macros or motion, then you have a wealth of flexibility
by opting for a DSLR. Keep an eye out for black-and-white
shooting options too, as this will enable you to compose
scenes with mono in mind.
Built-in Filters
Many DSLRs have a black-and-white filter, which is
perfect for capturing more atmospheric shots


Rather than being a buying a DSLR, you could
try one of the new breed of micro-system
cameras with interchangeable lenses, which
means that you have the benefit of both
flexibility and compactness. The Panasonic
Lumix DMC-G3 (shown below) is one
such compact system camera, offering 16
megapixels and Live View to aid composition. It
also has super-fast auto focusing and creative
controls enable Retro, Sepia and High-Key
shooting, among others.


If you have a lot of money to spend, its worth

getting a high-end camera to capture images
at even greater quality. The Leica M9 (pictured
below), which offers 18 megapixels and is
compatible with Leicas M lenses, is perfect
for street photography. Leica also produces
the worlds first digital camera designed
exclusively for shooting in black and white, the
M Monochrom. These cameras are definitely
investment buys, but they will last a lifetime.

Essential kit


Picking a lens for your camera to use for black and white
photography is dependent on the subject that youre
shooting. If landscape is preferable, then it is worth
looking into an ultra-wide angle zoom lens, so that you
can play with your composition to bring focus to the
details and heighten the perspective, both traits that
are essential to monochrome photos. We have picked
a couple of our favourites here, new and old, and these

Lenses & subjects

See what you need for what
you want to shoot

have built-in stabilisation features and large apertures to

help get that perfect tonal range that is so necessary for
working in black and white.
If its portraits that youre working with, then look for
a high aperture lens, so the maximum amount of light is
taken in during low-light and indoor shots. These lenses
are also good for working in conjunction with lighting
setups to produce high and low-key creative effects.

Picking a lens for your camera to use

for black and white photography
is dependent on the subject
that youre shooting
Beneficial Design
This lens is designed in such a way that it minimises
lens fall-off and increases peripheral brightness



When youre shooting the streets and

documenting life, you need a lens that wont
weigh you
down. Canons
EF 17-40mm
f4L USM lens
(pictured) is
and compact,
so it is perfect
for travelling
with and it is
also resistant
to dust and
moisture. Its
ultra wide on a
full-frame EOS
camera and a
standard zoom
on APS-C
sensors, so
it is flexible
depending on
the body that
you use it with.


Keep it steady

When you are taking monochrome shots,

its important to use a tripod, as this will
help to eliminate blur that wont translate
well into black-and-white shots, with blur
showing up as streaks of grey and white.
This is especially true in landscape and
portrait shots, where pin-sharp images
will look the most effective.
We like the ranges from
Manfrotto and Induro
(pictured above), for

If it is monochrome studio portraits that youre

interested in, then you should look for a fast
maximum aperture and a rounded diaphragm
to help produce softly blurred depth-of-field
effects. The Nikon 85mm f1.4G AF NIKKOR
(pictured) is a great lens that will help you
to achieve people shots in the studio. Its a
medium telephoto lens with a fast maximum
aperture of f1.4 and internal focusing. Its
lightweight too at 595g, which isnt necessary
for portraits, but it always helps!


Landscapes are one of the most popular

subjects for monochrome photography, and an
ultra-wide-angle lens like the Sigma 12-24mm
f4.5-5.6 DG HSM II (pictured) will do a great job
of capturing them. Landscape lenses need to
be lighweight and quiet, and the Sigma even
has a full-frame view with Super Multi-Layer
Coating to reduce flare and ghosting.


This compact lens weighs
just 670g, making it good for
taking out and about

Release your creativity

The wide-angle view will
exaggerate perspective,
giving landscape
photographers room for
creative compositions

If its a multipurpose lens that you require, then

you will need a good all-rounder. The Sigma
24-70mm f2.8 EX DG HSM (pictured) is a large
aperture, standard zoom lens, meaning that it
is as comfortable taking portrait shots as it is
landscapes. The
f2.8 aperture
throughout the
zoom range
ensures quality
when indoors or
in low light, and
the lens coatings
help to remove
aberrations and
distortion. It has
HSM for quiet
yet fast focusing
and it can focus
down to a distance
of 38cm.



Getting started in B&W photography

Filter options

Filter out the wheat from

the chaff

B+W offers a range of dedicated blackand-white filters, which are designed to

optimise the contrast and tonal range when
shooting in monochrome. The filters colour
is made lighter and a complementary filter
is made darker, so B+W provides a range of
eight filters to cover the whole spectrum of
controls needed, helping to ensure that your
monochrome shots are dramatically improved
by the addition of a filter.

With filter


Filters are essential in black and white photography if

you want to produce the very best results. By using them,
you can make a big difference to the tonal range of your
photos. With good black and white photos the viewer can
almost visualise the scene in colour without any colour
information present, simply by the tones presented.
When a filter is used, it enhances certain colour tones
in the final image, and can make a monochrome image
really pop. By using a filter of a set colour, you will lighten
that particular colour in tone, and you will pop the


No filter

Tiffen does a wide range of different filters,

with a dedicated line-up for use with black and
white. Available in a massive range of sizes,
check out the website for details of filters in
yellow, red, green, deep yellow, blue and more.
For each filter, Tiffen explains how they can
best be used in your photography, so you can
ensure that you are making the right choice for
your needs. List prices are quoted in US Dollars,
but most of them can be bought from Amazon.

tones of the complementary colours. Yellow filters are

particularly popular, as they are good for making subtle
changes, especially to the blue sky in landscape shots.
Red is best for creative effects with loads of contrast. Blue
and green are also available, but are generally used less.


Hoya offers a wide range of coloured filters,

which can be used to enhance the tones
in your monochrome images. Prices vary
depending on the size and the colour chosen,
so visit the website to find out more. Use the
Red filter to boost contrast in images with
red, brown and orange perfect for autumnal
shots. There are also corrective filters, warm
filters and portrait filters to choose from.


If you are interested in experimenting with

infrared digital photography, then this is touted
as the most popular infrared filter in the world.
Thats some claim, but it is a well-priced offering
that comes in a wide range of sizes. The filter
permits light of around 700 wavelength to pass
through, giving that recognisable infrared effect.
It effectively filters out all light bar infrared light,
which cant be seen by the naked eye.

Hoya offers a massive range of different
colours of filter to suit all lens types
The 25A Red filter is
great for those with
an interest in infrared

Contrast boost
The K2 Yellow filter, which is a popular choice for portraits,
can help to boost contrast between sky and foreground

Pick your colour


The colour of filter that you choose

will have a dramatic impact on your
final photo. Here we show you what
four popular colour filters do to the
same monochrome image.






Essential kit

Post-production is one area of the photographers
workflow that just cant be ignored. While many cameras
will come with their own software solutions, if you want
dramatic and striking black and white images then you
need access to a good image editor. We have listed the
four best software packages, but there are others out
there that are worth considering.
Photoshop Elements, for example, has really upped its
game over the last few versions, so if the full Photoshop

More software
Select the image-editing
software you need

package seems a little heavy handed for the editing you

require, then its a good option at a fraction of the cost.
Lightroom and Aperture are slowly taking away some
of the shine from Photoshop in the pro photographers
digital kit bag, as they are tailored just to photographers,
rather than digital artists, 3D artists, web designers
and the many other creatives. And dont forget that
the majority of big-name software packages will be
extendable via plug-ins.

If you want dramatic and striking

black and white images then you need
access to a good image editor
Lightrooms easy-to-use
interface makes it easy to
find the image you want

Lightroom supports external
plug-ins to extend its
functionality even more


While each of the programs

that we have picked here
does a great job with black
and white images, there are dedicated
plug-ins out there built specifically for the
task. We recommend Nik Softwares Silver
Efex Pro 2, which is the worlds leading
monochrome software and it is compatible
with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements,
Lightroom and Aperture. It uses U
Point technology to accurately and
selectively edit the contrast and
tonal range of your images to


With the introduction of subscription plans

for the best known image editor, Photoshop
has suddenly become super affordable. It is
top of the image-editing stack for very good
reason, but you may find that it gives you more
than you need in terms of functionality. If
you are working with colour images, then the
Black & White
layer is a great
way to tailor
results without
the original
and the many
colour and
tone tools
mean that
images can be
made to pop.


Apples Aperture is its answer to Adobes

Lightroom and it performs many of the
same functions for Mac users. Its benefits
lie in the fact that if users have been using
iPhoto, the learning curve is reduced due to
similar aesthetics. Its easy to both convert
to monochrome and to work on black and
white images to improve contrast. Another
attraction is in its price, which is significantly
lower than that of Lightroom; however, it does
work best on a high-spec iMac as there have
been reports of lagging on lower-end machines
and laptops.



Lightroom has really worked hard to win

popularity among professional photographers,
offering more and more editing options in
each version so that having Photoshop is
less essential. Its sophisticated colour and
tone tools mean that when working with
monochrome or colour images, its a relatively
simple process to enhance contrast in a
nondestructive manner.

Easy edits
The editing options are
becoming more and more
advanced while still
retaining ease of use

Newest version
Lightroom 3 offers improved noise
reduction and lens correction to
eliminate common flaws

Phase Ones RAW converter also packs in

image-editing solutions. It can help to
organise photo libraries too, and it is marketed
for professional photographers. Its toolset is
full of advanced options for improving colour,
tone and detail, which is essential when
working in black and white. For any colour
images that
need to be
there is a
tool and even
a workspace
for Black and
White. This
gives you
direct access
to the tools
that are
designed for


Getting started in B&W photography

You may
be paying for
things that
you dont
really need

More printers

Home printing doesnt have to

mean low quality

HP has recently overhauled its Photosmart

range of printers, offering new and improved
features as well as a model to suit all
photographers needs. We chose this option as
it has up to A4 printing, scanning and copying,
internet connectivity, wireless technology and,
most importantly, lab-quality prints. The touch
screen gives quick access to printing options
without using a computer.


Once you have a perfectly shot and edited black and
white picture, its time to turn your attention to output
options. A printer is the first vital step in the workflow
chain, and there are two key types of printer that you
are likely to come across. First, there are the consumer
printers, which we will look at here, and then there are
professional printers, if you want to get more serious.
When looking at consumer printers, dont just go straight

If you are interested in scanning in old

monochrome film photos, then it is worth
investing in a dedicated scanner rather than
using the all-in-one functions of many of
these printers. Photo scanners come with
a negative or slide tray, which holds the film
in place while its scanning, ensuring the
highest quality. All-in-one printers
with scanners are usually best for
document scanning.

in for the most expensive you can afford, but dont snap
up super-low bargains either both can be misleading.
Think carefully about what you need from your printer. If
you need innovation and quality, then buy the best that
you can afford within your budget; however, if bells and
whistles dont tickle your fancy, you may be paying for
things that you dont really need. We present four of the
best options here.



There are some really good deals around

on this product at the moment, so expect
to pay around 150 rather than the SRP
quoted above. This Kodak is based around
connectivity so it can print photos directly
from mobile devices using Wi-Fi. It is also low
cost with the inks reasonably priced and the
cost-per-print ratio at a minimum. It might not
be the best option for high-quality prints, but
for day-to-day use, it has a lot to offer.


This low-cost printer packs a lot in under its lid, including 9,600dpi
photolab-standard prints up to A4 size. It is a speedy model too,
with 10 x 15cm standard photo prints taking around 20 seconds. It
uses five single inks, so that they can be
replaced as and when.

Combined with
Canon inks and
papers, photos
should last a
lifetime if given
the proper care

As well as paper, the
Canon can print onto
disc. It also has an Auto
Duplex function for
double-sided printing


Prints can be made directly from the
web and from HD movie sources



While the price of this seems very steep for a

home printer, we have included it for its sheer
wealth of features, perfectly bridging the gap
between consumer and professional devices.
Also, in the Epson store at the time of writing,
the model was on sale for just 180. It is a 4-in-1
(printer, scanner, copier and fax) with wireless
connectivity, built-in editing tools accessed via
the large touchscreen, a card reader, USB and
PictBridge connections and it can do all your
admin and everyday printing tasks too.

Essential kit

Frames and
Its all well and good producing amazing black and
white images, but if you never display them, the prints
will end up going dusty in an old shoebox. Make your
photographs into the works of art that they are by
investing in a decent frame. Custom frames give the best
results as the size, finish and mounting method are all
interchangeable so that you can get exactly what you

Framing online

More online framing options


want. This is especially useful if you want to print at a

non-standard size to fit a particular wall or to show the
work off to its best potential. Also, for holding personal
exhibitions or selling work, then custom frames give that
air of quality and uniqueness. Here we round up four
of the best online services that enable you to create the
frame that you want with no restrictions.

ePicture Frames uses a simple three-step

process for getting the right frame for a
photograph. First is Choose, where size,
colour and type can be used as criteria to
narrow your selection down. Next up is
Customise, where options for sizing, extras
and mounts can be chosen. Finally, there is
Buy. As well as wood and metal frames, there
are swept and decorative options. There are
plenty of ready-made frames to choose from
too. Its a very intuitive process that makes
choosing frames fun.

Custom frames give that air

of quality and uniqueness
Digital frames

There are also digital photo frames out

there if your framing needs are limited
to displaying your work around the home.
Look for ones with good connection options,
in particular Wi-Fi or card slots, so its easy
to update your frame with your latest shots.
Also make sure that the resolution is as
high as possible to make the most
of your mono shots. The Kodak
range of EasyShare frames
start from 58 at www.


EzeFrame offers both standard size and

custom size frames, with the latter made
simple thanks to a box on the home page into
which you can enter your measurements and
get straight into customising. The frames are
handmade in the United Kingdom and the
delivery time is just 1-3 days. There are
plenty of categories to choose from, and just
as many mounts. While the frames are great,
it does lack the ability to preview your own
image online. Visit for
more details.


This is another British website that specialises

in custom frames with tens of combinations
of frame and mount, as well as custom size
support. You can upload a preview of your
picture and there is a simple step-by-step
system to work through the available options,
while a price tally appears in the top left of the
screen so you can keep to a budget. There are
also options for multi-aperture frames, plus
free delivery for orders over 65. Visit www. for more information and to
get started.


eFrame is a great custom frame site as

its really easy to navigate. It has loads
of guides on how to measure a print
properly, how to use the website and
inspirational galleries to get an idea
of how a frame will look. Everything is
customisable with both wood and metal
frames, standard and custom size
options and an online preview.

Design studio
There are options to create a
frame, a mount or both when
entering the Design Studio

A picture can be uploaded to the site
so that you can see how your image
looks inside the chosen frame

There are additional
extras such as stands,
backing tape, picture
hooks and glass
cleaner that can be
added on to the order


Professionals from
the industry reveal
all you need to know
about black-and-white
32 Master monochrome
See the world in black and white and discover the best
subjects to shoot

44 The benefits of black & white

We speak to three experts to find out how and why
they shoot in black and white

56 Perfect portraits
James Nader shares his pro secrets and portfolio
of fashion portraits

64 Shoot stunning landscapes

Discover the form and texture of the black and
white landscape image

76 Shooting the streets in B&W

Head outside and photograph the streets in black and
white with our guide

88 Documenting life in black & white

Photographer Carol Allen Storey shares her
incredible career











Embrace black and white and transform

your colour captures into stunning
monochrome masterpieces

Master monochrome


Discover how to
see the world in
black and white,
and find out which
are the best
subjects to shoot

lack-and-white photography has really

stood the test of time. Even after the
dawning of the digital age, which brought us
better colour and millions of megapixels, we
continue to embrace the traditional medium.
Its even considered somewhat of a genre in itself
although there are no real limits to the subjects you can
shoot. So whether you photograph landscapes, portraits,
fashion, weddings or even wildlife, monochrome can be
moulded to suit anyones artistic style.
These days, digital photography offers a lot more
creative freedom, so black and white has become much
more accessible. Fortunately, we no longer have to select
between shooting in either colour or black and white,
as with digital you can do both, even simultaneously.
The darkroom has also been updated thanks to the
development of image-editing software programs such as
Photoshop. This gives photographers a lot more control
over the conversion process when it comes to adjusting
light, contrast and tonal range.
To help you embrace black and white again in your
portfolio, weve put together this 12-page ultimate guide.
Covering all you need to know about camera settings,
composition and conversions, well take you step by step
through the entire shooting-to-editing process. Well also
guide you through putting it all into practice with some
hands-on shooting tutorials for landscapes, portrait and
street photography. Follow along with us and find out
how you can convert your lifeless colour captures into
some stunning monochrome masterpieces.


From colour to black and white

It may sound strange to traditional black-and-white
photographers, but shooting in colour is now essential
if you want to get great black-and-white shots. In
the professional industry, its common practice for
photographers to shoot their black-and-white images in
colour first, with the intention to convert to monochrome
later. The benefit here of course is that you leave your
shots open to all options, so if it doesnt work in black
and white, its still a great colour image.
This method also gives you
a lot more control over the
conversion process, enabling
you to take a much more
a, chec n the
considered approach to
xposur give you
is will
adjusting the photographs
back L of the imag you contrast and tonal range.

Top tip

a pre
eras g
ost cam view in black
on to pr
a of
the opti hite for an ide s
colour to
how the onvert.
will c

In order to do this successfully however, youll need to

ensure that youre shooting in RAW file formats first.
This way, youll be able to gather as much information in
the scene as possible so that youre guaranteed greatquality conversions that provide plenty of detail across
the entire photograph.
Knowing the type of colour shots that will convert well
to black and white is key, and can be a real time-saver
when it comes to editing. Its worth noting that vibrant
shots with a lot of different colour hues dont always
translate well to monochrome, particularly if certain
tones appear similar when desaturated, such as blue
and red for example. Surprisingly, its captures that
offer a muted colour palette that convert better to black
and white, as you have a lot more control over the tonal
contrast and ultimately the strength of the composition.

Convenience or

Most digital cameras offer a built-in

black-and-white shooting mode, which
although convenient, isnt great if image
quality is what youre after. This is largely
due to the fact that these files are saved in
JPEG format on the camera as opposed to
RAW. Be aware that youll be sacrificing a
lot of extra image detail if you opt to shoot
straight into black and white in-camera.
RAW files, on the other hand, offer a lot
more information. Conversions will be
less destructive to the overall image
quality as finer details can be retained
within the shot.



Knowing the type of shots

that will convert well is key

The real trick to black-andwhite photography is being
able to shoot something that
works equally as well in colour
as it does in monochrome.

Using shapes as features
within a monochrome
conversion makes your shots
more dynamic. The almost
layered effect also adds depth.
This area contains the
gradients that ship
with the program.
Any you have saved
will be here too.

Convert well contrasted
captures to monochrome.
Shots that are a little under
or overexposed can also
be rescued this way.

An image with a muted
colour palette makes an
ideal black-and-white
conversion, enabling you
to take control over
contrast and tonal range.


Think carefully about
whether or not the subject
with the frame will suit
being in black and white.

Master monochrome


Top tip

The red filter/colour channel is ideal for enhancing

blue or dramatic skies in a landscape photograph

Lightens red/orange tones

Darkens blue/green tones

Converting with channels

When composing a black-and-white image in
colour, its important to pay attention to the hues
that feature within the frame. Its these colours
that are ultimately responsible for the tonal range
within your black-and-white image.
Before digital technology, black-and-white
film photographers would rely on colour filters
to enhance or adjust specific tones and contrast


Adjusting the blue filter will bring

out warmer tones. This is fantastic
is youre shooting a sunset scene or
want to lighten a dark-blue sky

have a c colour hues c
able eff n
on the
image, outcome of yo ct
in the ru ont get caug ur
ht up
les whe
ting. Ex n it comes to
all of th
e colo iment with
for crea ur channels
tive res

within their shots. These days, we can do largely

the same thing, using image-editing software.
However, understanding how these filters and
ultimately colour channels can affect your
image is crucial. This is particularly important
when youre converting a colour capture to
monochrome, or even looking to strengthen a
black and white composition while shooting.

Lightens blue/green tones

Darkens orange/red tones

Convert a colour capture using channels


The green filter, like the blue, can be used to

enhance warm tones in the scene youre shooting

Lightens blue/green tones

Darkens orange/red tones



Compositional rules can be incredibly

useful when framing for black and white.
Use the rule of thirds or lead-in lines to help
strengthen the structure of a shot

Master monochrome

Composition rules

Things to look
out for in


Encourage the viewer to engage

with the scene with lead-in lines to
guide their eyes around the frame.


Distinct subjects that stand out

can work just as well in black and white
as they do in colour.


Contrast is key to adding depth,

so ensure the light and your exposure
settings are spot on.


Be bold when it comes to

composing and look for strong
dynamic shapes that offer
texture and contrast

Top tip

grid line ur cameras
compo s to help you
foreground or background of your
white s your black and
shot. This will help to add structure
hots inca
These a
to your monochrome image and,
re partic mera.
useful w
in good light, can offset contrast
hen fra larly
nicely too.
raph us g a
Photographing textured surfaces
is another great compositional guide
for black and white. Ideal if lighting

The strength of a black-and-white

image lies in its composition. Unlike
with colour photography where vivid
hues can command attention, blackand-white captures rely heavily on their
content in order to engage viewers with
the frame. Using a few key compositional
pointers can go a long way in helping you
to strengthen the structure of your black-andwhite shots. Regardless of whether youre shooting
landscapes, portraits or even still life.
One of the most popular compositional rules for
monochrome photography, which also applies to
colour, is the use of lead-in lines. Use them to enhance
or even create an illusion of depth that can then guide
the viewers gaze through the entire frame. Lead-in
lines dont necessarily need to be straight either, think
creatively when composing for black and white and look
for diagonals or even curves.
For more dynamic compositions when photographing
architecture, landscapes or even abstract forms, focus
on framing bold shapes that will noticeably stand in the

conditions appear a little flat, you can

include textured surfaces within the frame to
naturally increase contrast areas and add an additional
visual element to the frame. This is particularly
important if youre shooting abstract subjects, but can
also be applied to portraiture with weathered skin
and even street photography as brickwork translates
incredibly well when converted.
Having a good idea of what you want to achieve, or
even being able to envision the end result is important
when framing for a black-and-white image in colour.
This will not only guide you during the conversion
process but will also help when it comes to selecting the
right camera settings for the best exposure.


A great way to enhance the feel

of depth in a black-and-white image
and bring out contrast.


The rule of thirds works

excellently for monochrome stills. Use
your cameras grid lines for best results.

Use lead-in lines to create an illusion of

depth that can guide the viewers gaze

Filters for B&W

Filters can enhance your black and white

photography but you need to know how to
use them to get the full benefit. The
SRB-Griturn filter kit is used in B&W
photography to enhance colours within
the shot, with each filter enhancing
different aspects. Red filters help to
exaggerate clouds and darken greens,
whilst lightening reds and yellows. An
orange filter will enhance detail such as
stone work as well as subduing blemishes
in portraits. Yellow filters darken blue
skies, improve contrast, and lighten
yellows. A green filter will lighten foliage, as
well as helping cloud effects. Visit www. for more details.

Exposing correctly
While it is always important to expose your images
correctly, when you are planning to convert your
images to black and white this is particularly vital. A
monochrome image relies heavily on the tonal range in
the scene. If you underexpose the image too much, areas
of the image that should be various shades of grey will
block up as dense, pure-black shadow. If you overexpose
the image too much, you risk losing highlight detail,
something that never looks great but can be particularly
unappealing in black-and-white scenes. One of the joys of
black and white photography is being able to dodge and
burn in the digital darkroom so you need to give yourself
room to play with in your editing software, which means
capturing images that are neither too dark or too light.
Scenes with a high degree of contrast (with very bright
and very dark areas) always present a challenge in terms

of exposure and this is the kind of scene most likely to

cause your cameras metering system to get confused.
You can decide which area of the scene is the most
important for your final image and expose accordingly.
Alternatively, you can shoot two separate exposures (one
with the shadows in mind and one for the highlights)
and merge them later.
One more thing to be aware of when you are exposing
your images is the role of the ISO setting. If you find that
you need to brighten the image up in post-production
youll generally notice a lot more noise in the shadow
areas of the image if the shot was captured using a
higher ISO (e.g. ISO 800 or 1600). As its not always
possible to shoot at a lower ISO, its best to adopt a policy
of exposing to the right. Take a look at our guide to
histograms to see how this works.

A monochrome image relies heavily

on the tonal range in the scene

Histograms Getting to grips with histograms is vital for B&W


This histogram is ideal as there is no clipping (represented by

sharp spikes) at either the highlight or shadow ends of the figure.
The histogram is biased towards the right slightly, ensuring that
noise in the shadow areas is kept to an absolute minimum


This histogram shows the result of underexposing the shot. The information is
clustered towards the far left-hand side with a sharp spike. Some shadow detail will
be recoverable but is likely to be noisy with poor detail and colour accuracy


This histogram shows the result of overexposing

the image. The information is crowded into
the far right-hand side of the diagram with a
sharp spike. Some of the highlight detail may be
recoverable but much of it will be lost

Master monochrome

Portrait photographers have worked in black
and white since the dawn of photographic
time. From Julia Margaret Cameron to David
Bailey, photographers have used monochrome to
capture portraits with style.
Black-and-white portraits can look either
modern or classic with equal success. The clear
advantages of shooting without colour include
the ability to remove distracting elements and
smooth out uneven skin tones and blemishes.
When theres no colour to worry about, you
are free to push the contrast to its extremes and
create a very wide range of effects. The absence
of vibrant hues also means that its easier to
capture impromptu portraits when the subjects
clothing doesnt have the required tones or the
surroundings arent ideal.
However, its important to remember that
shooting in black and white doesnt allow you to
take your eye off the ball in terms of planning
and preparing a portrait shoot. Simple, fairly
plain clothing with a relatively small range of
tones will usually work best for black-and-white
portraits. Its also important not to expect your
portraits to automatically look like the work of
one of the greats simply by converting it to black
and white. Its even more important to consider
your subjects pose and expression, as the best
black and white portraits will almost always be
very strong in these respects.
Be sure to pay attention to the lighting as
much as you can, because in black and white the
contrast between well-lit areas of the frame and
areas of shadow is always accentuated.

Top t

The sub
s pose
and exp
especia ression are
when th important
colour t ere is no
shot sta ake the
nd out


Black-and-white portraits have

the potential to look really
striking, but the right lighting
and pose is required





Simple clothing works well in

mono we asked our model to
wear a classic leather jacket


Great black-and-white portraits can often be achieved with

minimal lighting. Here, we used just one flash with a softbox




Black and white can be used to

create atmospheric, brooding
landscapes with dramatic skies
and strikingly simple elements

Although the iconic landscape photographer Ansel

Adams worked almost exclusively in black and white,
landscape photography is often associated with colour.
One of the main inspirations for capturing landscapes
is the appeal of the warm, golden colours produced by
late afternoon and early morning light, or the glow of a
gorgeous sunrise or sunset.
However, landscapes also offer a wealth of textures,
shapes and patterns that lend themselves perfectly to
black and white. Without the distraction of colour, the
landscape is both simplified and endowed with an
appealing timelessness. Black-and-white landscapes
taken today can look little different to the photographs
taken in the 1940s by Ansel Adams himself.
However, in some respects, black-and-white landscape
photography can present greater challenges than
shooting in colour. Without a beautiful blue sky or
warm orange sunset to rely on, the composition of the
shot itself becomes even more important. With this
in mind, its vital that you take extra time to carefully
assess each and every element of the scene before taking
the photograph. Although all the elements of the scene
need to be in harmony in all landscape images, the
final photo really wont work at all if this isnt
achieved with a black-and-white scene.
Its also worth remembering that the
ktime of day still counts with black and
t blac pe
white landscapes. Images taken at the
For th ite landsc t
beginning and end of the day will
have much softer shadows than photos
and-wots, seek o lude
taken around midday with the sun at
that i tterns,
its highest.


sc ctive p
distin apes and
sh ures



Traditional scenes that work

well in colour, like this landscape,
can also shine in black and
white, especially with a dull sky

Master monochrome

In some respects, black-andwhite landscape photography

can present greater challenges
than shooting in colour
Get the perfect monochrome landscape photo

TRIPOD Using a tripod low and close to the ground

SETTINGS Opt for a long exposure to make the most
Pay close attention to your composition and
keep an eye out for anything distracting in the frame.
means that you can make the most of lead-in lines such
of any movement in the clouds. This helps to keep your
is always important but is particularly vital for great
as the boarded walkway along the pier, as weve used in this
exposure as simple and uncluttered as possible. Use a
black-and-white landscape images in which all the elements
have to work together perfectly.

shot. Wooden boards like these have a texture thats really

appealing when converted to monochrome.

narrow aperture like f16 to get the maximum depth of field

in your image.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 41


Street photography became popular with the rise of
35mm and other portable-camera systems. Henri CartierBressons classic black-and-white reportage images
still influence street photographers today and this is
a field of photography where monochrome images far
outnumber colour shots. Black and white offers street
shooters instant artistic and practical advantage, and
this element of the medium harks back to the tradition
of photojournalistic images that for many years were
exclusively black and white.
The very nature of street photography dictates that the
photographer cannot control the range of colours within
the scene and in many situations this could result in a
much less appealing image. Black and whites ability to
simplify the image provides a way of creating graphic,
captivating images.
In terms of subjects for this type of project, you should
aim to keep your compositions as simple as possible.
This isnt necessarily easy on busy and crowded
streets, but is vital for successful shots. Very
often, the best images have a degree
of anonymity, without any faces, so
keep a look out for hurried feet or
AW b s
hands held pensively behind the
back. A bustling shopping centre
Shoo ur camer ode
or high street can be a daunting
set y control m e to
place at times but keep watch for
pictu ck and whome
moments of human interaction
and affection, as these can look
to bla monochr
even more striking and emotive in
view eviews on
a public setting.


the L

Shoot everyday life in captivating monochrome

MONO PREVIEW Shooting RAW and setting your camera to its monochrome
mode allows you to see a black-and-white version of your image on the back of
the camera when you press the image review button, which is really useful.
a fairly narrow
aperture of at least f8

HIP SHOT Shooting from the hip is a popular technique among street photographers as it allows
them to take candid shots without people paying close attention to the fact that they are being
although the results can be a little hit and miss unless you are used to this method.

in order to get a decent

amount of depth of field
in the shot. Also ensure
that the shutter speed
you use is reasonably
fast to ensure sharp
shots. If necessary,
make use of a higher ISO
setting to compensate.

Master monochrome
Pro street photographer Thomas Leuthard
gives his expert tips for black and white
Why does black and white work
so well for street photography?
Black and white reduces a
photograph to its forms, patterns
and basic content. The old masters
were all shooting in black and white
although this isnt the main reason
for shooting monochrome.
How do you convert your images
to black and white?
I shoot in RAW which is always in
colour but my camera is set to
black and white. This way I can see on my LCD what the end result will
look like. I actually convert it into black and white on the computer when I
process the file.
What shooting tips do you have for achieving excellent
black-and-white street images?
The most important thing is to see already in black and white on the
streets. You have to look for interesting structures, patterns and content
first. There are items that dont look good in black and white. You have to
learn how things will look this is very important. You also have to be sure
that you have a good dynamic range in your image.

tellinG A stoRY

Black and white has a classic

photojournalistic feel to it and
works perfectly on the street

Do you have any specific post-processing or Photoshop tips that

you use for street photography?
I often add some more contrast to my images there is not much more I
do in post-processing. People always think that post-processing makes a
lot of difference to photographs but in my opinion can only improve a shot
by five to ten per cent. If the basic content is missing, you cannot add it in.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start
practising with this type of monochrome imagery?
I think its important to decide either to only shoot in either black and
white or colour. I believe that you cannot focus on both, as these are
completely different. But dont think that you get a better photograph just
by converting it to black and white. Its your personal decision and you
should stick to it.

stReet VieW

Capturing people interacting

on the street is possible when
shooting discreetly from the hip

Very often the best images

have a degree of anonymity

Thomas Leuthard


Use urban locations and props to add something different to your images.
The bus window works well to create a unique portrait here
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 43



The benefits of
black & white
We explore the hypnotic world of black-andwhite photography, talking to three high-profile
photographers who are deemed experts in the
art of conversion

Body portrait with veil

Nowadays there is a lot of contamination

among photographers, more than in the past,
because people are copying what they see
on the internet rather than creating their own
style. In my work, I hope what is shown is my
personal vision of a womans beauty
Shot details: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens
at 35mm and f25, 1/250sec, ISO 200
Gian Marco Marano

44 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

The benefits of black & white

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 45


Guy Gagnon

CloudS diving
(MonTreal CiTy)

I dont go anywhere without

my MP3 player for listening
to music while I work. The
passion for music is strongly
tied with my passion for
photography. The songs
directly influence the way I
photograph, my moods and
the way I interpret what I see
in a given moment
Shot details: Canon EOS
5D Mark II with 70mm lens
at 24mm and f16, 1/500sec,
ISO 320

8The Cherry
river, Magog
CiTy, Canada

Landscapes look great in

B&W, especially when they
offer wonderful cloudy skies!
When I convert a landscape
into B&W, I feel like a painter
whos painting with his
emotions. B&W landscape
photography can emphasise
that intimate connection
with nature, outdoors
and freedom
Shot details: Canon
EOS 5D Mark II with
24-70mm lens at 24mm and
f8, 1/800sec, ISO 320

Working in black and white makes me

feel like a painter, not a photographer

imeless, emotive, pure and modest: all

adjectives that perfectly sum up the niche of
black-and-white photography, while boasting
some of the qualities that colour photography
can lack. While we arent encouraging readers
to permanently switch to shooting in black and white, this
feature will illustrate the copious benefits of seeing the world
through a metaphorical monochromatic lens. Whether it helps
you to focus attention on composition or simply allows you to
deepen your appreciation of light and shade, black-and-white
photography can provide any level of photographer with an
assorted array of new skills and techniques, boldly opening
the door to an exciting realm of photographic exploration.
Canadian-born, Belgium-residing Guy Gagnon (www. is one of the worlds fastest up-and-coming
photographers, with top client credits that now include IKEA.
Guys genre preference runs a wide gamut between nature
abstracts and architecture both of which he claims lend
well to black-and-white photography. By redirecting my
passion to more accessible themes like architecture, urban
and flowers, I have found a way to achieve harmony, he says.
Architectural photography allows me to tame cities of iron
and concrete and find a charm within them. With my studio
photography shooting plants and flowers, I can keep some

46 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

affiliation with nature. These two themes often recur in my

work and complement each other: the cold, sharp aesthetics
and straight lines of architecture are opposed by the delicacy,
curves, sensitivity and poetry of nature. These themes have
influenced me to switch to the world of black and white to
accentuate this darker but more poetic theme.
Unlike most photographers, Guys photography is
predominantly all black and white. He suggests the reason
for this is because it allows him to think, and create, outside
the box. Black and white allows me to detach from the
clich souvenir photo approach to photography, he explains.
Working in black and white makes me feel like a painter,
not a photographer. Shooting in this way allows me to focus
my attention on the light and shade, textures, shapes and
expressions. Its really a matter of personal choice, but in my
opinion black and white can lead to a more abstract reading
of reality, which is arguably more demanding and more
challenging to produce. Here, photographers cannot use
flattering colours or coloured light to distract the eye. You
cannot cheat in black and white.
When coming across a building, flower or landscape, Guy
claims that he will assess the scene using specific criteria,
to decipher whether it will later merit a black-and-white
conversion. I think to myself does this scene have any

The benefits of black & white


How Guy Gagnon gets

great black-and-whites
although reluctant to label himself
as a fully-fledged professional,
French canadian guy gagnon has
racked up an impressive cV of
photographic work. one of his
many clients is Swedish furniture manufacturer ikea, which
retails several of his black-and-white flower images in stores
across the globe and can be sourced in the brands 2011
catalogue. based in belgium, guy earns his crust mostly
through his day job in the office, but spends every other
available minute pursuing his creative passion: photography. if i
could, i would switch my whole life to the world of photography,
guy exclaims. but this universe is rather inaccessible to
ordinary mortals. it is for the best, the real professionals, but
also those who are lucky enough to be financially supported
having a foot well placed in this world also helps. however, i am
still a passionate photographer, because i shoot with my
emotions and my personality. This brings a sense of freedom as
i have learned over the years that we must take pictures to
please ourselves, and not take photos to please others. For
more information on guy and his work, please visit www.

1 Lower your ISO

when possible, maintain the lowest possible sensitivity (iSo) to

minimise grain. its better to simulate the grain to your liking later.

2 Beware B&W

Never, ever shoot in black and white. Shoot in colour and keep the
b&w conversion to the editing software.

3 Experiment

Play with your camera! Turn your camera on a different

angle, play with perspectives and point of views. Play with the
horizontal and vertical distortion of a wide-angle lens to add
dynamic movement.

4 Exploit grey days

Shoot during grey days! Use a polariser to improve your sky

and to reduce bad reflections, and do not forget to increase
your exposure.

5 Dont be lazy

Dont convert your picture in b&w with Photoshop>grayscale or

you will get a grey and bland image, without flavour or life. Take
your time to use the many more imaginative methods.

power to evoke an emotion or story? Is the quality and

nature of light interesting, and does it create any shadows
or areas of light? Does it challenge the rules of compositions
and offer something new? For me, what makes an artistic
black-and-white photograph above all is the approach:
trying to show something slightly more than what is there
in reality. Keen to offer readers advice, Guy suggests
tips on sourcing a subject: Where you find opposites,
juxtapositions or complementarities, you will find good
black-and-white subjects. It is important not to overload a
scene with information instead, simply focus on one part
of the frame. Although black and white reduces disturbing
coloured elements, it can also complicate the reading of the
image when overloaded with details and information. Look
for contrasts, textures, shapes, curves and graphics, and
remember that light and shadows add to the poetry of the
piece. As well as detailing what elements to actively seek
out, the Canadian was keen to explain what aspects should
be avoided: Situations where the sunlight creates areas
that are overexposed should be avoided, and the detail will
be unrecoverable. Black-and-white overexposed areas will
only create white spots without any texture on your picture,
rendering it practically useless. Faced with this situation I
use one of two solutions: I simply underexpose slightly, or I

The Tree

I enjoy photographing flowers

and plants in my improvised
studio at home, but I dont
find enough varied or unusual
plants in my immediate
environment. Shooting flowers
and plants forces me to take
my time, to work peacefully
Shot details: Canon EOS
5D Mark II with 24-70mm lens
at 50mm and f16, 0.8sec,
ISO 250
Guy Gagnon

Guy Gagnon

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 47

Guy Gagnon

Guy Gagnon

Guy Gagnon


Any genre and topic is good for photography in B&W. Even the nose of
your favourite dog or the metal drum of your washing machine! It just
depends on how you perceive and compose the picture. The potential
of a subject depends on your way of seeing the subject, your sensitivity
and your interpretation
shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-70mm lens at 70mm and
f4, 1/160sec, ISO 1600

sTory of

There is nothing better than

natural light. Spending hours
adjusting the lighting of a
studio bulb for a few mins
of shooting is something Ill
never appreciate
shot details: Canon EOS
20D with 24-70mm lens at
27mm and f7, 1/1600sec,
ISO 400

The Wolubilis

A large building may appear

repulsive if viewed from
afar, so only concentrate on
parts of the buildings. From
a closer perspective, youll
discover prettier elements.
Dont condemn the subject
without taking the time to
analyse it from all angles
shot details: Canon EOS
5D Mark II with 24-70mm
lens at 67mm and f9,
1/640sec, ISO 200

create a high dynamic range image later. A problem that will

concern landscape photographers will be the improper use
of a polariser. In landscape photography, the polarising filter
deepens blue skies, reduces contrast and cuts out glare from
reflections. However, if you want to convert it into black and
white, using a polariser can hinder your results, as it eats
light and will make many areas of your image too dark. It is
much better, therefore, to use an ND grad filter and exposure
for the entire frame correctly.
Despite his penchant for monochrome, Guy claims that
he always shoots in colour but forces himself to think in
black and white. It comes with a lot of practise, but when
I shoot urban architecture and cityscapes I concentrate on
the composition, pay particular attention to the levels of
grey and consider the light composition. When presented
with a colour-clad scene it can be tempting to refrain from
erasing the scene of its obvious vivacity, but this pro is of
the opinion that a colourful and contrasting scene can offer
much more opportunity when converted into black and white.
Experience will show you what colours work best in black and
white, but a wide range of shades and hues can offer so much
interest in this way.
In terms of technique, Guy refuses to go below 1/500sec
and instead prefers to ramp up the ISO to combat shake,

48 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

sometimes to sensitivities as high as ISO 1600. I find image

blur very frustrating, but luckily I have a Canon EOS 5D
Mark II which deals with noise very well, he explains. In
landscape and architecture photography I almost exclusively
use an aperture of f8, except when I want to play with depth
of field and employ a Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L USM lens. For
portraits, I shoot at f2.8 to f5.6 to get a nice bokeh effect and
use my Canon 85mm f1.2 L USM. Finally, for photographing
flowers I usually shoot around f16, or sometimes f22, and
choose to use either a Canon 100mm f2.8 USM or Canon
50mm f1.4 USM lens. Both are sharp as a tack, and perfect for
drawing out details.
After shooting his frames in colour, Guy retreats to his
editing studio where he converts the chosen RAW files into
16-bit TIFFs. Recently I tried the new Adobe Camera CS5,
which convinced me to make the switch. First I perfect the
white balance and then recover any details lost in over- or
underexposed zones. Later in Photoshop, I do some minor
colour and contrast corrections and reduce the noise when
required. I save a final copy of the full-colour version of the
picture, under 8 bits and from my 16-bit version, then convert
it into black and white with the use of layers made from colour
channels. The moment you convert it is the long-awaited
moment when the image is revealed to you it reveals its

The benefits of black & white

Wedding Outfit

A bridal fashion shoot, shot on

location and lit by flash with no
softbox, so the light has intensity.
I had cardboard and gaffer tape
to create some unusual light
control and worked with the
model to create this relaxed shot
Shot details: Nikon D3X
with 70-200mm lens
at 150mm and f11, 1/30sec,
ISO 200
James Nader

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 49


James Nader

After the

James Nader

This picture is from one of

my stories for a magazine
that was doing a feature
on the autumn/winter
party season clothing. We
were on location at Weston
Park in Shropshire, which
is beautifully preserved
and full of antiques. We
all thought the floor was
striking and wanted a shot
to capture it. We added
the hat fascinator as an
added item of interest. The
original image was a colour
version, but I liked it in black
and white. It is difficult to
find good editorial models
outside of London, but this
girl, Hollie, was great and
had enough quirkiness for
the shoot
Shot details: Nikon D3
with 70-200mm lens at
85mm and f2.8, 1/15sec,
ISO 400

50 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

James Nader

The benefits of black & white

I will always have an idea when shooting

a picture if it will work in black and white

The dreSS

I love this image for its

beauty against the old
beauty of the Victorian
pier. I thrive on creating
extraordinary lighting that
just makes you think about
whats going on. Id brought
the Bowens battery travel
pack with me it works
well, as Ive overexposed the
background for drama
Shot details: Nikon D3X
with 70-200mm lens at
70mm and f11, 1/30sec,
ISO 400


This was shot as part of

a menswear Steel and
Jelly marketing brief. The
location was another
classic house, which was
lit by continuous lighting
or tungsten. It was an
in-between shot and the
model was relaxing
Shot details: Nikon D3X
with 70-200mm lens at
80mm and f2.8, 1/15sec,
ISO 400

secrets, its strength and character. From these layers, I remove

unwanted sections and I only keep the detailed parts. I play
with dodging and burning tools, but I also adjust the light and
contrast to my taste from the layer masks. When Im done I
will convert the final picture into an 8-bit file and save it. This
is the version of the image I want and enjoy. Stripped of its
colour, the picture becomes more pure. The coloured elements
that caused discord in the photo now become harmonious
in black and white. By paying attention to improving the
shadows, density and light, we reduce the presence of
disturbing factors in favour of a more evocative or poetic scene.
For me, converting a colour photo to a black and white is like
dipping a film negative in the developer liquid and discovering
the final image.
Famed for his quirky edge within the fashion
industry, James Nader (, www. has been shooting for over twenty
years. Because of his history with film photography, James
believes he has a secret weapon for capturing black-andwhite images. I come from the traditional darkroom of old,
with fixers, films times and prints. Although I now work
with digital cameras, the skills never leave you. Having the
understanding of what is needed in the picture is not always
down to levels, curves or black-and-white filters. It is more
deeply rooted in traditional understanding of tonal ranges
and subtle details of the finished picture. I was always in the
darkroom working towards a picture from my own black-andwhite processed film. I was inspired by the classic film star
photographers such as Sinclair Bull I managed to see one
exhibition about his work, and that was it. Black and white
was how I started to see things. I developed my lighting style
based on how he lit, and this is why my lighting works so well.
It just works with black and white. I even emulate the softness
in some of my shots.
Working in the fashion industry, colour is obviously an
essential component of Jamess work; however, the Brit
opines that harnessing the simplicity of the black-and-white
medium can lend itself for more creative and challenging
compositions. The best part of shooting black and white
for me is how it makes me feel about the image. It makes
me think about the shot a little more and therefore employ a
greater degree of concentration. With colour you can tell if it
is working almost the right way in terms of how the colours
are working together, but in black and white you have to think
deeper. Although my colour work is often quite saturated and
intense for fashion, I think the simplicity of shooting in black
and white is appealing. It makes the image a lot more simple
and balanced and you tend to focus on the composition more.
Shading and tonal ranges are your colour palette and you need
to understand how colours actually work in black and white.
Choosing a subject matter or, in Jamess case, a model and
scenery which will transcend richly into black and white
can be half the battle. James shares his tactics for knowing
which attributes to look for. I will always have an idea when
shooting a picture if it will work in black and white. You have
to just know it will work, but as a guide it tends to be when I
am using low light or am on location, for example shooting
a story or portraits on location in a hotel room. For portrait
fashion work I love how it can bring the image down to a level
that exudes a classic feel.
James confesses to predominantly using a Nikon D3X with
70-200mm 2.8 Nikkor VR lens to capture his fashion-focused
frames, but also carries a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8, Nikon 85mm
1.4, Sigma 105mm 2.8, Macbook Pro 17, iPad, iPhone, Sony


James Nader on how to

get the best B&Ws
Web: www.naderphotography.,
with a whopping two decades of
experience under his professional
belt, James Nader is a cutting-edge
fashion and beauty photographer
who has notoriously achieved
widespread praise for his quirky yet classy style. i would not do
anything else now i love how and where i work, and still look for
great clients. The main thing about what i do now is that i work
for people i get on with, and my work is all about my style and
how i see things. it may not be everyones fashion taste, but it is
mine, and the clients who use me like the quirkiness of my work,
especially my lighting.
commencing from 2011, James will be running a series of
masterclasses, revealing how to use location lighting with models
and the razorbrush retouching technique. This will be an in-depth
resource with video pay-per-view, featuring downloads, location
practical courses and learn with James fashion shoots. For
more information on these workshops, or to register your interest,

1 Be interesting

if you are trying to sell b&w images, be prepared for a hard slog.
Make it interesting, wild and wonderful. if not, just keep it real!

2 Research

Seek out knowledge of black and white online reference the

masters and see how they did it.

3 Shade and light

get in the studio and set up something, or go outdoors and do the

same but try lighting with flash or available light and understand
how it affects your black-and-white images.

4 Careful with contrast

be careful with contrast its easy to use the brightness and

contrast in Photoshop for a quick fix, but experiment with the
photo filters and settings.

5 Old school

if you have access to a traditional black-and-white film camera,

give it a go! Try it with some filters and see the results in print. it
will help you to understand the new darkroom.

digital camera for HD video, LaCie 500GB rugged hard drive

and even has access to a Hasselblad when higher-res files
are demanded. I prefer not to use larger cards, as it takes a
while to copy across to hard drive, and I sometimes use this
as a way to re-group away from the clients, so I opt for various
4GB memory cards, he confides. I have my own lighting
kit which is both Elinchrom studio/Bowens. At the moment
Bowens sponsors my equipment, so most of my shots are
taken on Bowens, but I do use Profoto too. James starts his
sessions with a light reading that gives him f11 at ISO 200. I
dont know why but this really is my signature light reading,
in continuous or film lighting it will be more like an f4 and
ISO 400 plus. I do tend to use my ISO to push or pull the
contrast of the image, as it gives me rich tones that are also
punchy. As I am using slower shutter speeds, I need a tripod.
The lower light and timed exposure allows more information
to be built up in the shot, and ensures a richer image both in
colour or black and white.
When shooting a frame that he knows is destined to
become black and white, James says he will make sure there
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 51

Gian Marco Marano


Gian Marco Marano

on what to consider
Italian-born and bred Gian Marco
Marano has been a professional
shooter for just over five years, but
says he has always had a passion for
photography. My father gave me
my first camera a Ricoh 500G when I was six, and since then
I can say Ive always been involved in photography. In the
Nineties I directed my attention to figure studies as Ive always
been attracted by fine-art nudes. I remember I participated in a
glamour and artistic-nude workshop and then I started to
develop my first own projects, reading a lot and learning selftaught. In the last few years I have concentrated mainly on dance
and fine-art photography. I know it sounds obvious, but I think
that if you really want something, you have to take your chances
to get it. I feel as though I have just started along this creative
path, but it gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that I want to
explore it deeper, creating images that I am proud of and I hope
will be appreciated by other people. If you are a fan of Gians
work, view his dazzling portfolio at www.gianmarcomarano.
com, where a beautiful range of fine-art prints are listed for sale.

1 Learn from the masters

look to the works of the masters of photography as well as to the

other photographers in order to learn techniques, find
inspiration and develop your personal taste.

2 Subject matters

be sure that the subject you choose is right for black and white in
terms of lighting, contrast and tones.

3 Experiment

keep experimenting with editing until you find the black-and-white

conversion technique that suits your tastes, keeping in mind that
simplicity is often better.

4 Shooting focus

when shooting, focus on the results you want to obtain and try to
find a way of getting it.

5 Details count

once youve learnt the basics, concentrate on the details its

what makes the difference.


Ive always liked womens

grace, and I try to represent
it as best as I can in my
work. Over the years I
pursued my vision of
womens beauty from my
first model books to my
last works, with more and
more awareness of what I
want and how to get it
Shot details: Nikon D300
with 18-200mm lens at
32mm and f18, 1/250sec,
ISO 200


Shooting in black and white

means mainly dealing with
light and shadows, and
as a rule of thumb highcontrasted subjects work
very well for creating blackand-white images. I always
shoot at the lowest ISO
my camera allows, at 250
sync and in a range of stops,
usually from f11 to f22-25
Shot details: Nikon D300
with 18-200mm lens at
32mm and f22, 1/250sec,
ISO 200

Black and white doesnt copy the reality,

but represents it with its own language
is enough detail in the highlights and in the shadows, and
ensure there is enough light in the eyes to really punch energy
into the shot. Some type of reflection will do the trick; if you
dont have a light there, the eyes will look dark and lifeless.
Offering advice, he continues: Try to make sure shadows
have some contrast but arent too dark. If you are using
harsher light, try to use white reflection and not silver, as this
works better on the skin. Dont hold it too close good shots
often have reflection, but just enough to pick out some detail in
the shadowy areas.
Post-shoot, James heads straight into the digital darkroom
to create his monochromatic masterpieces: I sometimes use
Capture One, but recently have started using Lightroom, as
I love the way it does a whole range of different processes
and allows you to create great online galleries. Photoshop is
my digital darkroom and I will use this as much as possible
to control and enhance certain pictures. I make little tweaks
to the levels, brightness, contrast, curves and do a final
sharpen at the required size before saving. My advice is to
not desaturate your images, as you will lose much of the
information in the image. Use the filters within Elements or
Photoshop to control the image and get the best out of it. To

52 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

read more about James Nadar, his career and thoughts on the
monochrome genre turn to page 38.
Passionate as much about fine-art photography as he
is the female form, Italian Gian Marco Marano (www. has become a connoisseur in the
ways of black-and-white photography. Specialising in artistic
nudes, Gian is currently creating a portfolio featuring dance
and contortion. The special factor about black-and-white
photography is that it doesnt just copy the reality, but it
represents it with its own language, the pro photographer
explains. When I shoot a photo I already know if the final
image will be black and white or colour its a matter of what
expressive language you want for that project. Of course,
some images are more suitable for black and white, especially
high-contrasted images.
Preferring a minimalist approach when it comes to kit, Gian
mainly utilises one camera and one lens for his nude studio
shoots. Some people are surprised when I tell them that most
of my studio work is captured with a Nikon D300 and an 18200mm VR Nikkor lens. But you have to consider that when
working with powerful studio flashes you have all the light
you need, and this means that you can use your camera at the

Gian Marco Marano

The benefits of black & white

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 53

Gian Marco Marano



The special factor

about black-and-white
photography is that it
doesnt just copy the reality,
but it represents it with its
own language. When I shoot
a photo I already know if
the final image will be black
and white or colour; its a
matter of what expressive
language you want for
that project
Shot details: Nikon D300
with 18-200mm lens at
28mm and f16, 1/250sec,
ISO 200

lowest ISO. The lens can be set to a medium aperture, where

it works better.
In case he changes his mind, the pro also carries an AF-S
Nikkor 50mm f1.4G, AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8G
IF-ED, AF-S Nikkor 28-70mm f2.8, Manfrotto tripod 055 XB
with spherical head 322 RC2, four Bowens Gemini 1000Ws
with accessories and a Gossen Luna Pro-X exposure meter.
I always use an exposure meter for all my studio and most
of outdoor and location works, but reaching the exposure
that suits your taste is often a matter of trial and error and
something you may have to experiment with to perfect. My
personal taste for my figure studies is to overexpose the
outline of the body a little, in order to emphasise the body


Make sure you dont

forget about black-andwhite landscapes. A
monochrome conversion
can add another dimension
to any simple image
54 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

form. Other than that I dont employ any special techniques

with my accessories; I simply try to master them as best as I can
in order to realise what I have in my mind. Shooting in black
and white means mainly dealing with light and shadows, and
as a rule of thumb high-contrasted subjects work very well for
black-and-white images.
One of Gians biggest grumbles is inadequate calibration,
a factor he says can potentially ruin a perfect photo. Often
people spend lot of money buying high-end equipment, but
they do the editing part on non-calibrated monitors. I think
that a calibrating device in the Photoshop era is essential if you
want to obtain reliable results not only for colour photography,
but for black-and-white imagery too, as you may want to add
tonal effects.
After a shoot Gian loads his images, which have been
captured as RAW files, into Nikons Capture NX 2, where he
saves the frames as 16-bit TIFFs and opens them in Photoshop.
I know it will sound like obvious advice, but the best tip about
editing I would give is to do the best you can at the shooting
stage in terms of lighting, exposure, correct focal length,
aperture and shutter speed, etc. A good original image will need
only very basic editing work, whereas a bad picture will need
hours of editing work in order to become just acceptable.
There are several methods to transform a shot into black
and white, with each photographer preferring to do something
different. Conversion is one of the big topics you have to
deal with when making digital black-and-white images,
Gian explains. Before finding my favourite black-and-white
conversion method I experimented a great deal. Nowadays I
find Photoshops built-in conversion method very powerful.
It gives you lot of control, although the automatic function
works fine as well. Most of my black-and-white body portraits
are made by mixing a Photoshop black-and-white built-in
conversion layer with a personalised duotone layer.
But what does Gian think are the most crucial elements
for strong black-and-white photography? Good lighting,
effective digital conversion and image enhancement, he
replies. Again, choose contrasted subjects, with a lot of
light and shadows, find a conversion that suits your taste and
try to enhance the image by adding some contrast. As a final
thought, Gian summarises: With black-and-white photography,
what you have to say counts more than the way you say it.

The benefits of black & white

JOhn BairD

This shot was taken in

Canterbury during the summer,
originally shot in colour but
converted to black and white
using CS4 and Photomatix
Pro by using HDR to give it
more texture and contrast. I
used a single shot to create
three images at different
values, from +2.0 to -2.0 ev
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D
Mark II with 4-70mm lens at
35mm and f8, 1/250sec,
ISO 100
DP gallery address: www.
John Baird

rOn SuttOn

This shows the Red Arrows

at the Southport Air Show in
2007. The position of the light
caused the planes to be partly
in silhouette, so I thought black
and white would be a good
option. The curve of the smoke
trails adds a little something
extra to the image
Shot details: Sony A100 with
17-70mm lens at 70mm and f8,
1/500sec, ISO 100
DP gallery address: www.

John Baird

Ron Sutton

Patrick Ong

Patrick Ong

A stormy and cloudy day at

Pangasinan, Philippines
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark
II with 17-40mm lens at 20mm and
f16, 49sec, ISO 50
DP gallery address: www.

Oliver geiDel

Some of the most iconic London

landmarks. People were feeding
the birds, causing them to frenzy
Shot details: Nikon D90 with
18-105mm lens at 45mm and f8,
1/400sec, ISO 400
DP gallery address: www.
Oliver Geidel

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 55



Here I tried to engage with

the sorrowful feeling that
the model portrays. The
intensity of the eyes engages
with the viewer. The skin
was retouched and cleaned
in Photoshop, but in a
non-destructive way so the
skin remains natural
shot details: Hasselblad
H4D-40 with 200mm lens at
f6.8, 1/250sec, ISO 100
56 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Perfect portraits

Perfect portraits
Expert advice for taking black-and-white portraits

Lord of
the Manor

Editorial shoot based

around the young Lord
of the manor and shot on
location in the rain using
Profoto battery lighting. It
was very windy, but I used
the wind to create a little
more drama to the shot
by waiting for the right
moment for the wind to
blow his hair and lift the
scarf. One light was used to
illuminate the trees in
the background
Shot details: Nikon D3
with 70-200mm lens at f4,
1/30sec, ISO 400

All images in this feature are copyright James Nader

James refuses to allow the confines of his surroundings to

inhibit his creativity. My real passion is for the composite
image, which is photography and artwork combined. I have
been a traditional photographer through and through, learning
from film, but slowly Photoshop has unleashed a whole gamut
of possibilities for me. A glance at his online portfolio reveals
a talent for editorial photomontage work, be it a backdrop so
surreal it would have brought a smile to Salvador Dalis lips,
or a striking Sin City-style world. More and more people are
looking at this work and starting to realise a simple shoot in a
white studio can be a cost-effective solution when I weave the
Photoshop magic, he comments.
It is clear from Jamess black-and-white photography work
that he is strongly influenced by the Forties film noir period.
Low-key images and retro-themed shoots add to a fun and
diverse book of work. I tend to observe what is happening,
but my true fashion idols would be Peter Lindbergh, Albert
Watson, Patrick Demarchelier and of course Bob Carlos Clarke,
he proclaims. I learned much of my lighting techniques from

he fashion industry has so many aspiring models

and photographers wanting to shoot them that
many hopefuls are left outside the party. Londonbased editorial photographer James Nader is one of
the few that have made it through the door, catching
the eyes of big names like Sony BMG and Umberto Gianni. Hes
recently completed a stint on Channel 4s How To Look Good
Naked, photographing the fashion victims of the eccentric
presenter Gok Wan, and he was even short-listed by Virgin
Media to shoot Britains Next Top Model.
So what makes this contemporary artist stand out from
the masses? I shoot editorial fashion work with a slightly
quirky edge, says James. There are too many photographers
battling for the same fashion work and all exhibiting the same
style. I enjoy the idea of creating pictures that have more of a
story about them and not just a documentary shot depicting a
moment. His work characteristically retains a stylish simplicity
with backdrops that hint at a narrative, such as a lift, a stately
home or a grand staircase.

MaLe GrooMinG toMaS

This was shot on location at a Shropshire stately home for a range of

photographs to be used for a menswear company. I wanted to create the
mood of a relaxed young Lord who was confident and relaxed in his choice
of menswear.
This shot was lit by the modelling light only on a Bowens Gemini 500
Shot details: Nikon D3 with 70-200mm lens at f5.6mm, 1/15sec, ISO 800

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 57


My main motivation is trying

to be one of the best in the UK
and to build a great range of
clients who appreciate my work
Fashionable Wedding

This shot was part of an editorial collection for a

magazine; however since then I have allowed the
picture to be used under license to a wedding
brand called Fashionable Weddings. I shoot some
of their editorials four times a year. The shot was
completely lit by a single red head and a timed
exposure. It is important that the model keeps
still for that fraction of a second and that the
photographer calls it
shot details: Nikon D3 with 24-70mm lens at
60mm and f2.8, 1/8sec, ISO 400

8in a liFt


I was shooting in and

around the streets of
Manchester and by
accident found this lift in
a street next to a car park.
I asked the model to get
inside the lift to try out
some shots. The inside was
quite dingy but I had my
on-camera Nikon flash and
used it to fill and slightly
overexpose the foreground.
The camera was set to a
higher ISO to clean up the
skin tones and create a little
more contrast and interest
to the shot. She was leaning
against the stainless steel
panels and right away
we found the shot which
shot details: Nikon D3
with 80-200mm lens at
f8, 1/30sec, ISO 400

film pictures and portrait masters from the Golden Age of

Hollywood, like Clarence Sinclair Bull. A lot of my fashion shots
you see online are created using film lighting and not flash.
It is not surprising to learn that Jamess penchant for
monochrome is its inherent directness: I love the contrasts and
the atmosphere it conveys. Sometimes colour can confuse how
things look with too many distractions, he says. I enjoy using
black and white when creating fashion images and portraits as
it tends to isolate the model. When shooting black and white, it
makes you think differently. Your mindset has to change from
colour and you have to think in monochrome. I dont think just
taking a shot and then simply converting it is the way forward,
as not all shots are suitable. If you shoot in an environment that
has many of the black and white filter colours, such as yellow,
oranges and red, sometimes converting them may not work as
the skin can change. I used to shoot black and white with either
a red or yellow filter, as red is a good way to create great skin and
dark skies on a sunny day.
As his work is a mixed palette of colour and monochrome
works, what is the deciding factor? I normally choose whether
a shot is going to be monochrome in advance, but will always
shoot colour for the maximum rendition of tones and then use

58 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

non-destructive techniques to render into black and white, he

reveals. In order to develop creative concepts, James takes
advantage of the internet: The access and storage is much more
convenient than magazines to build references. I think the best
way to represent a model in their best light is to really pick the
person well for the shoot in question. If they are animated and
can buy into what you are about on the day, then this will allow
for great interaction. If they dont, never raise your voice or be
too intense, as this will make them shut down all creative input
and the shoot will go flat, he warns.
James credits this ability to work well with a model to
capturing the winning shot: I dont always accept the pose they
offer and will more than likely want them to push it more, he
shares. While many get distracted by the models expression
or pose, James is also taking note of the position of their hands,
wanting them to appear soft and at ease. As for the face, he aims
to emulate the work of master painters by capturing the model in
a candid moment of thought, to create a timeless image.
I tend to control all of my shots with my light source. This
really works for me as I have an individual style and one of the
key elements is my handle on light and how I let it interact with
the subject. James veers away from shots that are flooded with

Perfect portraits

light sources, and his top tip is to make what is available work for
you instead. Confident in his ability to read light levels, he rarely
relies on a meter and tends to use ISO settings to enhance skin
tones. Favouring heavy contrast, he works in RAW so that this
can be compensated for in post-production.
James doesnt relinquish the manipulation of images to a third
party, choosing to carry out all post-production work himself. I
am an intense user of Photoshop and use it to a high level to
create my photo composite images. I therefore do all of my
retouching, post-production and photo composition, he says. I
shoot all images either on card or tethered and on location I have
a Nikon wireless setup.
James shoots into a MacBook Pro with 17-inch monitor
and 4GB RAM, but all the editing is done on a 24-inch iMac. I
have an A4 Wacom pad for all retouching work and I work with
Photoshop for all retouching and optimising of images. I also
have Lightroom to collate images and provide clients with a
custom online gallery. Then they are uploaded via FTP (File
Transfer Protocol) to my server and the link is sent to clients.
Once the client has made the final selection, the images are sent
via FTP for them to download, so he often doesnt meet with
them again after the shoot.
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 59


spAce Age

Incidentally, the 21st-Century fashion photographers favourite

types of genres are high-end editorials and advertising work for
luxury items like beauty products, jewellery and perfume. But
does he have a favourite image to go with it? My mind flips
from liking to not liking my work very quickly, he admits. I
have a short attention span and believe this is due to the way
we use the digital technology. It is quick and efficient but also
dismissed readily and therefore easily deleted. I will lose interest
in an image rapidly, especially if it is one that I have spent too
much time on. This is the case with my site at the moment, and
I would love to replace all of the images on there. I suppose I am
always trying to create my perfect image and I dont feel that I
have achieved this yet.
James has always been his own boss and began his own
interactive agency specialising in photographic screensavers
before indulging in photography full-time. This knowledge
of technology has served him well in building a name in the
business: In the last two years I have not had a trip abroad

but have focused on my brand, he says, demonstrating his

commitment to becoming the best. His online reputation has
become so advanced as a result of this persistence that you
will see his name appear first in a Google search for Fashion
Photographer. So what is it he enjoys about this often-stressful
industry, where it can be such a struggle to make yourself
known? I love the variety, the ease and the flexibility at which I
can work. Clients are now worldwide and this gives me a thrill;
I am motivated by creating great images and working within
Photoshop. My main motivation is trying to be one of the best
in the UK and to build a great range of clients who appreciate
my work.
He advises anyone looking to break into the fashion
photography world to have a good action plan. I have at any one
time hundreds of emails from would-be hopefuls and assistants
wanting placements, work experience, etc, but I simply cant
deal with them all. It simply isnt good enough writing a simple
email and firing it off to me or anyone else to get work as we

Part of a set of editorial

images which used
all things plastic the
eyelashes and wig
here. I love to create the
impression that the model
is so far removed from the
photographic session and
deep in thought. This is the
same technique used by
the master painters and
can create a long-lasting
and beautiful photograph
when used with a very
simple lighting setup. In
this shot, the model is
completely lit by only
two lights and the
shadows controlled by the
light shades
shot details: Nikon D3
with 24-70mm lens at f2.8,
1/15sec, ISO 800

Sometimes colour can confuse how

things look, with too many distractions

A FAshionAble Wedding

This was shot for Fashionable Weddings to create an editorial feel to

the wedding market. I shoot a range of shots for them and for the dress
retailer. I wanted to create some movement to the dress and the shot
without moving the model. The light source here was a single bulb from
the modelling light on the Bowens Gemini. This is not a strong source
but, with a good low-light digital camera such as the Nikon D3, you can
get a very acceptable low-light shot
shot details: Nikon D3 with 70-200mm lens at f2.8, 1/15sec, ISO 1600

60 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Perfect portraits
RetRo fifties

This project was a personal

one. The objective was
light and form and the
emulation of images seen
in branding from the
Fifties. I love the effect
the Tungsten lighting has
on the skin. The great
Hollywood masters used
this effectively as this was
the only light form available
at the time; however my
lighting pedigree has
always come from this light
source. I also tend to let
the shot be a little soft
to emulate the lens
qualities available
shot details: Nikon D3
with 70-200mm lens at f4,
1/15sec, ISO 800

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 61



This shot was for a silk

company who supply
printed silks to some very
well-known brands. The
exercise was to create
pieces that would stand out
in its marketing materials,
and so conventional
advertising photography
was not the route the
company wanted. I was
commissioned to create
six pieces that were all
post-produced composite
images which individually
tell a story. I composed
this image from over
35 separate images in
Photoshop to complete the
final piece
shot details: Hasselblad
H4D-40 with 35-90mm
lens at 90mm and f10,
1/250sec, ISO 100
62 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Perfect portraits

I think people believe it is easy to be a

fashion photographer, but it really isnt
are all busy trying to make a living, he says candidly. The best
way is to work on a portfolio, either out of college if you have
a flair for photography, or in college via a foundation or degree
in photography. Whilst the degree is only part of what you will
need, the real way forward is to format a great creative portfolio
with interesting work and challenging projects showing use of
camera, light, dealing with models and how you put the shot
together afterwards in post. I think people believe it is easy to be
a fashion photographer by some of the comments I receive, but
it really isnt. There are just too many people out there doing
the same thing and with the introduction of better cameras and
equipment it has become a very accessible subject.
As a child, James was fascinated by his fathers camera and
how he would disappear into a darkened room and emerge
with pictures of family life. I had forgotten about this and
was accepted on a Foundation course at Wolverhampton Poly,
as it was called in those days, and completed a whole year
there, he recalls. The course encompassed everything from
photography and composition, to lithography and typography,
but it was a week-long educational assignment that triggered his
photographic interest: I decided not to go to France and stay
and save my grant for other things, so I was given a photography
project to work on. Even though I had shown an interest in
photography, I had not really done any proper shoots and so I
was completely thrown in at the deep end. It was given as a
form of punishment for not wanting to go to France, but it
was while working on the project that I did some shots of
my girlfriend at the time, and they turned out well. It was the
positive feedback from fellow students that really encouraged
me to pursue photography.
Jamess photographic arsenal began with a Nikon CoolPix
three-megapixel camera and a Bronica ETRS. I remember
my very first shoot with it, he recalls. I was with a client and
photographing a very simple shot and out popped the camera.
I had been praising the digital revolution and saying how this
new camera would be great for the shoot. It seems the client,
on the other hand, was less than enthusiastic: They were so
surprised when I brought out the camera, thinking it was the
light meter or on-camera flash as it was so small! We did the
shot, but I nearly lost face at the time. I now embrace the digital
revolution because of its liberating feel. Quick to work, quick
to get an opinion, cheaper if you process your own images for
clients and no time in the darkroom. His equipment has since
advanced to a Hasselblad H4D-40 and a Nikon D3, which he is
currently putting to good use on a project for a client in Germany,
involving exotic props and a whole host of models, he hints.
I am looking at creating 12 pieces of photo art at 80 x 60 inches
for art galleries, and so it will be classed as fine art. James is
happy if this is the start of more commissions abroad: I would
love to work in Los Angeles and of course New York, and
possibly even Paris, he enthuses. They all have a variation in
how they work and whom they work with, so it would be great
to do this in the future.

8Candy Floss

It is important to make sure that the model engages with the viewer. I
was searching for a more quirky or edgy shot for my agent in London,
and this was her choice. While working the shoot it was important
that the models figure and hands were soft and delicate, and not
interfering with the overall shot itself. Sometimes in pictures the
hands can look awkward, but Holly is a professional and knows how to
use shapes that fit
shot details: Hasselblad H4D-40 with 35-90mm lens at 70mm and
f1, 1/250sec, ISO 100
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 63


Shoot stunning
Discover the shape and
form of the land through
the black and white image


One of the first photographs I took after turning

pro is a simple composition of a wooden jetty
with some wooden posts either side. I took the
photograph on a still, misty December morning
not far from my home in France, and at once
realised that I was getting close to the style of
photography that I was looking to produce
simple, uncluttered, peaceful and calm
Shot details: Nikon D2Xs at 28mm
and f10, 10sec, ISO 100
Jonathan Chritchley


Stunning landscapes

racing back through the history of photography,

even as far back to the origins of its invention,
the black and white landscape image has had a
powerful and significant presence in the medium.
19th-Century figures such as William Henry Fox
Talbot (the inventor of the negative/positive process) and
Roger Fenton (the first war photographer who documented the
Crimean war in the 1850s) both depicted the landscape through
their own techniques using the black and white process. Later
in the early 20th Century, a major figure to emerge into the
genre was the great Ansel Adams. Many still today regard his
technically faultless photographs as some of the greatest black
and white landscape images ever taken. His eye for composition
and his knowledge of exposure complemented with his postproduction darkroom techniques meant he was able to produce
breath-taking images throughout his lifetime. His favourite
location was Yosemite Valley in California and it was in was in
this spot that he made some of his best images. For any keen
black-and-white landscape photographer Ansel Adams is an
inspirational figure, and for those wanting to learn about his
zone system, this technique will greatly strengthen your practice.
Even if you dont use this technique in the field, it is a key aspect
to be aware of.
Although the traditional technique of the negative/positive
process will always hold a key relationship with the black and
white landscape image moving forward into the 21st Century,
digital technology has seen many enthusiasts and professionals
dabble in the medium and take on their own interpretations
of the genre. Photography has expanded, as more and more
high-quality digital cameras become accessible to the masses.
Digital equipment is now cheaper, lighter and higher quality than
it has ever been before, meaning many budding photographers
are venturing out into the great outdoors to produce their own
stunning landscape images. Landscape photography appears to
be one of the most popular genres of photography, as it can be a
therapeutic and rewarding experience for many when taking the
images, whether professional or not.
One contemporary digital professional photographer from the
black and white genre is Keith Cooper. Keith is an architectural,
industrial and landscape photographer from Leicester who has
a great passion for the monochrome image. Black and white
images of a scene seem to encapsulate more personal meaning
to me and capture what the surrounding atmosphere feels like at
that moment. I have some great colour shots as well, but its the
black and white ones, more often than not, that resonate. He
continues, In some ways I also identify with black and white
with structure, as it reflects the underlying scaffolding that
makes up the world. Of course that could just be because as an
ex-geologist, I view the landscape as a whole, including whats
below the surface.
Keith moved to the digital medium in 2004. He describes the
transition from film: The biggest change in black and white
photography was re-learning about exposure. The immediacy of
digital means that you really can experiment and quickly learn
how different lighting affects your camera metering and your
choices in exposure. And in digital black and white photography,
exposure is a key area to understand. The correct exposure
value can be difficult to measure due to the dynamic range in
the highlights and shadows. Digital photography is less forgiving
than film and once a highlight is blown, there is no rescuing it.
However, apparatus such as histograms make it much easier in
the field to measure the light, and even being able to preview
images on the LCD screen is an advantage. Keith uses his own
techniques and methods to achieve a correct exposure, as he
explains, It will come as no great surprise that Ive never been
one for methodical approaches such as the zone system for
exposure. Ill try and get the important parts of the image out
of deep shadow, but always with an eye as to what might be
clipping highlights. I find it important to distinguish between
clipped highlights that are okay, such as some reflection on water,
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 65


John o Gaunt,

Part of a set of prints for

a local country estate, the
disused viaduct is not usually
seen at this angle. Although
I could have used camera
movements (lens shift) to give
a correct perspective, this
view with a 14mm lens is much
more active with the strong
sloping lines
shot details: Canon
EOS 1Ds Mark III at 14mm and
f7.1, 1/160sec, ISO 100
Keith Cooper

and those where its not okay, such as parts of clouds, when
cloud structure is going to be an important textural element in
the image. Histogram displays are better now, but its important
to appreciate that they are only a guide and require some
practise to interpret.
Keith makes a valid point here as the structure of a cloud
formation particularly in a black and white image can
play a crucial part in holding a composition together. In the
monochrome medium, if used in the wrong context, a clear sky
will record as a big block of grey, which will appear very dull.
Sourcing textures in the land and sky to complement each other
will produce effective images and connect the elements. Keith
informs us of his next trip to take some dramatic weather images:
Im going to the Pacific north-west (Oregon/Washington) in the
autumn an area renowned for rain and changeable weather.
For black and white photography, bad weather is much more
interesting than clear blue skies.
Another contemporary black and white landscape
photographer in the industry is Jonathan Chritchley. Originally
from the UK and now living in Biarritz, in the south of France,
Jonathan conducts his practice from this idyllic location. He
finds it is a great place to be based, as he has easy access to
some great and diverse settings locally as well as internationally.
Jonathan studied for a year doing an HND in Photography at
Poole Art College in the UK, but got bored of the constant studio
work which he describes as being: As exciting as a lettuce!,
so he left to become a photographic assistant to a marine
photographer. After several career detours he started his own
company in 2006 and has never looked back. Jonathan was
inspired to become a photographer after watching the film The
Big Blue by French director Luc Besson, as he explains: He is
an exceptional cinematographer and the first ten minutes of the
film, shot in black and white in the Greek Islands, was a turning
point for me. It is probably the greatest influence on my career
to date, and that, along with the nautical photography of Beken
of Cowes and others from the Twenties and Thirties, is what has
helped define my photography.
Jonathans inspirations and concepts further come from a
variety of resources that can be seen throughout his work, as he
describes: I think that each location provides its own clues and
ideas. I like to think that I can adapt quickly to conditions and
locations and come up with unique ways of photographing a
place based on my own personal taste. I have a very strong sense

66 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

hunGyao, china

The textures in the sky hold the eye

in the centre of the image, focusing
on this calm and tranquil river shot in
Hungyao, China
shot details: Nikon D3X with
24-55mm lens at 24mm and f11,
1/160sec, ISO 400
Jonathan Chritchley

Stunning landscapes

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 67


Li RiveR,
GuiLin, China

Taken on the Li River in

Guilin, China. This idyllic
scenery makes for a great
black and white landscape
shot, with the mist in the
background enhancing
the atmosphere
Shot details: Nikon D3X
with 24-55mm lens at 24mm
and f13, 1/100sec, ISO 200
Jonathan Chritchley

8 ShinGLe StReet,
SuffoLk, uk

Shot on 35mm film, this

negative laid unprinted until I
moved to a digital workflow. As a
six foot-wide print, the grain and
overall sharpening needs to be
carefully handled
Shot details: Shot on 35mm,
details unavailable
Keith Cooper

68 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Stunning landscapes

Jonathan Chritchley on how to take great

black-and-white landscapes
How did you get started in photography?
My dad was very interested in photography, so there were always
cameras lying around at home. However, it wasnt until I was in my
early twenties that I realised that it was where my destiny lay.
What excites you about black and white landscape
Most of my work is of the sea, the coast and other nautical environments. I am completely obsessed
with the water, so I think that is what keeps my enthusiasm fresh. I love the feel and atmosphere of a
good black and white photograph, the way the composition is simplified and the subject matter is
reduced to elemental shapes and textures.
What have been your favourite landscape locations to photograph?
A location that stands out to me is Iceland. The rugged, varied landscape, incredible light and dreamy
skies make it a wonderful place for black and white photography. I spent three weeks there last year,
and am heading back again this year to continue the project.
1 Be original
Decide on your own path, one that is close to your heart, and pursue it.
2 Less is more
Simplify your composition.
3 Dont get caught up in the equipment war
Its not the camera that takes the picture, its the photographer.
4 ND filters
Dont be tempted to buy cheap!
5 For seascapes use long exposures
This can produce some stunning effects.

With black and white

landscape photography, an
uncomplicated technical
approach can often
produce superior results
of what I like, so although photography is my job I still take
photographs to please myself first and foremost.
In landscape photography there are no rigid rules regarding
camera settings, and a vast range of approaches that can be
taken. Keith uses whatever techniques he finds the most
comfortable for that given situation: I shoot a combination of
Manual or Aperture Priority (Av), depending on the lighting
conditions and lenses Im using (always Manual with tilt/shift).
Depending on the subject, Ill either focus manually or with AF.
Ive never followed the hair shirt attitude to photography, that
its not authentic unless you have full control over the camera.
I respect those who mix their own emulsions and prepare their
own plates, but owning a 4,000 camera body does give some
useful shortcuts. Cameras today are designed to be flexible to
work to the needs of the photographer not the other way around,
so use whatever feels best for you.
Unlike Keith, Jonathan takes a different approach to the blackand-white landscape shot and informs us on how he controls the
camera for exposing light: For seascapes, I use long exposures
a great deal. I like the minimalist effect this produces on the
final photograph, the way the light and texture work together.
Apart from that most of my work is shot very traditionally I

dont like complicated techniques, either in camera or later on

the computer, preferring very simple methods to produce my
photographs. An uncomplicated technical approach can often
produce superior results.
On a landscape shoot, a variety of accessories and cameras
are needed and knowing what equipment to take can be crucial
for achieving the correct results. However, it is not as simple as
shooting in the studio as everything needs to be carried, so being
organised is very important. The pros in the field reveal what
they take on a shoot: If Im travelling I take two camera bodies
(Nikon D3X and D3). I also take my Zeiss 21mm, 28mm and
50mm lenses, Nikon 17-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm zooms.
Gitzo tripod which is pretty heavy duty, with an Arca Swiss ball
head and various filters, cable releases and usual sundries.
Keith shoots with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, and the lenses
he takes on a shoot vary depending on how much he feels like
carrying and for how far. His basic kit consists of an EF14mm
f2.8L II, EF 24-70mm L, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS, and he mostly
uses his 24-70mm or sometimes the 14mm for an ultra-wide
angle. Wide-angle lenses are crucial for landscape photography
and in low-light scenarios a fast lens can be useful, however a
tripod will also come in handy for long exposures.
THe blAck & wHITe PHoTogrAPHy book 69


70 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Stunning landscapes

Hood Canal,
state, Usa

Landscape photography is obviously dependent on weather

conditions as to what type of images can be produced. If it is a
sunny day exposure values between the shadows and highlights
are also going to measure differently, and there are a few tricks
that can be applied to aid the photographer in scenarios such
as these. Graduated filters are just one accessory that can help
rescue a black and white landscape image and enhance the
textures and tones in both the land and sky.
For those who are unfamiliar with ND (neutral density)
graduated filters, one half of the filter is darker than the other,
which in most cases is completely clear. The reason for using
a neutral density graduated filter is to control the exposure
difference between the sky and the ground. Neutral density
grads are given numbers that tell you exactly how many stops of
light theyre going to reduce the brightness by, and when used
correctly can help you produce far superior results.
To determine the strength of filter, you need to meter the
scene. The simplest method for doing this is to take a meter
reading with the ground filling the frame without the filter in
place, and then repeat this step with the sky filling the frame.
The difference between these readings will indicate the strength
of graduated filter needed. If, for instance, there is a one-stop
difference in the readings, you will need a 0.3 ND graduated filter,
a two-stop difference a 0.6 ND grad, while a three-stop difference
will require a 0.9 ND grad. Usually the two-stop (0.6 ND) is the
most commonly used and if youre on a budget and can only
afford one filter, a 0.6 hard grad is recommended.
When placing a graduated filter, careful consideration needs
to be exercised to ensure results are crisp. It is easiest to use
graduated filters on a tripod as this allows you to slide the filter
accurately into position, so the transition from clear to dark
falls on the horizon. It is especially important to double check
horizons are straight, otherwise the results will look odd. If your
camera has a depth of field preview facility that stops the lens
down while youre looking through the viewfinder, then it is
good practice to use it. The darker viewfinder image will make it
easier to see the position of the filter.
Keith and Jonathan have contrasting opinions when it comes
to using graduated filters, although both are still pure in their
approach to the black and white landscape image. They both
take on the concept that they want to capture what is there
rather than trying to manipulate the image into something that
is not. Jonathan explains his approach: The only filters I really
use are ND and ND grads, really to control exposure and give
me longer shutter speeds when necessary. The only real tip I
would give is in the purchase. Dont be tempted to buy cheap.
We spend a lot of money on cameras and lenses, so dont wave
cheap plastic filters in front of them!
Keith goes on to inform us on how he uses filters out in the
field: Only in the rain or particularly dusty conditions to protect

My favourite example of a
scene where I was driving
along, saw the light and
mist and thought that there
was probably a good print
to be made. For a large
print, the fine gradations and
detail need a very good
print set-up
shot details: Canon
EOS-1Ds Mark III with
70-200mm lens at 200mm
and f3.5, 1/320sec, ISO 100
Keith Cooper


The slow shutter speed and

rich background settings make
the flow of the waterfall stand
out beautifully
shot details: Nikon D3X with
24-55mm lens at 52mm and
f14, 2sec, ISO 100
Jonathan Chritchley

The blaCK & whiTe PhoTograPhy booK 71


Keith Cooper tells us

about his favourite image
How would you describe what you do?


Vieux Boucau Les Bains, France.

On the Atlantic coast of southern
France the setting sun backlights
the waves, producing some
beautifully textured shapes and
forms. I was drawn to this spot
and waited a good 20 minutes or
so before getting what I was after.
The low light forced me to open up
the lens, thereby creating some
interesting depth of field effects
Shot details: Nikon D3 with
Nikkor 70-200mm lens at 120mm
and f4, 1/160sec, ISO 400

Im a professional commercial
photographer who has the luxury of
including my black and white print work
within the context of my business. My
landscape work influences my approach to architectural and industrial
photography, and vice versa. Photography is what pays the bills, so my
choices in what work to do and when are a little more driven by the
requirements of the business.
What has been your favourite black and white landscape
photograph created to date, and why?
Much like films, my tastes vary depending on what mood Im in,
however at this moment The Shingle Street beach. Its a personal
favourite, since it captures what a lot of the Suffolk coast feels like to me.
Also from a technical point of view, it was taken on 35mm film (Tri-X)
and as a negative was unprinted for several years (apart from a contact
sheet). It was only after I scanned the negative and cropped out much
of the foreground that it just worked. This also reminds me to go back
through the archives every so often and look for things Ive missed.
When revisiting old collections of shots, I always remember that there
must have been something there to catch my attention.

Jonathan Chritchley

72 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

It is important
to note that to
achieve great
black and white
images you need
to visualise
in monochrome
the lens do I use screw-in filters. I sometimes use a polariser
to cut down on glare, but sparingly: if I can spot its use then
I think I have overdone it. One of my pet hates are graduated
filters I disliked them when there was the big Cokin creative
filter fad in the late Seventies, and I find I still dislike their use
if you can obviously see theyve been used. He continues with
his opinion: My personal difficulty is that I see very few images
where such obvious filter use contributes much to the final print.
Its all too often applied to an average image to try and make it
into something it isnt. A particularly egregious misuse is where
the tops of mountains (or trees) show the darkening effect.
However, Keith does sometimes use multiple RAW conversions
to the same image and blends them to extract more detail,
although he finds this requires considerable post-processing
work to make it look natural, so prefers to stay clear when he can.
Other filters available on the market that may help improve
black and white images and ones that are considerably cheaper
than ND graduated filters are a basic filter set. Red filters will
darken the sky, creating a moody atmosphere. Green-coloured
filters are particularly useful for landscapes, as they create a
contrast between different shades of green and blue. For those
wanting to experiment and who are just starting out in this genre,
a set of standard filters can be fun to use before thinking about
investing in a more expensive set.
Whether you want to have a purist approach to the black and
white landscape image or if you want to use a process such as
HDR all comes down to personal taste. HDR photography in the
professional and amateur world creates a clear divide, with many
embracing the technique and some keeping well clear. Keith
points out that while he is not a fan of it, he sometimes uses it
in his profession. It will come as no surprise that I dislike most
examples of the currently fashionable HDR look, he explains.
However, I do use HDR techniques for my architectural and
interior work, but go to great lengths to make it look just as if my
camera had more dynamic range. In general, the world around
me does not show sharpening halos! Such fashions come and go
in photography.
HDR photography can look effective, however it is best not
to go too over the top with the results. Although HDR is a new
digital technology term, film photographers have been using
this effect for years. Ansel Adams is just one of many who
exposed the highlights and shadows in the camera and then
processed the high contrasts of light and dark in the darkroom
using a burning and dodging technique through his zone
system. However, the results of Adams work look natural, which
emphasises the point that HDR photography works at its best in
subtle use.
Keith finishes discussing HDR photography on a valid point:
Remember the new toy effect every time you discover some
new bit of software/lens. Whenever I get a new accessory, I
always get this burst of thinking how great it is and how different

Stunning landscapes

a reliable collection of images that simply need enhancement.

Be self-critical; remember that it is better to have one superb
photograph than twelve mediocre examples.
Filters and exposure can greatly enhance detail, however
these are not the only things to be aware of. Post-production
methods are just as important and even presentational skills
should be greatly considered. For many the second and third
stages in the photographic process are overlooked, and this is a
big mistake for those who want to go professional. Converting
the right images to black and white can also be a tricky skill in
itself remember that excellent black and white images do not
have to be good colour images. The colour version is just an
intermediate stage, so dont spend too much time tweaking the
colour balance.
There are other methods to converting images, and every
photographer has their own favourites. Keith processes his
RAW images through Adobe Camera Raw 6 or DxO Optics
pro V6.2, and subsequent work is carried out in Photoshop

beach, UK

and interesting it makes my pictures. He continues: This is

perfectly natural, but I prefer to let this enthusiasm work itself
out somewhat before trying it out on paying clients. I have lots
of shots that on a second look really do not justify my initial
enthusiasm. All my best work usually comes after Ive explored
what these things can do, and added them to my arsenal of
available skills.
Thinking and visualising in black and white sounds obvious,
however this skill can take some time to perfect, and plenty
of consideration is needed when approaching a scene. Back
before digital camera technology was invented, shooting in
black and white was a conscious decision, as the film had to
be loaded into the camera. With digital technology you convert
results into black and white in post-production, however it is
important to note that to achieve great black and white images
you need to visualise in monochrome beforehand. Tone, contrast,
structure and composition are all key elements to consider when
approaching the landscape scene, and learning to visualise
the elements as a series of tones instead of colours is what will
produce superior images. It should be noted that what is perfect
for a coloured photograph can often have a negative impact on a
black and white landscape. For example, clear blue skies are a no,
and overcast days or bad weather are a yes.
When it comes to composition and the landscape image,
the rule of thirds generally works as an advantage; elements
throughout the image rest easier on the eye, leading the
viewer through the scene. Due to the lack of colour, structural
components and shadows are key points to be aware of, as these
are going to guide the eye through the image. Photoshop skills
can be applied afterwards if awkward components are messing
up an image, as Keith does in his work: I dont have any
problem in airbrushing out annoying electricity pylons or people
if they mess up my composition, although I wont change major
features such as a sky from another image. However, Jonathan
takes a slightly different approach and offers some alternative
advice: Simplify your composition, hone your camera skills and
get as much right in the field as you possibly can dont rely on
computer software to correct faulty images but aim to produce

My favourite type of active

weather for black and white.
I spent about half an hour at
this beach photographing the
scene, with the sun lighting
different parts
Shot details: Canon
EOS-1Ds Mark III 70-200mm
lens at 70mm and f10,
1/800sec, ISO 100
Keith Cooper

The Ansel Adams

Zone System
The Zone System is a black and white exposure technique
invented by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer in 1939. Originally the
method was set in place to be used with the film technique, however
it is still a useful practice for learning how to visualise in the
monochrome medium.
Start with Zone V, as this represents the mid-tone greys in the
image, ie the flat greys. You need to think about what area of your
image will meter like this, then take a reading. Each zone either side
represents one
f-stop, so if you want your shadow value to be dark but still hold detail
(Zone III), then decrease the exposure by two stops.
This technique does take some time to get used to, but it is a good
method to follow and means you start measuring shapes and
shadows with regards to how they are going to appear in the black
and white image.

The blAck & whiTe PhoTogrAPhy book 73


Remember that
excellent black and
white images do
not have to be good
colour images

Burnt tree,
Mesa Verde,
Colorado, usa

At 9,000 feet on a cold

snowy day, with big storms
shooting about the sky. One of
the times when an object (the
burnt tree) just fits in with the
whole scene
shot details: Canon
EOS 1Ds Mark III at 16mm and
f9, 1/320sec, ISO 100
Keith Cooper

CS5. Keith explains, I generally use the RAW converter to get

the best colour image for the conversion, rather than apply it
there. I do sometimes try out black and white conversion in the
RAW converter, just to get a feel for how the image will look, but
prefer to leave the actual conversion to later. For conversion from
colour to black and white Ill either use the Nik Silver Efex pro
plug-in, a combination of basic Photoshop techniques, such as its
greyscale conversion, or a layer-based technique. Jonathan uses
a different approach and browses/imports images using Adobe
Lightroom. He then does the final processing in Photoshop
CS4, as he states: My workflow is very simple, enhancing and
adding contrast using curves and levels, plus the obligatory five
to ten minutes cloning out that impenetrable curse of digital
photography, those sensor blobs!

74 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

The final stage of the whole process is the printing and

presentation. There are many different techniques and
methods that can be followed here, and printing in black and
white requires some expertise that, for many, is where they fail
to get the best results. This is often due to lack of knowledge
or equipment and unfortunately with printing, generally the
more expensive the printer, inks and paper the higher the
results. Papers, inks and images all need to be calibrated to
perfection so they are given the best chance to produce highquality results.
For those with no direct access to top equipment, sending
prints off to a professional service can ensure higher quality
results are produced. However, there are still post-production
methods to do beforehand to make sure the image is print
ready. Keith offers some sound advice: Remember the screen
is not the print. Unless you are producing work for a website
or projection, then what you see on the screen is just an
intermediate stage in getting to your print. Attempts to make
the print match the screen are inviting disappointment, so it is
important to understand how inks behave on paper and how
it differs from what you see on screen. Make lots of small test
prints if necessary. Keith further explains what equipment he
uses: Currently I have an Epson 9600 (44 width) and Epson
7880 (24 width) in the print room. The 9600 is used mainly
for black and white printing on matt papers via the ImagePrint
RIP. The RIP was an important tool in getting excellent
black- and-white prints from the 9600 and normal Epson
inks in 2004. In the six years since we got it, new printers
abilities to print good-quality black and white have improved
dramatically, such that I would no longer use a RIP like
ImagePrint for my black and white work. Im currently looking
at Canons latest iPF6300 printer to see how it compares.
When a print file is ready for printing, I always save a
version (16 bit, with all layers) that includes the size and
sharpening status in its name. As for paper, Keiths current
first two choices for black and white prints are the 285gsm
lustre finish Innova Ultra Smooth Gloss (IFA49) and the
315gsm matt cotton rag-based Innova Smooth Cotton Natural
White (IFA 11). He also prints some matt images on the whiter
High white (IFA14) version.
Jonathan prints using the Epson 2400, stating that the
results he is getting are now equal to anything he used to get in
the darkroom. For presentation, Jonathan uses a local framer
to build and fit custom frames and mounts for his exhibitions.
He is also experimenting with aluminium-based prints,
which he finds beautiful and incredibly luminous with the
black and white image.
In an age where digital technology has pushed photography
to a different level, it appears there is still a large appreciation
and respect for the traditional black and white landscape
image. Whether you are shooting black and white landscape
images for yourself or for a profession, this magical medium is
certainly a great and romantic genre of photography, and
one that will carry on being popular with the masses for years
to come. Get back to the land and discover the form, shape
and structure through photography.

Stunning landscapes

Ray Foley

Harold Britos

hArold Britos

Shot taken in Hagimit Falls, Samal, Davao City. It was a cloudy morning, which is the perfect weather
condition for shooting waterfalls. I was on the edge of the rock when I found this spot. The clouds were
moving fast and it was a great time to produce a long exposure shot to have dynamics on the image
shot details: Nikon D700 with 17-35mm lens at 17mm and f8, 46sec, ISO 200
DP Gallery:
Paul Forgham

Peter AnsArA

The image was taken in the fall in Mt. Vernon,

Washington. The field was in a vegetative state for the
winter. The sun was just going down. Obviously the
trees all line up nicely to contrast with the wonderful
harvested field. This image makes me reflect on the
beauty our country has to offer, and the necessity of
farmers to supply bounty to people all over the world
shot details: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens at 18mm
and f22, 1/250sec
DP Gallery:

Peter Ansara

rAy Foley

This shot was taken on Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, CA. I took this
from the pier overlooking the beach. There was a tribute to the men and
women that lost their lives in the war in Iraq. The only adjustment made was
a conversion to black and white in the Channel Mixer in Photoshop, and some
minor dodge and burn to highlight and darken some areas within the image
shot details: Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro at 22mm and f8, 1/500sec, ISO 160
DP Gallery:

PAul ForghAm

This lone tree makes for a great subject, standing defiantly in a harsh landscape among the limestone
pavements, completely exposed to the elements but surviving all that nature has thrown at it down the
years. I think the shot lends itself well to the black and white treatment, as it helps to convey the bleakness of
the location and accentuates the abundance of tones and textures in the scene
shot details: Canon EOS 40D with 10-22mm lens at 11mm and f13, 0.5sec, ISO 100
DP Gallery:
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 75


Shooting the
streets in B&W

We speak to street photographers to find out what it

takes to capture life on the streets in monochrome
76 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Shooting the streets in B&W

Comforting Hand

The comforting hand of Jo Jowett of

Love Light Romania reaches out to C
who is being cared for by the charity
as he faces the final stages of AIDS
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D with
50mm at 50mm and f1.6, 1/40sec,
ISO 1000
Richard Feaver

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 77


Ying Tang

When a photograph works, it transcends reality

and becomes something very special

Shanghai, 2007
Shot details: Nikon D100
with lens at 18mm and f3.5,
1/500sec, ISO 200

treet photography is a
heartbreak. So says Richard
Bram (,
a US-based photographer whose
images of city life in London,
New York and the spaces between, reveal
a capricious distillation of the world in
which we exist, from a perspective we
never care to notice. A heartbreak, Bram
says, because of the dire hit-to-miss ratio
and emotional rollercoaster of hopeful
shots and subsequent disappointments.
Any serious street photographer will tell
you the same and yet everyday across
the world cameras are readied and eager
photographers steadied, hidden in plain
sight among the unaware crowds. For
Richard the dividends outweigh the
disappointment. When a photograph
works, it transcends reality and becomes
something very special. It is the hunt for
that special photograph, so rare yet so
rewarding, that continues to draw me.
Born and raised in Shanghai, China,
Ying Tang (
shares some hunting grounds with Bram
having studied at the New York Institute
of Photography. But it was on the streets

78 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

of San Francisco, while at the School of

Photography of C.C.S.F, where she really
mastered her skills: I think the first
important thing to be a street photographer
is to realise that there will be a lot time and
effort, and also a lot patience, involved, so
the more time you spent on shooting, the
better result you can achieve.
At the heart of the genre lies a desire to
candidly and honestly depict the everyday
happenings in public spaces. While
many images can be merely a record of
a moment as it happens, the best street
images go beyond a simple imprint into
cleverly captured, sharply recorded and
cunningly composed shots, which not only
hold a mirror up to us but are laden with
implied meaning.
Professional stranger is the term
used by Max Kozloff to describe street
photographers. Richard Bram identifies
with this in his pursuit to capture the
essence of the places where we live. Cities
are stressful: the pressures of work, social
interaction, constant noise, dirt and lack
of private space all add to the tension. Yet
people manage to live, love, take pleasure
in life in the midst of it all.

Also in the business of reflecting reality,

is documentary photographer Richard
Feaver ( Richard
has worked as a photographer in various
capacities. Over the last four years he has
turned his attention to Romania. Inspired
by the work of legendary war photographer
James Nachtwey in the country, Feaver has
been highlighting the issues faced by many
in the region. Feaver drew early inspiration
from photographers in the Sixties and
Seventies, one such figure being Larry
Burrows. After seeing one of his essays
from Vietnam, One Ride With Yankee
Papa 13, I was stunned by how powerful
the images were and the effect they could
have, he says. In comparison to the selfreflection that street images can invoke in
us, Feaver is interested in the reaction it
can spark, especially when dealing
with images that challenge what we know
about a subject. His current work with
Romanian charity, Love Light Romania,
offers such stark reactions, as he deals
with a variety of subjects and issues
from communities struck by poverty to
individuals living with AIDS. A different
type of heartbreak altogether.

Shooting the streets in B&W

Richard Bram

Second Storey Man

London, 2004. I was walking back to

Farringdon Station having picked up
some film at Metro Imaging and
cut through a back courtyard. As I looked
up in the twilight I noticed a movement
and saw this man on a ledge. Exactly
what he was doing and why I shall never
know, and that question is what makes the
photograph interesting

8Foggy night

Richard Bram

Perugia, 2008. Sometimes it is simply an

emotional response to a sublime sight, like
Christmas lights in Perugia on a cold foggy
night. The world can be a beautiful place,
and while we tend to concentrate on more
edgy moments these days, its still okay to
make beautiful photographs sometimes.
Shot details: Rolleiflex at f4, 1/15sec,
TMax 400

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 79


Richard Bram tells us what makes a good street photographer

I call myself a street photographer, though once upon a time one would have simply said I am a photographer
and that is what it would have meant.
Born in Philadelphia in 1952, Richard Bram grew up across Ohio, Utah and Arizona. After earning degrees in
Political Science and International Business, he lost his head and pursued photography as a full-time vocation
over the series of uninspiring jobs that had come his way. Richard has lived and worked between London and
New York, and now resides in the latter. Richards street images reflect an intelligently quirky and contagious approach to the world.
Most of my photographs originate in the random chaos of the public space of the street, in the ambient weirdness of everyday life, he
says.They are not staged; reality is plenty strange enough. His work is in institutional, corporate and personal collections, including
the Museum of London, Bibliothque Nationale de France and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography.
1 Be bold
Most of the very best photographers working on the street are not using telephoto lenses, but standard and wide-angle and working
close to their subjects. Working in the public arena you are visible to everyone. Sneaking around furtively trying not to be seen usually
guarantees the opposite. If you just stand there openly watching and taking photographs, you will be noticed for a while, however we
arent really as interesting to others as we think: if you just hang around becoming part of the street furniture, people will get bored
with you and go on about their business.
2 Know your camera
The technical workings of your gear must be in your fingers rather than your head so that when you see something about to happen
you can take the photo fast! The difference between a great photograph and a miss is a tiny fraction of a second when a glance, a
gesture, a juxtaposition happened. If you have to think about settings, shutter-lag, zooming for perfect framing, anything that gets
between you and what you see, you will miss the shot. Chance favours the prepared mind: if your camera is already set for the light,
youre roughly in focus, very alert and paying attention, you improve the odds immeasurably.
3 Originality please
The ability to edit is one of the hardest and most important things for any reality-based photographer to learn. To know what is indeed
unusual and special, what isnt something taken a thousand times before, only comes with study and appreciation of other
photographers work. There is a reason that things are called clichs they are overdone: close-up portraits with telephoto lenses,
people just sitting in cafs, homeless people, and way too many peoples backs. Philadelphia-based photographer and wit Kyle
Cassidy posited a rule: Thou shalt not photograph people from behind and call it street photography. This maketh thee a coward.
4 Man up to criticism
Most so-called street photographs that I see posted on Facebook, Flickr, Google+ and many other places are pictures I have seen
time and time again. Far too many people are easily pleased and pay too much attention to the attaboy comments: Cool shot, dude.
Great capture.This is mostly useless and teaches you nothing. More useful is the careful negative critique harder to swallow but
more to learn from.
5 More than nice
Think of the usual images cute kids just smiling at the camera, a pretty girl looking right into your lens from 30 feet away; the list
goes on. These may be nice pictures, but nice is not enough. A sharp, technically good photograph is taken in the street; this does not
make it a street photograph. Ansel Adams, a man decidedly not a street photographer, said it this way: There is nothing worse than a
sharp image of a fuzzy concept.

Richard Bram

Both documentary and street

photography come with their own set
of challenges. One such challenge is a
matter of subject. While a documentary
photographer is usually focused on one
social area, aiming to capture as much
of the reality of it as possible, for a street
photographer even the smallest movement
on a city side walk could be a possible
subject. One element that calls to Ying
Tang is movement. My eyes get drawn
to certain moment like jumping, blowing,
laughing, running, she says. The human
movement sometimes can add a dynamic
to an image and make it alive. I think after
many years shooting on the street, Ive
developed my own sense of searching;
searching for a scene of carefree, emotional
and human connection. That is what draws
me to see how people interact with others
or themselves in a big urban surrounding.
Bram says for him its harder to know.
I think I am looking for what has been
called the unusual in the everyday, he
speculates. Something in a perfectly
ordinary scene that is somehow out of
place, or simply a moment that will not be
repeated. Sometimes it was the intensity
of the couple as they are about to kiss
(Mainz 1996, see page 82), a certain tilt of
the head, closed eyes, the anticipation of
what is just about to occur. Other times
it can be chance combined with a certain
preparedness. Sometimes it is simply an
emotional response to a sublime sight, like
Christmas lights in Perugia on a cold foggy
night. Other times they may be less actiondependant, more mood or light-based. It is
okay to make beautiful photographs, too:
the world can be a beautiful place, and
while we tend to concentrate on more edgy
moments these days, its still okay to make
beautiful photographs sometimes.
Richard Feavers choice of subject grew
organically from the path his photography
took. My photography started like most
others, messing around with a film camera,
a Canon A-1, he says. However, I focused
more on just wandering around and
shooting with a trial-and-error approach.
When I would go home and make my
negatives and prints, I would try and see
where I was going wrong and correct these
next time around. I started photographing
music and picked up a Nikon D70.
During his time photographing music,
Feaver found himself drawn towards the
smaller bands that needed help promoting
their music rather than bigger bands with
huge press pits and plenty of hype. He
also found himself enjoying capturing
moments on the road or backstage where


I was on my way to meet my wife at a Soho

restaurant on a bitter cold, freezing and rainy
January night and went by a cafe window. I was
late and wet, but had my camera. I stopped
briefly and made two frames
Shot details: Leica M6 with 35mm lens,
TMax 400
80 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Shooting the streets in B&W

Wall Street Fall

On my way home from the post office

one summer morning, I was waiting out a
sudden shower under a building overhang.
Passing the time, I began photographing
pedestrians coming through the
intersection, the reflections and patterns
they made in the rainwater. A man slipped
and fell and his umbrella went flying. The
camera was at my eye and it seemed as if it
went off by itself
Shot details: Leica M6 with 35mm
lens, TMax 400
Richard Bram

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 81


Richard Feaver

By water

Richard Bram

He spent the first 16 years of

his life living in a hospital; at
some point during this period
he was infected with HIV. He
is now under the care of Love
Light Romania and enjoys a
safe, healthy and happy life
the Sanctuary
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D
with 24-70mm lens at 70mm
with f5.6, 1/200, ISO 400


GerMany 1996

The out-of-focus little girl in

the background was wearing
a bright fluorescent patterned
jacket. If this were shot in
colour, the jacket would have
constantly pulled your eye
away from the focus of the
photo, the couple lost in
their moment
Shot details: Leica M3 with
35mm lens, TMax 400
82 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Richard Bram

Shooting the streets in B&W


The light and shadow on

the faces of the subjects
add a dramatic dimension
to the worried expressions
they wear. The image
shows a Romanian woman,
Erica, who lived on a
rubbish dump with her
three children after her
mother died of AIDS
Shot details: Canon EOS
5D with 24-70mm lens at
35mm with f2.8, 1/60sec,
ISO 1600
Richard Feaver

people were in a natural setting. This was

during the same period as his work with a
local paper which turned out to be a push
in the right direction: The stories I had to
cover had such little life or substance in
them that it only drove me on to pursue
photographing real issues on my own.
From there he decided to shoot
documentary: I was wary of going into
press photography because I felt I would
not have enough time if on assignment
and working to a deadline to accurately
photograph someones life. I decided
instead that if I worked with charities
not only would they benefit from the
pictures, but I would be able to spend
longer amounts of time with the people
I was photographing. It was after I began
working with smaller charities that I
realised just how difficult it was for them
to raise awareness of their work and that is
now something I am very passionate about
working towards changing.
Since being inspired by Nachtwey,
Feaver has been to Romania for four to
five month periods over the last four
years. The original idea was to photograph
the difference in Romania as they were
joining the European Union, but this focus
soon broadened when Feaver found Love
Light Romania. It was very clear to me
from when I first worked with Love Light
Romania how passionate they were about
their work and the people they cared for.
They had made such dramatic differences
to so many childrens lives through sheer
hard work with budgets that were tiny
in comparison larger charities, he says.

Their philosophy was similar to mine in

terms of my photography. They would
not simply turn up in a poor community
and give out bags of clothes then move
into the next. They were looking at longterm solutions for the children in getting
them back into schools and educating
the parents. This approach allowed me to
really get to understand the people I was
photographing and give an accurate picture
of their lives and needs. Feaver believes
Romania has serious issues which are
hidden away and only uncovered through
foundations such as those he works with.
Feaver works close to his subjects,
getting to know each of them individually
and forming a relationship with them
before shooting any images. In contrast,
for Richard Bram one of the challenges
of street photography is taking photos of
people without prior connection. Street
photographers do have the advantage
that subjects are often unaware of their
presence, yet for Feaver the trick is to make
those aware of him still go about their daily
business as if he werent there.
I would never take a photograph of
anyone who I hadnt asked permission
from beforehand, Feaver says. I can
understand why street photographers do
this to try and capture a moment, however
the majority of the people I photograph
have delicate situations. Yet I would never
ask people to sit a certain way either. I try
and build up a relationship with everyone
I photograph so that they are aware of me
being there but are comfortable enough to
just be as natural as they can be.

Street photography
and the law
If the public arena is your photographic playground, then knowing the rules is
essential. The laws governing photography on the street are fairly simple but
important to take note of.Members of the public and the media do not
need a permit to film or photograph in public places, and police have no
power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel, the
Met Office states on its website. While police do have the right to stop and
search a person who they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist under Section
43 of the Terrorism Act 2000, they do not have the power to delete digital
images or destroy film during a search. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000,
which previously gave officers power to stop and search, no longer exists.
Learn the laws and be confident in your rights as a photographer; carrying a
copy of the laws pertaining to photography in your camera bag is a good
way to conduct an informed conversation with any person that questions
your presence. The Im a Photographer not a Terrorist campaign (www. went a long way to educate photographers
about their rights. For a full overview of the laws visit
about/photography.htm. The London Street Photography Festival made a
video entitled Stand Your Ground to give photographers another perspective of
the issue. Watch it here:

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 83



The image captures

children living in poverty in
Jacodu. Despite their dire
circumstance, the children
are full of life and brightness.
Five smiling faces are huddled
together with the background
out of focus, highlighting the
sincerity in their smiles
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D
with 24-70mm lens at 24mm
with f4, 1/100sec, ISO 320


Although subtlety is
often rewarded in street
photography, the more
obvious subject choices
can still work well. Be on
the lookout for reactions of
passers-by in the background.
Or, in this case, the gentleman
in the foreground.
84 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Shooting the streets in B&W

Richard Feaver

Ying and Bram rarely have the

opportunity to make eye contact with a
subject and never mind build a relationship
with them. With the observer effect in
mind, some of the best street images
are captured with those in the frame
blissfully unaware. While this may present
a challenge technically, it also presents
an issue of privacy that is unavoidable in
the genre. Most public laws go a long way
to clear up what is allowed (see boxout
on page 53), but the rest is down to the
photographer. Bram recommends that
the wishes of the public, if expressed, be
respected. Most of the time people arent
aware that Ive taken their picture at all. I
often work in big crowded places where
no one notices another camera, he says.
Once in a while someone notices me and
says, Dont take my picture! I dont take
his picture. Taking this as a challenge and
then trying to do so only makes people
angry. There are other pictures elsewhere.
Ying says that familiarising yourself with
your surroundings and being comfortable
as you work goes a long way to bring a
smile to the face of your subject if they
notice you. That gives you confidence,

she says and adds that it may make you

less annoying to your subjects. Bram says
that anyone who works seriously in the
street will have a story of a confrontation.
To his mind, a smile and humble attitude
goes a long way. You must be able to deal
with and talk to people without being
belligerent, even if they are. If you look
sheepish, furtive or try to run off, all you
do is convince them that you are indeed up
to something, he adds.
All three photographers excel in black
and white, but with varying and intriguing
perspectives of why this suits their style
and images. A mental flick through
some of the most memorable street and
documentary images will often reveal a
favouring of black and white over colour
think Cartier-Bresson and Eddie
Adams for example. A lack of alternative
in older images is an obvious retort but
modern photographers continue to follow
in the same monochromatic vein and for
a reason.
For Richard Bram its the difference
between drawing and painting. In
monochrome you concentrate on the
graphic elements, the lights and darks,
and especially the action and expressions.
He gives a quote whose source has been
forgotten: In black and white you look at
the faces; in colour you look at the clothes.
Well known for his black-and-white images
in particular, Bram has only recently begun
to shoot in colour too. Colour introduces
so many more variables to deal with: the
rainbow itself, he says. Controlling this
and making it work within the frame is
different, harder. You must handle the way
the colours move across the frame do
they dance or do they just clomp around?

When Ying Tang first started shooting

street photography she began to do
so in black and white: It teaches a certain
way to see how light can affect the world
and the emotion. Since then I have
never tried to change my approach and
continued work with black-and-white
images. Tangs images in Shanghai
reveal an emotional undercurrent which
is enhanced by the choice of mode. I will
say the approach of using black and white
in my Shanghai images do transfer certain
contrast and uncertainty in my images,
which helps me reveal the current reality
in China. I think black-and-white images
reveal more emotions and sometimes
increase the imaginations of people,
making them timeless.
Feavers subject matter means that black
and white is often the only choice. He often
photographs in small, cramped povertystricken conditions with minimal light
available, and he feels that the stark nature
of black and white is appropriate. I feel it
accurately reflects these environments and
captures the hidden away existence these
people live in, he says.
There are photographs that work better
in one than the other, says Bram whose
new colourful work reveals the distinction
he makes for which mode works best
in which situation. Colour itself can
be a major part of the composition,
he says. In other instances there are
photographs where colour would have
been a distraction. Changing his mind,
though, is not a habit of Brams. Should
he shoot an image in colour thats the way
it will stay. To remove the coloured pixels
with postproduction software would be
defeating the point.

Richard Feaver


A child sits on the ground

near two house structures
in a poor familys community
in Romania. Poverty is
implied both by the childs
dress and state, and the
unkempt surroundings
included in the frame
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D
with 24-70mm lens at
34mm and f2.8, 1/5,000sec,
ISO 1000

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 85


Richard Feaver

Street GOGGleS

I was shooting pedestrians in

the late-afternoon sun as the
light reflected from windows
above, creating spotlights
on the street. A man went by
with his son on his shoulders
and as I raised my camera the
boy put his fingers up to his
eyes as if making sunglasses.
One cannot plan this, ask
permission, or stage it. It is
totally spontaneous one
must be ready and fast
Shot details: Leica M6 with
35mm lens, TMax 3200

When shooting in black and white, its

the Leica M6 loaded with TMax 400 that
youll find in Brams hands. If its colour
hes after that will be replaced by the M9
with either a 35mm f2 lens or a 24mm f2.8
on it. I got my first beat-up, brassy but
working M3 all manual, no meter, no
electronics back in 1987 and it just fit,
he says. They are not for everyone, and
now even used ones are very pricey. But
they are quiet, unobtrusive and, when you
get used to them, very fast to use. However,
you have to know what you are doing.
Other than that, the equipment list
is limited to spare rolls of film and a
handheld light meter. Anything else is
superfluous to the way I work, Bram says.
Quite a lot people ask me what camera
a street photographer should have, says
Ying. I always suggest a basic DSLR
camera, with a basic focal lens. The lens
I have is a standard one which I have had
for more than six years (Nikon 18-70mm,
f4.5). I think every camera or lens has its
advantages and disadvantages, so when
you realise what they are and [how the way
you shoot fits with these] you can [work
fast in the best way possible].
For Richard Feaver its the an old
Canon EOS 5D that does the brunt of his
photography, mostly with a Canon f2.8 2470mm lens or alternately a fixed f1.4 50mm
lens. Admittedly not a technically fixated
photographer, Feaver recommends lenses

86 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

that are good in low light, a constant battle

he faces. If you have good glass that can
help you get the shot you need its worth
investing in, he says.
Brams recommendation on the kit
front is a sturdy, comfortable pair of
shoes and, fundamentally, a camera. Any
camera, whatever type or format, a camera
phone, whatever, but something that can
record an image with you all the time!
You can never know when something
wonderful, quirky, peculiar, is going to
happen, except to know that it will always
happen when you dont have a camera,
he says. Camera phones are making it
easier for people to capture the everyday
and be ready when the unexpected
moments happen. Along with the increase
in available technology has come a
regenerated interest in the genre.
While this increases the volume of
images produced, Bram does not believe
this necessarily increases the number
of images that can be called good street
images. He has previously said there
is a difference in those that can do and
those that cant. Working in the street
is challenging. Having the result be
interesting, even intriguing, with an
implied meaning beyond the obvious
action in the frame, is incredibly difficult.
Bram believes there is more to a great
images than a technically passable street
scene, and he takes the stance that a bar

raised high for what is considered great

will work to push photographers further
rather than lulling them into a unhelpful
state where an online thumbs up translates
into an acceptable accolade.
As genres, both black-and-white street
and documentary photography continue to
push against their own limitations both
technical and social. New talent, new
technology and new interest look set to add
to their importance, as professionals in the
field persevere daily to capture candidly,
holding a mirror up to us, challenging and
inspiring us to see life differently or take
action to help the lives of those that we
dont see too often.
Richard Feaver finds his documentary
work gets extremely personal.
Photographing anybody who is suffering
is always disturbing, but I will only
photograph if there is some way the
picture I am making will help make a
difference to their life. I spend many weeks
with the people I photograph, some I
have known for years, and I think its very
important to have that relationship where
you are not just some guy who turns up
with a camera for a few hours to shoot and
then leaves, he says.
For Bram, his photography is more of an
internal effort than a public display. These
images are my visual diary, he states.
They are not staged or created artificially.
Reality is strange enough.

Shooting the streets in B&W


Matthew Ben

Expressive Engagement
The image was taken
at a local music festival
and there were many
fantastic characters to
photograph. The man
stares expressively past
the lens, his deep burrowed
forehead in contrast with
his bright youthful eyes
shot details: Canon EOS
5D Mark II with 85mm
lens at 85mm and f1.4,
1/1,000sec, ISO 100
dP gallery: www.

Matthew Ben Richardson


There were many fantastic

characters to photograph

Ian Pettigrew

Smoker Elderly smoker

stares ahead. This shot was
taken outside of Woodbine
Racetrack and Casino,
Toronto, ON, Canada.I see
this same old lady every
time I am there, says Ian
shot details: Nikon D7000
with 85mm lens at f2.2,
1/1,250sec, ISO 100
dP gallery: www.

Mervyn Dublin

Brian Dicks

BRian dicks

St Pancreas No 2 The lines of the escalators lead the eye up into the vast space of St
Pancreas station, bustling as a young contemplative woman reaches the top of the steps.
shot details: Canon EOS 7D with 8-16mm lens at 8mm and f7.1, 1/80sec, ISO 1600
dP gallery:

MeRvyn duBlin

Dam Square This image was captured in Amsterdam. Punters sit among pigeons as a worker and a
traveller cross painted city scenes of years gone by
shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 16-35mm lens at f3.2, 1/500sec, ISO 100
dP gallery:
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 87

Carol Allen Storey


Documenting life in
black and white

You come back to a still image like a good piece of

music; its a powerful instrument to provoke debate

Amina had been forced

to wear a red badge sewn
on her school uniform veil
since she started school
age 5 identifying her as
AIDS/HIV positive. Amina is
excluded from participating
in playtimes due to her HIV
positive status

Carol began this commendable vocation

ts almost like someone whos
almost 15 years ago after a colossal career
naked and needs to cover things
up, says photographer Carol Allen swerve from her role as executive vice
president of world wide marketing for
Storey about the black-and-white
Chanel. It was a very different industry,
medium she uses so frequently. It
but I decided I had to get back to my
strips away the peripheral components
roots, she says, agreeing that there was
and forces you to focus on what the story
an inevitable edge of uncertainty, but the
is about. For Carol, a photojournalist, the
determination to pursue this path was
story and the subject are everything. Her
something that had played on her mind
work looks past smashed windows and
for years. Having been a self-confessed
riots, zooming in on those suffering quietly
photo news junkie since she was a child,
in developing worlds. Its about giving a
getting excited when she unwrapped
voice to the voiceless, she explains. In
particular, dealing with humanitarian
National Geographic magazine on her
issues among women and children; I
birthday, Carol knows the power an
wanted to tell untold stories. We live in
image can have over a person. If you
a celebrity led culture with the Hello/
think of the iconic images that youre
aware of, you may not know the name of
Goodbye magazines and I thought that
the photographer but you know it made
if I can create a provocative story so that
some change, she reasons. For example,
someone has to think about what theyre
seeing, which may not be a popular subject, in the Vietnam war there was a fantastic
image by a photographer called Nick
then maybe I could trigger some change.


Ut. It was the picture of a naked young

girl running away from being burnt by
napalm. Everyone knows that picture and
that really changed the mood and acted
as a catalyst for positive action in the
States. You come back to a still image like
a good piece of music, a symphony; you
can hear it many times and its interpreted
in many ways and you contemplate it. It
is a very powerful instrument to provoke
debate, to have people think about things,
both the bad and the ugly depending on
what you want to do, but particularly in
photojournalism, I think.
Carols workload is a mixture of
assignments from charitable organisations
and self-funded personal projects, which
she often finds by flicking through a
newspaper or magazine and immersing
herself in the necessary research. Her
current project is fondly titled ANGELS At
The Edge Of Darkness and focuses on the

Documenting life in black and white


Carol Allen Storey

These girls had some knowledge of

the HIV virus which is limited because
their families refuse to talk to them
about it . Although both are HIV+, they
have no idea why they wear the red
badge. One of the girls said simply:
AIDS is death, nothing more. Everyone
knows that AIDS kills


Carol Allen Storey



Fatuma is in mourning. Her

mother died recently and her
father a few years ago, both
parents succumbing to the
AIDS virus. She too has tested
positive but has not been told,
a common occurrence among
children where AIDS is spoken
[about] in whispers

8 Kongowe,

Mwita has suffered from

the AIDS virus for more than
four years. After their father
abandoned the family when
Mwita became seriously ill, his
mother decided to move close
to the capital so that he could
receive treatment. He has
physically recovered but bitter
that he was ill for most of his
youth with no medical support

poverty-stricken women and children of

Africa, people that you can see on these
very pages. These are women of genocide
in Rwanda, women that were raped and
mauled during the 94 war, and now in
2011 are suffering from AIDS or extreme
poverty, says Carol. Many are homeless
and are forgotten because the NGOs and
disaster relief agencies have moved on
to the next disaster and theres nothing
sustainable established. Living in basic
lodgings where the water ration is provided
in two buckets one hot, one cold and
on the menu is anorexic chicken, Carol
travels light. Slinging 20 kilos on her back
and hopping on a motorcycle to get to her
next rural location, she packs the essentials
and forgoes assistants for a solitary fixer.
This person will be a local who can act
as a translator and trustee of the people;
there is nothing more important to

Carol that her photographs show dignity.

said to me Satisfy a man, you satisfy
When photographing a sensitive subject
your hunger. Its as simple as that. They
or people that are in pain, you have to
have such humility and generosity of
be very aware of their integrity. I never
spirit, and they know me because this is
make a picture, never, without it being a
my fourth trip in the last three years so
collaboration with the sitter, she explains.
they trust me to make pictures. Im not
I dont mean that Im setting up my images going to do anything that will embarrass
because my style is totally reportage and
them or create pain; they have enough
thats what I rely on. So, if theres a greasy
to deal with. She considers it her duty
spoon lying on the floor or a finger that
as a photojournalist to tell the truth, tell
nipped into the end of my frame, its
the story and not to play to an audience.
because thats how Im shooting it. Im not
Therefore, Photoshop is out of the question.
controlling whats happening, Im allowing One time one of my assistants said Carol,
events to occur.
maybe? and I said Not on your life. Do
Her most recent trip saw her journey
not touch it, she recalls. For me, what
to Uganda to photograph what she calls
you do in Photoshop is what you would
reluctant sex workers. There were
do in a darkroom; you can make things a
women living in a very remote fishing
bit darker and moodier but if youre not
village on the Congolese border where 70% shooting it right, whats the point? There
of the them, including grandmothers, are
has to be something left in the world that
sex workers, Carol says. One woman
you can trust.

When photographing a sensitive subject or people

in pain, you have to be very aware of their integrity
90 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Carol Allen Storey

Documenting life in black and white

Shooting mostly on a Mimiya 7, a basic

film camera thats void of the advanced
features found on digital cameras, the
reportage process is inevitably slowed
down. This is something that Carol prefers,
however, as it grants the time to think. Its
good to work in different disciplines, she
says. I did a very interesting thing with
my reluctant sex workers essay. At the
end of each photo session I decided to use
the iPhone and Im very excited by what
I was able to produce and the quality. It
is hoped that these will be shown in an
exhibition and it serves as an apt reminder
that photojournalism is so accessible to the
public in this digital age that any member
of the public with a camera phone can
document important events as they occur.
Keeping up to speed on all the latest
developments in photography, Carol
also shoots video interviews on a
Canon 5D Mark II, which she describes
as very forgiving, and always brings
a pocketable Canon G10 along just in
case. Rummaging through her kit bag
youll also find four prime lenses: a 35mm,
50mm, 24mm and an 85mm, and the

There are a lot of extremely painful

images that can be considered fine art
because they are sensitively done

Carol Allen Storey

Specialist genre:
Why photojournalism? I knew
from the beginning when I
embarked on my photographic
career that I wanted to photograph
people and create documentary
essays on serious social and political situations, with an
emphasis on humanitarian issues, especially among women,
children and the disenfranchised.
In the kit bag: Mimiya 7, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon G10, prime
lenses (35mm, 50mm, 24mm, 85mm), light meter, tripod.

Current project: ANGELS At The Edge Of Darkness

is my current personal project. It focuses on the women
and children managing the AIDS pandemic in Africa,
illustrating their courage and dignity and the horrific
impact of unabated poverty as this unrelenting killer
grows exponentially.
Top tip: The most important thing when photographing
a sensitive subject or people that are in pain is to be
very aware of their integrity. We dont have that right to
exploit people for our own gain for rewards as a photographer.
Its up to us to tell the truth and not to manipulate it in any
manner or form.
Why black and white? Its quieter for me, its more
contemplative; colour is too frenetic for certain subjects.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 91


Iklami huddled under the

shade of a tree with another
of his classmates who also
wears the red badge. He broke
into tears because his mother
had died a day earlier and his
father had also passed away
earlier in the year. He said he
was afraid he would be alone
because his grandmother was
old and she too would die

Carol Allen Storey


Carol Allen Storey

Carol Allen Storey



Joseph and Richard are twins

born with acute disabilities
related to the AIDS virus
carried by their mother during
pregnancy. The family live in
severe poverty sharing a cellsize room. Their mother sleeps
on the floor and the twins, with
their older brother, share the
only bed


At the Kizuiani Primary School

the children play exuberantly
simple games during one of
their breaks in the morning

shoot itself rarely gets more complex than

taking a light meter reading. However, as
Carol points out, this in itself can turn
into a difficult task: Flash upsets the
environment and the atmosphere so I
rarely use it. I could be in a very dark room
where the only light is provided by a crack
in the door and you have to be very careful
how you meter it, especially if youre
shooting black skin, but Im used to it.
This fierce work ethic and curiosity
about the world has led to three degrees
from universities in the States and in
the UK, but the Central St. Martins
Photography programme is where
she truly mastered the medium. The
photography course I took was at St
Martins specifically because it was a
fine-art school, she says. There are a
lot of extremely painful images that can
be considered a fine-art image because
its so beautifully and sensitively done


that the photographer internally is crying

and making an image of something that
is a catastrophe, a disaster, but beautiful.
Dealing with such poignant photo stories
can be emotionally distressing but, as
Carol points out, you cant take good
photographs through tears. Instead, she
reflects on the days events once the shoot
has been shot, the equipment is packed
away and shes alone with her journal,
which has become a nightly ritual.
It is this fervour for the profession that
motivates her to keep pressing the shutter
and bringing these worthy causes to the
publics attention. Budgets are limited
but if youre really committed and totally
passionate, which I am, you can make
it happen, says Carol, who began her
photography career with self-funded
projects. Theres no guarantee youre
going to make a lot of money, but thats not
what its about.

Nothing demonstrates this more

than an assignment she carried out for
the WWF organisation, which centred
on environmental education among
women and children to alleviate poverty. I
spent over 28 months travelling all over
Tanzania with the programme and we
had a big exhibition at the Proud Gallery
in London, raising over 25,000 off the
back of print sales, which was fantastic!
It all went back into the programmes in
Tanzania because that was my condition,
I said Id only agree to do this virtually
pro-bono, just the expenses covered, if its
guaranteed 100 per cent goes back to these
programmes and it did. This is a prime
example of the power a still image can
wield over the beholder, creating an impact
that can be felt by those in positions to
enforce positive change and those who are
daring enough to dedicate their life and
work instigating it.

Documenting life in black and white

Sauda is an orphan like far too

many children at the Nzasa
Primary School. Most orphans
at this school are a result of
the AIDS pandemic which has
decimated their community.
She is ill and her great
grandmother is desperate
to access the life-saving
antiretroviral drugs for her but
cannot afford the bus fare to
go to the clinic

Carol Allen Storey

Mandazi Town,

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 93


Nicolai Amter

94 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Story behind the still


Photographer: Nicolai Amter

Location: London
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-70mm
lens at 32mm and f4.5, 1/50sec, ISO 200

icolai Amter is a London-based director and

photographer. His work includes a mixture
of directing music videos, fashion films and
documentaries. He also shoots music photography,
portraits and travel images. Nicolais extensive
range of clients includes MTV, Disney, E4, Discovery Networks
and National Geographic to name just a few.
This image is a still from a series of photographs I shot in
Kibera, Kenya, he says, which is an area of slum in Nairobi and
one of the biggest slums in Africa.
The image was taken in natural light with no flash. As I was
shooting video that day too I had a vari-ND filter on the lens,
hence the slow shutter speed in the bright conditions. The blackand-white conversion was completed with Silver Efex Pro 2 using
my own custom settings.
I was on a directing job for the BBC World Service and part
of the shoot was located in Kibera. Immediately as you enter the
slums, the extremity of the situation hits you on many levels.
There are many people living in such cramped conditions, and
the imposing smell and muddy surroundings is impossible
to escape. It was an alien and imposing place, and was such
a contrast from the normal working environment Im used to
being in. Usually Im photographing musicians and making
music videos.
I felt I needed to return, and a few days later I spent most of
a day filming and photographing people who lived there. These
two in the image were waiting patiently for their mother to finish
chatting. They were two of the many I photographed and spoke
to that day. The severity of their situation I was told many times,
this is not living, this is just surviving.

A sharp contrast to Nicolais regular subjects of musicians and

performers, these children from Kibera, Kenya, live in desperate poverty

Shooting skills

Take your black and

white photography
skills to the next level
with our informative
shooting tutorials
98 Understanding flash
Learn about flash techniques

104 Achieve perfect

studio lighting
Part 2 - Take it to a pro level

110 Natural portraits

Step out of the studio and use the power of
daylight to produce black and whites

116 Black & white portrait tips

Industry pros reveal their top tips

120 High & low-key lighting

Master modern high and low-key
photography techniques

126 Control images with filters

Improve your black and whites with filters

132 Master composition

Make sure its all in the frame

138 Understand metering

Shed some light on fine-tuning
your images

144 Discover RAW

What are RAW files, how do they work
and do you really need them?

150 B&W abstracts

Search for shape, pattern and
structure and go abstract

156 Story behind the still

We dissect a shot along with its creator

There comes
a time when
you want to
become a
little more






Shooting skills

your flash
Delve into flash photography and learn more
about the techniques and equipment that
will have your portraits leaping off the page


Understanding your flash


Christian Hough

Shooting skills

Its time to get to grips with studio

lights and get yourself out there
Dragging the

This was shot with a single

Bowens 500w Monobloc on
a Battery Pak. A large silver
umbrella was used to light
both the car and subject, while
a slow shutter and high ISO
were used to capture the
rapidly fading sunset and
background scenery
settings: f10, 1/6sec,
ISO 400

here comes a time when

you want to become a little
more creative and progress
from a single flash. You can
begin utilising more advanced
techniques with different equipment,
such as multiple speedlights or battery
generators and flash heads. Since this
bookazine has been written with the
enthusiast in mind were going to skip
the easy part and head straight into the
level above. Its now time to get to grips
with studio lights, to get yourself out there,
put your skills to the test and get your
creative juices flowing! But before you
start, consider what equipment you may
need. Everybody knows what flash guns
and speedlights are. If youve only recently

100 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

been introduced to flash photography, you

may well be wondering what monoblocs,
flash heads and power generators are and
why they are used.
Monoblocs and flash heads are usually
designed for studio use, are much larger
than speedlights and will not run on your
standard AA batteries. They need to be
run off an external power source, such as
a battery pack or battery generator. The
power requirements, compatibility and
technical specifications will vary with
manufacturers, but the principle of an
external battery and separate head are
pretty much the same. Each head will
need a physical connection to a battery,
via a lead. Monoblocs and generators
are more expensive, larger, less portable




camera on

umbrella & flash

on battery pack

than speedlights and need to be metered

manually. So why would anybody want to
use them? Battery-powered monoblocs or
battery generators and flash heads produce
much more power and produce a much
stronger flash. Other factors such as flashrecycle times and the range of lighting

Understanding your flash

expert advice

Mel Boonstra tells us about

his kit and settings
We talk to Mel Boonstra, a leading exponent in
senior and graduation portraits, to get some
insider knowledge on how he maximises his
speedlights when shooting on location.
DP: You clearly shoot lots of location work. Do you
shoot mainly on location?
MB: While I do prefer location, I shoot about 70%
location and 30% studio. I prefer location because I like the interaction with
the surroundings. It presents infinite possibilities.
DP: Do your clients prefer shooting on location?
MB: I find my clients are much more relaxed and at ease on location, which
helps to capture a more natural feel and more of their personality, as
opposed to being in the spotlight within a studio environment.
DP: How do you choose your locations?
MB: I spend many hours scouting locations in the off-season. I am constantly
looking for new locations as I like to keep my photographs looking fresh and
interesting. Its good for the photographs and for business!
DP: What lighting equipment and camera do you use?
MB: I am shooting with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II N and mainly use a Canon EF
70-200mm f2.8L as it creates a nice length for portraits and works well on
locations. As for speedlights, I use the 550EX, 580EX-II and 430EX. They
have good power range, are extremely portable and Canons ETTL fits my
style of constant movement without the need to constantly re-meter.

Christian Hough

DP: How do you meter the lights?

MB: 80% of my location shooting is shot in Aperture Priority mode with
speedlights set to ETTL. I dial in anywhere from 0 to -2 exposure
compensation and +1/3 to +2/3 flash exposure compensation. This allows
me to drop the ambient exposure, giving my subject more pop and nice blue
skies. There are, of course, occasions when lighting is tricky and I will
manually meter.

large softBox



steel structure



2 sMall softBoxes (60 x 60cM)

faux daylight

A single large diffused light source from the

front of the model, such as a large softbox or
shoot-through created the nice flat light, while
a second large softbox from behind gives the
impression of daylight through a window
Settings: 1/125sec, f8.0, ISO 250


Dual sPeeDlIghts & translucent

shoot-through uMBrella

8twoS company

Dual speedlights mounted on a single stand

and shot through a translucent shoot-through
umbrella. The shot was taken on a bright,
sunny day, so needed to utilise the power of both
Settings: -2/3EV, Mode: Av, f2.8, 1/5000sec

Mel Boonstra Jr



Christian Hough

Shooting skills

102 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Understanding your flash

Mel Boonstra Jr






speedlight & small

softbox (fill light)

less is more


Using a Bowens QuadX power

pack and a 3kw Ringflash was
all that was needed to get this
moody and striking shot a
little goes a long way
settings: f10, ISO 100

& small
(key light)

sunset shot

Small softboxes were used to create soft

flattering light and utilise the warm sunset as
the backdrop. Utilised Canons ETTL, set to 2:1
ratio with the Canon STE-II on camera to trigger
the flashes. mode: Av, Camera set to -2/3 EV
with exposure locked on subjects face

modifiers you can use greatly increase

their versatility and appeal to professional
photographers. The trade off, of course, is
portability. Many wedding photographers
tend to stick with speedlights for their size
and portability, whereas photographers
who shoot a lot of group portraits and
need a little more power may well use
a monobloc and battery pack to light a
greater area. Its time to think ahead a
little and picture where you see yourself
heading in the photographic world!
Another option is multiple flash, which
many people are put off using simply
because they are worried about controlling
the light and how best to use it. Yet given
a little practise and understanding of the
techniques, it will soon become second
nature and youll be using them without
thinking in no time. You may have heard
the terms key and fill before and they
apply to all areas of flash photography,
regardless of flash equipment. The term
key light refers to the main flash lighting

the subject. The term fill light refers to a

flash that is used to lift or fill the shadows
and create a softer-looking image.
Professional portrait photographers will
use the key light to shape the face and
then add a fill light to control the amount
of shadow detail they want, making the
image look softer or harder. For example, if
you were to photograph somebody without
any flash in the evening sun, you would
have one side of the subject brightly lit,
whereas the other side would have dark
shadows. If you decided to add a flash to
lift the shadow detail, then you would be
filling the shadows. The principle is the
same with flash, although the main flash,
known as the key light acts as the sun and
the secondary flash, the fill light, brings
back some of the shadow detail.
There are any number of ways you
can use your flash to light your subject,
but there are also some tried-and-tested
methods to get you started. Many
professional portrait photographers will
use their key light off-axis for standard
portraits, simply because it can be used to
create a flattering shape to the face. The fill
light is usually used on axis or close to the
camera to simply fill in the shadow detail
and avoid cross lighting. Remember, your
fill light should be at least one-two stops
lower to avoid flat-looking portraits.
Dragging the shutter is another
technique worth exploring; basically this is
a really simple way of allowing the ambient
light back into your portraits. Roughly
translated, it utilises a slow shutter speed
with flash.
Start by metering and setting your
aperture correctly for the flash at 1/125sec,
but instead program a lower slower shutter
speed into your camera. The subject
will be frozen and properly exposed by
the flash, while the slower shutter will
allow some of the darker surroundings
to properly expose. Its also a great way
of allowing ambient light to balance the
colour in your photograph and remember
that a tripod can be a very useful accessory
on slow shutter speeds.
You can also use your additional flash
in other ways, for example to light the
background behind the person youre
photographing or even to light specific
parts of them, such as their hair, etc. There
are a range of different modifiers and lightshaping tools available to help you create
some great effects and give you more
control over the light too. Of course, there
are tried-and-tested methods, but with a
little creativity and experimentation it
may still prove to be very beneficial. Get
creative and youll be pleasantly surprised
at what you can produce with even the
simplest set-up. Remember to plan your
shoots and leave nothing up to chance.
Studio lighting and fill in flash may appear
daunting and confusing at first however
with a bit of practice they are simple to
master, so keep going.
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 103

Shooting skills


Achieve perfect studio lighting

Achieve perfect
studio lighting
Progress into the world of sophisticated studio
photography and explore ways in which to turn your
own home into a mini black-and-white studio


Shooting skills

Its a good idea to start small and expand your

equipment as your skills and experience increase
lastolite collapsible
velvet background


prop it up!

Using simple things like

coloured fabrics and scarfs
can give a sense of mystery.
Cropping in tight on the
image and using the portrait
format really concentrates on
the eyes. A single softbox to
camera left metered at f11 is
all it takes


Yoke Matze

106 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

at f13

ts a common misconception
that you need lots of studio lights
to make a great portrait. In fact, all
you really need to get yourself going
is just one, solitary little light. Its
all a matter of controlling and shaping the
light and where you place it that counts.
Thats not to say you cannot make great
photographs with several lights, either. As
you would expect, the more lights you add,
the more creative you can be, but the more
control and understanding of your lighting
you will need. Luckily, weve got great tips
to guide you through the basics of studio
portrait photography and some example
lighting setups to get you started.
So, what equipment do your purchase
for your home studio? If youre just getting
into studio lighting, its a good idea to
start small and expand your equipment as
your skills and experience increase. There

are several 500w/s two-head lighting kits

available, and theyre a great place to start.
They come with most of the essentials
youll need to get you up and running,
such as stands, reflectors, umbrellas
and/or softboxes. Your choice of brand
will inevitably depend on your budget;
however, its always a good idea to stick
with the main, well-known manufacturers,
such as Bowens, Elinchrom and Profoto for
example. All offer good reliability and UK
support. Youll also find that these systems
are the most widely available, which make
them perfect for expanding and buying
extra accessories for as your demands grow.
While backgrounds arent the most
exciting things to think about, they can
really make your image pop. Each type
of background has its pro and cons its
all about finding whats right for you.
Seamless background paper is the most

Achieve perfect studio lighting

widely used and is available in two widths

(1.35m and 2.72m). They are available in
a huge range of different colours and are
fairly cheap. The cons are that they crease
and tear easily and will eventually run
out as your trim off the soiled lengths.
There is also a small range of vinyl
backgrounds, which are more robust
than the paper and wipe-clean, but theyre
only available in a few colours, and theyre
more expensive too.
Another option is to use a fabric
background, which is similar to a giant
sheet and cheaper than both paper
and vinyl. The fabric can be stored and
transported easily, plus simply popped
into the washing machine when dirty.
The downside is that the fabric creases
easily, ruffles around peoples feet and
is not suitable for background lighting
effects. Finally, its also worth considering
Lastolites collapsible backgrounds. These
are good quality, very compact, extremely
portable and very quick to set up.
Youve got your first customer, set up
your studio and youre ready to go. Most
people are a little nervous and selfconscious within a studio environment, so
its your job to get them to relax: a relaxed
subject can make or break a shoot. Its
time to utilise your interpersonal skills
and establish a little rapport! Portrait
photography is as much about dealing with
people as it is taking pictures, and a little
conversation while youre metering your
lights can work wonders for your shoot.
Try to establish a common interest, such as
travel and holidays. These are often a good
place to start and tend to invoke happy
black seamless paper background

500w head
with red gel
500w head
with blue gel

60 x 60 softbox

gel with your model

Adding a couple of coloured gels to your setup

can make the image more visually appealing.
Meter your key light (camera left) at f11 and then
increase the colour of the gels until you achieve
the desired effect. The power needed for the
gels will vary, depending on the skin and hair
tone of your model. In this setup the 500w head
with red gel is mounted on the ground and the
500w head with blue gel is mounted high above
the subject on a boom stand
Christian Hough

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 107

Shooting skills

keep it simple

A two-light setup against black seamless

paper really works for this image, which
makes the most of the landscape framing.
Meter your key light at 45 degrees (left)
and then your fill light between one and two
stops lower (around f5.6-f8). Place the fill
close to the camera axis (right) to help lift
those shadows
Christian Hough

Useful tips

Yoke Matze

black seamless paper background

Home studio helpers


Histogram and HigHligHts:

The histogram is a useful visual tool to
help you judge your exposures at the
time of shooting and assist you in
spotting and rectifying problems
straightaway. As you shoot more
studio photography, youll see that the
histogram will behave differently
when you change backgrounds and
lighting. A rule of thumb is to expose
properly and achieve a full histogram.
However, if you are shooting on a very
dark background, youll notice the
histogram shift to the left. If youre
shooting on with a high-key
background, you should try to achieve
a fairly full histogram with a noticeable
spike at the far right-hand edge where
the highlights are just clipping. The
flashing highlight function will help
you to see if youre clipping that
all-important highlight data!

60 x 60 softbox
at f5.6

lastolite collapsible
velvet background


softbox at f13


108 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book


black polyboard

raW: It always pays to shoot RAW for

maximum flexibility when adjusting
images in post-processing. Think of a
RAW file as a digital negative: it
contains more information than a
compressed JPEG and will therefore
give you the highest level of flexibility
when it comes to adjusting the
exposure, contrast and dynamic
range in your shots for example. It also
opens the door to more aggressive
post-shoot noise removal, if necessary.

60 x 60
at f11

simply black & White

A single softbox to camera left at f11, a velvet

hood and black velvet background really give
this image tons of shadows. Add a simple blackwhite conversion and youve got loads of drama!

Christian Hough

Achieve perfect studio lighting

expert advice

Yoke Matze shares her favourite

lighting setups and settings
Yoke Matze is a seasoned portrait photographer and lecturer in
London, with 20 years of experience. Yoke runs her own portrait
school in London and her work has been widely exhibited. Digital
Photographer meets up with Yoke to find out how she goes about
her portrait sessions.
DP: How do you meter your lights?
YM: For a single light, I meter the reflected light at the subject.
However, for dual lighting, I tend to meter each light individually. As for a hair light, I carefully
avoid burning out the highlights and adjust the light depending on the hair of the model.
DP: Do you have any preferred lighting setups?
YM: Not really. I generally work instinctively and react to each person, so have no fixed lighting
per se. My starting point is always a key light at 45 degrees and a little fill light nearer to the
camera. I tailor the lighting towards each subject.
DP: Do you change the lighting when shooting the same subject?
YM: Once the person feels relaxed and confident I suggest trying something different, both in
terms of lighting and poses. I usually do this towards the end of a session.
DP: What are your favourite reflectors for the home studio?
YM: Less is more. I use a softbox as the main light and an umbrella as a fill. I really like to use a
single light without a reflector, to create a strong theatrical feel to the image.
DP: How do you get your subjects to relax?
YM: I tend to treat them with respect and usually chat before the session. We look at some
photo books, which help to guide me in terms of the type of photograph the person likes.
Effectively, the model becomes part of decision-making process.


lastolite Hilite


The Lastolite Hilite

background gets the
high-key background
in small spaces. Single
reflective umbrella to
camera left at f11, with
two studio heads in each
side of the highlight;
powered background
lights clipping histogram



60 x 60
softbox at f11


A relaxed subject can help

to make or break a shoot
memories, which naturally
make the subject feel
more positive.
Get organised and ensure
that all of your equipment
is set up before your
subject/s arrive. This
will help you to create
a relaxed atmosphere
and concentrate on the
person in front of the lens.
Its now time to guide and pose
your subject. A good pose really
makes a photograph, so its a
good opportunity for you to think
about shape and how the lens
exaggerates certain aspects of

the body. Youll also find that some poses

work better for women than for men, and
vice versa. For example, male subjects look
more masculine when the head remains
at 90 degrees to the shoulders or leaning
on the far elbow. A female subject, on the
other hand, tends to suit a tilt of the head
towards the near shoulder, with the hands
placed in the lap. Experiment with lots of
different poses. Utilise the legs, arms and
hands to help create shape and interest,
but be mindful of them getting in front
of the face. Try purchasing a couple of
different backless seats and stools and see
which one works best for your subject.
Finally, dont be afraid to get stuck in and
demonstrate the pose yourself.

Shooting skills

Take portraits
in natural light
We step out of the studio and use the power of
daylight to produce black-and-white portraits
110 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Take portraits in natural light


How best to transform a best

friends picture into something
else? Be prepared when he or
she is not. Its not only the eyes
that produce a nice photograph
shot details: Canon EOS 1D
Mark IV with 85mm f1.2 lens at
85mm, f1.2, 1/4000sec, ISO 100
lighting setup: Sunny end of
the day at the beach

Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 111

Shooting skills

Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

SurfS up

Munich, Germany. Taken

on the perpetual wave. The
bridge just next to this world
renowned surf site allowed me
to have this unusual point of
view. I lived there for two years,
trying as much as I could to
get the shot of a surfer
Shot details: Canon EOS 1D
Mark IV with 70-200mm lens
at 73mm and f2.8, 1/320sec,
ISO 100
Lighting setup: Natural light
on a grey day, diffused through
clouds and nearby trees


Mont Saint Michel, France. Not

the place youd think about for
portraiture, but the coast and
its always-changing weather
produce a wonderful light for
black-and-white portraits
Shot details: Canon EOS 1D
Mark IV with 85mm lens at
85mm and f1.2, 1/3200sec,
ISO 100
Lighting setup: Natural light,
a bit overexposed to get a
high-key picture with postproduction

Natural light portraits provide perfect

opportunities to work outside the studio

atural light is a real gift for

photographers and a free
one at that. Its amazing
what can be achieved using a
large window and a few key
accessories. With a well-positioned model
and the tilt of a reflector, you can achieve
stunning black-and-white portraits all
without the flicker of a single studio light.
Natural light portraits provide perfect
opportunities to work outside the
confines of a studio. Whether you opt
for an environmental family portrait in a
beautiful garden or a moody model shot
gazing out of a window, there are plenty of
opportunities to grab hold of.
When shooting naturally lit portraits
indoors, your first step should be to
identify the best light source. Ideally this
should be a large unobstructed window
that spans as wide and high as possible.
Windows that are positioned low to the

112 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

floor are perfect for creating a glorious light

box to illuminate the whole of your subject
rather than just the face, whereas windows
positioned very high in the wall or Velux
windows in the roof space are trickier to
work with. Its often useful if the window
has net curtains as these act as a great
diffuser to soften the light. For a stronger,
contrasty look, use bulldog clips to pin the
nets up and out of sight.
Its also worth noting what lies directly
outside the window. Watch out for objects
such as cars, painted walls or dominating
foliage that could cause colour casts in
your shots. This obviously is more of an
issue when shooting in colour, but it can
also affect the temperature of your shots in
black and white too.
When shooting in natural light, you
need to be aware of its direction and its
effects and remember soft light are easiest
to work with. Its the kind of light that hits

the subject gently on one side of the face

and tapers out to create soft shadows on
the other side of the face.
Hard light is direct and is intensified
when the source is made smaller. A small
window, for example, will produce a
harder beam of light as opposed to a big
window. The result of hard light is harsh
shadows and very bright highlights. The
harsh light of the midday sun can create
unsightly shadows in portraits. Since it sits
high in the sky at this time, the light hits
the top of the models head and produces
ugly shadows under the nose and in the
eye sockets. Unless you plan to create an
edgy, high-contrast portrait, avoid shooting
in direct sunlight at midday. Look for shady
areas for a softer effect or head indoors to
create a window portrait instead.
For a classically well-lit window portrait,
you should position your model side-on
to the window, creating highlights on one

Take portraits in natural light

Kit advice

Consider this kit to create

compositions to be proud of

What it does: Gives you more control over the
natural light
Using dark coloured velvet, you can help
control the light and subtract or dull it.
Black velvet has the most colour absorbing
properties, although any dark shade will do the
trick nicely.

What it does: Bounces light and fills in any
unwanted shadows
To bounce light, use a reflector to direct light
into the face. You can buy reflectors in silver,
gold and white or you can easily make your own
using a piece of card covered in kitchen foil. Its
a cheap, quick fix.

WindoW light
What it does: Enables you to create portraits
with natural light while indoors
Of course the most important thing in any
photo is the perfect light. A large window is
all you need to create a stunning portrait in
black and white. The lower it is to the ground
the better.

Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

Watch out for objects or dominating

foliage that could cause colour casts
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 113

Shooting skills

Nicolas OrillardDemaire tells us how

to get great portraits
What are the main
considerations for successful
NOD: You need to keep in mind
that your model, whether pro or not, will have a limited attention
time frame. Even if its physically there, the time to catch the life
in their eyes can sometimes only last five minutes. You need to
hurry before they get bored. Beauty comes from every single
person on Earth you just need to find what exactly can make
your subject stand out from the crowd. And be relaxed; talk with
the person behind the lens. You can see stress on peoples faces,
even if they are laughing
What are your preferred techniques when shooting in
natural light?
NOD: More than anything else, using a very large aperture (f1.2)
to let the bokeh transform the picture. I focus on the eyes and all
the rest is sweet. I generally try to catch a moment. I dont really
like people posing for me; I like natural poses as they get on well
with natural light!
Do you find certain faces or characteristics work better in
black and white?
NOD: For me, wrinkles, freckles, scars and natural skin texture


I could look directly in his eyes,

touching his soul, reading a
part of his past life, full of anger
and sadness. Quite an intense
moment where I needed to
act quickly
Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark
IV with 85mm f1.2 lens at 85mm
and f1.2, 1/125sec, ISO 100
lighting setup: Rainy day in an
alley of trees, making light and
shade everywhere on his face

have more character than any hard post-processed fashion

pictures. These little details are often wonders when correctly
used in a B&W portrait. They tell the story of a person, as its part
of their life. And as beautiful as a picture can be, most of the time
if you see the wow factor, it is because it tells you a story. You
can read the picture, and not just look at it.
What is the appeal of naturally lit B&W portraits?
NOD: First of all, natural light is free of charge. No need for soft
boxes, flashes etc. I prefer to shoot when the sun is far from its
highest point often in the evening as this makes hard
shadows disappear, creates fewer contrast differences and
gives you a more natural photograph.
What are your top shooting tips for the genre?
NOD: Think black and white. Try to see structures, lines and
contrast more than colors.
- Avoid direct sunlight, especially between 11am and 4pm.
- If possible, use prime lenses. Build and optic quality is at its best,
and most of them have a large aperture that enables you to play
with the depth of field.
- Focus on the eyes. Eye contact is a great way to make a portrait
come to life.
- Rain and clouds are your friends be prepared to get wet!
- Dont forget to talk with the person you are shooting. Try to
catch attentions and motivate the crew!
- Act quickly. The sparkle in a models eye can quickly fade.

side of the face and soft shadows on the

other. This provides a three-dimensional
look, unlike the flat effect you would
achieve if you positioned your model
facing straight towards the window.
You can use a white wall or white
reflector on the opposite side to the
window to bounce light and fill in the
shadows a little. Likewise, if you needed
to subtract light, then a black surface will
help absorb light and tame the highlights.
Black velvet absorbs light particularly
well, so pick up a scrap from your local
textiles shop and mount to a piece of card
for a low-cost accessory. This is known
as subtractive lighting. A well-placed
piece of black card either side of the face
can produce a wonderful effect, adding
definition to the temples and cheekbones.
Since you are relying on nature to
provide your light, its a great help to work
with a lens that has a large aperture, so
it can let as much light in as possible. An
85mm or 50mm lens at f1.8 or even f1.2
will help you achieve stunning portraits
even when the light is limited. Using a
wide aperture will also mean you can
achieve wonderfully creamy backgrounds,
while your subjects, or parts of, remain
pin-sharp in the foreground.
Just because youre shooting in natural
light dont let all your basic portrait skills
go out the window. Remember the classic
portraiture rules. Always focus on the
eyes and ensure theyre the sharpest part
of your image. Use a large aperture to
create a good depth of field, throwing your
background out of focus and keeping the
attention on your subject.
Finally, always shoot in RAW if you can.
This means you have ultimate control over
your image after it has been captured. You
can tweak the exposure, add fill light and
generally improve on things if the lighting
was not quite as expected. Its the best
back-up plan if you want to get creative


The first model you have is you!

A great way to try to test your
gear and how the light works is by
taking a self-portrait
Shot details: Canon EOS 1D Mark
IV with 50mm lens at 50mm and
f7.1, 1/40sec, ISO 100
lighting setup: In a dark room
with natural light coming from a
window and a small lamp giving a
bit of directed light

Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

114 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

Take portraits in natural light

Top tips when shooting in natural light

1 Avoid shooting when the sun is low in the sky and at
window level
2 For a low-cost accessory, use white card to
bounce the light and black card to help absorb
and subtract it
3 For a straight-on portrait, face your subject straight
on into the light and use black card either side of the
face to add shadow definition to the cheekbones
and temples
4 By positioning your model around two metres from
a wall or background you will be able to create a dark
or black backdrop due to the fall-off of light
5 Use a reflector on the darkest side of your model to
balance the light in their eyes

6 For indoor window shots avoid shooting when the

sun is low in the sky. When shooting outside,
embrace the low-lying sun
7 Fill-in flash can give natural portraits an editorial feel.
Use it when shooting on the beach to create a
polished look
8 Position your subjects away from the sun on bright
days to avoid squinting
9 Outdoor portraits work will in the dappled light of
tree branches. The shadows can produce great
textures in black and white
10 For a harsh contrasty effect, position your subject
next to a window with slatted blinds to create a
patterned effect on the face

Rainy poRtRait

The end of a rainy day

outside shooting with model
Solenne. That was her
first time posing. She has
such a great presence and
beautiful eyes
Shot details: Canon EOS
1D Mark IV with 85mm
f1.2 lens at 85mm and f1.2,
1/200sec, ISO 100
Lighting setup: Taken in
my garden on a rainy day,
the foliage of the trees was
a useful diffuser
Nicolas Orillard-Demaire

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 115

Shooting skills

Black & white

portrait tips
Perfect your monochromatic
portrait skills as the pros
in the genre reveal

their top tips

1 Use natural light

Anya Brewley Schultheiss

Photographer Anya Brewley

Schultheiss ( captured
this black-and-white portrait using natural
diffused light from a side window. I wanted
the setup to be uncomplicated and produce
soft, smooth tones, which the black-andwhite conversion also adds to. The photo
has the feeling of delicacy and innocence,
which is what I wanted to convey.

2 Children

Children and babies take particularly

beautiful black-and-white portraits, and
if youre looking at it from a business
perspective then the monochromatic finish
will sell particularly well to parents
and grandparents.


Black-and-white portraiture works

effectively in high-contrast settings. Look for
plain dark or white backgrounds to enhance
the subject. This style of photography works
particularly well with baby photography in
the studio.

5 Include

Anya Brewley Schultheiss

3 Blur the background

To keep the subject matter in focus and have a bokehblurred background effect, set your camera to a shallow
depth of field and keep your focal point on the eyes. A prime
lens will work best for this effect, and the wider you can open
it the better.


To give your portraits context, include

the surroundings and relevant objects
in the scene. Mayra Roubach (www. captured this image of
Afro-Cuban folklore performers inside the
cave of El Palenque de los Cimarrones. [It]
is a cave that used to be a runway for the
slaves who escaped from the plantations in
Vinales, Cuba. They used to seek refuge in
this hideout.

Mayra Roubach

Black & white portrait tips

6 Go vintage

Photographer Dave Kai Piper (www. took the shot to the
left with a single Speedlight modified with
an Orbis ringflash adapter. His simple
setup shows you dont need lots of fancy
equipment to do a high-end shoot. The soft
lighting adds impact to the vintage styling of
the clothes, hair and makeup.

7 Use negative space

Dave Kai Piper

In this image, Andy Teo has used

the dark space and shadows to create a
dramatic portrait. Despite emerging from a
mud hut, this Malawi gent was immaculately
dressed for church, he explains. This was
taken on a medical mission to Malawi I was
part of in 2009. I used the natural window
light and a Canon EOS 5D with a 70-200mm
f2.8 lens. Andy finds it easier to visualise
the scene in black and white before he
presses the shutter. He remembers to take
a close look at where the shadows are falling
and makes sure they are generating some
sort of interest before he commits.

Andy Teo

Eric Fabico

8 Think fashion

Eric Fabico took the high-end fashion portrait

shown above called Monochromatic Eve. The choice of
clothing, makeup and hair all stand out in a black-andwhite finish.

9Textures and patterns

The textured hair in this shot enhances the model.

Look for contrasting textures to make an impression. If
your subject has textured skin, take advantage of this
by cropping in close to the face.

10 Emphasise the eyes

Putting emphasis on the eyes of the subject

will create drama for the whole image. The eyes are key
to many successful portraits if the model is looking at
the camera, make sure the focal point is on them.
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 117

Shooting skills
13 Document the event

John Powell


Use props

Dave Kai Piper

One way to transform your blackand-white image into something different

is to use props and makeup, as Dave
has demonstrated with his image Ice
Queen. Originally shot for a magazine a
couple of years ago, the Ice Queen seems
to be somewhat of a standout photo in
my portfolio, he explains. Its one of my
favourites; I particularly like the catch lights.
I shrank photos of the Earth into her eyes to
create them. When the photo is printed large,
you can make out the shape of England.

12 Take a candid portrait

Snapping documentary images on

the go is great fun. A candid street portrait
finished in black and white, if shot in the right
circumstances, looks great and traditional.
Neha Singh ( took
this image of a coconut seller in Hampi,
India. Neha felt the melancholy look on this
old mans face stood out. Glimpses of his life
are included in the surrounding scenery.

Neha Singh

118 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Hannah Couzens

The image to the left was taken in

freezing cold temperatures (-5 degrees
celsius) at the worlds toughest endurance
course: The Tough Guy Challenge.
Photographer John Powell (www. explains how he
captured the moment: Here, runners are
shown soaked to the skin, having to wait
their turn to negotiate a 12-foot-long tunnel
of tractor tyres after having just waded
through ice cold water, four feet deep! To
get the most from the situation, John
advises: Make sure your image contains
a full range of tones and that your subject
has feeling and atmosphere, and also try
to capture the mood of your subject and
their surroundings.

14 Side-light your subject

Photographer Hannah
Couzens (
snapped this black-and-white portrait of
professional footballer Jay Bothroyd. I
used side lighting to accentuate his athletic
physique and to create a strong contrast
within the image, she tells us. This was a
three-light setup using Bowens 500W Esprit
gridded heads.

Black & white portrait tips

Anya Brewley Schultheiss

Kim Aldis

15 Add a subtle tone

Kim Aldis (

took this character close-up portrait of
a man named Rusty in South Devon. To
enhance the portrait she added a tone, as
she explains: Digital monochrome can
sometimes look a little clinical, and in the
film days bromide printing paper had a hint
of colour to it. I like to replicate this effect by
toning the image a touch with a little warmth
in the highlights and alter some blue blacks.
Keep it subtle, though, as its easy to overdo.

16 Frame the moment

Photography enthusiast Bryan

Rapadas ( got
the timing of this portrait just right. When
the smoke machine blew smoke at the front
stage, Jay Contreras, the lead vocalist of the
Kamikazee, puffed some and blew it as if he
was smoking with a cigarette.

17 Take a self-portrait

Anya Brewley Schultheiss wanted her

self-portrait profile to jump out, especially
the hair, so she selected to backlight it and
converted the image to black and white.
The black-and-white finish highlights the
curves and lines of the face and the wildness
of the hair exactly as I pictured it, she says.

18 Silhouette

Detail is not always necessary, as

this example shows. Look for interesting
profiles. If you want to take this style of
image, try to keep the background as
plain as possible. You can push the darks
and lights at the editing stage if you dont
capture it first in camera.

19 Converting

Although there is the option to shoot

in black and white in most cameras, it is
recommend you shoot in colour and convert
later. When at the editing stage, use the
channel mixers so you can have full control
over the tone and contrast of the image.
Tweak the image in Levels if it needs it to
finish it off.

20 Communication

Unless you want to take a candid

image then communicating with your
models is important to ensure youre getting
what it is you want out of the shoot. If its
a set-up shoot make sure you pre-plan
what youre going to do and dont leave it
to chance. You can experiment with your
approach once youve achieved what you set
out to do.

Bryan Rapadas

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 119

Shooting skills

High & lowkey lighting

Find out how to master modern high and low-key
photography techniques and enhance your blackand-white portraiture


High & low-key lighting


Shooting skills

We delve into the world of

high and low-key photography

he subject of high-key
photography is a great place
to start this feature. However,
we need to break this down
into its commensurate
parts if were not going to get confused
between the two different types of high
key. Its therefore a good time to make the
distinction between high-key photographs
and the high-key background, as they are
both frequently confused. The high-key
background is just that white whereas
a high-key photograph is more commonly
described as a photograph consisting of
predominantly light tones.
Well look more at achieving the highkey background in this section and will
cover different setups, plus ways in which
it can be achieved, as this tends to be the
more difficult to grasp. With regards to
the high-key photograph, well get some

Christian Hough


The Lastolite black velvet collapsible

background works really well for
close-proximity portraits and keeps that
background looking black. Add a single light
to really cast those shadows and add a touch
of drama
Lastolite collapsible black
velvet background

and sax

Studio light fitted with 60

x 60 softbox

Camera at f11

Essential kit

advice from professional photographer

Annabel Williams and look at a very quick
alternative post-processing technique that
can be applied to almost every high-key
image to give your photograph that overall
light-contrasting appearance.
The beauty of the high-key background
lies in the fact that its uncluttered, totally
neutral and places the emphasis of the shot
on the most important thing the subjects.
Not only does it work well with all types
of mood from happy to sad, it also has an
added dimension when printing. The high
contrast of the high-key background makes
it perfect for all types of printing medium,
from paper to the very popular canvas.
Its true that whether youre in the
studio or on location, the overall tonality of
the shot will determine the photographs
suitability for any form of post-processing.
So if you have a lot of very dark areas, it
probably wouldnt be suitable for high key.
However, you will often find that the highkey effect is exacerbated in post-processing,
either by curves or other Photoshop
techniques. This only applies when the
tonality of the shot is right to begin with.
Start by exposing your shots properly
and think about your post-processing
afterwards. By exposing properly, we
mean exposing to achieve a complete
histogram, or so that the subject has a
balance of highlights and shadows. This
will give you maximum flexibility for both
editing and retaining highlight data where
it is needed. Its important to look after that
important highlight detail as most image
data resides in the shadow areas. Hence,
it is easier to retrieve shadow information
than highlight detail. By deliberately
overexposing to make the image high
key in camera, we are likely to get a very
washed-out and flat image, plus risk losing
the important highlight detail that we may

Useful products for your high and low-key shots

Flash heads

A decent set of flash heads is a prerequisite for studio

photography, regardless of whether youre shooting
high key or low key, or indeed portraits if youre going
to shoot products these will come in handy then too.
The Bowens Gemini Heads (pictured) are a great
investment and come with a great range of modifiers
and accessories when you eventually decide to
expand your setup.
You will likely also get
stands and accessories
when you purchase the
heads, but make sure
this is the case before
you buy.


Collapsible black velvet


If youre interested in low-key photography, then a black

velvet background is absolutely essential, and the Lastolite
Collapsible Black Velvet Background (pictured) is a great
place to start. The crease-resistant velvet fabric absorbs the
light to give a deep, even rich black
background colour, and it folds into a
third of its original size for easy
transportation. If youre lucky
enough to have a sizeable piece of
black velvet lying around, then this
will work well too, but be aware that
it probably wont be as easy to
transport around.

Illuminated background

An illuminated background is perfect for high-key images. You

can get your subject right up to the background without any
resulting spill light, and say goodbye to awkward background
supports, white sheets and
washed-out images. The Lastolite
HiLite (pictured) is one such
background, and it provides a quick
and easy way to achieve a high-key
background. If youre interested in an
illuminated background, make sure
you know what size you need not
only can the wrong size affect your
studio setup, you may be spending
far more than you need to.

High & low-key lighting

White Background Paper

Studio lights fitted

with Bowens High
performance reflectors

Fill light and softbox at
f5.6 mounted up high
on stand

Key light and silver

umbrella at f11


Start by exposing your shots

properly and think about your
post-processing afterwards


Soft light for children always

works beautifully, as their faces
still have very gentle contours
and relatively few creases.
Adding a touch of fill with a
second light really helps soften
their features even further. Be
sure to get that fill light up high,
just right to the camera axis,
avoiding the second catchlight
in the eyes


Shooting skills
Lastolite HiLite background

Studio light fitted with

standard Bowens reflectors
Baby on Lasolite
Baby Poser

Studio flash and small silver

umbrella at f11


Christian Hough


Babies can be difficult

subjects to photograph,
but the lighting setup is
easy and can be done in a
small space. Set up your
Lastolite HiLite or other white
backdrop and throw a fur rug
over the baby poser. Then
simply meter your key light to
about f11 and adjust
the background power
as necessary. Its quick and
very easy to do!

High-key processing
in Photoshop

your image and select Hue/

Saturation from the Layers palette.

the image using the

Saturation slider and click OK.

We could use the Curves palette, but lets play with

another very simple technique to give your images
a different high-key feel. Its super-quick, very
simple and can be modified and adapted to suit
your own images and photographic style. You can,
of course, vary the layers and saturation, selectively
colouring or keeping it mono. Be creative, play
around with the image and experiment to see
what you can create.

the Hue/Satuation layer by

the menu on the Layers palette,
Simply adjust the opacity of the Hue/
clicking on it once.
select Overlay and blend the layers.
layer to your own taste.

124 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

High & low-key lighting

is just as
effective as
high key, but
its preferred
when the
is trying
to create a
more serious
mood or
dramatic feel

High-key tricks & tips

Annabel Williams is no stranger to beautiful high-key images. We find out how she
approaches her modern lifestyle photography and stunning high-key photographs
Check out one of Annabels many seminars to
help get you started
Tel: 01539 821791

the face is the key thing for me and can even help the
background wash out even more, making the image become
softer and lighter.

Q: When you shoot, do you envisage the outcome of

the image before or after post-processing?

Q: We know youre a bit of a master at high-key

photography. What do you consider to be important
factors for a high-key photograph?

AW: As the term relates to indoor studio lighting, its been years
since Ive shot against a high-key background! However, when I
think about high key, I see it as a washed-out light feel to my
images, which has been shot outdoors on a beach, for instance.

Q: What sort of lighting conditions do you prefer for

your high-key work?

AW: I prefer very soft and flat light on the subjects face, but it
doesnt end there! I love bright sunlight in areas of the
background or across parts of their clothes, but always keep the
light soft and even on their faces.

Q: What considerations do you make when setting

your exposure?

AW: Im not one for checking the histogram, as I am too busy

relating to the person to ensure I get the most natural expression
possible. I always shoot on AV with a wide aperture. Exposing for

be unable to retrieve later. So bag your image first

and the rest will follow! There are several ways of
processing your images to achieve that high-key
feel, from curves to layer blending.
Low key is simply the reverse of high key.
Instead of the image consisting of a lot of light
tones, it will contain mainly dark tones and deep
shadow areas. Low-key photography is just as
effective as high key, but it tends to be preferred
when the photographer is trying to create a more
serious mood or dramatic feel. For example,
location shots at night work really well and will
help you maximise the shadow areas, which would
be difficult to do in the midday sun. Shadows are
just as important as light, and will be used to give
shape and texture to your subject.

AW: I always envisage the image as I shoot it. I aim to get it right in
camera, from cropping and positioning to exposure. The only
thing I do afterwards is use curves to slightly brighten up the
image. 99% of my work is in the original image.

Q: You shoot mostly natural light and on location. What

pieces of equipment wouldnt you be without?

AW: My Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, spare body, 70-200mm IS and

35-70mm IS. I dont use flash on portrait shoots, but occasionally
use a reflector on a commercial shoot if I have no choice about
the lighting. Keep it simple, thats my motto!

Q: What three things would you recommend for

somebody wanting to shoot high-key portraits?

AW: Shoot on a wide aperture to get shallow depth of field. Try to

use a light background, such as soft sand on a beach. I also find
that soft-coloured clothes blend with the background, and give
an overall light effect. Avoid deliberately overexposing, but overall,
just dont worry about it all too much and go out and shoot.

There are several ways to achieve a low-key

background within a studio environment,
ranging from paper to fabric. The amount of
space you have will help determine the type
of background you choose, the modifiers you
utilise on your lights and how far you position
your subject from the background.
In a large studio, black or thunder-grey
background paper is ideal, as the lights can
be placed where they wont reflect off the
background and youll have enough depth of
field that the creases will not be noticeable. In
a small studio or living room this wont always
be ideal, but dont panic well look at some
excellent products to help you maximise the
potential of your space.

more poWer

Make the light even

softer by literally just
lighting the background
with a bit more power.
Use a couple of white
reflectors or polyboards
to reflect light back onto
the subject. This creates
a very gentle summer
haze and works well with a
touch of movement

White reflective wall

High-power Bowens lights

fitted with Bowens Highperformance reflectors


Christian Hough

White polyboards


ThE black & WhiTE PhoTograPhy book 125

Shooting skills

Control images
with filters

Be it for sweeping landscapes or simple portraits,

black-and-white images are often bettered with
the right filter learn how here
Images Matt Golowczynski


Control images with filters


Shooting skills

Master the use of filters

in digital photography

Complex architecture with

strong geometric shapes like
this building works best if
theres plenty of contrast in
your shot. As with the other
image on this page, an orange
filter helps to provide this
contrast boost and really bring
out the shapes and smooth
textures of the structure, for
added impact
Shot details: Canon EOS 350D
with 18-55mm lens at 18mm
and f11, 1/100sec, ISO 200


Architecture is another
subject which can lend itself
well to black-and-white filter
photography. Here, an orange
filter has helped separate the
shadow and highlight details
in the structure, boosting
overall contrast
Shot details: Nikon D700 with
24-70mm lens at 24mm and
f11, 1/8sec, ISO 800

s with a number of other

traditional photographic
practices, filters have
fallen a little out of fashion
since the advent of digital
capture and manipulation. What was
once a useful way to control tonality, and a
way for a photographer to accentuate key
elements within a scene, has today been
sadly lost among a number of post-capture
processing options.
So what argument remains for the
use of filters prior to capture? Getting it
right in-camera offers more than just the
immediate satisfaction of seeing your
envisaged results instantly something
Photoshop will never be able to replicate.
Using filters to achieve a particular aim
hones the photographic eye, and enables
the photographer to recognise scenes
with potential for striking black and white
images. Whether you intervene to bring
out a few clouds in a landscape, or boost
contrast in the strong geometry of an
architectural image, the application of
filters is a useful one to understand.
Both coloured and non-coloured
filters can be used for black and white
photography. Coloured filters work
by filtering out certain wavelengths of
light and letting others through. These
wavelengths correspond to the different


colours we see, all of which can be

created by mixing different proportions
of red, blue and green light. The role of
any filter is to change something about
the light coming into the lens and by
using a coloured one we can decide which
wavelengths ultimately reach the sensor.
The most common types for black and
white are red, green, orange and yellow,
each of which transmit their own colour
and absorb others. What results is the
same colour recording lighter next to the
absorbed colours, which record darker.
Yellow filters are typically the first port of
call for landscapes and portraits, as their
effects retain a neutrality which is lost with
other filters. As well as lightening yellows,
they also lighten some reds and greens
while darkening blues a little which
makes them useful for bringing out clouds
from skies. Orange filters serve a similar
purpose, darkening blues and greens while
lightening reds, greens and yellows, the
result being that blue skies are darkened
even further to provide a much more
noticeable contrast.
With red and green being two of the
three primary colours, their effects are
easier to understand: red filters absorb
blue and green while green filters absorb
blue and red. A red filter used in the same
scenario will have the greatest

Control images with filters

Filter tips
and tricks

photographer and
author Ross Hoddinott
is as good an authority
on outdoor photography
as there is. The author of
six photography books,
including The Digital
Photographers Guide
To Filters (2007), Ross
was awarded the
accolade of British
Wildlife Photographer of
the Year last year, and
together with photographer Mark Bauer,
runs a series of workshops where he shares
his expertise of South West England with other
photographers. For more information on
Ross visit, and
for further details of his workshops visit

What camera equipment do

you use?

Do you have any preferred type

of filter system?

RH: Im a Nikon user, using both

D700 and D300 bodies, along
with a host of Nikkor, Zeiss and
some Sigma optics.

RH: For quality and versatility,

the Lee Filters system is, in my
opinion, unrivalled. Its 100mm
size is just large enough to be
used in combination with superwide angles without vignetting
occurring, and being
customisable, you can have one,
two or three filter slots and also
add an adapter ring to take a
polarising filter.

Which filter do you find

the most useful for black and
white work?
RH: In my view, the most useful
filters for atmospheric black and
white landscape photography
are neutral density filters,
particularly extreme density
versions like the Lee Big
Stopper. 10-stop ND filters are
currently very popular and used
appropriately they create
striking, surreal looking results.
They are particularly effective in
overcast light and their effect
suits conversion to mono I
would say they are definitely
a must-have for black and
white landscape photographers
these days.

What tips would you have

for anyone who is starting out
using filters?
RH: Avoid the temptation to
overuse filters. Filters are
essential accessories, but their
effect can be very seductive
through the viewfinder.
Although filters are primarily
designed to correct and enhance
an image, used incorrectly they
can also ruin a great shot just
as easily!


The medium contrast of

an orange filter is ideal for
enhancing landscape images
such as this one, bringing
greater contrast to the building
as well as the sky
Shot details: Nikon D700 with
24-70mm lens at 24mm and
f11, 1/125, ISO 200


Shooting skills
What to look for

Once youve decided

to invest in a filter or
two, the next issue is
which type to go for.
Filters may be circular
and threaded onto a
lens, or square and
mounted in a holder.
The advantage of the
former is that its all you
need simply screw it in and you can start shooting.
Some also allow you to continue using a lens hood
when in place. The disadvantage is that it will only fit
one particular filter thread, meaning it may well only fit

one of your lenses. Stepping rings offer a solution, with

one side screwed into a lens and the other into a larger
diameter filter. Square filters differ in that their use
isnt dictated by a particular filter thread, although they
require an adaptor and holder for them to be mounted.
Even so, they allow for the same filter to be used across
different lenses simply by changing the adaptor which
is often cheaper than the price of an additional filter.
Filters also differ in how they are made, with resin,
glass or polyester filters being the most commonly used
materials. Glass and resin filters are recommended for
optimum quality and this will typically be reflected
in their price but the former is more susceptible to
damage if mishandled.

The filter you should use will be the

same colour as the details in your
scene you wish to emphasise
effect, rendering blue skies and foliage
as black to introduce a sense of drama.
Green filters, meanwhile, are perhaps used
less, but are called upon when shooting
foliage. Blue filters also exist, though
they are seldom used in black and white
Its not just coloured filters that find
their place in black and white photography,
though. Polarisers can still be used to
eliminate reflections and boost contrast,
just as neutral density graduated filters can
be called upon to help balance brighter
areas against darker ones. Furthermore,
standard neutral density filters are
especially useful for cutting down the
exposure by a few stops particularly
when a slower shutter speed is desired.
Knowing which to use in a given
situation takes some practise, but
understanding which colours a filter
absorbs and transmits is key. Broadly
speaking, the filter you should use will
be the same colour as the details in your
scene you wish to emphasise, although
its useful to consider how such a filter
will affect the other colours in your scene.
Other filters such as polarisers and neutral
density types should be used with the
same considerations, and in the same way,
as for colour photography.
As all modern DSLRs use TTL
metering to calculate exposure, youll
find that fronting their lenses with a filter
automatically adjusts the reading. As such,
it will only be necessary to decide whether
these exposure settings are still suitable
for the situation, though occasionally you
may need to apply exposure compensation
depending on the scene and filter you have
chosen. One way to work out whether any
adjustment is necessary is to use live view
in conjunction with a histogram, if you

camera has both of these options. That

way you can check whether the exposure
at which your image will retain a good
tonal balance, and you will also be able
to witness the effects your filter has on
the scene. Its also a very quick way to
see whether any vignetting has occurred
through filter use, which is particularly
noticeable with circular threaded filters
used at wide apertures.
Of course, theres no requirement for
you to use a filter for each black and white
image that you take. Indeed, many wont
require one at all, and some images may
suffer from an incorrectly used filter. It may
also be tempting to reach for the strongest
filter you have for the greatest effect, but
these will not always be suitable. You
will need to bear in mind that filters tend
to work best in fine conditions, such as
when there is already a good contrast in
the scene. In the case of a landscape, for
example, this could be when there are
already defined clouds against a deep
blue sky.


The subtle contrast of a yellow

filter has helped separate the
main focus in this image from
the surrounding buildings
Shot details: Nikon D700 with
24-70mm lens at 24mm and
f10, 1/160sec, ISO 400


A polariser was used in

this image, which has
helped increase the contrast
between the blue sky and the
white clouds
Shot details: Canon EOS 350D
with 18-55mm lens at 18mm
and f11, 1/100sec, ISO 200

Control images with filters

Compare and contrast Thedifferingeffectsofcolourfilters

As different as the
colours are in this
image, the black and
white conversion
shows how similarly
the two colours have
recorded in tones.
Different colour
filters show the ways
in which this can be
altered, either by a
red filter to make the
flower brighter than
the background, or
a green one to make
it darker.


Shot details: Nikon D700 with

24-70mm lens at 70mm and f8,
1/40sec, ISO 400


Shot details: Nikon D700 with

24-70mm lens at 70mm and f8,
1/40sec, ISO 400


Shot details: Nikon D700 with

24-70mm lens at 70mm and f4,
1/25sec, ISO 400


Shot details: Nikon D700 with

24-70mm lens at 70mm and f4,
1/15sec, ISO 400


Shooting skills


Master composition


Follow this in-depth guide to discover the principles of

good composition in black-and-white photography


To accentuate
perspective, choose
your lens and
viewpoint carefully.
A wide-angle lens and
a central viewpoint
will emphasise
distance within a shot


Shooting skills

Rules of composition: when

to use and when to break


Look for pattern and texture

in your subjects. These can
produce great abstract images
if photographed close-up, or
add interest to an otherwise
flat image

omposition is a tricky
thing to master. Unlike the
technical aspects of picturetaking, composition cannot be
measured like exposure, white
balance or focus. Its a subjective thing that
requires personal taste and an appreciation
for a range of aspects such as line, shape,
perspective and value to name a few.
Without a solid set of rules, composing
photographs well can feel a little
overwhelming. Over the next few pages
you will discover some of the aspects that
contribute to a well-composed shot. Its up
to you to figure out the best combination
for your shot, put them into practice and
assess how you can use them to emphasise
your scene. Its about self-expression and
evoking mood and atmosphere, rather
than replicating the scene as your camera
sees it. The word composition is defined
as a mixture of ingredients here well
provide the ingredients, but then its your
job to make the cake.
One of the first things you need to
establish in your scene is what to keep and
what to discard. As a photographer its your
job to actively edit your scene to get the
best from it. This could mean waiting for a
person to get out of your shot, gardening a
few distracting blades of grass away from
the flower you want to photograph or
simply deciding to only photograph part of
the scene rather than all of it. If you learn
one thing about composition, the key is
to simplify your scene as much as you
can. Photographing the bare essentials will

provide a far more striking image than a

muddle of conflicting elements screaming
at the viewer from every direction. A
simple crop, moving in closer or removing
the unnecessary extras can all work
wonders to help you achieve top shots.
Once youve decided what to retain and
what to discard, the next job is to consider
your viewpoint. You can easily transform a
scene by looking at it from above or below.
Assess the available vantage points of the
scene and consider whether it could look
better shot from a different angle or height
other than eye level. This approach can
transform bland objects into something
exciting and original. A spiral staircase can
really benefit from being photographed
from above, in order to emphasise the
height and curve of the structure. Likewise,
a monument or large imposing structure
can be made to look even more dramatic
by shooting from below and looking
upwards, exaggerating its height.
This leads us nicely onto the idea of
perspective. Our eyes are capable of

determining the depth and perspective

of scenes before us, such as never-ending
tunnels and rolling mountains in the
distance. However, the camera needs a
helping hand to transform what would be a
flat photograph into the depth-filled image
that we see before us. If your scene would
benefit from a bit of oomph in the depth
department, then this can be controlled
with a carefully considered choice of lens
coupled with a decent viewpoint.
To exaggerate the effect of distance in
a tunnel or a long straight road, for
example, you need to emphasise the
converging verticals a term referring to
appearance of the scene squeezing to a
point in the distance. Do this by using a
wide-angle lens, which will exaggerate
the width at the start of the scene and the
narrowness at the back. Position yourself
centrally so the converging lines look
longer and consider giving the camera a
slight upward tilt to maximise the sense of
distance between the beginning and end of
the scene.

Offsetting your subject

towards the corners of the
frame helps to create a
more free-flowing image

Important elements Abriefguidetosomeofthemostoft-usedrulesofcomposition


Be careful when considering symmetry

in your images, as it can be too easy for
the viewer to flit over it. For a decent
symmetrical image to work, there needs to
be a sense of tension, which can be created
by elements of suspense or surprise.



When organising space, depth of field

can play a big role in how the image will
look. Think about what you want to see
sharp and then adjust your depth of field
accordingly. Macro shots generally look
best with the background out of focus.


If your scene is a source of action,

pre-focus in order to capture the moment
in time. Anticipation is key, so be prepared
and choose your moment carefully.
Alternatively, use Continuous Shooting
mode to capture a sequence in time.


To really appeal to the viewers senses,

incorporate texture into your shot. The
appearance of texture can be heightened
with the aid of good lighting. A light source
raking across the textured surface will
exaggerate it beautifully.

Master composition

Just as lines are important to perspective,

they also play a vital role in other aspects of
photography too. The term leading lines is
frequently thrown around in photography
and refers to structural elements in a
photograph that lead the viewers eye into
the picture. The most obvious line used
in photography is that of the horizon a
perfectly straight line by which everything
else is arranged around. Just think how
obvious it is when a scene has a skewed
horizon its the epitome of distraction
and a serious schoolboy error, which
separates the amateurs from anyone more
serious about their photography. There
are plenty of man-made lines to think
about too, including buildings, power lines,
cranes, vehicles and structures. Think
about how lines feature in your scene and
where they are leading. Are they a main
feature of the scene? Are they leading your
viewer into the scene or are they causing
a distraction to the main event? Consider
your viewpoint and perspective to establish
how you can make the lines work well
in the scene. For example, certain lines
impart different qualities. A diagonal can
give the impression of speed, curves can
have a calming influence and angular lines
often impart a sense of discord.
A great example of this is with fine art
photography, which relies on the soft
curves of the body to achieve a calming
natural flow throughout the image. A
racing cars speed can be accelerated by
capturing it on a diagonal or a slight tilt,
while an abstract image is given energy


Lines can help draw the

viewer into the shot and
direct them to the point
of focus. Alternatively,
they can also act as a
distraction, so be careful
how the lines in your
scene lay


Tone relates to the full range of greys

present in the scale from the blackest
black to the purest white. For a tranquil
appeal, its best to aim for low-contrast
images. To emphasise extremes, opt for a
high-contrast effect.


To take an image that really

appreciates form, look out for
areas of shading within your
subject. The greater degree of
shading and number of tones
there are, the more pleasing
the subject. Position yourself
to capture as many shades
as possible.


Assess your main subject

and consider whether it will
benefit from colour treatment.
A bleak black and white scene
can sometimes be made
more dramatic by selectively
colouring a single element.
Pick out key items from your
image and emphasise them
using this technique.


Shooting skills


When photographing moving subjects, always

ensure there is room in front of them. This gives
the picture a sense that there is room for your
subject to move into and emphasises their journey


The rule of thirds is a common practice

for many photographers. This
compositional technique works by dividing
the scene using a grid system of two vertical
and two horizontal lines, dissecting the
image into thirds.
The ideal placement of your subject
should be at one of the points where the
lines intersect. Decide in which of the
four intersections you want to place your
main subject and then compose the scene
accordingly around it. Obviously not every
scene will line up precisely with the grid, but
a rough adherence to the rules will provide
you with a well-composed image.
Many cameras come with a display
option which can be turned on,
superimposing a grid on top of the image
on your LCD or within your viewfinder for
accurate rule of thirds composition. The rule
of thirds is generally a good system to go by
when in doubt, but be careful not to rely on
this theory for shot after shot, as images will
become bland and unexciting. Some of the
best photographs come about by knowing
the rules and consciously breaking them.



Looking for natural

frames within a scene is a
great method of drawing
the viewer into your
photograph. They focus the
eye and give the viewer a
sense of secrecy,
as if they are witnessing a
private moment

Master composition

Just think how obvious it is when a

scene has a skewed horizon its the
epitome of distraction and a serious
schoolboy error, which separates the
amateurs from anyone more serious
and dynamism by accentuating its angles
and edges. Pick a theme you want to
emphasise and use the available lines to
your advantage.
Line usually gives way to shape, which
is another important compositional
aspect you should be considering in your
photographs. Shape can appear from
unsuspecting influences such as light
and tone. Consider the striking effect
of a silhouette cast on a stonewall, or a
bundle of bright fuchsia petals forming
an interestingly shaped cluster on a
pathway. Alternatively, shapes that can be
misinterpreted as something else can also
make interesting images clouds, trees
and close-up shots of vegetables often offer
quirky shapes within them. Whatever your
shape, its important to think about the
balance within the image. Where there
are a variety of shapes in the scene, the
largest or darkest in tone will generally be
the dominator. Ask yourself whether this is
the effect you want to achieve if not, then
recompose the shot so the dominating
shape is no longer in the scene. Some
shapes, however, can actually go a long
way in helping to define the main subject.
Blacked-out areas such as silhouettes offer
an ideal opportunity to frame or accentuate
a coloured part of the scene and bring it to
the forefront of attention.
Successful composition relies heavily on
a good sense of framing. A badly framed
image will leave your subject looking lost
and unimportant. Remember that - thanks
to cropping - you are not restricted to the
aspect ratio of your camera. Its important
to visualise how you see the final picture,
and compose your shot in accordance with
this vision. The actual cropping process
can be done in-camera or in Photoshop
later on, but bear in mind youll sacrifice
image quality if you choose to go with the
latter option. Another important factor is
the placement of the subject within your
frame. Amateurs will commonly place their
subject centrally in the scene, which rarely
makes for an engaging image. Offsetting
your subject towards the corners of the
frame creates a more free-flowing image
and offers suspense. Its important to give

living subjects room to move into. For

example, if you photograph a local walking
down the street from left to right, place
the man on the left and leave space on
the right for the man to metaphorically
walk into. For objects, sizing should be
considered. A macro shot of a flower
looks so much more dramatic when its
positioned to fill the frame, whereas it can
look rather puny in an expanse of space.
A clever compositional technique
is to look for a frame within a frame.
Shooting a scene through a window
gives viewers a chance to step back,
separate themselves and get a sense of
what it feels like to be the photographer.
These are just a few of the elements that
should be considered when composing
an image. Your job as a photographer is to
determine the importance of each element
in the scene and react accordingly, making
sure the right parts are emphasised. Its
your photo, and you have a certain set of
emotions and ideals you want to convey.
Composition will help you express these
emotions, taking a regular scene and
transforming it into something with
meaning thats personal to you.
Composition is something that is always
done, whether youre a good photographer
or a bad one. What distinguishes you from
the bad photographer is the ability to know
how to compose your shot well. Taken
on board, these pointers will help you
consider the scene and its outcome before
you press the shutter.


The golden section is a

compositional rule, which
hails from a twelfth-century
Italian mathematician
known as Fibonacci. This
historical figure is famed for
his discovery of a number
sequence, which starts with
0 and 1. The series forms
by adding the previous two
numbers together, hence the
formation: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,
13, 21, 34, 55, 89, etc.
When you divide each
successive pair, you come up
with a result of 1.6. Known
as the golden number
as highlighted by the
Greek letter Phi, this is the
essential key to mathematics
and proportions, which is
where composition comes
into the picture.
A rectangle can be divided
into golden number
proportions, which is meant
to demonstrate harmony
in an image. This ratio can
be used to decide where
to place the main subject,
where to place the horizon
and generally how to divide
the frame. As always, this
is not a fix-all solution and
should be used with care.


Shooting skills


Whether youre shooting on the move or have all

the time in the world, it pays to know metering
modes inside out. Read on to shed some light on
fine-tuning your images


Understand metering

With lots of contrast in this

scene, its vital to measure
the metering spot-on


Shooting skills


The low sun hits the subject

side-on; the beach and sky are
illuminated enough to balance
all shades, ideal for applying
Pattern metering
Shot details: Canon EOS
50D with 28-70mm lens at f8,
1/1000sec, ISO 200

ith an overwhelming
number of camera
settings at your
disposal, its easy to
convince yourself to
stick to a few basics. Apply the shutter
speed, stick to your favourite aperture and
away you go click, job done. However,
by taking time out to delve deeper into
your gears capabilities, you suddenly arm
yourself with a wealth of creative arsenal
that will make your work stand out from
the crowd. All those fine tweaks and handy
tools will finish the job off nicely. Metering
modes are a testimony to all this.
When you start off, it will be a case of
trial and error; the more you push
yourself creatively, and the more images
you take, sooner or later you will grasp
an understanding of how to interpret
what metering mode is best suited to any
number of given scenarios.
Metering modes offer you the chance
to stick with an overall Pattern mode, or to
step out of your comfort zone and become
that little bit more experimental. These
modes take light readings, work out whats

Michael Bosanko

Know your modes

Michael Bosanko

Metering jargon messing with your mind? Allow us to help


This do-it-all mode is

great, but youre at the
mercy of what the
camera thinks, rather
than what you actually
see. For most occasions, Pattern metering is good for when
theres a good mix of tones in the entire scene. Street scenes,
landscapes without too much shade, your standard family
snaps all of these are fair game. Pattern metering is also
good if youre on the move, in search of those elusive
decisive moments. Depending on your camera model, this
could also be called Matrix, Honeycomb, Evaluative,
Segment or Multi-zone metering. On some cameras, this is
the default setting.


what and aims to make sense of them. The

metering itself does not work off colour
but rather the reflected light itself, trading
off the good, the bad and the ugly until
the exposure settles on what is best for the
mode youve chosen.
Some cameras will have at least three
metering modes, while most will have
four, and not all of them will be called the
same thing. For instance, one of these
modes covers pretty much everything;
a kind of Jack of all trades that is often
referred to as Pattern metering. Canon
will call this Evaluative metering, Nikons
choice of flavour is Matrix, Olympus goes
for Electro Selective Pattern, Sony has
Multi-pattern and so on. While all brands
and makes have their own unique way of
dealing with Pattern metering, in essence
they all do the same thing.
Almost all these brands will share
names for the other modes, namely
Centre-weight, Partial and Spot, which
will make using terminology in this article
about 75 per cent easier! Just to throw a
spanner in the works, some brands will
allow you to make tweaks to Centre-weight
mode with various allowances of how
much of the image is metered. While we
try to make sense of them in this small
piece, it is strongly advisable to read up
on your cameras manual for a more indepth understanding.
If you are in the good habit of taking
your camera everywhere, then it helps to
leave the settings to something simple like
Pattern metering. Most brands, if not all,
do a sterling job of evaluating the entire
composition, which is ideal for those
moments of spontaneity. There will often
be times when you are more concerned
about bagging a photograph on the move
and have little to no time to spend messing
about with the complexities of fine-tuning.
When youre shooting street candid
photography, sporting events or wildlife,
capturing the moment is much more
crucial, so it seems common sense to
leave the camera to work out all the


Metering in
Centre-weighted mode
will evaluate the entire
scene yet throw strong emphasis on the central part of the
image, anything from ten per cent upwards. Some cameras will
allow you to make adjustments to coverage. This is a great
mode if you want to concentrate on a main foreground topic.
Partial metering falls between Spot and Centre-weight, while
ignoring the area outside its limit. Theres often a preference
trade-off between Centre-weight and Partial depending on the
brand of camera or creative leaning, but if youre going for
portraits, experiment with both until you get the best results.


This metering
mode is where
creative flair truly
comes into its
own. The area you
expose is pinned down to around 1-3% at the centre,
although some camera models allow you to switch the
spot position to any active focus point. This is the most
accurate mode purely because you read from a minute
area; this also makes it the most difficult way to meter,
but with practise youll soon understand how it can apply
to unusual lighting situations. Its the most difficult
metering mode to perfect, but once youve mastered it,
its hard to let go!

Understand metering
around the hut, as
the subject matter
dominates the
Shot details: Canon
EOS 50D with
28-70mm lens at f8,
1/250sec, ISO 200

Michael Bosanko

The main
focus area
here is the foot
grill. Centreweighted, you
are drawn
deep into
the centre
Shot details:
Canon EOS
400D with
lens at f5.6,
ISO 100

Michael Bosanko

A chance to
get creative,
a choice was
made to blow
the highlights on
the outside to
throw emphasis
on how small
the people are
in relation to
the cave. Spot
metering was
used on a darker
area of the cave
Shot details:
Canon EOS
50D with
10-22mm lens
at f3.6, 1/10sec,
ISO 200

Shooting skills

Michael Bosanko

Middle grey
Mid-grey is what your camera will try and
return the exposure to. If your
composition is awash with dark or light
areas then theres every chance your
metering will struggle to produce a
desirable exposure, depending on the
end result you want. A handy item to
carry around is a grey card (18% grey)
for the purpose of metering. Most
camera shops will sell these , or do some
online bargain hunting.
Some websites will display a portrayal
of a grey card, but keep in mind the
brightness and various calibrations a
monitor gives off; hardly an ideal
scenario for comparing an object in the
real world with a bright picture on a
monitor. These cards will usually be
labelled 18% grey, as most metering
systems are calibrated to this figure. You
will need to hold or place the card in front
of the lens, then adjust the exposure
accordingly. Place the card down,
recompose, and then take the final shot.


Understand metering

Here a good amount of

light hits all sides of the
main subject, perfect for
Partial metering
Shot details: Canon EOS
50D with 28-70mm lens at
f5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 200

There will always be the odd occasion where a scene will prove a
nightmare to capture. Luckily for us digital photographers, we have
another trick up our sleeves bracketing. In your cameras menu there
will be an option to bracket three images, with the ability to toggle how
light and dark you want your images either side of a normal exposure.
This is by no means a get-out clause and shouldnt be viewed as a
replacement to metering, but you get a fighting chance to pin down the
correct exposure, should the metering be fooled. Things can still go
wrong when bracketing, and the same metering rules apply when
taking readings. If you are content that you have done all you can yet still
want to bracket, then invest in a tripod and cable release.
Make sure your set-up is as solid as possible, then fire off your
bracketed shots. The first shot you take will be a midway exposure, the
second will usually be darker and the last shot will be lighter. Because
they have been taken using a tripod, theres a chance that all three
images have the exact composition with little or no camera shake.
When you finally download them, you have the option of blending these
images in a photo-editing program to create a combination of all three
exposures. The quickest way to bring out light and dark areas is to use
the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop. However, theres the danger of
destroying image quality.

Partial metered for

the background
using the entire
dark tunnel area
to frame the image
Shot details:
Canon EOS 50D
with 10-22mm
lens at f8,
1/60sec, ISO 200

Michael Bosanko

Michael Bosanko

Many tonal
going on in this
image. Spot
metering was
taken from the
side of a pillar;
the mid-tone
helps balance
out the rest
Shot details:
Canon EOS
50D with
lens at f5.6,
ISO 200

An opportunistic
shot. Pulling
the car over,
the camera was
whipped out
left in Pattern
mode, leaving
only shutter and
aperture to
worry about
Shot details:
Canon EOS
400D with
10-22mm lens at
f8, 1/200sec,
ISO 100

Michael Bosanko

When youre shooting street candid

photography, sporting events or
wildlife, its common sense to leave the
camera to work out the metering
metering and to average things out. Of
course, we do not want to rob ourselves
of having ultimate creative control, but it
is in these spontaneous moments where
your favourite player scores a goal, or
when someone has a Laurel and Hardy
moment where they slip on a banana skin
that you will kick yourself if you spend
any more than a few seconds mulling over
the best metering mode, let alone any
other settings.
If youre in the habit of grabbing quick
close-up portraits of people out and about,
then you can easily get away with leaving
the metering set to Centre-weight or Partial,
as for most of the time its the head shot
thats important, far outweighing the
lesser important background detail. This
is often thrown out of focus, especially
when using a very wide aperture at close
proximity to the main subject matter. Spot

metering comes into its own when you

have plenty of time to play with and can
afford to properly assess the entire scene,
picking out those mid-grey or mid-tonal
areas with a fine-toothed comb, which will
in turn lead to a superb overall balance of
light tones.
A great exercise to try out when Spot
metering is to switch your gear into
Monochrome. In doing so, you are then
free to play target practise with those
mid-grey areas and seek out the best
overall exposure. Take exposures at
different settings, then check the results
on your monitor when you get home;
youll soon see the difference in your
photographic work. After a few trials,
switch to colour and pick out those neutral
hues. It may well take a few attempts, but
stick with it. Before long, it will become
second nature.

Shooting skills


Discover RAW

Discover RAW
Everyone talks about how
good RAW files are, but what
are they, how do they work
and do you really need them
for black & white?


Shooting skills


AW files give you three things: quality,

control and choice. The improved
picture quality can include better detail
rendition, an extended contrast range
(less highlight blow-out, in other words)
and sometimes reduced noise and/or colour fringing.
So why should RAW files produce better quality?
Think of it this way: the cameras image-processing
engine has just fractions of a second to apply all these
adjustments, but a RAW conversion program is a
much more sophisticated piece of software, running
on a machine with vastly more computing power.
Not only that, but you get more control over how
your photos turn out, too. With JPEGs, the camera


adjusts things like the colour saturation, contrast
and white balance as it saves the image, but if you
work with RAW files instead you can control these
adjustments manually.
This is the other point about RAW files they let
you postpone many of your picture-taking decisions.
Instead of setting the white balance on the camera, for
example, you can shoot a RAW file and then open it
on the computer and experiment with different white
balance settings to see which one works best for each
particular image.
The key to understanding RAW files is to think
of them as like undeveloped film. If you shoot JPEG
files, the camera records the image on the sensor and

then develops (or processes) it internally to produce

the JPEG file saved on the memory card. When you
shoot a RAW file, however, the camera doesnt do this
processing. Instead, it saves the undeveloped image
as a RAW file onto the memory card. However, the
image still needs to be developed, or processed, but
this time you do it on your computer instead of leaving it
to the camera.
RAW conversion software processes these RAW
files to produce JPEG (or TIFF, in Photoshop) image
files that you can view and work on directly. Camera
manufacturers provide their own RAW conversion
programs either free with the camera or as paid-for
extras, and there are many third-party RAW conversion

Discover RAW
Third-party RAW converters
Its impossible to say which of the many RAW conversion programs on the market is best each has its
strengths and weaknesses and a lot depends on which camera youre using. There are, though, some clear
differences between the manufacturers own RAW converters and third-party programs like Photoshop; not
so much in quality as in tools and practicality. When you use a program like Canons Digital Photo Pro, for
example, you get is an exact duplication of the image settings on the camera, so you can apply the cameras
Picture Styles, such as Monochrome on the computer. The makers own RAW converters mirror the camera
controls exactly, so you can get familiar with what the camera can do and reproduce it reliably. Third-party
RAW converters like Adobe Camera Raw ignore this. If you shoot a picture in Monochrome mode on your
Canon, the RAW
file will be tagged
with this data,
but ACR will pay
no attention: it
will display
generic colour
files which
you have to
convert to mono
yourself . Thirdparty RAW
converters may
be slicker and
convenient, but
they sacrifice
the cameras
own colour, tone,
contrast and

programs too. Adobe Photoshop and Elements have

their own in-built RAW conversion tools, in the form
of the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in.
In the old days, photographers use to swear by one
brand of film developer over another; in the digital
age, the arguments continue, only now the debates
about RAW converter does the best job rather than
which chemical formulation.
There are some more technical reasons why
RAW files are superior to JPEGs, which help
explain why different programs can produce different
results and why RAW files are very important to
professional photographers.
Each RAW converter uses its own demosaicing
system. This is the process whereby the mosaic of
red, green and blue pixels captured by the sensor is
interpolated into a full-colour image. The differences
between different demosaicing systems are only
visible under high magnification and even then may
not be obvious, but this is one of the factors that can
produce differences between RAW converters.
While JPEG images contain eight bits
of data for each of the red, green
and blue colour channels, the RAW images
captured by the camera are at a higher
bit-depth and contain subtler colour
information. RAW converters can use this
to output 16-bit files instead. These are
twice the size and cannot be opened by all
image-editing programs, but while it may
be impossible to spot the difference under
normal circumstances, 16-bit images do
tend to survive heavy manipulation better
than 8-bit images.
Finally, when you convert a RAW file
you can choose which colour mode to

save it in, notably sRGB (for general photo display

and printing) or Adobe RGB (which is better for
commercial printing processes). You can set this in
the camera when shooting JPEGs, but RAW files give
you the option.
One of the big advantages of using RAW files is
that they allow you to postpone some of your
decision-making until later, as weve explained.
The other point is that the original RAW image is
never changed. Your adjustments are saved by the
RAW converter, either in an internal database or
as sidecar files. All thats being saved is a set of
processing instructions no changes are made to the
image data itself.
With that in mind, what settings can you actually
alter during the RAW conversion process? RAW
Pentax DSLRs can shoot generic Adobe DNG RAW files. The
format hasnt really caught on, though, and other camera
makers still stick to their own
proprietary file formats

Basic conversions

This is our starting point, a straightforward

conversion of a RAW file. Much of the time this is the
sort of conversion you might want to produce
simply tweaking the exposure, white balance or
sharpness settings, to improve on the original.


You can adjust the white balance to give a much

warmer look, like when the sun is low in the sky.
Weve also used the softwares vignette correction
tool to darken the corners of the photo.


This time weve created a black-and-white version,

emphasising the red channel to create the effect of a
red filter with black-and-white film. This increases
contrast, creating a strong, dramatic look.


By applying an overall blue colour, increasing the

contrast and reducing the brightness, weve
achieved a moonlight effect. All four images were
generated from a single RAW file, which in itself
remains unaltered.


Shooting skills
Anatomy of a RAW converter

Camera Raw window
Adobe Camera Raw is a Photoshop
plug-in. It launches automatically
when you open a RAW file

Colour mode & bit depth

Because of the extra data in
RAW files, you can generate
sRGB or Adobe RGB photos

Adjustment tools
You can rotate and crop photos, use
the white balance eyedropper and
even fix red-eye with these tools

Exposure controls
These enable you to make full
use of the extended tonal
range of your RAW files
compared to ordinary JPEGs

converters usually include an Exposure (EV)

Compensation slider, designed to correct over- or
under-exposure. However, this cant change the
shutter speed, lens aperture and ISO settings used
to take the picture, and they can only work within
the range of tones captured by the sensor.
Nevertheless, the RAW file will usually contain
additional highlight detail over a JPEG image, and
some RAW converters can take advantage of this
to provide a little extra latitude and recover some
blown highlights.

Image preview
You can see the effects of changes on your
photo as you work, so you know exactly
what the processed photo will look like

Colour intensity
The Saturation slider
intensifies all colours equally,
but the Vibrance slider
intensifies only the weakest

White balance controls

Correct the white
balance if you didnt get
it quite right at the time
of shooting

White balance is another setting you can change.

When you shoot JPEGs, the camera uses the white
balance setting during the image processing to
adjust the colour balance and discard data it thinks
is unnecessary. The RAW file, though, will contain
all the original colour data, so you can decide for
yourself which white balance setting works best.
The same applies to the sharpening level used, the
contrast, colour saturation and picture style/tone.
All of these settings are applied by the camera when
it converts the RAW data into a JPEG image. When

Use this to check whether the
shadows or highlights are clipped
and adjust the exposure accordingly

Further adjustments
You can correct lens
distortion, for example, and
chromatic aberration

you work on the RAW file on your computer, you can

choose different values.
So is it worth making these adjustments on the
camera at all? Well, theyre embedded in the RAW
file and if youre using the camera makers own
RAW conversion software, it will be able to recognise
and apply these settings so that you hit the ground
running. If you use a third-party RAW converter
they are largely ignored, though it can still be useful
to make these settings on the camera so you can
evaluate images on the LCD when you review them.

Discover RAW
Right first time!

RAW files have many advantages, but they can also

be an excuse for laziness. Why bother getting the
white balance, colour settings, contrast and even
the exposure right when you can fudge it later in
your RAW converter? There are actually three good
reasons for getting it right first time:
1) The closer you get these settings when you
shoot, the less work youll have to do later on the
2) Exposure is critical, whether youre shooting
RAW files or not. RAW files may give you a little
extra leeway, but its a dangerous game to play.
3) If you get into the habit of shooting JPEGs and
RAW files simultaneously and work at getting the
pictures right first time, you may find that most of
your JPEGs are perfectly good and that you only
need to resort to RAW files now and again, rather
than having to convert the whole batch.

In-camera processing

RAW sensor data


Digital image

RAW converter
The RAW data captured by the cameras sensor must always be processed/converted into an image file. When you shoot
JPEGs the camera does this internally; when you shoot RAW files, you do it yourself on the computer

Whats wrong with this JPEG? Nothing! If you

concentrate on getting the camera settings right when
you shoot, youll find you dont need the extra data in
RAW files anywhere near as often as you might think.

The other point is that many cameras can shoot

RAW files and JPEGs simultaneously. The JPEG
versions will be ready for use straight away, while
the RAW files can be kept back for those occasional
images that require special treatment. If this is how
you intend to be working (its a lot quicker than
having to convert all your photos as a matter of
routine), it still makes sense to choose the camera
settings carefully.
But for all the things you can adjust when
converting RAW files, there are a number of things
you cant. These are nothing to do with the way the
image data is processed, but unchangeable optical
properties of the image itself. You cant change the
shutter speed, for example, nor the lens aperture. Its

What many photographers might not realise is that different

RAW converters are like different film developers. If you
process the same RAW file using three different programs,
for example Digital Photo Pro (seen here), Capture One and
Adobe Camera Raw, youll get three subtly different images

impossible to change the point the lens was focused

on, or the depth of field. These are optical properties
of the image as it forms on the sensor, and theres
nothing the cameras processing engine or your RAW
conversion software can do later.
ISO is another setting you need to make on the
camera, regardless of whether youre shooting
RAW files or JPEGs. When you increase the ISO
on a camera its actually amplifying the light levels
recorded by the photosites (pixels) on the sensor.
This amplification process takes place on the sensor
itself before the RAW image data is created.
RAW files may give you extra quality, control and
choice, but they do mean extra work, and its also
unwise to assume that they will always provide better
quality than JPEGs. This depends largely on how
good the camera is at processing JPEG images. For
example, the JPEG files produced by Nikon DSLRs
are very close in quality to those you can produce
from RAW files. There are times when the extra
highlight detail in RAW files may be useful, or when
you want to pick the white balance and
tone/colour settings later, but much of the time a
JPEG shot in the camera is perfectly good enough.
Canon SLRs are different. Canons in-camera
processing produces smooth-looking images, but
with less fine, textural detail than you can get from
the RAW files. The JPEGs are fine if youre in a hurry
or youre not going to print or display at maximum
resolution, but to really get the best from these
cameras you need to work from the RAW files.
Current Pentax and Sony DSLRs produce really
vivid, punchy JPEGs, and it may be hard to improve
on their tonal rendition or their sharpness with RAW
files. As ever, though, the extra highlight detail in

RAW files may prove useful, and this is especially

true of the Olympus E-520/620 and the Panasonic
models. These cameras tend to clip highlight detail
quite aggressively when shooting JPEGs, and you can
get much better dynamic range from the RAW files.
Its unwise to assume that one RAW converter will
be better than all the rest, too. Their qualities vary
some are better at noise reduction, some are better
at white balance adjustments, and youll even get
variation between camera models and brands (some
programs are good for Nikon files, some are better at
Canon files and so on).
Which leads us on to some of the more serious
drawbacks of RAW files. Some are obvious the
camera takes longer to save them and they take up
more space on your memory cards. They must also
all be processed later on the computer. Integrating
RAW files into your photo-cataloguing system can
be tricky, too. If you convert them to produce JPEGs
or TIFFs, how do you keep the conversions and the
originals together? Your filing system may no longer
be quite as simple as it was before. While programs
like Aperture and Lightroom make it easier to work
directly with your RAW files, they do tie you to that
particular RAW conversion engine.
There is another way to manage RAW files that
might appear more primitive and restrictive, but
which is likely to make your life (and photography)
much simpler. Shoot RAW files, but convert them
once and then put them away out of sight and stick
to JPEGs for all your regular cataloguing, printing,
slideshows and photo projects.
Experiment and find a workflow solution that
suits the way you shoot and the way your create your
images, and youll never look back.

We guide you through the steps to understanding and creating

beautiful black-and-white abstract images

B&W abstracts
Shooting skills

150 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

B&W abstracts


Macro abstract image of a metallic

bracelet taken straight on in a light
cube with a single speedlight to the
left providing the only illumination
Shot details: Nikon D700 with
105mm lens and f14, 1/15sec,
ISO 200
Chris Humphreys

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 151

Shooting skills

Chris Humphreys

All you need is the world around you and your camera.
There are no rules just you and your imagination

Headboard in a hotel bedroom,

the reflective quality of the
tiles caught the light well to
make a good abstract subject
Shot details: Nikon D700 with
50mm lens and f1.4, 1/80sec,
ISO 200


(top right)

Macro shot of a Zinnia, the

new petals in the centre of the
flower have yet to fully unfurl
and are almost unrecognisable
as petals
Shot details: Nikon D80 with
105mm and f25, 3sec, ISO 100

bstract photography is one of

the hardest genres to define.
One mans abstract is another
mans fine art. Purists would
say that to be truly abstract
an image must no longer represent reality
or contain any recognisable objects. But
wheres the fun in that? Perhaps an abstract
image should be one which generates
intrigue and makes you question what you
are looking at. Or an image that is instantly
recognisable but makes you see something
in an entirely new way.
An early pioneer of abstract photography,
Lester Hayes, took photographs of
everyday objects and showed them
in a different way using only a Kodak
Instamatic camera. He once commented
that everything is beautiful when
photographed from the proper angle and
under the right lighting conditions. He
looked for opportunities to create abstract
images from whatever he chanced upon.
However, much of abstract photography,
even the early work of Lester Hayes, used
colour as a means of creating abstraction
and interest. So what happens when

152 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

you take colour out of the equation? We

are simply left with shades of grey. In a
way this makes the life of the abstract
photographer even simpler we just need
to concentrate on tones, shapes, lines and
light. Colour cues can help us identify
objects, so removing this reference makes
the task of abstracting an object easier.
The great thing about this genre is
that there are no rules apart from
composition, perhaps. Exposure, focus,
ISO and shutter speed are simply a means
to an end to achieve a pleasing image.
Opportunities are all around they might
be a very small scale or set within a wider
context, but you need to train your eye and
practise some simple techniques to make
the most of them.
Look for rhythm and repetition in
objects, nature and the built environment.
Objects that repeat and align can make
great subjects for abstract photography;
balustrades in a stair, street lights, trees in a
wood. Remember that, for black and white
abstract photography, you need to think in
terms of light and shade. Is a shadow cast?
Is the shadow more interesting than the

subject and can that be used as a way of

creating abstraction?
Probably one of the most commonly
used methods of creating abstract
photography is macro. Taking recognisable
objects and closing in to see detail that is
usually missed by the human eye is a great
way to create surreal images. Removing
colour cues from a macro shot of a plant,
for instance, can make for a very abstract
image. Look for macro subjects that
contain a large amount of surface detail
and contrast which will work well when
converted to black and white.
There are many abstract subjects in
architecture and the built environment,
probably because buildings contain a
good amount of repetition and structural
elements within larger compositions.
Light plays a vital role in successfully
capturing a black and white abstract image;
architecture provides opportunity with
reflections and transparency. Look also
for geometric patterns within structural
elements, repetition of structure and
interaction with light and shade can
produce strong compositions.

B&W abstracts
lighting setups

How to light your abstracts

Abstracts can be done anywhere at any

time, but it is useful to practise with objects
around the home. A simple lighting setup
can assist, particularly if the image is to be
converted to black and white. A single light
source will create dynamic shadows and
tonal contrast.

Natural light is free, but it isnt particularly
controllable. There are, however, some things
you can do to introduce some level of control.
Think simple; a darkish room with a single small
window will provide a good soft light source
that will produce very pleasing ambient light. A
reflector can be used on the opposite side to
bounce light back onto the subject and a sheet
or blind to limit the light intensity.




Light cubes come are usually associated with
product photography; however, they offer a
huge degree of flexibility and are very easy
to set up and use, so are well suited to taking
abstract shots. The subject in the cube can be
lit from any number of lights or flashes around
the sides. To keep things simple, start with
the flash to the left or right and experiment
with different shades of infinity background
to affect how the light reflects around the
cube. The advantage a light cube offers more
control over ambient light than either a natural
light or shot through umbrella setup, but at the
expense of flexibility.

Chris Humphreys


Looking down a void with

vertical balustrading
gives an unusual view.
The shot needed to be
handheld so the ISO
was ramped up and the
VR lens helped to keep
the shot stable at a slow
shutter speed
Shot details: Nikon
D700 with 16-35mm
f4 lens at 18mm and f5,
1/30sec, ISO 2500


Shoot through umbrellas turn your flash gun
into a soft light source for minimal expense.
The single light umbrella setup is also portable,
giving you more options for subjects to shoot.
Set your flash to remote setting and use your
built in flash or a wireless flash trigger to trip
the flash. You need to try to minimise the
effect of natural light in the room so use a
combination of aperture and shutter speed to
underexpose the image by 2-3 stops. You then
control the flash from the camera, turning it up
and down accordingly.



Chris Humphreys


Chris Humphreys

Shooting skills

frost plant

A heavily frosted plant

shot against a dark
background with levels
adjusted to create a high
contrast abstract. The
centre of the plant was
placed at the intersecting
thirds for strong
shot details: Nikon D80,
18-135mm lens at 135mm
and f22, 2.2 sec, ISO 100

Take this shot

A cardboard box with cut-out sides and
translucent film or thin paper taped to the sides
makes an effective home-made light cube. A larger
sheet of paper rolled up the back of the box on the
inside can create an infinity background and a
single remote flash on either side of the box gives
an even but dynamic lighting effect.
1 Setting up Set up your home-made light cube
on a table, put your camera on a tripod and if
possible use a macro lens, or at least one with
close focusing capability. A piece of blu-tack is
useful for positioning your object at different
angles. Set your camera to manual and select a
fairly narrow aperture (even a narrow aperture will
give a shallow depth of field at macro distances).

2 Position flash Position your flash to the left or right of the

box, experiment with the angle of the flash and with the distance
it is from the box. Start with a setting of 1/30th power this will
give you plenty of scope for increasing or decreasing the
intensity. You want the flash to be providing most of the light, so
set your camera to underexpose the object.

154 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

3 Adjust, rotate and crop With an abstract image we

can take some liberties with post-processing. Cropping,
rotating and flipping the image can all be used to create a
stronger composition. Use the black & white adjustment
layer tool to convert the colour image to B&W this enables
you to take control of the individual colour channels and make
finer adjustments.

Chris Humphreys

Chris Humphreys

B&W abstracts

Boost micro contrast

1 Adjust levels Open your black-and-white abstract

image, using the Levels tool in Photoshop, hold down
Cmd/Ctrl and Alt then slide the left and right markers in
on the histogram until you can just see clipping in both
the highlights and the shadows (represented by patches
of black and white).

Black-and-white imagery is all about tones and

contrast as a general rule it is good to try to make
your darkest part of the image black and the
lightest pure white. Use levels adjustment to
achieve this. Curves are usually used to increase
contrast and create the pop in an image; however,
curves can sometimes affect the overall balance of
a photograph.
This useful trick in Photoshop will enable you to
create a controllable amount of micro contrast
without affecting the overall tonal balance of your
image. This can be used on colour images also but
works particularly well with black and white:

Patterns often help us to identify objects

whether they are organic or man-made.
But taken out of context, a pattern itself can
become abstract. Bark from a tree may be
instantly recognisable, but its own pattern
and rhythm can still be considered abstract.
Deep bark with plenty of texture works
well when photographed under strong
sunlight, remembering that all we are
interested in for black-and-white abstracts
is light and shade.
We can also use some simple
photographic techniques to create abstract
images, for example selective focus and
depth of field. By using a very shallow
depth of field (with a wide aperture) and
focusing on a specific part of an object,
we can throw the rest of the object out
of focus and remove some of the visual
cues we need to understand what we are
seeing. This is a great method of creating
abstraction from simple everyday objects
and works particularly well when used in
combination with macro shots.
Another easy technique to try is zoom
abstract. Using a long shutter speed
(around 1-2 seconds) focus on a subject
with the telephoto end of a zoom and
during the exposure slowly change the
focal length to the wide end. This can
even be combined with a rear sync flash
at the end of the exposure to highlight a
specific part of the subject. Again, look for
subjects with high tonal contrast which
will work well when converted to black
and white.
So there you have it, black-and-white
abstract photography is a genre that you
can practise any time and any place. All
you need is the world around you and your
camera. There are no rules just you and
your imagination.

BridGe (aBove riGht)

Looking down directly up at a translucent

bridge in a shopping centre, the shot was
timed to include the shapes of people walking
over the bridge
shot details: Nikon D700 with 50mm lens and
f4.5, 1/640sec, ISO 200

PaPer curves
(toP middle)

2 Duplicate and high pass Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to

duplicate the background layer. Then go to
Filter>Other>High Pass. Within the High Pass filter
use the slider to increase or decrease the effect. This
is resolution-dependent, so for 300dpi images a
figure of around 60-80pixels works well. Once you are
happy, click OK.
3 Soft light Click on the layer blending modes
(top of the Layers palette), and start by selecting
soft light. You will see the effect this has on the
micro contrast of the image by toggling the layer
on and off. You can use the opacity slider for the
high pass layer to lessen the effect if wish.

A set-up abstract shot using plain A4 paper

curved over itself and stapled together. Shot in a
light cube with a speedlight flash to the left
shot details: Nikon D700 with 105mm lens and
f14, 4/5sec,ISO 200

8Grated (main shot left)

You dont need to go far to create a B&W

abstract shot just look around the kitchen and
pick something with interesting texture. Metallic
objects work particularly well
shot details: Nikon D700, Sigma 105mm f2.8
EX DG at f14, 1/6sec, ISO 200
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 155

Sandro Bbler

Shooting skills

156 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Story behind the still


Photographer: Sandro Bbler

Location: Studio in Zrich, Switzerland
Client: Personal project
Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 85mm lens
at f14, 1/160sec, ISO 100

nspired to shoot an editorial-style series featuring a

male with really dark skin, self-taught professional
photographer Sandro Bbler explains that finding
someone suitable didnt prove too difficult: I found the
perfect model. Hes a sprinter and because hes an athlete
his body is very toned.
Having found his man, the next stage in the process involved
designing the ideal lighting setup: The pictures needed to have
a lot of contrast between the white background and the models
skin. In order to make the most of this, I worked with a red lens
filter to make the models dark skin even darker. Two studiolights were used to light the white background from either side
behind the model. In terms of lighting the model himself, I used
a small reflector in front of the model to achieve a soft, subtle
lighting effect on his skin and just enough light in his eyes.
Once Sandro got to work in the studio, things went very
smoothly and there was certainly no shortage of material
produced: The whole editorial includes about 30 photos, he
reveals. A total of 16 of the images from the session can be seen
on Sandros website.




I used two Broncolor lights fitted with standard reflectors and

directed them at 45-degree angles onto the white background so the
light from each overlapped slightly. A silver reflector in front of the
camera meant that some of this light bounced back onto the subject
providing just enough modelling on his skin and body shape.


Tips and tricks to help you edit your

monochrome images like a pro
160 Six black and white
conversion techniques
The ultimate guide for converting colour
images to black and white

168 Create high-key effects

Use Photoshop to up the contrast

172 Use Dodge & Burn to

enhance portraits
Lighten and darken areas under control

176 Create a black & white HDR

in Photoshop
Blend three black and white images into one

180 Re-create a glamorous

black & white portrait
Glam it up with some Hollywood style

183 Create actions in Photoshop

Simplify your workflow

184 Selective colouring

Take control of your editing skills

190 Create atmosphere

Evoke a dramatic mood with Photoshop

195 Graduated filter

Use Lightroom to create a dramatic sky

196 Master tone edits

Work with tone for masterful monochrome

200 Add emphasis to eyes

Apply a rainbow effect to your black-andwhite portraits

202 Classic portraits with

gradient maps
Get effective B&W with this technique

204 Sepia tone your images

Add a traditional brown tone to your photos

206 Blue tone your images

Particularly effective for a landscape

208 Fix your old photos

All you need to know about restoring your
old photographs












A good black
and white
allows you
to enjoy the
image by
removing the
of colour
from the
building and
the blue sky





Six black and white conversion techniques

Six black and white

conversion techniques

An essential guide to six different techniques for converting your digital

images to black and white using Adobe Photoshop CS5

oing back 15 years, creating a

black-and-white image used to be for
photographers with a darkroom or a
patient family who did not mind
giving up their bathroom. This was
where chemicals, enlargers, black and white paper
and a lot of trial and error were used to achieve a
distinctive look, however it normally resulted in
one or two decent prints, and a lot of wasted time
and resources.
These days its so much easier and less smelly,
and there are no more headaches from not having

enough ventilation! There are numerous ways of

creating a black and white image in Photoshop and
this workshop is all about deciding which of these
techniques you are going to use. We are going
to teach you six of our favourite ways to convert
an image from colour to black and white. Now,
the reason we do not stick to just one particular
technique is because different methods are good
for different image types and it would be very short
sighted to just use a one technique fits all approach
to making the most of Adobe Photoshop, which
provides plenty of options.

There are more ways to convert your colour images,

including in Adobe Camera Raw or in Lightroom, but
on this occasion were going to focus on techniques
that can be done from within Photoshop or Elements
8. The key to converting images from colour to black
and white is to do it non-destructively so that the
original colour image and all the settings applied are
retained for the future, just in case you want to adjust
the settings for a different look at a later stage as well
as keeping the pixels intact and tonal range crisp
and bright. Read on to get started on creating your
monochrome masterpieces.

Removing colour using Desaturate

Copy background layer You can apply a desaturate

Desaturate background copy Now that we have a
to the background layer but that leaves you
copy of the background layer. Its time to apply
very few options. By copying the background layer PC
desaturate. You can either go to Image>Adjustments>

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer Desaturate

produces a very flat image, so we need to correct the
tonal values of the shadows, midtones, and highlights.

Adjust the sliders Move the shadow slider towards the

Grouping layers All that is left to do is a little
right side by bringing it into the edge of the histogram.
housekeeping. Hold down the Shift key and click to
This will darken the shadows. Use midtone slider and move
highlight the levels and desaturate layers. Then apply the

Save and close The image can be saved as PSD or TIFF

with all the layers intact and ready to be re-edited at a
later date. Desaturate works best with landscapes, flowers

(Ctrl+J) or Mac (Cmd+J) you can apply it non-destructively

to the background layer copy.

it either to the right (darken) or to the left (lighten).

Desaturate or apply the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/

Cmd+Shift+U to the layer.

keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+G to group the layers.

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer by going to Layer>New

Adjustment Layer>Levels.

and animals etc, but not so well with photographs of people.




Although we are not including any of the Adobe Camera


There is a fine line

between creating a
warm black and
white or just sepia
toning an image with

Raw methods of black and white conversion, that does

not mean to say that you cannot save your image as a
TIFF, close it, then re-open it into Adobe Camera Raw
dialog box. This is where you can take advantage of the
Film Grain
and Post
Try Amount
20, Size 25,
at 50 for a
subtle grain

Hue/Saturation: Creating a warm black and white

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer This

Colorize Hue/Saturation After you create the new
Adding curves Using the Adjustments panel this time,
produces a warm black and white and to be
Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, tick the Colorize box
click on the Curves Adjustment Layer icon to activate
to do it, you must first of all create an Adjustment Layer
from within the Adjustment panel and set the hue to 30 and
a new adjustment curve and create a gentle S-curve by
by going to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation
or via the Adjustment icon in the Layer panels.

the saturation to five. This will produce a warm-toned blackand-white image.

Grouping layers Hold down the Shift key and click to

highlight the curves and hue/saturation adjustment
layers. Then simply apply the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/

Combining layers Shift-click all layers to create a

Hi-pass sharpening Click on Filter>Other>High Pass
combined layer copy and apply the following keyboard
and in the dialog box set the radius to somewhere
shortcut: Shift+Alt+Ctrl/Cmd+E. This will then create a
between one and 2.5 pixels. Apply the high pass effect

Cmd+G to group the layers together and then rename the

group hue/saturation.


combined image layer that we can subsequently sharpen,

using high-pass.

pulling the lower part of the curve (Shadows) down and

higher part (Highlights) up.

and change the blend mode to soft light. Then adjust the
Opacity to 85%.

Six black and white conversion techniques



Channel mixer: mixing black

and white with the channels

Creating a Channel Mix In the Adjustments panel click

Monochrome The secret to using the Channel Mixer
on the Channel Mixer icon to create a Channel Mixer
is to balance the numbers. The channel output
Layer. Or alternatively select Layer>New
should never exceed 100%. But first things first! Tick the
Adjustment Layer>Channel Mixer from the Layer menu and
this will also create it.

monochrome box to turn the colour image into a single

channel black and white image.

The key to using a

Channel Mixer layer
is to use subtle
adjustments in
the red and green
source channels

Balancing the numbers Balancing the Channel Mixer

numbers is a mixture of science and art. We have set
the Red channel at 50% and then divide the remaining 50%
between the Green (30%) and the Blue (20%) which adds
up to 100.

Color Balance In the Adjustments panel click on

Luminosity blend If you adjust any of the colour
Midtones and shadows You can adjust the Colour
the Colour Balance icon to create a Colour Balance
balance sliders while in normal blend mode, you will
Balance sliders to taste. In the case of the woodland
Adjustment Layer. Otherwise select Layer>New Adjustment
apply a colour tone. However, if you change the blend mode
image example, we are going to adjust the midtone to 50%
Layer>Colour Balance from the Layer menu and this will
also create the same effect.

to Luminosity on the menu you will alter the tonal value of

the black and white.

Red, then click on the shadows tone and move the slider to
15% Red.



Just because youre losing

the colour doesnt mean
youre losing the impact of
the image


Vibrance: vibrant
black and white


Adding Vibrance In the Adjustments panel click on the

Desaturate Once you have added a Vibrance
Adjusting Vibrance Now that the image is in black and
icon to create a Vibrance Adjustment Layer.
Adjustment Layer, take the Saturation slider from within
white, you can slide the Vibrance slider around to adjust
alternatively you can select Layer>New Adjustment
the Adjustments panel and drag it all the way over to the left
the tonal qualities of the image to suit your individual taste.
Layer>Vibrance from the Layer menu and this will also
create the Vibrance Adjustment Layer.

so that saturation reads -100. This will turn your image into a
black and white shot.

In the case of the tulips, -68 worked best by making them a

little lighter.

Hue/Saturation Vibrance is so easy to do there is

no real step four. But you can add hue/saturation as
shown on the previous page and apply a stronger colour

Colour Balance Another option is to once again use a

Colour Balance Adjustment with the blend mode set
to Luminosity. This combined with Vibrance gives you full

Vignetting Finally, the last optional step is to save

the image as a TIFF or JPEG and re-open it in Adobe
Camera Raw. While there you can apply a vignette from

tone by ticking Colorize and increasing the Saturation slider

to around ten.


control over the image and its tonal range. In the example
we use midtones, Cyan -34.

within the Effects panel and also add a little film grain style
if you deem necessary.

Six black and white conversion techniques

Gradient Map


Default Colours So that you dont

with a weird looking Gradient
reset the foreground and

background colours to black-and-white.

You can do this by clicking the small
icon on the Tools panel or by pressing
the (D) key.

The Gradient
Map method
of creating
a black and
white is one
of the hidden
gems of

Gradient Map In the Adjustments panel click on the

Gradient Map icon to create a Gradient Map Adjustment
Layer. Another option is to select Layer>New Adjustment
Layer>Gradient Map from the Layer menu and this will
perform the same task.

Adding curves Using the Adjustments panel this time

click on the Curves Adjustment Layer icon to activate
a new Adjustment curve and create a gentle (S) curve by


pulling the lower part of the curve (Shadows) down and the
higher part (Highlights) up.

Heavy contrast If you wish to crank up the contrast a

Hue/Saturation Once again if you wish to warm up
Save your work This is a pretty easy technique to
little then simply copy the Gradient Map Adjustment
your image then you can add hue/saturation as shown
master but it is still good to remember to save your
Layer using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+J and this
on the previous page and apply a subtle warm colour tone
work as an unflattened TIFF or PSD. If you are using Bridge
will double the Gradient Map effect and give you a very
contrast-heavy image.

by ticking Colorize and increasing the saturation slider to

around five.

and ACR then go for the TIFF. If you use Lightroom then
choose PSD.


B&W Filter: black-and-white adjustments

The Black & White Adjustment Layer does what it

says on the tin and so much more besides



Add a hint
of colour
Even though all of these

techniques are designed

to give you different styles
of black and white with
different tonal values. You
can also choose to drop
the opacity ever so slightly
on mostly all of the
Adjustment layers. The
idea is to re-introduce just
a hint of colour back into
the monochrome. You
can make it so subtle that
the viewer would doubt
there is colour there at all.


Six black and white conversion techniques

Open image We have saved the best way for last.

The Black & White Adjustment Layer is the most
method of converting your colour image

to black and white. First though, you will need to open an

image up for conversion.

Black & White Adjustment Layer In the Adjustments

Magnify image It is
panel click on the Black & White icon to create a Black &
normally best to work at
White Adjustment Layer. Or alternatively select Layer>New
around 100% view. So using the
Adjustment Layer>Black & White from the Layer menu and
this will also create the Adjustment Layer.

Scrubby Target tool The Scrubby Target tool takes a bit of getting used to but basically it allows us to target the specific
by selecting different parts of the image. Once your mouse is held down you can drag left or right.
4 tones

Zoom tool (Z), apply the new

CS5 scrubby zoom option and
drag the Zoom tool to the right
to zoom in and the left to zoom
out again.

Highlights Target the brightest part of the image to

start with then click and move the Scrubby slider to the
right to either lighten or darken the highlights. If you watch
the panel it will show you which colours are active.

Midtones You are now going to repeat the process but

Shadows Next we are going to select the darkest tones
Tint Finally, to finish things off tick the Tint option and
this time for the midtones which are not the brightest
in the shadows. The aim to is to darken them down
choose a very subtle blue/white to cool the tones of the
nor the darkest parts of the image. The idea is to alter the
enough that we can get a good balance between all the
image down. We used the RGB settings 241, 242, and 243
colours until your subject looks tonally correct.

tones but leave them with enough detail for printing.

to produce a cool blue tint.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 167



We show you how to turn a

portrait into a light-filled, detailed
black-and-white creation using a
few quick Photoshop adjustments

igh-key effects are popular among

photographers who are looking to get creative
with their images of people. Although the
effect can be applied to any style of photograph,
it works best when used to bring out the
features of a persons face, such as the eyes, mouth and hair.
Its an interesting way of bleaching out the photos highlights
to the point of no return and then deepening the shadows
in your image, but at the same time keeping hold of details
wherever possible.
Theres a fine line between overdoing the effect and getting
it just right so keep this in mind. If the person in your image

168 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

has become unrecognisable as a living being, though, you can

be pretty sure youve hit the former.
Layer masks and adjustment layers are the tools of choice
here, allowing a boost of highlights to be applied to a chosen
area. The finished look should accentuate points of interest,
while making areas like the skin seem less obvious. Once
converted to black and white, the Curves adjustment is put to
good use as its capable of controlling the variations needed
between the highlights, midtones and shadows. Follow this
ten-step tutorial to discover how a combination of blend
modes, masking and image adjustments can make a stylish
high key image from any starting portrait.

Create high-key effects




Desaturate, duplicate and dodge

Convert the image to monochrome and apply a blend mode

Desaturate the portrait Open the starting image from your disc and duplicate
the Background layer by going to Layer>Duplicate Layer and hitting OK in the
pop-up window. Hold Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+U to turn the layer black and white.

Boost brightness Duplicate the black and white layer

by dragging it onto the Create a New Layer button in
the Layers palette. To lighten this duplicate version, go to
Image>Adjustments> Brightness/Contrast, increase the
Brightness slider to 80 and hit OK to apply.

Lighten monochrome Navigate to Image>Adjustments> Curves (Ctrl/Cmd+M) and, using the

adjustments histogram, bend the top half of the line upwards. Slightly pull the middle of the curve
back down (as shown here). This will lighten the highlights, increase contrast and deepen the shadows
to start off the effect.

Apply blend mode For the high key effect we need more contrast, so
duplicate the layer you just lightened (at the top of the layer stack) and
change its blend mode to Hard Light. Lower its Opacity to 80% to reduce
the harshness of the blend.

Soften image To create a softer high key

effect, go to Filter>Noise>Median. In the
filters pop-up menu, set Radius to 30px and hit
OK to apply the filter. You should see how the
entire image goes softer but retains definition
within the essential features.

A black layer mask

Click the Add Layer
Mask button at the base

Enhance catchlight In the Layers palette, move the darkest of the three black
and white layers (the first one made) to the top of the layer stack. Select the
Dodge tool and in the Options bar set to Midtones with Exposure at 60%. Brush over
the eyes and hat of the model to accentuate the highlights and add contrast.

170 The blaCk & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

of the palette and hit

Ctrl/Cmd+I to switch
the mask from white
to black. Using the
Eraser tool, set to a
soft black brush tip
and paint over the eyes
and hat to bring the
contrast through.
Lower the tools Opacity
to 40% and brush on
the mouth.

Create high-key effects

Polish the results

Adjustment layers help to control the effect

Increase overall brightness To create a

washed-out appearance for your image, go
Reduce wrinkles To reduce the creases
to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Brightness/
under the eyes and any other lines that might
Contrast and hit OK in the pop-up window.
detract, select the Dodge tool set to Midtones,
Increase the Brightness slightly to about 5
and boost the Contrast up to 40 to get a really
dramatic difference.

Strength to 60% and a small soft brush tip. On the

layer where we applied the Median filter, brush over
the wrinkles to make them lighter and less obvious.

Tinted black and white

Add colour with Hue/Saturation

Although this effect works great with a standard black

and white image, it goes well with a coloured version too.
When youve completed the effect, add a Hue/Saturation
adjustment layer from the Layers menu to give a tint to the
image. Inside the adjustment, tick the Colorize box. Boost
the Saturation slider to 15 and leave Hue at 0. This will give
the image a faint brownish tint. However, by moving the
Hue slider around you can create tones and change the
mood using other colours. A Hue value of 200 gives a cool
blue tint, whereas setting it to 50 gives a soft yellow tone.


layer masks
When working with
layer masks you can
use the Shift key to
turn it off for a quick
before and after, or
use the Alt key to
reveal a black and
white version of the
mask, which can then
be edited with the
Brush or Eraser tools.
The Command (Mac)
or Control (PC) key
can show you the
mask as an active

Retrieve details On the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, use the

Brush tool with quite a soft tip and set it to black. Paint over the lips and
nose shadow on the layers mask to bring through the final details and the darker
tone from the layer beneath.

Layer structure
Understand the effect

Adjustment layer

High contrast B&W

Median filter

Lightened B&W


THE BLACk & WHITE PHoTogrAPHy Book 171




Use Dodge & Burn to enhance portraits

Use Dodge & Burn to

enhance portraits

Working with both the Dodge and Burn tools, use shadowing
and highlights to improve this portrait

hether you like it or not,

photographic manipulation
exists. Both the arguments
for and against it have grown
along with the enhancements
in traditional photography and the manipulation of
those images. Once youre trained in the Dodge and
Burn tools you can make your own moral decisions
to use your powers for good or for evil.
The Dodge tool and the Burn tool (try to keep
them separate in your mind) are your best bets for
enhancing an image, drawing the viewers eyes
attention to a certain area or just to help bring out
the shadows and highlights of a photograph. Much
like working with Levels or Curves you are basically
lightening or darkening the image; however, the
freedom that both Dodge and Burn give you is in

that you choose what pixels to work on. This enables

you to paint in your shadows and compose your
highlights very selectively.
If you look at our Before photograph, you can
see the direction of the light is casting some uneven
and somewhat distracting shadows on the face. Also,
most of the highlighting is occurring around the
centre of the face and the lower neck. Were going

The Dodge and Burn tools enable

you to paint in your shadows and
compose your highlights

Guide to the Dodge tool

Setting up Hold Alt and click on Create a new layer;

this will open up some adjustable options. Select
Overlay on the mode option and tick Fill with overlayneutral colour (50% gray), creating a nondestructive
workflow to edit the photograph.

to use the Dodge and Burn tools to help define

these shadows and highlights. To start with, we will
work with the Dodge tool, exploring how we can
use it to take away from the general imperfections
of the human skin and help our subject to glow. In
this tutorial we will use a workflow that allows
nondestructive editing of the photograph by using a
transparent overlay.

After Dodg

Choose your brush Select the Dodge tool and choose

Highlights, which tells the tool what areas to work on.
Also, bring your exposure down to between 3-5%. Select

Enable airbrush mode. All these options will help create a

subtle but effective look.



Skin Hold down the left mouse button, identify the lighter parts of the skin and start going over
Selective areas Ring your brush size down, zoom in and look for specific
them with the brush. Be careful not to overexpose the areas. Avoid a patchy effect by evenly
highlight/midtone areas that need lightening (eyes, lips, nostrils, light hair).
dodging all areas.
Zoom out to review your progress, making sure the changes are subtle.

Guide to the Burn tool

Hair Work the Dodge tool over light areas of the hair. Zoom out and review the changes by
hiding the grey overlay to reveal your original image. Also notice how imperfections of the skin
are lessened. Compare the two.

Selecting your brush Now weve used the Dodge tool, our subject looks a little
bright. So select the Burn tool and mimic the same options as with the Dodge
but this time select Shadows instead of Highlights.

Selective areas Go in close to the image to alter the areas. The easiest way to
Shadows Work the skin areas as before, but think about how you want your shadows to cast.
do this is to use the magnify tool or navigator bar. Keep coming in and out of the
Bring out the shadows on the right-hand side of the face to begin bringing in a dynamic tone to
image to check it looks natural.
the photograph.


Use Dodge & Burn to enhance portraits

Hair Work the darker patches of hair to bring them out against the highlighted areas. Our model
has light and dark patches in his hair, so by the time youre done the hair should really stand out.

After Burn

Final touches Finally, merge all layers and adjust your colour balance to get rid
of any imbalance in colour after using the dodge and burn effect. The more you
desaturate the image, the more the effect will work.

Once youre trained in the

Dodge and Burn tools you can
make your own decisions
In this landscape example, the shadows and highlights have been enhanced using the Dodge and Burn

tools. The clouds in this photograph have lots of variation in terms of density and how much light theyre
letting through. Be meticulous about where you add the dodge effect so as not to completely bleach out
the texture of the lighter clouds.





Create a black & white HDR in Photoshop

Create a black & white

HDR in Photoshop

Learn how to create high dynamic range results in easy to follow steps

igh Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI)

utilises methods to help increase
the tonal range recorded in a digital
image, from the darkest blacks to
the brightest whites. Standard digital
cameras struggle to record extreme dark and light
tones in a single exposure. A common method to
increase tonal range is to shoot multiple shots of
the same subject at different exposure times. These
shots are then blended together into an HDR image
that has a higher bit depth (tonal range). This image
is often then tonemapped down to a viewable Low
Dynamic Range (LDR) for everyday monitors such as
LCD or CRT screens.
Due to registration issues when combining
multiple shots together, HDR is only effective when
shooting static subjects such as landscapes, interiors
and architecture. HDR in moving subjects will
show ghosted edges as positions change between

exposures: faux HDR techniques are better for

this, for example shooting in RAW format and then
pushing and pulling the exposure of a single frame
and layering adjusted frames one above the other
in Photoshop and using masks to hide and reveal
certain areas.
Weve chosen to photograph this Oak tree in bright
sunlight to illustrate how HDR can help bring out
detail in the shadows and highlights.
We will cover a standard technique to shoot
for HDR and then quickly look at the HDR Pro
in Photoshop CS5. This will merge our multiple
exposures seamlessly into one. We will then take
a 16-bit TIF file into Camera Raw to make some
more adjustments and then convert to black and
white, bringing out some of the rich detail within the
image. The final infrared look shows how far you can
push and pull images like these to create incredibly
dramatic black and white imagery.

Shooting checklist If youre shooting for HDR from

scratch you will need two key pieces of equipment: a
with manual override options and a tripod with

camera head. Optional equipment includes: lens hood, grey

card, spirit level and cable release.

HDR is only effective when shooting static subjects

such as landscapes, interiors and architecture

Setting up your shots Set camera to manual focus and aperture or Aperture priority.
How many shots? Typically shoot between five and nine exposures and bracket
Compose your shot and meter an average tone. Green grass or a grey card is ideal. Shoot
between one and two stops for each exposure. Even if you dont blend them all, its
bracketed exposures by adjusting your shutter speed either side of the average exposure.
better to have all the tonal range in case you want to blend other exposures back in later.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 177


Bring them into Photoshop Open up your bracketed shots. Use RAW (best quality)
or JPEG. Select the images to blend together. Weve selected six from the nine shots,
ignoring the brightest ones. Choose Tools>Photoshop>Merge to HDR Pro.

HDR Pro dialog box Take a break while the images are loading, this takes time. Once
loaded, youll see the individual thumbnails at the bottom and a merged preview in the
middle. Familiarise yourself with the sliders and presets on the right.

Custom presets All the presets are quite subjective,

Remove Ghosts Check this is on to help remove
youll either like them or not. For this tutorial were going
ghosting in your image. In this case some leaves may
to work with the Photorealistic preset. Select this setting
have moved slightly in the wind. You can also apply this to
from the drop-down menu.

178 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

individual frames by selecting them first at the bottom.

Outputting file Select 16bit mode and then click OK to

process. Save the file as tree.tif file and then in Bridge
select the file and press Ctrl/Cmd+R to open it up in the
Adobe Camera Raw interface for adjustment.

Create a black & white HDR in Photoshop

Camera Raw adjustments Once in Bridge apply the

Adding a grad filter Press G to select graduated filter,
Black and white conversion Click on the hand icon
following settings to bring out detail in the bark and give
and hold down Shift and draw a line from the bottom
at the top to take you back to the main menu options.
it an infrared feel. Exposure: -0.40, Recovery: 30, Fill Light:
upwards. Enter these values: Exposure: -0.70, Brightness:
Now click on the HSL / Grayscale tab on the right (the icon
79, Blacks: 46, Brightness: 38, Contrast: 13, Clarity: 78.

-11, Contrast: +85, Saturation: +20, Clarity: +43.

that looks like slider lines) Check Convert to Grayscale.

Sharpening to finish Click on the output settings (text link at the base of the image)
You can output to a colour or greyscale profile and 16 or 8bit. Finish by a small amount of
sharpening either in Camera Raw or Photoshop.

You can take your black

Black and white adjustment Now we have a basic black and white conversion
we can tweak sliders to create the high contrast infrared feel. To achieve this look,
start by inputting the following; Reds: -9, Oranges: -37, Yellows: -33, Greens: +54, Aquas:

-13, Blues: +9, Purples: +15, Magentas: +4.

and white images further

and experiment with a
number of different tinting
techniques. Here we have
used split toning in
Camera Raw and
warmed up the midtones
with some reddish brown
and cooled down the
shadows with a blue/
black. This resembles the
darkroom technique of
Lith printing where you
would over-expose the
paper to light and then
develop it in Lith
developer that is
partially oxidised.

The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 179


Smooth, polished images
are created with a little
Brush tool practice and
many layers!



Re-create a glamorous black & white portrait

Re-create a glamorous
black & white portrait

How to add a touch of Hollywood glamour to your

portraits in a few easy steps with Photoshop

he iconic images of Fifties Hollywood

still live on in the modern day. This style
creates stunning, pro-looking portraits
and is all down to Photoshop.
Photoshop allows you to add the
polished film star treatment to your own portrait
images. Building up your images slowly with
many layers is the key, using all tools at low opacities
and strengths.
In this tutorial we show you how to cut out your
model and leave the hair looking perfect, as well as
how to expertly paint fresh skin using the Brush tool

and cover up common portrait flaws like under-eye

bags and stray hairs with the Clone Stamp tool. Well
also show you how to add dramatic lighting tones
to your image with the Burn tool and Levels. Lastly,
well show you how to tie this all together to create a
convincing Fifties Hollywood starlet.
Building up layers as you work in Photoshop is
vital when working on a detailed piece like this, so
make sure you label your layers suitably for ease.
Also make sure you make a duplicate of your original
photo layer, as insurance for any mistakes. To do
this, double-click on your Background layer to make

it editable and drag it over the Create new layer icon,

found at the base of the Layers palette.
The start image used here was found at iStock.
com (image number 4944807). We picked it because
of the classic pose and retro feel, but this effect will
transfer well onto your own portraits. For reference
we used Google images and used the classic style
of Elizabeth Taylor, an iconic star who has had her
portrait taken by many famous photographers and
artists. So with your start image downloaded from or plucked from your own stock pile, so
lets begin

Building up layers as you work in Photoshop is vital

when working on a detailed piece like this

Stage one: Cut out the hair Convert your image to

Working on the newly duplicated layer (see the
text), select the Pen tool. Make sure the tool is set to

Cut out the model If you arent comfortable creating a

Clean the backdrop Cmd/Ctrl-click on the saved
Path with the Pen tool, use the Magnetic Lasso instead
Path to create an active selection, then press Cmd/
and then press Cmd/Ctrl+J to lift the active selection onto
Ctrl+J. With the cut-out model on its own layer, add a new

Sort out the hair Click on the new layer and click the
Lock transparent pixel button at the top of the Layers
palette. Select the Clone Stamp tool from the side toolbar

More hair work Select the Smudge tool, a size one or

Stage two: The face Select a large soft-edged brush.
two brush at 90% strength. Drag out pieces of hair
Set the blend mode in the top toolbar to Multiply and
where needed. With enough hair pulled out, select the Blur
lower the Opacity to 20%. Alt-click to sample a light skin

the Paths option in the top toolbar. Zoom in and cut out the
model as carefully as possible.

and pick a soft brush, 30% Opacity. Alt-click a clean patch

of hair and paint over the edge to rid any remaining black.

its own layer. If you are using the Pen tool, complete the
path, go to the Paths palette>top right arrow>Save Path.

tool at 30% and soften the hair on the edges. Add a new
layer at the top of the stack.

layer directly underneath it (found at the base of the Layers

palette) and go to Edit>Fill>White.

colour, go to the Swatches palette and click and name your

new swatch. Repeat so you have a selection of skin colours.
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 181


Paint in new skin With your

model layer still locked, select
the lightest colour and on the new
layer paint over the cheek and
forehead. A subtle airbrushed
effect will be created. Gradually
build up layers with more tones
if it looks too much then lower the
layers opacity.

Take a look Zoom out and youll notice that the model
Tidy up The areas under the eyes and some stray hairs
Finish the face To add more glamour, add white
looks a bit dull. Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and
need editing. Select the Clone Stamp tool at 30%
highlights to the bridge of the nose and left cheek
drag the right slider inwards to lighten her up. Repeating the
Opacity, Alt-click a clean area of skin and paint out the flaws.
edge. Zoom into the eyes and with a small brush (white
painting process select a bold red and paint her lips. Use a
small brush so you dont get the teeth.

We have painted the face, so now paint/smooth out the

chest and arm, getting rid of all blemishes.

Add depth To add impact to the models eyes, select

the Burn tool from the side toolbar, and in the top
bar set the tool to Midtones and at 20% Exposure, before

Darken the hair Make sure youre clicked onto the

Final touches The models top is a bit too modern
model layer and paint over the eyelashes, pupils and
for our classic feel. Add a new layer at the top of the
brows. They will darken and become more sultry. Zoom
stack. Select a small soft brush and sample the tops colour

carefully painting over the irises in her eyes to introduce

more depth to their tone.

182 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

out and Burn the hair, concentrating on where the hair is

naturally darker.

colour) paint at a low opacity over the whites dont forget

to paint the teeth too!

(Alt-click) and paint. Lastly, add a new layer under the model
and paint on a vignette for true Hollywood style.

Creating actions in Photoshop

Creating actions
in Photoshop

All the steps
involved in this
mono conversion
can be recorded
as an action

Want to convert more photos in less

time? Actions are the thing for you!
If you think about it, there are almost certainly quite a number
of processes that you perform in Photoshop on almost every
image that you take. This might include sharpening, contrast
boosting and perhaps converting to black and white. If theres a
good chance that youre going to be doing the exact same process
on several images, its worth taking the time to record a Photoshop
action. Each step that you carry out in Photoshop is literally
recorded and the complete process the action can be played
back later for use on other images that require the same editing.
Actions can be short, containing just one or two simple
adjustments, or they can be very long, containing multiple steps for
much more dramatic editing. You can also retrospectively adjust
the action so that values and settings in individual steps can be
tweaked as you replay it, so that they better suit a particular image.
Steps can also be added in or removed at a later date, all of which
makes actions not only powerful but also highly flexible too.

Adjust an action

Once your action is complete, you can choose to

make some (or all) of the individual steps in the
action adjustable as the action plays. In order to
do this, simply click the box to the left of the step
that you wish to make editable. When you hover
your cursor over this box, the message Toggle
dialogue on/off will be displayed, as you are
choosing to make the dialogue for the filter or
adjustment appear (or not) as the action runs.

Create new action At the base of the Actions palette,

click Create New Action then give it a name. Youll also
1be asked
if you want to set a function key to activate the

action. You can adjust both of these later on if you need to.

Actions are ideal
for applying edits
to multiple images

Record the steps When you click Record, youll notice

Stop and replay When you have finished recording
a red record symbol at the base of the Actions palette.
the action, simply press stop by clicking the button on
Everything that you then do within Photoshop will be built
the far left at the base of the Actions palette. Replay your
into the action. Try to get each step right as you go.

Action on a new image to ensure that it works correctly.



184 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Selectively colour your black-and-whites

Selectively colour your


Get creative with monochrome and learn how to use layer masks, the
Brush tool, clipping masks and selections to create a painting in progress

elective black and white effects have

always captured the imagination. They
draw attention to the subject in your image
through the contrast, adds a different twist
to the overall composition and can turn a
dull black and white into something really special.
But why stop at just selecting colour? Here, weve
taken a different approach by introducing an actual
paintbrush to paint colour on our image. Using
Photoshops pre-installed brush tips, its easy to

experiment with different styles of painting. With the

help of layer and clipping masks, areas of paint can
be added or taken away quickly without worrying
about destroying the original image.
If youre feeling adventurous, try out the other
approach to this tutorial by using the original canvas
in our picture of the hand. Move the flowers onto this
image and blend the black and white version with
the colour. See our version over the page and you can
chose this one if you prefer the effect.

Open starting
starting image
of the hand and
zoom in to 50%.
Pick the Quick
Selection tool and
set its brush size
to 50px in the
Options bar, also
make sure AutoEnhance is ticked.

Our two starting images are effective for this type

of editing but you can just as easily use any image to
paint onto. Simply re-position the hand wherever you
want the paint to be applied. All thats required is a
couple of masks to cut out the hand and brush, a dab
of paint, and some subtle smudging well, theres
a little bit more to it than that so follow these simple
steps and learn exactly how its done. Soon youll be
a master of the layer mask which in turn will greatly
help you improve your other Photoshop skills.

It draws attention
to the subject in
your image through
the contrast

Using the Quick

Selection tool,
form a selection
over the hand
and wrist as well
as the brush and
bristles. For the
background area
between the
fingers, reduce
the size of the
tool to 10px and
zoom in closer,
then Alt-click on
the area.

Refine selection Go to Select>Modify>Feather and enter 0.5px and hit OK. Go back into
Select>Modify, and this time choose Contract. Enter 1px in the pop-up window and hit OK.
Add a layer mask in the Layers palette to apply the mask.
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 185

After the hand has been
masked, go to Layer>
Smart Objects>Convert to
Smart Object. This can be
dragged onto the image of
the flowers and edited in a
separate window if you
need to. Simply
double-click the Smart
Objects layer to edit. The
advantage of a Smart
Object is that it keeps the
hands layer mask out of
the way, as well as making
sure no pixels are distorted
if the image is resized.

Drag n drop Open the second image and drag the

hand onto the image. Resize and move the hand using
Edit>Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd+T) for a better composition.

Desaturate flowers Drag the flowers layer onto the Create New Layer button
to duplicate. Double-click the locked layer (bottom of stack) to make it editable.
Go to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate to remove this layers colour, leaving the
colour duplicate above.

your brush
Select the

Select for painting Use the Quick Selection tool to make

a selection around the flowers and the stem above where
the hand is positioned. This doesnt need to be exact. Add a

Brush tool and

hit F5 to open
the Brushes
palette. Select
the Flat Bristle
brush, found
within the Thick
Heavy Brushes,
with a size to
match that of the
brush being held
(around 70px).

new layer mask to the colour flower layer (mid-stack) to show

the black and white underneath.

Use the original canvas

Instead of masking out the hand, you can opt for the
original canvas from our starting image. All thats needed
is some perspective transformation and work with the
Brush tool. First, drag the flowers onto the image of the
hand and use Edit>Transform>Perspective to match the
position of the canvas. Once placed, duplicate the layer and
desaturate (Image>Adjustments>Desaturate) the
bottom of the two flower layers. Make a selection of the
hand (see steps 1-3) and add a layer mask to both of the
flower layers. On the colour flowers, use the Eraser tool to
remove the areas of colour and reveal the black and white
layer beneath.

Click on Shape

Dynamics in the
Brushes palette.
Set the Size
Jitter to 50%
and Minimum
Diameter to
60%. Set both
the Angle Jitter
and Roundness
Jitter to 0%.
Make sure that
Smoothing is
ticked too.

186 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Selectively colour your black-and-whites

If youre using Photoshop
CS3 or later, take
advantage of the Refine
Edge command. The
Refine Edge option has
Feather, Contract, Smooth
and Radius all in one
window, similar to the
Modify options weve used
in this tutorial. This will help
make your selection
precise and smooth.

Apply paint Select the layer mask in the Layers palette

and use the Brush tool with white foreground and black
background colours. Paint the blue back into the sky, increasing
the brush size to cover the large areas more easily.

Individual flowers Press the X key to alternate between the foreground

and background colours, switching between adding and deleting the layer
mask. Zoom into the image and remove areas of paint to reveal whole flowers in
black and white.

Where colour meets

the black and white,
use the Brush tool
Where colour

Different brushes for

different styles

meets black
and white, use
the Brush tool
in a vertical
movement to
the edges of
the brush tip.
Remember to
resize the brush
back to the size
of the actual
brush pictured
when doing this.

The Brushes palette has many preset tips to use for different painting styles.
Open the palette to access all the options inside the drop-down menu at the top
right. Groups of brushes include Natural Media, Assorted, Thick Heavy and Wet
Media. Each group contains a range of traditional brushes and random shapes
for applying to your canvas. Whether thats Chalk, Charcoal, Smooth Round ones,
Pastels or Permanent Marker brushes, each can be manipulated using the
options inside the palette. Open a blank canvas and, using a bold colour, try
different brushes on small patches to compare.

Tidy up
the layer masks

thumbnail to
show which
areas have been
masked and
which are visible.
Use the Brush
tool set to black
to paint over
any white spots
in the bottom
half. Alt-click
on the masks
thumbnail to
revert back to
normal mode.
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 187



Add depth When youre finished painting, double-click on the hand layer to open the Layer
Style menu. Click on Drop Shadow, and select Opacity 60%, Distance 70px, Spread 15%,
Size 40px and Angle to 110. Hit OK to apply the shadow.

Detach shadow The Drop Shadow doesnt sit quite right under the brush tip.
Ctrl/right-click on the Drop Shadows layer and select Create Layer from the
list. Use Edit>Free Transform to rotate the shadow so its sitting directly under the
brushs bristles.

Add clipping mask Add a blank layer in the Layers palette, which should be directly above
the hand layer. Ctrl/right-click on the new layer and select Create Clipping Mask. Anything
added will only affect the hand on the layer below.
Pick colours Using the Eyedropper tool (I), pick a dark purple from the
flowers. Use the Brush tool with a hard round tip and paint the colour onto
the bristles. Do the same for a dark green from the stems and a blue from the sky,
adding them each to the bristles.

Set up the
Smudge Select
the Smudge tool and

in the Options bar,

choose the 19px Hard
Round tip. Set the
Strength to 50% and
make sure the Finger
Painting option is
turned off. Zoom in
100% to the bristles
with the paint.

188 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Use the brush

tool with a
hard round tip
and paint the
colour onto
the bristles

Selectively colour your black-and-whites

Smudge! Use the Smudge tool to blend and blur the purple, green and blue paint together
Clone paint Use the Clone Stamp tool, set to 50% Opacity with a size of
on the bristles. Smudge up and down the bristles to bring through their direction, and work
40px and Alt-click on the smudged paint on the bristles. Clone to the metal
the paint around to look like real paint on a brush.
parts of the paintbrush and the fingers of the hand.

Layer structure
Levels 1 adjustment layer

Paint on bristles & fingers

Hand & brush

Hand Drop Shadow

Colour flowers

Black & white flowers

Adjust lighting At the moment, the hand layer is looking quite dark, so add a Levels
adjustment layer and Ctrl/right-click to give it a clipping mask. Brighten the highlights by
pulling in the far right marker underneath the Levels histogram, and youre done!
The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book 189


Evoke a dramatic mood with Photoshop

ave you ever wondered how they

make those beautiful panoramic
landscape prints that you always
see around? Rather than forking out
your hard-earned cash for a print like
that, well show you how you can achieve the effect
yourself with a few adjustment layers and some
manipulation techniques. You can use the supplied
images to create your starting composite and go from


there, or you can use your own photos, for example

of your home or your garden.
Either way, choose wisely. You want photos with
a bit of, or the potential for, atmosphere. Good, clean
landscape shots work well, and a slightly spooky
building would look great in the final result. With
your composite done well show you how to create a
punchy black and white effect and change the global
illumination of the scene using the Lighting Effects

filter, simulate realistic rain and ripple effects, and

employ the Dodge and Burn tools non-destructively
to enhance shadows and highlights. A few sneaky
blend modes and a beautiful vignette effect will
achieve an HDR-style photograph that youve created
all on your own. Once youve finished your dramatic
panorama, check out the printing guide on page 216
for advice on how to make your images look as good
in real life as they do on the screen.

Create atmosphere

Start images

First decide on which photographs you want

use. Try to keep your scene simple using one or two
images. It will make your life easier and you will still
get the same dramatic result. In this particular case, only
two stock images were used.

Create the foreground Open Rocks.jpg (or your

own image) and use the Quick Selection tool (W) to
select the sky. Keep the outline of the rocks fairly smooth

and precise using Refine Edge in the Options bar. Click on

Add vector mask at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Add the background Create a new layer under the

foreground and paste the second image on it. Use
Largo Background.jpg from the disc or an image of your

choice. Adjust its position using the Move tool (V)but try to
maintain a realistic perspective.

One of the most
important steps in this
tutorial was created
using the Lighting
Effects filter. Naturally,
the eyes will travel to
areas that have more
light and with this filter
you can create a
spotlight effect for a
beautiful vignette. Its
also a great filter to
even out the
illumination of the
entire image thanks to
the various settings
that enable you to
change the light
colour, focus, contrast,
direction and other
options too.

Water effects We will add some rain later on, so for now create
some ripples in the water using the Distort filters. First duplicate the
foreground layer so you have a backup and name it Water Ripples.

Ripples selection The objective here is to mimic the water ripples

caused by the falling rain. Select the Water Ripples layer and then
the Elliptical Marquee tool (M). Make an oval selection, keeping the
sense of perspective, but avoid making perfectly round selections.

ZigZag filter With the selection active, go

to Filter>Distort>ZigZag. Generally you
Create more ripples Once you create a single ripple
Black and white If you want a dramatic effect on your images,
should use an Amount of about 30-35
you can repeat the process until you fill the surface.
monochrome never fails. Add a Black & White adjustment layer on
and 4-5 for the Ridges. The style we used was
You can speed up the process by moving the selection with
top of your composition. Use the sliders for manual adjustments or use
Pond Ripples.

the mouse and pressing Cmd/Ctrl+F to reapply.

a preset. For this image the Lighter preset was used.

Dodge and
Burn tools
Dodge and Burn are really powerful
retouching tools that are often
overlooked by beginners. They are mainly
used to enhance local contrast,
particularly the rocks in our image. The
Dodge tool is used to enhance the
highlights and the Burn tool to enhance
the shadows. With a bit of practice you can
end up with truly stunning results that will
catch the eye instantly.

Increase contrast Use Levels or Curves to increase the

Change the illumination We will focus the light with a noncontrast between the highlights and shadows. Keep
destructive technique using the Lighting Effects filter. This can be
it subtle for now we will work on the contrast in the next
used to add light to important parts of the composition and also create
step as well. For this image we used Levels to darken the
midtones and brighten up the highlights.


a vignette effect. Start by creating a new layer and filling it with white.

Create atmosphere
Closer look How to make it rain

Realistic rain
Use multiple layers to create
realistic raindrops.

Discover the key tools and techniques used to achieve this effect

Increase spacing
Use the Scatter setting to
increase the spacing between
drops and the Size Jitter
setting to randomly change
the size of them as you paint.

Random angle
Slightly change the angle of
the raindrops using the Angle
Jitter option. A variation of
just 2% is enough to create a
more interesting rain effect.

Add more depth

Depth effects can also
be applied to rain. Paint
rain on a new layer and
apply a Gaussian blur
for a more realistic look.

Droplet colour
Avoid using a strong white
colour when painting the
rain, as it rarely looks realistic.
Use a light grey hue instead.

The Lighting Effects filter Now go to Filter>

Render>Lighting Effects. We used a narrow focus
to get some vignetting, reducing the Gloss to -44 and

Ambience to 0 in order to reduce the amount of light. Click

OK and change the blend mode of the layer to Overlay.


Dodge and burn Create a new layer above your filter

layer, go to Edit>Fill and choose 50% Gray from the
Contents list. Click OK and change the blend mode of this
layer to Overlay, ready for the Dodge and Burn tools.

Dodge the highlights Select the Dodge tool and use

it to brush on all the areas where you see highlights
or where you want more light. Use an Exposure setting of
10-15% and brush several times with a medium soft brush.
Go over the entire image in this way.



Custom rain brush Creating a rain brush is fairly easy. Create a new
document about 500 x 500px and paint two or three vertical black lines
with different lengths using a 2px soft brush. Now go to Edit>Define Brush Preset
to save it as a brush.

Layer structure


Burn the shadows Switch to the Burn tool and do the same as you did with the highlights,
but brushing over the shadows. Use the same Exposure settings and adjust the brush size
according to the details youre painting. This is done to increase contrast on parts of the image.

Add your stock images on

separate layers and use
layer masks to blend them
Duplicate the foreground
layer. Apply the ZigZag filter
to elliptical selection areas.
Black &White
Add a Black & White
adjustment layer. Use the
Lighter preset or adjust the
silders manually.

Create raindrops Using your new brush,
paint some water drops on a new layer
using a light grey colour, for example #a9a9a.
We painted the rain on at a 15-degree angle,
but varied this in some instances by changing
Angle Jitter in the Brush palette to 2%.

Strong sharpening Select the top layer

in the palette and press Shift+Cmd/
Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E to create a stamp of all the
visible layers. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp
Mask and set Radius to 25px, Amount to 50%
and Threshold to 0. These settings are for our
image but will depend on your canvas size.

Add a Levels adjustment

and darken midtones and
brighten the highlights
reate a new layer, fill it with
white and add the Lighting
Effects filter. Set to Overlay
Dodge & Burn
Use the Dodge and Burn
tools on a layer filled with
50% grey and set to the
Overlay blend mode.
Rain Brush
reate a simple custom brush
by painting vertical black
lines on a new document.
The Rain
Paint the rain adding scatter
to the brush. Use different
layers and apply blur.
Apply strong sharpening to
the image. Change the blend
mode to Darken.


Sharpen the shadows After applying

the filter, change the layers blend mode
to Darken. This has two effects; it will make
the shadows darker and sharpen them at the
same time. Reduce the opacity to taste.


Sharpen the highlight Duplicate the

sharpened layer by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+J
or from the menu Layer>Duplicate Layer, and
change its blend mode to Lighten. This has the
same effect as the Darken blend mode but for
the highlights. Reduce the opacity to taste.

Finish by duplicating the
sharpened layer and change
its mode to Lighten.

Graduated Filter in Lightroom

Graduated Filter
in Lightroom
This landscape image
needed some drama,
which the tool was able
to add


Use Lightroom to transform the

atmosphere in three simple steps

he Graduated Filter in Adobe

Lightroom is simple to use and will
come in very handy for many different
occasions. In this landscape image the
original sky was lacking drama, which
the Graduated Filter was able to add back. By
making the clouds appear darker at the top, the
composition of the image becomes much stronger
and leads the viewers eye into the centre of the
clouds and to the volcano.

When using the Graduated Filter tool, preset the

Brightness to -40, the Contrast to +40, the Saturation
to +10, the Clarity to +35 and keep the rest on zero.
You can then further tweak the settings if need be.
For those who only need to make quick and
minor amendments to their images, Lightroom is a
quick and easy software solution. Preset and custom
settings can also be made if you want to adjust
images in bulk which is a great time saver for those
needing to do easy and quick edits on a big job.

Basic edits

You can find the Basic Edit bar below the Gradient
tool. This is useful for tweaking colour casts and exposure
values. Lightroom is a great programme for making
minor amendments to your images; however, for
anything major you will need to use Adobe Photoshop.
Most of the tools work
by simply sliding the
control up and down
on the bar. Custom
settings can be
programmed to make
it easier to adjust
images in bulk.

the image Copy the image onto your desktop or

Add the filter To add the effect, simply drag the cursor
Tweak the results Click and drag either of the outside
a folder on your computer. Go to File, Import Photos
over the image. You will see the results instantly and
lines to increase or decrease the affected area. Tweak
Disk. Select your image and then click on Develop
three lines and a dot will appear. Holding the Shift key
the image to the results youre happy with. To hide the
on the right-hand side of the screen. Select the Graduated
tool icon and set the tool to the preset settings listed in the
text above.

when applying the tool will ensure that the horizon remains
horizontal. Click the centre of the pin to reposition the filter
at any time.

Graduated Filter press H, and again to bring it back. This

makes it easier to assess the image without leaving the tool.
When youre happy, Export the image out of Lightroom.




Master tone edits

Master tone edits

We show all levels of Photoshop users how to work with
tone for masterful monochrome

lack and white effects have always

been popular with photographers.
Monochrome images can be created
in a host of ways using the power of
Photoshop, and its up to the user to
establish which works best for them. Here well show
you just some of the many ways to approach your

black and white digital images, as well as the

means to make them that little bit more exciting
with additional effects. Well look at three core
techniques in total.
What you must always remember is that just
because no colour shows does not mean it cant
enhance your images. Black and white often calls

attention to the colour that is not there and layers

and colour adjustments can help with this.
Duotone effects are also addressed, as these can
be the best method when creating for print. Most
printers cant reproduce the tonal range of a digital
black and white image, so we show you how to take
out the guesswork when applying this style.

Method one Adjustment layers

Create your black and white image with non-destructive edits

change your

image irreversibly.
If you want to work
with an editable
effect instead, we
recommend using
adjustment layers.
Start by going to
Black & White.

Black & White adjustment To create a monochrome

effect, set the sliders to: Reds -15, Yellows 110, Greens
40, Cyans 60, Blues 100, Magentas 80. You should tweak

these settings depending on your own image, though, to get

the best spread of shadows and highlights.

/ Contrast
The previous

Selective Color adjustment Now, beneath the Black & White layer,
apply Selective Color. Set Reds Magenta to +10% and Yellow to
+15%. Yellows Magenta is set to +10, Blues Cyan to +100% and Black to

settings will
have dulled
the subjects
eyes. To remedy
this, select his
pupils with
the Elliptical
Marquee tool,
apply a Curves
adjustment layer
to the selection
and tweak
the highlights.
Apply a final
on top of
to finish.

-25%. Apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer on top and increase the

Saturation to +30 for a boost.


Add colour back in
We show you how to colourise your
black and white images




Method two The Channel Mixer

Adapt the settings of this very specific adjustment layer to transform your
image into monochrome. Even though its black and white, tweaking the colour
channels gives great control over your values

Layer mask
To achieve this effect you should have all your layers
live so you can apply more adjustments. All you need
to do is activate the Black & White adjustments layer

Channel Mixer Open your colour image

apply the Channel Mixer adjustment.
use this as a fixed application from the

Gradual colour
Now paint back in eye colour gradually with a 70%
black brush. If you are working with a flat black and
white layer, pick similar eye tones and paint these
to a selection on a new layer instead.

Adjustments menu as we want to be able to

keep editing in a non-destructive way. Select
the option from the Layers palette adjustment
layers instead.

Value relationships Once in the Channel Mixer dialog box, activate

the Monochrome option to transform your image to greyscale. Youll
notice that by default Red and Green are switched to 40% and Blue to
20%. This equates to 100% or perfect black and white.

Give them a
name Basically
if you keep all the

setting values
equating to 100%
your image will show
through true black
and white, without
any oversaturated
areas of shadow or
light. However, you
can create different
looks by tweaking
each of the red, green
and blue channels.

Blend modes
With your eye colour down, set the blend mode to
Color and select the Color Overlay layer style. Apply
a warm orange hue then set the Opacity to 40%
and the blend mode to Vivid Light.

Once settled on
a look that you
like, you can
save it to use on
other projects

Save presets
Once you
have settled on

a look that you

like you can
save this to use
on subsequent
projects. Its easy.
Access the fly-out
menu from your
dialog box (topright) and choose
Save Channel
Mixer Preset.
Name your effect,
save it to an easyto-find location and
then load from the
same fly-out
menu later.

Quick mask
Try using a quick mask to
select an area. Hit Q on your
keyboard to begin and select
the Brush tool. Set the
Foreground colour to black
and start painting. This
applies a red-coloured mask
to that area. Painting with
white erases the mask. Now
hit Q again to select
everything except what you
just painted over, or choose
Select>Inverse to select the
masked area itself.

Master tone edits

High-key effect
Enhance the focus and exposure
in your monochrome images

Merge layers
Applying high-key effects is a great way to draw the
eye when theres no colour. Merge layers (Ctrl/
Cmd+Alt/Opt+Shift+E) and select Smart Sharpen.



Method three Master duotone effects

Monochrome doesnt have to be just black and white the darker tones can
be replaced by another colour for dynamic imagery. We show you how to
achieve this duotone look

Smart sharpen
Apply the Smart Sharpen filter with 125% Amount
and 2px Radius. Duplicate this layer and apply
Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur at a Radius of 2px.

Layer mask Apply a layer mask, masking away from

the eyes, nose and mouth, bringing these into focus.
Duplicate your sharpen layer again, place on top and
apply a Gaussian blur with 20px Radius.

Lab mode When making monochrome

images, first youll want to even
the greyscale so lights and shadows
arent blown out. The best way to achieve
this is to visit the Lab colour mode via

Duotone mode Select the Lightness Channel only from the

Channels palette, then choose Image>Mode>Grayscale. Flatten
your image and select Image>Mode> Duotone, opening the Duotone

Options dialog box. Select Duotone from the Type drop-down options.
Duotone presets
You can activate the
Select Ink Color options

by clicking on the swatch,

setting to any Pantone hue
you like. Duotone Options
comes well equipped
with presets, though.
Apply Yellow bl 4 from
the list and then open the
Duotone Curve dialog box.

Another mask
Apply another mask on the face leaving the edges
blurred. Apply Curves to blow out the highlights and a
Solid Fill adjustment (#563705 tone) set to Color
mode at 20% Opacity.

Curve Your
Duotone Curve

the spread of a
particular colour
in your shadows,
midtones and
highlights. 0 is
the highlights, 50
is your midtone
value and 100
your shadows.
However, presets
offer an automatic
choice that works
most times.

Creative additions You can, of course, experiment further and have a

little fun, changing black for a blue tone. You could also sharpen some
details and bring out exposure by applying a High Pass filter with a 3px
Radius (Filter>Other) set to Vivid Light mode.




Add emphasis to eyes

Add emphasis
to eyes

hether or not you believe the

eyes are the windows to the
soul, theres no denying that
they can make or break a
portrait. We know that dull
and unengaging peepers make for a dull and
unengaging image, so you want them to be the best
they can be.

Use gradients and Hue/Saturation to

apply a rainbow effect to your portraits

And if that want happens to be for maximum

effect, check out the technique we applied to our
image on the opposite page. It involves calling upon
the gradients to wash a rainbow sheet of colour over
a selection before using a Hue/Saturation adjustment
and blend modes to make the whole effect sit
together nicely. You dont have to stay with the
rainbow effect, either. Instead of using the gradient,

you can dab on whatever colours you wish with a

brush, then apply a Gaussian blur and blend modes
to bring everything together.
It works on any image you have to hand (even on
pet pictures!) but you get the most impact if applied
to a black and white shot. Just make sure it isnt in
Grayscale mode otherwise your rainbow will be black
and white!

Dull and unengaging eyes make for a dull and

unengaging image, so make them the best they can be

the selection You need to first select the eye area to apply
the effect. Using the Lasso tool (or any selection method you prefer),
around the inside of the eye. Once the selection is made, click the
New Layer icon from the Layers palette.

Gradient application Pick the Gradient

tool from the Toolbar and then click on
the Gradient Editor area in the top Options bar.
Pick the Spectrum gradient preset and then
click OK. Drag across the selection to add the
colour. Repeat until you get a pattern you like.

Blend mode Things are too harsh at the moment, so

scoot down to the Layers palette and click on the blend
modes drop-down menu. Pick the Color mode to merge the
gradient with the photo.

Alter the colours Staying with Hue/

Saturation, you can also use the Hue slider
Edit the colour Go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/
to alter the colours in the eye. Simply move the
Saturation and use the Saturation slider to tame things
Tidy up Press Ctrl/Cmd+D to deselect the area you had selected.
slider left or right to get the effect you want.
further; simply drag it to the left to reduce the effect. It
Zoom in and check that the colours havent seeped out anywhere. If
This is such a simple edit but makes a massive
might be that you want to go further, in which case slide it
it has, pick the Eraser tool from the Toolbar and wipe away. Once happy,
to the right.

different to the final result.

repeat the process for the other eye.




Classic portraits
with gradient maps
It doesnt matter what type of image you are dealing with its
possible to make anything look better with gradient maps

nless you create a lot of graphic art,

its unlikely that you spend time
playing with the Gradient tool.
For the day-to-day task of editing
images, its never needed so most of
us just leave it to gather up virtual dust by sitting in
the Toolbar. Gradient maps, though, are something
entirely different. Applied as an adjustment layer,


these will automatically apply a gradient over your

photo to instantly transform it. You can go for wild
and whacky colours to go with a collage theme, make
a shot look like it was taken at a different time of day,
or for an instant lift to portraits you can stick with
subdued hues.
We are going to show you how to apply a black
and white gradient over a colour image to re-create

a classic effect. It isnt difficult to make a black and

white image and there are many ways to create one
but this method gives you the ability to quickly edit
the intensity of the monochrome wash.
As you get used to the techniques shown, why not
print out the same image with different gradient maps
applied and hang them together? It will make a great
talking point.

Classic portraits with gradient maps

Apply the adjustment Open up your start image. Apply

Click to edit The default gradient is blue and definitely
Go for black and white The Gradient Editor will open.
an adjustment layer, by going down to the bottom of the
not the effect we are after. We need to alter this to
You can see the preset gradients, so click the Black,
palette and clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer
something more classic so click the long gradient bar to
White option. This has improved the effect but we can make
icon. Select Gradient Map from the menu that appears.

make the change.

things even better.

This method gives you the

ability to quickly edit the intensity
of the monochrome wash
The Gradient Editor
Become a gradient guru in no time at all

Slide for control Use the black and white sliders

underneath the main gradient bar (the Color Stops).
These control how intense the dark and light areas are and

This area contains the
gradients that ship
with the program.
Any you have saved
will be here too.

its just a case of clicking and dragging to make changes. We

moved the black stop to 12% and the white stop to 71%.

Pick a colour
If you double-click on a
Color Stop, the Color Picker
will appear. Use this to edit
the hues used in a gradient.

Color Stops
Click and drag these to add more
or less of a colour to the gradient.
Double-click on a stop to edit it.

Gradient bar
This represents the
relationship between the
colours in your gradient.

A different colour If you prefer a colour tint, you can

change the black and white parts of the gradient to
anything you like. Double-click one of the Color Stops to call
up the Color Picker. Choose your colour from here, click OK
and it will be applied.



Duplicate your background Duplicate your layer by

right-clicking it in the Layers palette and selecting
Layer. Name it Sepia and choose OK. This will

create a copy that we will work on to keep the integrity of

the original image.

204 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Tackle the hues Use the Hue slider to change the

Open Hue/Saturation On the top menu, go
colour within the image. Moving it left will bring you to
Enhance>Adjust Colour>Adjust Hue/Saturation. In this
reddish-brown shades. Choose the best colour for your
menu we are working with the colour present in the image,
hue, and the amount of colour present, saturation. Tick the
colourise option in the bottom-right corner of the menu.

image; in this case a value of 25 has been selected. Click the

OK button.

Sepia tone your images

Sepia tone your images

Add a touch of sweet nostalgia to your images by desaturating

the colour and applying a subtle kiss of sepia

warm sepia tone can add an antique

feel to your images, invoking moving
memories of yesteryear. Originally
used to warm monochromatic blackand-white film images, sepia has come
to reference any application of a reddish-brown tint
to images most commonly, these days, through
digital retouching. Sepia effects can range from a
minimalistic hint of laid-back brown to an unabashed
hue of orange or amber.
As with all photo editing, the amount of sepia you
can apply to your image without making your postproduction corrections too obvious depends largely
on the individual image you are working with. Less is
always more, as the saying goes, and it pays to apply
this to sepia effects. A lightly touched image almost
always outshines an over-processed one. Of course,
if you plan on making a statement, perhaps pushing
the colour norms may be the only way. The subject

of your image also plays a role in what shade of sepia

looks natural. Family images, romantic scenes and
city settings beg for a touch of sepia attention. Other
scenes, especially with modern references, can look
out of place doused in a feeling of days gone by. This
said, you should always let your personal preference
guide you.
Applying a sepia tone requires a few easy steps
and makes use of only a handful of tools available
on standard editing software packages. Its advisable
to use a nondestructive editing method to preserve
your original photograph should you change your
mind about your changes or wish to add in other
changes later. In this tutorial you will be using the
enhancement menu to adjust the colour and lighting
within your image.
To finish off well be sharpening the image to bring
out the details. See our tip below to add an optional
vignette to your sepia-toned image.


Sepia effects can range from a minimalistic hint of laidback brown to an unabashed hue of orange or amber
Sharpen up Bring
out the detail in
the image by selecting

Mask. Change the
amount to 80% and
the radius to 2.0
pixels. If your image
is particularly soft,
increase the sharpness
further. Alternatively,
if you wish to keep a
romantic blur, decrease
the percentage.

a vignette
Creating a vignette on sepia images enhances the vintage

Tackle light Open the Levels Menu by selecting

Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels. Adjust the Highlights,
Midtones and Shadows in your image by using the sliders.

Again, settle on a value suited to your image. In this example

the shadows have been adjusted to 25.

feeling that sepia invokes. To add a vignette to your

picture, use the Elliptical Marquee tool to draw out the
borders of the image. Choose Select>Select Inverse to
work in the area that we are going to fill with black, and in
the same menu choose Redefine Edges and add a
feathered edge to give your vignette a soft feel.
Lastly, fill the selection by choosing Edit>Fill Selection
from the top menu. Now choose Black as the fill and
decrease the opacity to 75%. Deselect to reveal your
newly created vignette.



to monochrome Open up your image and add

Increase contrast Add a Brightness/Contrast
Black and White adjustment layer using the button at
adjustment layer, make sure the Use Legacy box is
bottom of the Layers palette. Adjust the colour sliders
unchecked and increase Contrast to suit. A setting of
to get a pleasing array of tones, or choose a preset from the
drop-down menu.

206 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

around 80 worked well with our image here, but be sure to

experiment with your own images.

Add Dodge/Burn layers Now we need to think about

dodging and burning. Add a Brightness/Contrast
adjustment layer and push Brightness to max with a single
point. Invert the layer mask (the blank rectangle) using
Cmd/Ctrl+I. Repeat for a layer with Brightness at min.

Blue tone your images

Blue tone your images

Learn how to convert your image to monochrome and apply
a blue tint to add mood and atmosphere

he art of toning black-and-white

photographs goes way back to the
1880s, and a blue tone has traditionally
been used to convey a sense of
starkness, loneliness, or any other
moods of a more solemn and contemplative nature.
In the present day, its also been used to represent
the modern, giving something of a contemporary feel
to urban or fashion-style images. And in landscape
terms, its typically used to add atmosphere to wintry,
blustery or seascape scenes.
The first point worth remembering is that
converting an image to black-and-white and then
toning it does not in itself guarantee an image fit
for gracing exhibition walls. The emphasis is on
enhancing, not transforming, so be sure to pick your
best images to start. In the same vein, you need to
make sure that your black-and-white conversion is
decent, working the colour sliders to obtain the best

possible arrangement of tones and then dodging

and burning (lightening and darkening local areas)
afterwards to really bring the image to life.
Secondly, remember that the eye is very sensitive
to colour, and little is actually needed to transform
a shot from monochrome. In other words: dont
think you really need to go hard on your blue colour
to produce a satisfactory effect. Understatement
is usually the more powerful option. Finally, note
that toners traditionally showed more effect on the
midtones than the highlights and shadows, which
meant pure blacks and whites would retain some
integrity. Its for this reason that were steering clear
of the Hue/Saturation adjustment with Colorize
toning technique, which plasters the entire tonal
range with colour. Our chosen method is Color
Balance, which allows us to target specific parts of
the tonal range, maintaining neutral blacks and
whites. Heres how to go about it


Dont think you really need to go hard on your blue

colour to produce a satisfactory effect
Add blue tint
When your
mono conversion is

perfected, its time

to add some colour.
Add a Color Balance
adjustment layer, leave
the Midtones ratio
button selected and
use settings of -20 for
Cyan/Red and +25 for
Yellow/Blue to add our
blue tint.

and burning
Dodging and burning are the traditional darkroom terms

Dodge and burn work Select a large, soft white brush

at 20% opacity. Select the layer mask on the top layer
and gradually build up the adjustment in areas that you
think need darkening down. Repeat with the layer below to
lighten areas.

used to describe lightening and darkening areas of your

image, and the terminology has carried on into the digital
age. Without colour, the eye is guided around your image
according to the lightness of tones, so it often makes
sense to darken the corners and edges to prevent the
eye moving out of the frame. Remember too that the eye
is drawn quickly to areas of white, so you can lighten
areas to draw attention to them, or darken them down to
divert attention elsewhere. Its all about creating balance
in the frame.



Fix your old photos

Remove colour casts, fades, rips, folds, cracks, dust

and scratches from precious family photographs

his guide is all about repairing,

restoring and retouching images.
All the images are sourced
from original negatives, slides
or photographs that have been
damaged or have deteriorated in some way.
Many of the examples weve used are relatively
aged photographs, but photos of any age can
deteriorate given the right conditions. Direct
sunlight, high humidity and gases like paint
vapour can bring any photograph or piece of film


to a rapid demise in the right quantities and thats

before weve even considered accidental damage.
The most common problems youll encounter
include dust, rips, scratches, folds and cracks, as
well as fading, yellowing and colour shift. Nothing
we cant handle, youll be glad to know!
Restoring contrast to faded photos and
removing colour shift are fairly straightforward
tasks. Removing dust, scratches, cracks, folds and
suchlike is a bit more challenging. The technique
basically centres on using good areas of the image

to replace bad areas, and the Spot Healing Brush

tool (J) and the Clone Stamp tool (S) are the
staple tools for the job. While using the former
is a mostly automated affair, using the latter
requires a bit more thought about where you
source the information from. It needs to be from
somewhere with a similar pixel makeup so it
all blends nicely, making sure that no cloning
patterns are obvious. Check out the information
on the following page to see when and how to
use each tool.


Fix your old photos

The Clone Stamp tool is perfect for
replacing missing areas of an image
with information from elsewhere

The Spot Healing brush is unrivalled for

removing blemishes in areas of even
tone, such as the sky here

Where information starts to get a

bit more detailed and complex, the
Clone Stamp tool is the safer bet

Healing and cloning

When to heal and when to clone


The Spot Healing brush and Clone Stamp tool will be the tools
youll use most in the majority of repair situations. Spot Healing
removes blemishes by using nearby information and blends
to match. Clone Stamp just copies directly from one area to
another. The general rule is to use the Spot Healing brush over
Clone Stamp unless youre working near edge detail. In these
situations you can find the Spot Healing brush ends up blurring
detailed edges, or that colour spills over into areas it shouldnt.
Here, the Clone Stamp is the better choice. The Clone Stamp
may also perform better in the case of images that contain a lot
of blemishes like fungus, dust or scratches which Spot Healing
can end up replicating, especially when focusing on larger
blemishes such as tears, folds and cracks. Its best to have a go
with the Spot Healing brush in even tone areas and see the sort
of results you get. If theyre not good, youve got no choice but to
stick with the Clone Stamp tool throughout.

Scanning advice
Scan in RGB mode not greyscale, and set your desired output size at a
given resolution (240ppi is good for print). Work any exposure controls
to ensure the image isnt overly light or dark. Select Adobe RGB rather
than sRGB colour space unless your image is for web only.

In severe cases of dust and scratches, the dedicated filter is better

than healing and cloning.




Fade and colour casts

Eliminate odd colours in your shots
The Photoshop Auto Contrast and Auto Color adjustments are a great place
to start for removing fade and colour casts. In most cases theyll get you at
least very close to where you want to be, and youve got the option of adding
a Levels adjustment layer to tweak as desired. Where problems can occur is
if fade or colour casts arent uniform across the image; perhaps either one is
restricted to a single corner or area. In this case the Auto adjustments will
be fooled and youll have no option but to work manually. In this scenario
youll also need to make use of the layer masks attached to any Levels layer
in order to localise your adjustment changes. For example, if you were
correcting for fade that was only in one corner of the image, youd need to
take a large black brush and brush out the adjustment in the remaining
area where contrast was okay. In some cases you might need two Levels
layers: one to remove the localised fade area and a second to establish good
contrast for the image as a whole.


In some cases you may

need two Levels layers

After an initial try with the Auto

Contrast function, we used a Levels
adjustment layer to add contrast


Fight the fade, cull the cast

Photoshop provides
Auto adjustments for
removing fade and
restoring decent contrast
as well as removing
colour casts from colour
photographs. When the
Auto functions dont work,
you can use Levels to do
the manual work instead.
As always, be sure to
use an adjustment layer
rather than an adjustment
directly onto layer content.



the Auto
to improve
contrast and
remove any
colour casts.
layer with
Ctrl+J. Go to
Contrast and
look at the

Levels manual contrast If Auto Contrast doesnt

do the job, we need to work manually instead. Add
a Levels adjustment layer and drag the black and white
Histogram sliders inwards until the contrast improves.

Fix your old photos

Brush it out
Sometimes areas of clipped information, like the sky here, can
look worse with contrast changes. Brush the adjustment out
with a black brush.

Use a layer mask

In this case theres patchy fade, so some areas look too dark
with the contrast increase. We brush these out with a black
brush and the layer mask selected.

Set contrast
We can usually ensure decent contrast to correct fade by
dragging the black and white End Point sliders inwards to meet
the edges of the histogram info.

Bring contrast and definition

back using layer masks and
simple editing tweaks

Boost contrast
We can increase contrast further without introducing clipping by adding
a Curves adjustment layer and plotting a shallow S to darken shadows
and lighten highlights.

For non-adjustment layer corrections we start by duplicating our
background layer in this case to apply the Desaturate command to
remove the yellowing.

Try Auto Color To remove a colour cast

just use Image>Desaturate on the duplicate
Levels manual colour 1 If colour still doesnt appear totally
Levels manual colour 2 Next, select Green from the
layer. For a colour photograph, use Image>Auto
neutral, add a Levels adjustment layer and click the dropdrop-down menu and repeat. Repeat again for Blue.
Color instead. Generally it does a good job of
down menu that says RGB. Select Red and move the middle grey
You can also select RGB and use the middle slider to lighten
getting you a neutral result.

slider left to add red, and right to subtract.

or darken the image without affecting colour.


By combining
cloning and
spot healing
we can repair
the damage

Working on the right layer


A note on tool setup and using layers

Use the Spot Healing Brush tool and the Clone Stamp tool on blank layers rather than
duplicates. Check the box Sample All Layers in the Tool Options bar for healing, or Current
and Below for cloning.
An essential tip is to add the blank layer above the background and below any
adjustment layers, making sure that you turn off any adjustment layers temporarily, using
the eyeball icon, if youre performing healing (Sample All Layers will be checked). This way
the repair work is done sampling the background layer only, ensuring that you can alter
your adjustment layers at a later date without the repair work suddenly shifting in tone. It is
important to make sure you follow this rule.

To repair missing
corners, add a new layer
and use the Clone tool
to add in the detail. Add
adjustment layers above

Creases and folds

Tears, scratches, folds and cracks are common with

old photographs, and are best dealt with through the
usual combination of Spot Healing Brush tool and
Clone Stamp tool.


Use the Spot Healing Brush tool and

the Clone Stamp tool on blank layers
rather than duplicates

Duplicate and zoom Create a new layer then zoom in

to 100% using Ctrl/Cmd+ Alt/Option+0. Hold down the
and click and drag to where the problem begins.

Fix your old photos


Dust and
The Dust and Scratches
filter does soften detail a
little, so add a layer mask
using the button at the
Layers palette base, zoom
in and use a black brush to
rescue detail in important
areas such as eyes.

Multiple Undo We use Multiple Undo with Ctrl/Cmd+ Alt/Option+Z to reverse our
healing work, and have a go with the Clone Stamp tool instead, sourcing first with the
Alt/Option key.

Spot Healing brush Now press J to select the Spot Healing brush and use
the [ and ] keys to size the brush to suit. Make sure Sample All Layers is
checked in the Tool Options bar.

work The Clone Stamp tool works far better for this image, so we use it to slowly
work away at the cracks, making sure to regularly re-source from nearby areas.
5 Cloning

Remove dust
and scratches
Create a merged

Try healing Now click a small section of the tear area and keep clicking
along to see the result. We need several goes to remove the crack mark, but
the result isnt great.

duplicate with Ctrl/

Cmd+ Alt/Option+
Shift+E and run
and Scratches.
Radius 6 and
Threshold 16 does
the job.




Top ten tips for vintage pics

Top tips on cleaning your photos and slides for scanning, as
well as tips for handling, storing and restoring your photos!
Old photographs pose many challenges
to the Photoshop user, but rest assured
there is always a solution at hand. Its good
practice to organise your old photographs
on your computer, so they can be accessed
quickly and easily. Remember to name
them and even archive them by date,
generation or family. This saves you lots

of time when you need to search for them

later on.
Here we round up our essential advice
on getting the best out of your images, no
matter how battered they may be. Whether
its a case of getting the best possible scan
or choosing a correct repair method, we
show you how

lost areas If theres a

piece of a photograph missing, all
not be lost. Look at your image and
see if the missing bit can be made from
other areas. For this image, we simply
flipped the good side and used it to
patch up the bad!


Scanning care If youre scanning an image

Removing dust Far better to clean your
and want to include the border, try not to
photos or slides before scanning than to
get any of the white scanner base underneath,
have to do lots of cloning work afterwards. Start
as this will fool any Auto Contrast adjustments.
If its unavoidable, be prepared to use Levels to
make your changes.

by trying to shift dust with a can of compressed

air or a purpose-designed soft brush.

Stubborn stains
For stains, fungus
and other blemishes, you

need to use a specialist

cleaner like the widely
available PEC-12 product,
with either cotton swabs
or non-adhesive wipes
like PEC-Pads. PEC-12 is
suitable for cleaning both
film and prints.

Clever cropping If theres an
area of an image that you dont
feel confident about repairing, dont

disregard the option of cropping the

bad stuff out if you really want the
image looking blemish-free.


If theres an area you

dont feel confident about
repairing, dont disregard
the option of cropping
the bad stuff out

Fix your old photos

Here we round up
our essential advice on
getting the best out of
your images
Good storage practice Photo storage boxes, envelopes,
sleeves and albums will all help protect your photographs,
negatives and transparencies against light, dust, handling, air

pollutants and rapid fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Never leave materials lying around loose.
Bring back some
definition to your
photo using the
Smart Sharpen filter

Handling photos Handle your photos,

negs and slides as little as possible
and use white cotton gloves to shield your
materials from damaging fingerprints.
Wash your hands first to avoid gloves
getting contaminated with dust and dirt.

Smart Sharpen Photoshops Smart

Sharpen filter (Filter>Sharpen>Smart
Sharpen) can do wonders to rescue blurry
photographs. Try both the Gaussian Blur
and Motion Blur settings, and experiment
with both the angle and sliders.

Feel free to get creative

with your old photos and
add a nice warm tone

Toning old photoss Even if your

image is a neutral monochrome,
theres still nothing to stop you toning it to
add something extra. Use a Color Balance
adjustment layer with Midtones checked.
Combine red and yellow for an old-looking
sepia tone.

Even if
your image
is a neutral
theres nothing
to stop you
toning it



More on storage Humidity and

high temperatures are the
greatest enemies of photographs,

negatives and slides. Store your

precious photographs and film in a place
thats as cool and dry as possible
basements are generally too damp and
attics are too hot.




Perfect prints

Perfect prints

Edit your photo, computer, and printers settings to

achieve fantastic physical versions of your images



You may wish to look at a printer that can

print black and white images direct from
the standard driver

Matt Grayson

heres more to printing a

black and white image
than simply cutting out
the colour. You need to be
thinking in black and white
when you take the picture because colour
plays a big part in a photograph normally.
Removing colour shows the raw image
and light is your best friend. Consider
the light and use it to create texture and
atmosphere in your shot. When you come
to the editing and printing stage, remember
to work from a RAW file so that theres
as much information as possible. There
are a number of ways to cut the colour
from an image in an editing suite such
Landscape 3
This shot of the landscape on top as desaturation, converting to greyscale
of the Snake Pass gives a feeling or messing around with the RGB colour
of bleakness except for the
channels. Depending on how youd like the
dramatic clouds
image to look on your print, play around
shot details: Canon EOS 350D
with the contrast to harden or soften the
with 18-55mm lens at 18mm
and f10, 1/250sec, ISO 100
look of the image. A general rule of thumb

218 The black & whiTe PhoToGraPhy book

is to use images that arent too burnt

out on the highlights, but rules are there
to be broken and if the shot still looks
good, print it.
Despite colour performance being a
primary concern when selecting a printer,
if youre going to print monochrome
regularly you may wish to look at a printer
that can print decent black and white
images direct from the standard driver
such as the Epson Stylus Pro 3800. Other
printers use colour ICC profiles and smaller
printers will use colour inks to produce
black, which can result in colour casts on
your prints. However, over time some casts
can dissipate but theres also a danger of
metamerism. This phenomenon gives an
image a bronzy look in parts of the print
when viewed under certain lights or from
an angle. Epson has eradicated this on
printers A3 or larger by introducing its K3
technology which uses a new grey ink.

The A3 Epson R2880 also has an extra

Vivid Magenta ink to help produce better
monochrome images.
The type of paper you decide to print on
will be determined by the style of image
that you are printing and what youre going
to do with the print afterwards. Glossy
paper looks great but reflects a lot of light
and can be rather annoying to view. Matte
finish adds a bit of texture and gets rid
of all those harsh reflections. There are
many different types of paper available
and if youre a fan of fine art paper, you
may want to take a look at a pigment inkbased printer such as the Canon Pro9500,
however this printer is incompatible with
high gloss papers.
Your printer will be supplied with a set
of inks that may go down quite quickly,
depending on your usage. Most of the
larger printers will use individual tanks so
you only have to replace the colour

Matt Grayson

Matt Grayson

Perfect prints


Of course, having a monotone subject in the first place helps with

contrast, but dont mess around too much or youll lose detail
Shot details: Olympus E-3 with 50mm lens at 50mm and
f4.5, 1/100sec, ISO 100


Changing SettingS

Changing the setting to Grayscale allows you to play with the

gamma and clicking Settings will open contrast and brightness

Portraits look great in mono and lack of colour

forces you to think of how to use the available light
Shot details: Canon EOS 350D with 18-55mm
lens at 24mm and f2.8, 1/30sec, ISO 100

The psychology of colour

or lack thereof

Its all very well printing black and white, but what can these colours do to a
photograph and how will the viewer feel if you get the balance wrong? Black
is made up of all colours, completely absorbed and mixed together. Its essence
is, essentially, the absence of light and its because of this that we often perceive
it as threatening. Black is an imposing colour that looms and creates a feeling
of unease. It envelopes personalities and shrouds everything in mystery. It
absorbs all wavelengths of light and too much black can leave you feeling
pressured and alone.
As the opposite, white reflects all light wavelengths and is associated with
tranquillity, happiness and serenity. However, an overbearing amount of light can
give the impression of sterility, emptiness and purity, the latter sounding good,
but its in a hands off way. Grey is the only colour in existence to not have an
emotional or psychological link. However, its quite depressing to look at, which
is why its good to have a decent amount of pure blacks and whites in the prints
instead of as mixture of greys. Grey can give the impression of lacklustre or lack of
confidence in using hard black and white.

The black & whiTe PhoToGraPhy book 219

Matt Grayson


Landscape 4

We love the way the clouds break the

monotonous sky up and also cast a
lovely shadow on the hillside
shot details: Canon EOS 350D
with 18-55mm lens at 18mm and f5,
1/80sec, ISO 100

220 The black & whiTe PhoToGraPhy book

Perfect prints

Print tips

Andy Whittaker

Using the products and information

listed above will produce professional
results worthy of selling. However, if youre
thinking smaller scale, an A4 printer can
give perfectly decent pictures. The Epson
Stylus PX650 costs around 100 and can
produce excellent photographs. It doesnt
have the K3 technology found on the larger
printers and prints can come out with a
mild cast, but it does tend to fade over a
24 hour period. ICC profiles can be used
on these types of printers too, but if youre
looking to save money, you probably dont
want the extra expenditure.
If youre not a Photoshop wizard, you
might not have adjusted your images to
black and white before printing, but you
can still do it. Clicking into the printer
properties will give you many choices
for adjusting the image from quality to
greyscale. Open a picture, convert it to
black and white and try all the different
settings by printing them on 6x4 versions
of the paper youre going to use. This
will give you a feel for the effects that the
settings do without using masses of paper.

on numerous shoots, but recently

settled down in Manchester to
open his own studio shooting fashion
for advertisements, editorial and
model books.
He is currently working on
clothing shoots for well-known
fashion houses and in the
future will be shooting for YQ
magazine, along with some of
his own personal projects. You
can see a further selection of
Andys work at his website. www.
Is there much call for black and white
pictures these days?

Over the past 15 years

Andy Whittaker (www.
has worked in various parts of the
photographic industry including
taking family portraits, fashion and
lingerie. He developed a passion
for photography as a child when he
picked up a camera for the first time.
He has travelled the world assisting

Andy Whittaker: I dont do too badly

from it. Theres something raw about a
mono image that stirs deeper emotions
in customers. Vintage and retro are
very on trend at the moment and it
spreads from clothing to interior design
and photography. People like to see a
collection of black and white pictures
because it looks old fashioned.

shADoW lAnDs

Days when fluffy white clouds cast shadows on

the land are perfect for mono work
shot details: Canon EOS 350D with 18-55mm
lens at 18mm and f11, 1/125sec, ISO 100

you run out of. There are third-party ink

companies available and you may find that
they work well enough, as well as saving
you some money. However, its also worth
bearing in mind that the printer will be
optimised to use the manufacturers own
inks and you may find that some things
may not work as efficiently. A well-known
problem is the ink levels not showing,
so you can never be sure when theyre
running out until your print comes out and
it has a colour missing.
If youre dissatisfied with the printer
profile for black and white printing, you
could always use a separate one such as
RetouchPRO, QuadToneRIP or ProfilICC
who will custom make a profile for you
and your computer. Its also necessary to
calibrate your monitor and printer or the
contrast and tones on your screen will look
different on your print, meaning you spend
more on paper to get the balance right. The
ColorMunki calibration unit is a popular
option for example, because it calibrates
the monitor based on a colour test sheet
you print off, and performs well.

Matt Grayson

Clicking into the printer

properties will give you
many different choices for
adjusting the image

ProfIle chAnge

Changing the profile is done on the first window when you go to print. Its found on
the right side

Which printer do you use and why did

you choose it?
AW: I use the Epson Stylus Photo Pro
3880. Its A2 so it covers a lot of sizes I
sell and the pictures I get are spot on.
Do you think theres a better one
out now?
AW: Possibly, but nothing has caught
my eye. Im happy with how the 3880
works, the quality it produces and the
size of it. I thought of a large format
printer but decided against it because
its unlikely I would actually get enough
requests to warrant the outlay.
Anything larger than A2 I send off to a
professional print house.
Do you think that manufacturers
own ink is the best to use or is a
third-party type just as good?
AW: I always use manufacturers own
inks because the printers are set up to
use them. This is my livelihood and I get

repeat sales based on the first

performance. If the inks are unbalanced
and the photograph fails, I have to
reprint which costs me money and I get
an unhappy customer.
Whats your favourite paper
and why?
AW: I dont really gravitate towards a
particular type of paper because it
could influence my choice with a shot
and I could make the wrong decision. I
do really like the warm tone papers
though, for portraits.
What are your top tips to anyone
wanting to print their images in
black and white?
AW: Make sure your printer and
monitors are calibrated properly. If not,
youll spend ages trying to get what you
see on your screen to what you hold in
your hands. It took me a while to get
used to but once I cracked it, the
difference was phenomenal.

The black & whiTe PhoToGraPhy book 221


Danny Santos II

222 The black & whiTe PhoTograPhy book

Take this shot


Photographer: Danny Santos II

Location: Singapore
Shot details: Nikon D300 with 85mm f1.4 lens at f1.4,
1/250sec, ISO 200

f you ever take a trip to the world-famous Orchard Road

in Singapore then theres quite a high chance that you
may run into street photographer Danny Santos II. hes
influenced by greats such as Philip-Lorca DiCorcia,
Garry Winogrand and William Klein, and he has been
trying to capture the energetic atmosphere of this particular
place in the city.
Orchard Road has many interesting characters passing by
at all times of the day, and these scenarios that are always
occurring are the ones that Danny loves to capture. Ive been
photographing strangers on the streets for three years now,
and in this time I have been lucky enough to take quite a few
keepers for my portfolio. As a result, Ive been commissioned by
advertising agencies on a few jobs.
Ive always been fond of photographing strangers candidly
in the rain, Danny explains to us. Its interesting to witness the
kind of human drama that bad weather brings. In this image,
I was right in middle of the hustle and bustle when the rain
started to pour down quickly and heavily. I heard a group of
friends laughing loudly as they ran for cover, so I crouched down
and hurriedly took a few photographs of them.
Photographing in the rain can have its drawbacks, as Danny
tells us: I had to stop for a moment to bring out my umbrella
else I risked water damage to my camera. It had already been
exposed to quite a few large raindrops so I didnt want to risk it
even further.
Danny Santos II

Danny Santos II on the street, capturing his own reflection. He

spends a lot of time on Orchard Road in Singapore to capture the daily
occurrences and people passing by
BOOK 223

Improve your black and white

photography skills with this guide
to shooting and editing your
monochrome images

From the makers of
Volume 1 Revised Edition

ISBN-13: 978-1908955678

9 781908 955678 >