Does It Compare To Analog Prints?
Not all digital cameras will capture in Black & White mode, but all digital images can be processed into Black & White. And up until recently I have personally been guilty of not producing many B&W works. It is from that discovery I have been at least trying to produce one B&W image from every shooting experience I get to take.

Back in the dinosaur days when I was processing my own E-6 Reversal Film and printing the slides onto Ilford Cibachrome Prints, I became hooked on those "thick" color rich prints and pretty much ended up putting B&W away in the closet.

As it turned out, I was getting more enjoyment from processing and printing the E-6 film, than I was with B&W.

With Digital Black & White Photography the options of processing methods has increased greatly from the days of paper contrast grades and developer were the variables in how the image turned out. For instance, if you wanted increased contrast, you could simply use a "hard" paper surface. Or, for a wider tonal range, low contrast look, then you would use a "soft" paper surface.
There are probably more ways to convert a color image into Black & White than any other process in all of Photoshop. Back in the early days of digital darkrooms, the only option was to convert to gray-scale or remove the saturation from the color original image.

In today's darkroom the possibilities are endless in methods of B&W processing, and primarily with Photoshop Filters. My favorite choice is Nik Silver Effects which has a plethora of processing variables. You can even apply vintage film profiles as well in case you wanted the image to appear like it was shot with Panatomic-X for example.

Reaching New Heights...
I especially like the increase in Dynamic Range and extended contrast ranges you can achieve with a full blown HDR program or a Photoshop filter like Nik Silver Effects.

With the digital darkroom, you can also take your B&W image to "artistic" levels that were never imaginable back in the analog days.

In fact, this image was captured with an iPhone using a manual exposure App that allowed me to shoot this at 1/160 @ f/2.4. Then processing with three to four different processes combined amongst several layers in Photoshop.

Where To Begin?
One of the great things about Digital Black & White is that you can establish your own style with all the variables possible in processing. Although you can simply remove that saturation to get a B&W image, you most likely will like the advantages and options that a Stand Alone Program like "Tonality" or Photoshop filter like "Nik Silver Effects".

Just as in color photography, you will find your preferred style by trial and error until you achieve a processing method that produces the results you favor the most. No matter if you shoot to document a scene or to present an artistic vision, you can get amazing results in digital B&W images.

Side By Side... Digital vs Analog
In my personal opinion based on many years of shooting, processing and printing Black & White film compared to what I have managed to do processing and printing B&W digital images... there is no comparison. In fact, I once took a B&W negative, scanned it and then printed a analog print in a darkroom and also printed a simple ink jet print of the same negative. I passed that set of prints around in a group of about 45 photographers and only a handful of them picked the correct digital print as the digital print.

Most of them picked the digital print as the Analog Printed one because they felt it was sharper and of better quality. They seemed to have even dismissed the idea the digital print could compare to the film image even before they had seen the actual prints. But ironically it is that softness of a film print that we seem to loathe.

You also do not have to print your digital images with ink jet printers. You can also have your digital images printed with traditional photo papers at places like Walgreen's where their old analog printers have been converted to a digital image with the traditional processing. This process produces digital images that very much have that softness that appeals to us so much in traditional film based photographs.

More Options Than Analog Could Ever Imagine
The world of Black & White Photography in the Digital Age has so many new opportunities of creativity and processing than you could ever dream of with conventional film development and printing.

As you can see here from this image opened in Tonality Pro, that the choices of image adjustments is almost indefinite. With so many adjustment controls and pre-sets, you will soon find your B&W processing abilities have reached new heights.

The same holds true for many other programs and filters as well, and in fact with the Silver Effects filter there is even more possibilities than the Tonality Pro offers. Even if your camera has a monochrome shooting option, you will find the levels of image adjustment with a 3rd party plug-in or program will offer you so much more.

If you haven't produced any Black & White images from your digital camera or haven't used some of the specialty programs to bring out the best in those images, then surf on over to the Silver Effects website and download the Trail Version at least. You owe it to yourself as a photographer to try it out and see how well you like the new realm of possibilities in digital B&W processing.

Cover | About TPE | Previous Issues | Workshops | Gallery 5
Website Designed & Powered by Doctorsid Visual Media