Photoessay: Monochrome vignettes from Shwedagon Pagoda with the Leica M Typ 240

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Perhaps the most famous landmark in Burma, Shwedagon Pagoda has been a focal point for life in Yangon for a very long time – it has reputedly existed in some form or other for the last 2,600 years. It reached its current height of approximately 114m in the late 1700s after the most recent rebuilding as a result of multiple earthquakes. It is thought of as the most sacred location for Buddhists in Burma, with the relics of multiple past Buddhas housed within: the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands of hair from Gautama – the one traditionally thought of as Buddha. An exact replica exists in Naypyidaw (the new capital of Burma).

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B&W samples from the Leica M Typ 240

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Quite a number of readers have asked about the Leica M Typ 240‘s potential for black and white usage. I think perhaps a more accurate description of the question would be: do the M 240′s files convert well to black and white? And if so, how do they compare to the output of the M Monochrom? I’m going to answer this in the context of raw conversion – there will be some users who only employ out of camera JPEGs, however, like the Monochrom, the M 240 requires processing of a DNG file to get the most out of it. And yes, there is a very significant difference.

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B&W Challenge results!

Firstly, a big thank you to all of the entrants in the competition – there were 760 images submitted in total, which is a far greater response than I expected. Not only were there a lot of images, but the overall quality of submissions was incredibly high; one comment posted was along the lines of this being one of the best collections of B&W work on flickr. I’m inclined to agree with that: the submission restrictions were enough to make you want to enter, but not so frequent that you would post an image without thought. It’s clear that every single image in here had a considerable amount of thought put into its execution. I would say that almost all of the images scored 2.5 or higher on my usual evaluation criteria – light, subject, composition/ execution and the idea – many 3.5 or higher, and a considerable number managed all four; there were a lot of photos I would have been proud to include in my own body of work. This is in stark contrast to another recent photo competition I judged where very very few images hit three, let alone four.

We had to go through the entire pool several times to ensure we didn’t overlook any images; originally the process was supposed to take one afternoon, but it landed up being dragged on for a few days as we had to debate the merits of each image, especially those that were either very close or contentious. And let me tell you…this was no easy process. I apologise for the delay in results, but at the same time there’s no way we could have done it faster and maintained the integrity of artistic intent of the competition. There was consistency, though: the ones that stood out for us the first time were also the ones that stood the test of subsequent passes. The most attractive were those that were tonally rich and made the most of this to add depth and dimensionality to their subjects. High contrast – aside from being scarce – just looks somewhat crude.

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Project: Creating a multispectral camera

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Those of you who also follow the site’s Facebook page will have noticed some images posted of late by a mystery camera, one un-purchaseable, and un-available to the general public. (And no, it’s not the new Leica M 240 or a Hasselblad Lunar.) You’ve oohed and ahh’d at the tonality, and wondered why the output was solely monochromatic. Several people speculated that it might even be from a Phase One Achromatic medium format back! The camera is in fact a Sony NEX-5, with the kit lens. The images you saw were almost un-processed; just shot RAW and desaturated.

Sometimes, I get donated photography-related things by generous readers. One of the more generous things I’ve received was this cameras: mint, almost-new-in-the-box and hardly used. Originally, the donor suggested I run a competition to give it away; though a generous offer, I’m pretty sure the camera wouldn’t interest too many of my readers – being nearly three years old and all. So, I hatched a plan: why not make it into something a little more interesting? I’ve been paying a lot of attention to black and white tonality both in the past, and of late in conjunction with my serious re-exploration of film; there’s something about the way film responds that gives it wonderful quarter and three-quarter tones. The look is achievable in digital, but it requires a lot of post processing simply because sensors do not natively respond to light in that fashion.

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The why

In fact, almost all sensors are optimised for accuracy of colour reproduction in the visible spectrum; this is a quantitative, tangible thing that can be done through measurement and iteration. It’s fairly consistent: accurate colour is the way most of us perceive things, to within the limits of our output media. Black and white, on the other hand, is hugely subjective: some people like mega grain and huge contrast with no midtones, others won’t settle for anything less than an over-HDR’ed mess that’s all mid tone and not much else. Personally, I’m a big fan of Ansel; it’s just that it requires a lot of work and careful exposure to achieve. But what if you could have a camera that made wonderful B&W images without much work, and better yet, had a bit more sharpness and sensitivity to boot?

Returning once again to the rationale for me shooting film – more upfront thinking, less work, something in the tones – I decided to see if such tonality was really possible natively out of a digital camera. I recall the Leica M8 creating raw files which were excellent candidates for B&W conversion because of their luminous quarter tones – this was thanks to the camera’s weak native IR filtration. These files too required some work, but not as much as heavily-filtered cameras. I wondered if there was something of a nugget here. Not only would you get more luminous blacks, you’d probably get a bit of a sensitivity boost, too – given that the sensor would be seeing light in UV, IR and the visible spectra.

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The how

Infrared, and to a lesser extent, ultraviolet, photography have been done for some time. There are companies out there which offer (not cheap!) conversions to either or both; there are even companies which offer services removing the anti-aliasing filter – though oddly, not both. But to create what I envisioned as the ultimate black and white camera*, all of this would have to go: no UV or IR filters, no AA filter. Just bare naked sensor. After several days of monkeying around with dozens of tiny ribbon connectors, and breaking one (caveat: the camera of course still works, but that connector will never be able to be opened/ released again) and nerve-wracking moments with various sharp implements, I’m pleased to report that this particular Sony NEX-5 has no filtration at all in front of the sensor, except for the Bayer filter, which is part of the sensor itself and thus cannot be removed. It’s about as close as you’re going to get to bare silicon – in fact, what you see when you take the lens off is the bare silicon of the sensor surface. Note that silicon is a very hard material – it’s used in portions of mechanical watches that require extreme precision and zero lubrication, and move/ interact against other parts at 8Hz or higher (the escapement) – but I still wouldn’t recommend touching it. This sensor has been properly cleaned, but may have a small dust bunny or two on it from swapping lenses. Use a blower.

*I admit I was disappointed when I learned that the Leica M-Monochrom retained its UV and IR filtration, but it turns out that decision actually makes a lot of sense, as does the 50/2 APO-Summicron – I’ll explain why later.

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What you don’t see in this shot are the hundreds of little screws, connectors and oddly-shaped parts that somehow go mesh together neatly to hold things in.

The NEX-5 is a very densely packed camera indeed; there isn’t a single cubic centimetre of free internal space for any additional components. For the most part, it’s quite well designed, and there are even some bits that are quite over-engineered. Some of the connectors are incredibly tiny indeed; I wonder how long it takes them to assemble one of these things. The first time I took it apart, it was a very cautious three hours – about an hour for reassembly. By the third time**, we were down to fifteen minutes in-and-out. The machining tolerances for this thing must be extremely tight indeed: not only are there no shims in the mount, but there are only (thankfully) three very small washers between the sensor board and the main frame of the camera itself, which is magnesium. The lens mount bolts directly to the other side of this – it doesn’t really get a lot more rigid.

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UVIR and AA filter pack, removed. Also, damaged – they used some insane glue to stick it to the sensor frame.

**The reason why it took three tries at all was because the camera didn’t work after the first one; it turns out I forgot a very small ribbon cable that got trapped under the main board which controlled the shutter timing. The third time was to do with focusing: the rather thick (nearly 1.5mm) filter pack was glued to the sensor heat sink frame with some very tenacious adhesive. What I didn’t realise was that this component was part of the optical formula of the system, and the lenses do not have enough additional focus travel to deal with the missing bit of glass; as a result, it was impossible to achieve infinity focus. The solution was to move the sensor closer to the mount; and here I’m thankful that there were those three little washers between sensor and internal frame, because if there wasn’t, then we’d have a serious problem – the Sony engineers did not provision a way to reposition the sensor (they must have been pretty confident of alignment and machining tolerances). Curiously, those washers were precisely the optical thickness of the filter pack (it’s almost as though they intended for something like this to be done), and the camera now focuses to infinity with all lenses.

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Results, notes and cautions

I’m going to be blunt here: the camera doesn’t hit full marks across the board. From a tonal viewpoint, the results are fantastic – just shoot raw and desaturate, and that’s all you have to do for almost every situation. All of the images in this post have had almost no work done on them at all – just desaturate. They came out of the camera 99% there, with this wonderfully filmic quality – even at high ISO. Is the more dynamic range? Not really. Skin tones are smooth yet delicately textured; deep shadows have that glow thanks to IR reflectance; and the detail is definitely better than a standard camera – I owned one for several months, and never saw this degree of sharpness. I wouldn’t use JPEG though, simply because it doesn’t retain as much information as the RAWs, and this will certainly affect tonal subtlety and resolution, to a lesser extent.

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Yet where the camera falls down is also resolution: it’s not because of the sensor; in the centre of the frame, there’s clearly a great degree of fine detail. The edges, however, look like crap. (Bear in mind the only E-mount glass I have now is the kit lens that’s bundled with the camera.) This is not because of the sensor: it’s because of the lens, which although it resolves quite well in the visible spectrum, is clearly nowhere near apochromatic enough in the corners; they look like a smeary mess in some cases. The smearing is caused by UV and IR spectrum image forming rays from the subject – cut out by the filter pack, normally – being registered on the sensor at a different physical location to visible light. There is still more visible light, of course, which means that focus is mostly where autofocus puts it, but not for all subjects – warm subjects in low ambient light – people indoors, for instance – tend to be a little back-focused because of this. Outdoors, things are fine (visible light > IR again).

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Results are better at the telephoto end of the zoom, stopped down, and of course with better glass. I’ve got a few adaptors lying around from my NEX days; unfortunately they’re discount Chinese items off ebay, and they perform as you would expect: crap. My M-adaptor doesn’t focus close up and has planarity issues; my F adaptor won’t focus past a couple of meters. (It would seem that their tolerances aren’t enough to deal with short flange systems.)

In my preliminary testing, the Zeiss ZF.2 2/50 Makro-Planar, ZF.2 2.8/21 Distagon and ZF.2 2/28 Distagon are all excellent performers – even into the corners. Surprisingly, the old Noct-Nikkor does very, very well from f2 onwards, and is quite passable with a little IR-induced glow even at f1.2. The Nikon 85/2.8 PCE and 45/2.8 P are also excellent, even if the former is rather impractical because of its tight focusing helicoid and inability to be stopped down without electrons. You’re probably wondering about the M-mount glass: forget the wides, they’re lousy on any mirrorless camera not optimised for them (i.e. anything that isn’t a digital Leica M). I don’t have anything telephoto. I suspect the 50/2 APO ASPH would be the lens to use on this camera, with its true optical potential seen outside the visible spectrum; and now it makes perfect sense why the Leica M-Monochrom retained its UV and IR filtration: without it, the other lenses – especially older wides – would appear very soft indeed, thanks to their property of focusing non-visible light at a different distance to visible light.

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So how would I describe the tonal characteristics of this camera? In a nutshell, it produces B&Ws that are warm and rounded, if there’s such a thing. The sharpness is there but it’s not biting; the tones are rich and deep. If used with better glass, I think it would really sing – especially for portraiture. Skin looks baby-soft. Don’t use it in colour, it looks horrible due to pollution of the blue and red channels by UV and IR respectively. However, note that with a visible blocking filter over the lens, you could shoot either IR or UV without issue. The camera also gains some sensitivity – about 1-1.5 stops depending on the situation – because of the extra light it’s collecting. With the right filters, it might be an interesting tool for astrophotographers or voyeurs, for instance. Of course, you can always use one of the B&W or Leica UVIR filters and then have a regular NEX-5 again, but this time without the anti-aliasing filter.

An interesting experiment? Undoubtedly. Would I do it again, with a more interesting camera, better sensor, and something I have better glass for? Sure, why not? Though I think mirrorless makes an ideal candidate because a) you don’t have to mess around with a mechanically complex camera, and the attending realignment issues associated with disassembly (mirror, AF system etc.); b) the LCD/ EVF gives a great live B&W preview, so it makes it easier to visualise how the results will appear after conversion – the colours really are pretty funky – and c) these are just cheaper to experiment with.

Now, if somebody would like to donate a D800E to the cause, I think some very interesting results might ensue…in all seriousness though, if anybody would like to donate a camera to be experimented on (you will of course get it back afterwards, but no guarantees that it can be done) then please send me an email. MT

Note: We’re still giving this camera away. Tomorrow, I’m going to explain how – there will of course be a photographic competition involved! Update: Full details on how to enter here.

Coda: since I was asked by a couple of people over email and in the comments, here’s how the color images out of the camera look: heavy pink-magenta casts due to IR and UV pollution in the red and blue channels respectively. I suppose some (of the hipstagram persuasion) might like the look…

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Photoessay: The people of Tokyo

Another one of the continuing series from my last Tokyo trip – this time focusing on is inhabitants. Enjoy! MT

This set was shot with an Olympus OM-D and the ZD 45/1.8. As usual, click on any image to go to its Flickr landing page; EXIF data is intact on the right hand side link.

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Plenty to spare, Ginza

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Geisha in training, Asukusa

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Maid for hire, Akihabara

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Only in Tokyo would this be considered normal. Shibuya

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Putting up a wager, Asakusa

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Untitled. Senso-Ji temple grounds, Asakusa

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Coffee break, Shibuya

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A considered proposition. Somewhere along the Yamanote line

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Reading the fine print, Akihabara

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What happens after closing time. Asakusa

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Elegant shopping. Ginza

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Public opinion, Shibuya

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A Japanese cliche, Shibuya

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Even the chauffeur gets lost sometimes. Ginza

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Photoessay: Tokyo monochromes

This set is a whole bunch of little snippets of life from around Tokyo – mostly Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ginza. I’ve tried to get into the Japanese style of street photography/ reportage a little; the intentional chaos is somewhat unnerving to my perfectionist nature and definitely not so easy to replicate. Still, I think I got just enough of an influence in there to get something different to my normal work. MT

This set was shot with an Olympus OM-D, ZD 12/2, 45/1.8 and Sony RX100. As usual, click on any image to go to its Flickr landing page; EXIF data is intact on the right hand side link.

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Shadow of a head

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Look before you leap

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Untitled

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Diagonal

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Trapped

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Meditation nap

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Lines I

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Lines II

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Overpackaged

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Ginza reflections

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Confidence

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Bad boy I

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Bad boy II

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Just another afternoon in Shibuya

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Photoessay: Hong Kong life in monochrome

The first set from my recent Hong Kong and Macau workshop. Click for larger versions or EXIF data via the flickr landing page. Enjoy! MT

Images shot with a Leica M9-P, Zeiss ZM 2.8/28 Biogon, ZM 2/50 Planar, Olympus OM-D and 45/1.8.

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Enter the August 2012 competition: Compact Challenge – here!

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Video: A B&W workflow tutorial

After the series of articles on color and B&W – and of course the M-Monochrom review – I got a huge number of emails asking about my workflow for B&W conversion. I originally tried to put this post into a conventional text and image format, but gave up shortly after I realized it would be impossible. Instead, have a video! I don’t claim to be any good at video production (forays into this are are another topic for another day), but I think this should give you a good idea of how it all comes together. Excuse the lousy sound, that bit I still haven’t quite gotten figured out yet. I suppose I need some collar mics or something – the equipment buying never ends…

Anyway, enjoy the video. MT

 

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Black and white conversion options

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Water drops. Nikon D3100, 60/2.8 G.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails after the Leica X2 and M-Monochrom reviews asking about B&W conversion and processing; I guess the M-Monochrom announcement had a knock on effect on the way people started seeing things. It doesn’t make color cameras redundant for B&W work, though.

Let’s start by demystifying two things.

1. Certain cameras have certain particular B&W characteristics. True, but only if you use JPEG. If you are shooting RAW, they provide different starting points – this is from a tonal response point of view – but ultimately you can get a consistent look regardless of the camera. I know, because I do this all the time.

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Singapore. Fuji X100

2. There are benefits to a monochrome-only camera. True. The Bayer filter and subsequent conversion is an interpolation of neighboring pixel image data to extract color information; luminance information is lifted from the photosite. Any sort of interpolation will reduce tonal accuracy and increase noise, because the luminance value you’ve got is now an approximation instead of a true value. However, it’s fairly easy to see that whilst there are benefits to shooting monochrome-only, you can actually convert a color RAW file into a monochrome one, and lower the perceived amount of noise – though not to as low a level as a monochrome-only camera. If you have a poor interpolation method, then the luminance values can be affected too – once again, increasing the perception of pixel-level image noise in a color image. Bottom line: yes, lower noise, and yes, better detail.

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Trees. Leica M9-P, 21/3.4 ASPH.

Also one of the images available in my print offer.

However, what you lose from a monochrome-camera is the ability to do control the relative luminance level of individual color channels. Why is this important? Suppose your color scene has a relatively small range of background tonal values, but your subject is a very different color. Its luminance may be the same as the background, but it stands out because of the difference in color. As we concluded in a previous article, this kind of image is a very bad candidate for B&W conversion off the bat, because you’d land up with something very flat-looking. (Real life translation: running out and buying an M-Monochrom isn’t going to solve your B&W conversion woes, but it will give you an interesting starting base – especially when it comes to noise and dynamic range. Those of you who don’t mind doing a bit of work, hold on to your normal cameras. And in fact, these techniques apply to the M-Monochrom too.)

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Noryn Aziz in the spotlight. Nikon D700, 24-70/2.8

Actually, if you’re prepared to do some work, this not necessarily the case. It’s still possible to separate the subject from the background on the basis of luminance only; you just need to work a bit harder. You’ve even got a few options here. Park that thought for a moment, we have to introduce the basics of B&W conversion first.

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Shadows. Leica M8, Voigtlander 50/1.1

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A sample image for the purposes of demonstration for this article. This is the original file, converted from RAW, with all of the sliders set to zero. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8.

The simplest method is to desaturate. All this does is throw out color information, and leave luminance information only. You are then free to do whatever you wish to complete processing of the file. After much investigation and experimentation, this is actually the method I use, coupled with another trick or two. Desaturation can be done in ACR (saturation slider, first tab) or in Photoshop (Hue/Saturation tool, then desaturate the master)

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Straight desaturation. Note overall lack of contrast.

Slightly more complicated is the gradient map. You can use the standard linear black to white transition (press D in photoshop first, then add a new gradient map adjustment layer) – which gives very similar, but not quite the same, results as desaturation. Gradient maps with a straight gradient tend to be a bit more contrasty than desaturation. If you want to experiment a bit, it’s actually possible to put in intermediate control points into the gradient and bias it towards a high key (mostly white, black fades out faster) or low key (black stays for longer) look. What actually works here will depend on your image, however, so be prepared to do some fiddling. The good news is that if you use a new adjustment layer, the gradient is easily modifiable without having to redo your entire conversion.

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Gradient map, linear gradient. Note increased contrast over the straight desaturation.

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Gradient map, low key gradient (mostly black)

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Gradient map, high key gradient (mostly white)

Finally, we’ve got the channel mixer. Best used on the RAW file in ACR, this lets you decide how much of each individual color channel goes into making the final image. Note that the tool only uses the luminance components of each channel, and it’s additive; this means that color (and perceptual color) information is discarded. To make things even more complicated, there’s a separate B&W conversion adjustment layer in Photoshop itself that effectively does the same thing as the ACR conversion, but it only has six channels for you to play with instead of the eight in ACR.

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Channel mixer via ACR, decreased reds; note how the subject (in this case, predominantly in the yellow channel) stands out more from the background.

Remember the conundrum of how to isolate a different colored, but similarly luminous, subject from the background from earlier? The solution to this is the channel mixer. You can increase the luminance of the primary color of your subject, and decrease that of the predominant background color; the converse also works. The problem comes when you’ve got a mixture of colors in both subject and background, and some of those are common colors. (Don’t get carried away though: remember that some images just don’t work in black and white).

This isn’t, the entire toolkit, of course. You’ll find that after this kind of conversion, things look rather flat. That’s because a lot of how the human eye perceives contrast and separation is dependent on differences in hue; obviously we have removed that, so we have to artificially put it back in again. Two of Photoshop’s tools will be your best friends here: the dodge and burn brush, and the curves tool. Understand how both of these things work, what the dos and don’ts are, and you can work magic with any B&W conversion. A tablet is also extremely helpful for these things, as it gives you precision control and feathering over your brush application. It lets you avoid hard edges, odd abrupt transitions, and permits highly precise editing.

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Desaturation with grad blue filter layer in multiply mode (higher density at the bottom of the frame) to darken the bottom red sign

At this point, it’s probably worth talking about plugins and filters. The former are either a set of Photoshop actions, or a separate program, that controls the conversion – specifically the luminance translation of each colour channel into a luminance value – and the tonal map of the final file. Whilst they are extremely popular and used by many ‘internet street photographers’ either to save time or because they are unable to get their desired results from a nuts and bolts conversion, I personally avoid them because they do not give you enough fine control, and even worse, everybody’s images that were run through that filter look the same. There is no personality or skill in that.

Photography is arguably art and very much down to personal taste. If you are 100% happy with the way those results look, great; I’m jealous of the amount of time you’ve saved in your workflow. However, claiming this is art is disingenuous; it’s like finding out Ansel Adams shot BW400CN (a B&W film designed to be run through a C41 color processing machine) and developed it at the local pharmacy – instead of Tri-X or Plus-X, controlling his development time and chemical composition, and then cutting precision masks to dodge and burn portions of his subjects.

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That ‘arty’ high contrast, high grain look. It’s actually what heavily pushed Tri-X used to look like, but how many people actually know that firsthand?

There’s a second type of filer that’s useful, and in either form, it performs a similar function to the channel mixer – it either admits or cuts out light that’s of a certain range of wavelengths. The most common example of this is a physical red filter that goes over the end of your lens; the effect is dark skies, because very little of the blue spectrum passes through the red filter and onto the recording medium. It works with digital too, but you have to remember to adjust exposure accordingly, and obviously not use it in color mode. You can also replicate this effect digitally. Add in a new layer, make it one color, and then select the appropriate blending mode; then only do your B&W conversion. There are interesting results obtainable through this method.

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Final image, desaturation + curves + selective dodge and burn + second round of curves + slight palladium tone layer

If you pull back the B&W conversion layer slightly – assuming you didn’t directly apply the conversion to the image – then it’s also possible to use a color layer to create a toning effect; sepia or platinum is probably the most common. You can even use a graduated fill layer to provide a variable effect; this is especially useful for increasing the density of skies, for instance.

Personally, I prefer to shoot color and then convert to B&W; not because I can’t decide upfront how a scene should be presented, but because there’s a lot of flexibility in how I want to handle the conversion later to highlight certain aspects of my subject, or achieve certain tonal looks.

I’ll go into detail on my personal B&W workflow with an end to end example in a future article. MT

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Color or black and white?

In advance of tomorrow’s review of the Leica M-Monochrom, it seems that this is a an appropriate question to tackle (if a completely academic one if your camera doesn’t shoot color in the first place.) It’s actually one of the tougher problems I face on a regular basis. Does a shot work better in color or black and white? What if it’s both? There are generally a few things that I look for which help, either to define the obvious or if I’m on the fence. This article is a short distillation of that process.

1. Is it commercial? If so, then 99% of the time, the required output will be color. Especially if it’s food or product; architecture can be either.

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Commercial architecture. Nikon D700, AFS 24/1.4 G

2. Are there strong dominant colors in the image? If so, then color. Generally, if the image is about strong color, monochrome almost always never works because for a color to be perceived as strong, you need to have fairly constant luminance values across the scene. And luminance variation is what you need for a good B&W. If the strong dominant color as a good range of luminance values, then either can work.

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Offerings of strong color. Leica M9-P, 35/1.4 ASPH FLE

3. Is the image naturally washed out or low saturation because of the subject or lighting? Generally, black and white works better here; however, you’d be surprised at how different an image with subtle color and very low saturation looks vs one that is completely colorless.

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Subtle color works well, sometimes. Prague castle. Leica M9-P, 28/2.8 ASPH

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But sometimes there is just no color to be had – the scene in reality was almost monochrome already due to the flat lighting and fog. Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna. Leica M9-P, 28/2.8 ASPH

4. Is the subject isolated or highlighted by the lighting of the scene? Either can work, but my personal preference is for black and white because you’ve got enough luminance isolation already without having to overdo it.

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Isolation by lighting. Note how the backlight rings the subject. Paris. Leica M8, Voigtlander 50/1.1

5. Is the subject isolated by color? Stupid question, easy answer. Go with color. If not, you risk running into the problem of small differences in luminance values again. Sometimes, color IS the subject.

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Isolation by color. Goa, India. Leica M8, Voigtlander 15/4.5

6. What emotion or feeling are you trying to achieve with the image? Classical timelessness always requires B&W, otherwise, go with color and shift the white balance a little.

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Film Noir. This could have been 8 days or 80 years ago. It was neither, actually. London, Leica M8, 35/2 ASPH

7. Is the image part of a series, group or set? Whatever the answer is, be consistent. You could produce two different sets, but make sure the style (including color or lack thereof) is consistent between images in the set. If you’re only delivering or using one set, then don’t change styles halfway through. See what best fits the images and overall goal of the series.

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The man behind the scenes, literally. If the backdrop was monochrome, would the blue screen effect metaphor have been as obvious? I think not. Nikon D700, Zeiss ZF 1.4/85 Planar

Of course, the easiest way to avoid all of these problems and questions it to pre visualize your shot and start with the end already in mind, so you know what you’re going to do with it. And that will be the subject of a future article :) MT

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