Everything Looks Better in Black & White

Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter

Back in the old film days, there were many different ways that you could capture images. You could shoot color slide film that had lots of saturation or choose a roll of black and white film that would let you create an entirely different version of the same photograph. To your eyes the original scene might look the same but your interpretation of it would vary based on the kind of film you decided to load into the camera. Nowadays, most digital SLRs offer monochrome modes and some even offer an entire palette of color toning that you can apply and while you can always make adjustments after the fact using Adobe Photoshop or your favorite digital imaging software, I’d like to give you a few reasons why direct monochrome capture may be better for some glamour shooters

Aesthetics: Sometimes too much color confuses the viewer and takes the focus away from the real subject of the photograph. Shooting directly in black and white impacts how you see while making the images and getting the instant feedback possible with digital cameras focuses that vision and lets you show your model what you’re trying to do. You don’t have to explain that you will convert the shot into monochrome; it’s already there in black and white!

Workflow: There are many ways to use software and Photoshop-compatible plug-ins to produce great looking black and white images from color files and I even wrote a book about it called Digital Monochrome Special Effects (http://amzn.to/ijTFD8) but if you want to make prints on-site using a PictBridge-based printer or drop your memory cards off at a local Target of Wal-Mart, capturing the file in black and white saves time.

Quality: Sometime the quality of the camera’s black and white conversion exceeds that of what’s built into Photoshop, including using Channel Mixer or Black & White (Image > Adjustments > Black & White) function although, to be fair, each new update seems to get better. Interestingly, when you capture using a camera’s monochrome mode the file may look like “real” black and white even though it remains as an RGB file.

That’s not to say that the best way to capture monochrome images is only in camera, far from it. It’s just another tool for creating monochrome images and as such you need to select the one that works best for any given glamour shoot, so ultimately it’s your call.


This post sponsored by PocketWizard