Following on from the previous article on improving the digital B&W workflow process, it’s only fair that I show you some examples. I’ve chosen near-field landscapes – effectively, trees – as the test material, because I’ve always felt that this has been the most difficult subject to capture in a convincingly natural way*.
*Yes, I know, nature is in colour and monochrome images are by definition unnatural, but bear with me here.
The challenge lies with the fractal nature of the subject and the resulting high frequency of detail. If the frequency of detail is too high, then you land up with areas that alternate with high contrast between high and low exposure zones because the sampling frequency of the sensor is insufficient to capture the transition. Increasing the capture resolution does not help you here, because no matter how close you get, there’s always more information to capture, and there are limits to the resolving power of the output medium anyway – even in an Ultraprint. Thus what the postprocessing technique needs to do is create the perceptual illusion of tonal continuity and smoothness, which in turn contributes to placing that entire area of high frequency detail in the right exposure zone when averaged – i.e. when the image is viewed as a whole.
I shall let you be the judge of how successful that technique has been, but I for one am pretty happy with the results. In any case, it’s early days: refinement will come more practice and experimentation with the process. One thing I haven’t fully resolved is application to high key images – which have never really been my style anyway – hence the predominance of darker, richer images here. MT
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