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I use a new Easter Island image to Expand a Little on YouTube photographer Jamie Windsor's 9 Quick Tips for BETTER BLACK & WHITE Photos

Jul 20, 2018

*At first I wasn't sure whether this was a good choice to illustrate a posting where I'm featuring a YouTube video someone posted with tips for shooting B&W – where the first and most important tip is to shoot with B&W in mind from the get-go. I had to come up with some kind of image to go along with it, so I just pulled the file out of the NEW TRIES folder on my desktop (more along the lines of I'm-not-really-sure-but-maybe-eventually images) and went to work – It's always got anywhere from one or two to a bunch of files in there that are sort of perking in the back of my mind – most are eventually simply removed – this one worked.

Blog posted B&W images appear larger and on black background in the folio section – this one is HERE.

At first I expected it to be dificult to explain just how I shot this differently because I was "thinking" B&W. It helps that in the original RAW exposure, containing the full range of colors, it didn't come across a fraction as effective – yes, even with this kind of shot, I'm thinking B&W while I'm shooting. This is pretty much a straight shot, a little cropping, enhancing the shadows in both the foregrand and background some, bringing out the mid-tone contrast a little, burning in the corners, etc.

This fellow is competing in the ocean pora race in Tapati Rapanui, two weeks of cultural competitions in February. He's running first here, using the pora or reed bundle as a floatation device – they boat the contestants out to sea almost out of sight and have them race back to shore. I was precariously perched on some rocks with the waves washing over my feet as he rounded the point into the little cove where they were to finis.

So what might I have done differently in the camera because I was shooting B&W:

     Those settings might raise a few eyebrows with some. And if I'd had a little more time I might have revised them a little, but not enough to matter. On shots like this my primary concern is shutter speed – but not simply in the stop-action sense. It was very bright out but I wanted something along the lines of the seemingly risky 1/100 of a second shutter speed – it's a chance I'm willing to take, holding the shutter button down for multiple shots, in order to catch a peak moment where just the right parts are sharp while allowing movement to show in others – generally somewhere between 1/30 and 1/125 depending on the action. Granted, lot of sharp but otherwise mediocre shots are passed by this way, usually in favor of totally blurry and screwed attempts, but when it works it can be quite effective.

    One can tell by looking at exposures on both sides of this series that I quickly spun the ISO down and aperture up to where I could get my shutter speed. The extra depth of field helps here with B&W, where with color it could actually be a negative. 

     This is just one example of how one might find oneself thinking differently while exposing with B&W in mind, admittedly different from and trickier to define than those listed below. I'm actually even a tad more focused than simply thinking B&W – all pretty much subconsciously at this point – something more akin to visualizing how what I'm viewing will look as a 15x20, 18x24 or larger fine print (12x16 with the iPhone). That comes with a lot of experience printing one's own work. Pay close attention to the video's other 8 tips too. At the end I make a suggestion that might help some.

9 Quick Tips for BETTER BLACK & WHITE Photos from YouTube photographer Jamie Windsor – with one additional note from me:

I follow this guy on YouTube – part of keeping up with what's going on in the photography world. Recently I checked out some of his older stuff and found this and thought I'd share it for anyone who is interested in a perspective on B&W photography. Jamie Windsor is right – B&W is an altogether different beast. I'll pretty much let the video stand as it is, with one small addition. The tips are a great beginning and listed pretty much in order of importance:

Jamie Windsor's channel address: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxCFQfO05RinX6x_r5VVuiA

     I'm totally glad he made it his number one point to shoot with B&W in mind from the very start. Otherwise B&W becomes a subset of color, an afterthought, and a stand-alone B&W portfolio will hardly emerge from the process. I do have one pointer though. For those who were never forced, via knowing they had monochrome film in the camera, to adapt to looking at the color world and "seeing" it in B&W, there is a little trick that might help you get there:

Tip # 10 – I would just make it an expansion of #1 but prefer to use this to return the reader to what is by far the most important point/tip:

     At least temporarily until used to the mindset, set the camera up to take RAW+JPG – then program the JPG to a B&W film effect. The result will be (in most cameras) that you will be forced to view and compose in B&W. For this I would use a pretty contrasty monochrome setting so that you aren't viewing flat. Your RAW file will still be in RGB (color). One oddity is that the RAW file, which has a tiny jpg thumbnail in it, may be showing a B&W icon until after the first time it is opened on the computer.

     I'll admit to a little duality on my part here. I'm a viewfinder user so raaaaarely use the LCD screen for viewing. I'm used to "seeing" in B&W without any assistance through a viewfinder. But the B&W film effect trick does keep the LCD screen image from looking like a color two-dimensional representation of the scene, throwing that off a little when I'm forced to use it for composing and shooting. It's important to be able to visualize in B&W so I program one of my function buttons to quickly bring up the menu selection for film emulation in those rare cases (the iPhone does the same thing with the 645 Pro MKIII camera app, saving both a RAW and B&W jpg).

* Update – Opera House Presentation Tuesday August 28

     Been spreading the word on my Opera House presentation/benefit. I'm really anxious that this succeeds in raising some money for this phenomenal addition to our community – funds we certainly can't otherwise afford to donate. I've already begun handing out postcards to people I might not see again before late August. The goal is to get up to 100 people there ($1K for the Opera House), seating people in the back half of the theater area so I can present from the open area in the middle.