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#115302 - 05/01/09 05:07 PM Black and White
jpanderson80 Offline
member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
Is anyone into black and white photos? I'm interested, but need some tips. If you're experienced with this, then please send wisdom my way.

I shoot a Nikon D40x with a 18-55mm lens. It's the stock lens, but it does a decent job. I'm very interested in shooting Ansel Adams-esque high f/number shots. My lens has a minimum aperture of f/22-38, so I am limited by that. However f/38 is very small indeed and should be just fine for me just starting out in this endeavor. A tripod will certainly be used.

Anyone?
_________________________
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.

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#115334 - 05/02/09 02:59 AM Re: Black and White [Re: jpanderson80]
kevonionia Offline
member

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 1322
Loc: Dallas, TX
JP:

Yeah, I was into B&W bigtime back in my youth when I had a darkroom. Went so far as to own a 4X5 view camera with a couple of Schneider lenses (and used Tri-X in the film plates.) Took it on one hike (Richardsons Grove in Mendocino Cty, CA.) Carried it in a trunk strapped to a cheapo external frame pack. Wish I had a pic of the set-up, everyone would get a BIG laugh. After that one trip I said ENUF of that and went back to 35mm while still trying to take B&W.

I was truly enraptured as have been so many others, of Ansel Adam's pix. With the new digital cameras (like the D40x), can't see why you can't take something as crisp, as contrasty and as gorgeous as one of his landscapes. Not sure, though, how Adams' "Zone System" works with digital (and I honestly can say I never understood it enough to master it with film, although the concept made sense.)

I'd say a circular polarizer is needed to get the contrast and dark sky to emulate an AA photo. And stopping down to the closest we can get to f64 might require a good tripod. A couple years ago there was a longgg thread here about the best tripod, and the consensus was that what was needed was quite contrarian to UL. So prepare to lug something heavy around if you're going to shoot at a tiny aperature and slow shutter speed (unless Image Stabilization solves this problem?)

Thing I've always wondered is: Does a red filter work the same for digital as it did when you were shooting with those slow, fine-grained B&W films like Plus X or that old film-speed-turtle, Panatomic-X, with an ASA (now called ISO) of 25 or 64 -- can't remember which? Does it kick up the contrast and turn the blue sky black (besides giving the image a red hue that's removed with Photoshop?)

We've got some pro's here, such as KenB and several others out West who can give you (and me) much better advice on the subject. I'll end with a couple of recent B&W digital images I've attempted this past year:


Mendocino headlands, 10/08.


Elk, RMNP, 6/08.


Castle near Doolin, 11/08.


London Mine, Mosquito Pass, CO, 9/08.

Hope some others get involved here with advice and pix, we could really learn something I'm sure.



_________________________
- kevon

(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)


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#115406 - 05/03/09 05:52 PM Re: Black and White [Re: kevonionia]
jpanderson80 Offline
member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
Thanks Kevonionia.
Yes, I didn't consider a polarized filter something critical, but you are probably right. The tripod is something that I'm certain about. I have a light tripod and my wife has a nicer one, but it that bad boy just will not be going on my back *laughs to himself*.

The red filter... interesting idea with the digital camera. I hope someone has experience with it.

A new question: I always assumed that I should shoot in color and go back later in Photoshop and adjust to B&W. Is this correct?
_________________________
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.

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#115450 - 05/04/09 08:23 AM Re: Black and White [Re: jpanderson80]
kbennett Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 820
Loc: north carolina
Do some testing before you shoot at f/38.

Adams was shooting with a view camera, with much longer lenses than your 18-55 zoom. (A 210mm lens is the "normal" focal length for a 4x5 camera.) The very small apertures were required for depth of field.

With a digital SLR camera, your "normal" focal length is about 28mm. To gain similar depth of field, F/8 or f/11 should be plenty. The major issue you face is Diffraction, which is caused by the very small aperture and which actually makes your photos less sharp. (The 4x5 camera at f/64 still has a very large physical aperture -- the actual size of the iris -- compared to your 18-55 at f/38.)

See this page this page for more information (and note that he was using a medium format camera, which will show less of this effect than your DSLR.) Also see this page for even more info.

Not what you wanted, I know. But realize that you can get that look using wider apertures because you are shooting with a smaller format camera. (And then realize that much of the Adams "look" comes from shooting large format film, developing using the Zone System, and hand printing everything.)
_________________________
--Ken B

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#115452 - 05/04/09 08:39 AM Re: Black and White [Re: jpanderson80]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
I 'used' to be VERY into it. In fact, I've still got 100ft of T-Max 100 and a bunch of 35mm cassettes, if it's something you can use (it's 20 years old though).
Two complete darkroom setups, two enlargers, film tanks, trays, etc. Started in grade school and kind of lost interest when kids came along.
I've got 2.25x3.25, 35mm, 2.25x2.25 formats, a gob of lenses, and other remnants of my habit. grin
Problem is, with the advent of digital photography, most of this stuff has become next to worthless, as processing became a camera feature, instead of a long weekend in a darkroom.
Anyway, there are several good books by Adams you should check out in your local library. He's one of the pioneers of "hypered" film, us astro-phtography geeks used before CCD cameras and software became available. He outlines his techniques well in his books, so go there first.
If you want to mess with processing, we can discuss that with PM's.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#115460 - 05/04/09 10:12 AM Re: Black and White [Re: kbennett]
jpanderson80 Offline
member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
Originally Posted By kbennett
Do some testing before you shoot at f/38.

Adams was shooting with a view camera, with much longer lenses than your 18-55 zoom. (A 210mm lens is the "normal" focal length for a 4x5 camera.) The very small apertures were required for depth of field.

With a digital SLR camera, your "normal" focal length is about 28mm. To gain similar depth of field, F/8 or f/11 should be plenty. The major issue you face is Diffraction, which is caused by the very small aperture and which actually makes your photos less sharp. (The 4x5 camera at f/64 still has a very large physical aperture -- the actual size of the iris -- compared to your 18-55 at f/38.)

See this page this page for more information (and note that he was using a medium format camera, which will show less of this effect than your DSLR.) Also see this page for even more info.

Not what you wanted, I know. But realize that you can get that look using wider apertures because you are shooting with a smaller format camera. (And then realize that much of the Adams "look" comes from shooting large format film, developing using the Zone System, and hand printing everything.)


KB,
Thanks for the tip. After reading your reply, I was initially concerned that I was getting into more technical things than I had hoped for. But... after reading your provided links - I learned that it's not too too bad. I am aware of some of the differences between the 4x5 and the modern DSLR's, but I had not realized this was one of those differences. Great tip! Thank you.

I'll have to go shoot one scene and compare the pics back at home on the monitor.
_________________________
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.

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#115462 - 05/04/09 10:15 AM Re: Black and White [Re: Dryer]
jpanderson80 Offline
member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
Dryer,
Wow... now that it WAY beyond what I have time for! smile Processing is fun and I have done some, but I can't imagine it now unless I have a full-time job devoted to photography.
_________________________
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.

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#115500 - 05/04/09 09:50 PM Re: Black and White [Re: jpanderson80]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 122
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
With that lens and sensor, f/11 is probably as far as you can go without starting to see light diffraction damage the quality of the image. You will be surprised at how much DOF that f/11 will give you.

You use the colored filters after the shot now in digital processing. It really works. There are a lot of things you can do with the color response in digital processing. I use Nik Silver Efex but that is expensive. There are less expensive ways to do it. Thanks goodness I'm not still using the wet darkroom. LOL

Get started and experiment.

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#115546 - 05/05/09 05:57 PM Re: Black and White [Re: Arizona]
jpanderson80 Offline
member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
I tried some shots yesterday. f/16 seemed to be the beginning of me losing sharpness. And yes, Arizona - f/11 and right around there where incredibly crisp. I had read somewhere that a couple stops above the largest aperture would generally be the "sweet spot" for the lens. That seems to be fairly true in this case: f/5.6 and f/8 were very crisp, but the depth of field had suffered a bit for general landscapes... but it was still good to know.

Thanks everyone! Please pour on the advice. This is a new area of learning for me.
_________________________
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.

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#115558 - 05/05/09 09:36 PM Re: Black and White [Re: jpanderson80]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 122
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
f/11 is the sweet spot for several lenses I have and used to have. I did have a Canon 18-55 at one time it is was very nice at f/11. My 60mm macro lens is sweetest there. I have a 10-22 lens that reaches its optimum at f/7.1 and starts to diffract at f/8 and beyond with my Canon 20d sensor. The light comes in very angled with that short focal length lens. The thing is, at 10mm I can get everything from about 1.25' to inf in focus using hyperfocal distance of about 2.5'. You can find that chart here--> DOF Chart

I tried that with this B&W image at 10mm and f/7.1 but the far mountains look a little soft which does not hurt this one but my focus must have been closer with a nice sharp foreground but missed infinity a bit. A self portrait like this is always harder to accomplish. It can be done though.


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#115560 - 05/05/09 09:46 PM Re: Black and White [Re: kevonionia]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 122
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
Originally Posted By kevonionia






Thing I've always wondered is: Does a red filter work the same for digital as it did when you were shooting with those slow, fine-grained B&W films like Plus X or that old film-speed-turtle, Panatomic-X, with an ASA (now called ISO) of 25 or 64 -- can't remember which? Does it kick up the contrast and turn the blue sky black (besides giving the image a red hue that's removed with Photoshop?)






yes, but we don't use glass filters anymore. The image is totally converted in Photoshop or a plugin therein. A red digital filter does act the same as a red glass filter did with tri-x or plus-x. It darkens down the sky and affects various portions of the image's color response the same way. Now you get several colored filters to try or a slider to reach any point along the way. You can also use another feature to further tune up a complete color response much like using different b&w films did. Now we can work with contrast much more precisely as well.

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#115583 - 05/06/09 11:41 AM Re: Black and White [Re: Arizona]
kevonionia Offline
member

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 1322
Loc: Dallas, TX
arizona:

Awesome shot! We want to view more. Now there's some depth-of-field ( -- are you sure you didn't have a lens that tilted down to change the plane of focus? grin) Did you use a reflective white screen for fill in, BTW? Like to hear more particulars on that shot.

I see you're into aerial photography -- real aerial photography -- and while hoping not to divert JP's thread, want to show you this gizmo we saw in Arches NP two years ago:



The "operator" (from WA state, I believe) whipped this 6-foot chopper out of his SUV and sent it off into the sky with a fancy pro Canon DSLR attached. (It's between the "legs.")

His girlfriend in the car's seat viewed what the camera would take on her laptop screen. I would love to see what pix he took with it. Got a feeling this doesn't qualify as a "poor man's" version of aerial photography, even when compared to taking the photographer up. (I'd do the poor man's version: duct tapin' the camera to a long aluminum pole with one of those old pneumatic shutter release cables attached.) blush

arizona, have you got more images on a website? thanks

_________________________
- kevon

(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)


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#115599 - 05/06/09 04:14 PM Re: Black and White [Re: kevonionia]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 122
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
That is one wild setup with the little helicopter. We use a turbocharged Cessna 206 for the platform and I shoot with a Leica RC-30 which is a Swiss made mapping camera that weighs about 450 pounds. It is bolted to the floor and sees through a hole cut in the floor. I use a navigation site to guide the plane and see what I'm doing.

The dry lake shot was done by stacking three exposures with a process called HDR. One shot is overexposed, one normal and one over underexposed so you get detail in all the tones. I don't use that technique very often but thought it would work here and it did. If used correctly they can look good, if used wildly they can look cartoonish.

I don't have a website so to speak but here is another desert image in B&W. I was fortunate enough to find the skull and took it into this scene. I shoot 90% of my work on a tripod with mirror lockup and use a bubble level for the horizon.




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