Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

March 15, 2009

B&W is Back

Marker #8 in B&W

Marker #8 in B&W

In my early days of photography I shot more B&W than I did color, working with a matched pair of Nikon bodies so I could keep one loaded with B&W negative and the other with color slide film. But when shooting I’d usually pick one or the other depending on the subject.

When birding began consuming more and more of my time I backed off on shooting B&W – birds almost always make better photos in color. I shut down my B&W darkroom around 1984.

But shooting digital and processing files in Photoshop makes it easy to output either color or B&W from the same image and have more control over how the B&W looks than I ever had with film and the darkroom.

This is another of the small maintenance markers at the Gilbert Water Ranch that I’ve been paying attention to. This started out basically as a test of the cheap 55-200 lens I picked up just to see how much image quality I could get out of it. So, I put it on the large Gitzo tripod for this shot and stopped down to f/10 with the ISO on the D70 at the lowest value of 200. The light was low contrast but with enough direction to bring up some texture.

I did my normal photoshop adjustments: minor levels, small boost in color saturation, a slight boost in contrast with a linear curve layer. The results looked good and natural. But since there’s so little color in the subject anyway it was an ideal candidate for B&W. Photoshop CS3 has an adjustment layer for this, with sliders for a range of colors that allows a lot of fine tuning. And if that isn’t enough control you can just drag the mouse across part of the image and PS with lighten or darken that color depending on the direction the mouse is dragged.

The top image is the B&W result. Full frame minus a thin slice off the right for proportion. And below is the color original that I converted.

Marker #8 in color

Marker #8 in color

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