Convert color originals into black-and-white digital photographs.

There are several ways to convert a color orignal black-and-white

  • Adobe Photoshop > Image > Adjustments > Black & White
  • Adobe Photoshop > Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer
  • Nik Silver Efex black-and-white color conversion software

The Adobe Photoshop Black & White option is the most primitive and is not recommended. You can immediately tell the difference between a first-time user and an intermediate to advanced user based on how they do their conversions from color to B&W. Pros start with Channel Mixer, and connoisseurs use Silver Efex Pro.

Create B&W digital image directly with your camera.

Silver Effect software
Nik Software Silver Efex Pro.

Most current digtal cameras have an option inside the camera to produce a black-and-white photograph. But you will get a much better B&W image if you shoot in regular color and then do a channels change via Adobe Photoshop or even nicer if via Silver Efex Pro from Nik Software.

Nik (formerly a German company, Nik Multimedia) is headquartered now in the southern California high-tech area of San Diego. I see the key executives and managers of Nik Software at all the important photography trade shows, both at Photokina, PhotoPlus East, and PMA.

This is not a freebie and not a home-made software. The suite of imaging products from Nik is definitely better than average:

  • Define
  • Viveza
  • Color Efex Pro
  • Silver Efex Pro
  • Sharpener Pro

Create B&W digital infrared photographs.

FLAAR has been doing large-format digital infrared photography for several years. For 2009 we are expanding into 35mm digital SLR infrared photography and medium-format digital infrared photography. FLAAR Reports reviews of digital infrared are already being issued and evaluations of pertinent digital camera solutions for IR photograph have been initiated at PMA 2009 trade show (March 2009).

Dumping film grain all over your nice digital photos.

During the years that I was a professor at a state university (in the Applied Technology area), I can still remember the photography professors who clung to teaching darkroom photography instead of digital photography.

Their main excuse was that “you need to learn how to use a real camera before you move to digital.”  Yes, of course, what is why you need to learn how to use a horse and buggy before you learn to drive a car.

Perhaps pilots should pretend first to be Icarus before they take airplane flying lessons.

But the real reason that from 1995-2005 that probably 75% of the professors around the world demanded that their students learn darkroom photography is because these professors were nervous they would lose their status if digital photography took over. Many of these professors probably had limited skills in digital imaging software. Today (2009) the situation is better because younger instructors and assistants have moved in with their knowledge of digital imaging, both digital cameras and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

This same philosophy infects the software that allows you to emulate film grain. Film grain was a defect, and so a parallel would be why not emulate pimples to speckle the faces of models and simulate other disease blotches on every otherwise healthy person’s face.

Fortunately we live in a free country and so any photographer who wishes to is able to dump film grain onto their otherwise relatively clean digital photographs. Hey, you can even select obsolete film grain like Agfachrome. Alien Skin Exposure 2 allows this. Power Retouche Black & White Studio lets you do this too, as does Imageomic Real Grain. So if you have digital noise from a cheap camera or low light (or not using a tripod) now you can cover your ugly digital noise with an even uglier prehistoric film grain.

I have worked with black-and-white photography with Leica for over 20 years, then Hasselblad for several decades and now with digital photography for 11 years. I do infrared B&W photography with a  BetterLight and shortly will be experimenting with medium-format infrared photography as well as 35mm digital infrared photography. So I enjoy the capabilities provided by Nik Software Silver Efex Pro, but I will use primarily the conversion engines but not the grain types from obsolete films such as Agfachrome.

I remember Agfachrome primarily as the fastest fading color film that I ever used!

Silver Efex Pro software
Tikal Temple I Color Tikal Temple I black and white
Convert black and white photo with Nik Software Silver Efex Pro.

 

First posted March 10, 2009.

 

 

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