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Thread: Black & white tips?

  1. #1

    Default Black & white tips?

    Decided to study more about black and white.

    Do I need a filter for black and white shots? If I dont, what are the effects and will the shot turn out reasonably ok to the untrained eye?
    The sooner you get it, the longer you enjoy it.
    I welcome you @ www.benaw.zenfolio.com

  2. #2

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    I personally feel that the art to black and white photography largely depends on which area you are venturing into. But majority of the Black and White photography revolves around the study of, shapes, form, texture, light, shadows and depth. Filters will enhance or de en hance or help you attain a certain amount of effect depending on what kind of filter you are using. Perhaps you could try by starting to do still life under creative lighting first. Or learn to spot subjects along the street with a diff perspective?
    Hope this helps

    Cheers
    Chris

  3. #3

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Ah..good old black and white... shooting with a digital body would be a little tricky to 'visualize' the final capture in shades of grey.

    Start off by understanding how converting a scene to monochrome affects the mood and general feel of the shot, as well tonality and also a very important tool in BnW photography: dodging and burning. Try to get all these down before you go into filters and such (other than the most basic red filter which render blues a nice deep grey or black, which is just an even darker shade of grey..ok.nvm).

    The aim is to make your final composition look like as if it was really meant to be shot in black and white, rather than looking as if it was colour photo just converted to monochrome (as you go along you'll kinda get what i mean)...

    The best way to really appreciate it is to use a film body and black and white film (then develop it yourself and do printing...hooo!) ...but if too costly, go about learning proper black and white conversion of digital files and editing techniques specific to monochrome photography.

    If you want to know more on bnw filim and stuff like that... you can post some questions on the Traditional Darkroom section...lotsa good BnW users there who can give you their input and advice..

    Best of luck..

    Regards,
    Patrick
    if my camera is there at the right moment, click, all I have to do is accept it.
    -edouard boubat

  4. #4

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    about 3 weeks ago i shot my first black and white with a Kodak 400CN (I think) the roll that uses the C-41 process. I used my Nikon FM2 and a AIS 105mm.

    The whole reason why I asked about the filters is coz my shots came out not that strongly in black and white. with this i mean that the black and grey tones were not that well defined. and i read somewhere that the filters will play a part in the control of the tone.

    recently i got two rolls of Ilford 400 and cant wait to fire them off.

    i doubt that i would be able to do my own printing and processing due to lack of space and time. would rather leave that to the professionals.

    what is this called contact printing? and how do i select the prints that i want to develop? do i have to use a lupe to view the shots? or just through the naked eye?
    The sooner you get it, the longer you enjoy it.
    I welcome you @ www.benaw.zenfolio.com

  5. #5

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77
    about 3 weeks ago i shot my first black and white with a Kodak 400CN (I think) the roll that uses the C-41 process. I used my Nikon FM2 and a AIS 105mm.

    The whole reason why I asked about the filters is coz my shots came out not that strongly in black and white. with this i mean that the black and grey tones were not that well defined. and i read somewhere that the filters will play a part in the control of the tone.

    recently i got two rolls of Ilford 400 and cant wait to fire them off.
    There are at least two reasons why your blacks are not black enough and white not white enough

    1 Your exposure and development of the negative is incorrect

    2 The printer did not do a good job

    Filters can change tonality and therefore affect contrast between different objects in the image. But it will not compensate for incorrect exposure, development, and printing.


    Quote Originally Posted by benji77
    i doubt that i would be able to do my own printing and processing due to lack of space and time. would rather leave that to the professionals.
    1 Firstly when you use C41 films, there is no custom development of your negatives, unless you tell the shop that does negative development. But you have to know what you want them to do to your negatives.

    2 Secondly, I believe the prints are done by machines. What do you expect?

    3 Even if you use a "professional", how much are you going to pay the professional? They will be running your films in a factory-like manner, and making prints that are OK.

    So do you expect professionals to deliver the "best" results? Possible. But you will have to pay $$$$$.


    Quote Originally Posted by benji77
    what is this called contact printing? and how do i select the prints that i want to develop? do i have to use a lupe to view the shots? or just through the naked eye?
    1 Contact prints are prints made by exposing the paper with the negatives flat against it. So you get little thumbnail positive images of the negatives.

    2 You can select the prints by using the naked eye or the loupe. Using loupes will help you to determine issues like sharpness etc.


    If you are really interested in B&W there are a few places where you might like to try

    1 www.circleoflight.org

    2 SLCC B&W film developing course (no printing)

    3 Bobman's who is starting to give B&W courses. (Potentially a place you can do development and printing)
    Last edited by student; 5th June 2006 at 09:42 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Thanks Student!

    I think the higher chance is that i got the exposure wrong. Would I be right to say that for whites (eg t-shirts) i should overexpose it by maybe half a stop? would that make my blacks blacker??
    The sooner you get it, the longer you enjoy it.
    I welcome you @ www.benaw.zenfolio.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by student
    Yo teacher, the site is www.ecircleoflight.org

  8. #8

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by espn
    Yo teacher, the site is www.ecircleoflight.org

    Thank you! Thank you!

    Lao Liao! Sigh!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77
    Thanks Student!

    I think the higher chance is that i got the exposure wrong. Would I be right to say that for whites (eg t-shirts) i should overexpose it by maybe half a stop? would that make my blacks blacker??
    This is going to take a long write-up.

    Getting the print right is a combination of many factors.

    These are exposure, development adjustment (depending on the contrast within the scene and what you are trying to achieve in your final image, as well as the characteristic of the film) and printing (which will include choice of paper grades, "traditional photoshop", and other methods of print-making)

    My sincere advice to you is to go the digital route if you are not able to do your own negative development and printing. It is so much easier and precise to do things in photoshop than the traditional way. And the output is nowadays, very good. I stick to the traditional methods for two main reasons: I like the craft, and I prefer the traditional output.

    Now for what you said in this last post. Your statement suggest that you know little about light. It is such a shame that people are not willing to invest a little of their time to learn the fundamentals of the zone system, being contented to let the camera do the thinking for them. Nothing complicated. But your idea of giving a half stop to try to make the white "whiter" will simply not work!

    Cameras meters (and other meters) are calibrated to what is called zone 5. If you meter the white shirt and use the camera's readings, the shirt will be a grey. And giving half a stop will make it a little less grey, but grey nonetheless. If you understand the zone system, you will want to put the shirt on zone 7, which is white with details. And zone 7 is two stops more than zone 5. So to get the whites white, you should give two stops more exposure than what the camera recommends.

    Now all that is only to make the whitse white. It had nothing to do with the blacks. Whether giving a two stop more exposure will make your black blacker is another matter. To get a negative exactly to make blacks black and whites white will need a little more work.

    But there are other ways to get a proper print from a "reasonable negative". And this is darkroom skills.
    Last edited by student; 6th June 2006 at 02:35 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    student..teach me printing.. having miserable days in my darkroom...hahaha

    Btw Benji, if you're interested in getting contact prints done.. drop me a msg..heh.. can help you out..for a small fee of course..

    Btw, i suggest you try out traditional type of BnW emulsions such as Ilford's HP5 or Kodak's Tri-X.. i'm guessing that you like prints with hi contrast, strong blacks and whites.. these films give higher contrast as comapred to their fine grain counterparts(Ilford Delta, Kodak TMax) but still need conscious metering and exposure to get a good negative..

    However even if you get the exposure spot on..you're still at the mercy of poor development and printing from photolabs.. What i strongly suggest is that you read up on film development and do it for your negs.. at least with a relatively well developed negative, you can go around finding ways to get the final print that you want.
    Relying on photolabs for development and prints will just leave you dissapointed most of the time.. I've been through that phase before..and it sucks thinking about all the time and effort spent wasted on crappy looking prints...

    Unfortunately for many newcomers..BnW seems overly time consuming and meticulous... but the reward is almost complete control of the entire process... from the viewfinder all the way to the final print... Dont' be discouraged though.. experiment more with film and see what works for you.. there's always a digital alternative which can yield very good results when applied properly.. However, it can't beat long, lonely nights in my toilet darkroom inhaling fixer fumes trudging around in a dim red light....
    if my camera is there at the right moment, click, all I have to do is accept it.
    -edouard boubat

  11. #11

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Yes, i like the strong dark 'Umphhh' of the black and the details like skin texture etc. I like the contrast that divides the black and white.

    Now lets talk about lights.
    Using the FM2's zonal system, lets imagine that i focus on a person with a white T-shirt in a relatively shady area like the lift landing. (cant think of any other common area that all will understand)

    Lets say my readings are:
    a) Apreture - 4
    b) shutter 1/60
    c) ISO is 200

    the metering gives me a - (underexposed). since i do not have a flash, lets assume that i have a tripod.

    i decide that i will lower my shutter to 1/15. and fantasically i get a 0 reading.

    To me, i would take the shot.

    but according to Student's post, I should increase it by 2 stops. Meaning it should be ISO 400 (lets not sacrifice the apreture)
    the reading should now give me a +. am i right? NOW, STUDENT would take the shot.

    is this right student? if this is right, then am i right to say that 'i should ignore the 0 reading that my camera gives me when i initially did the 1/15 reading? coz that would give me a underexposed reading.
    The sooner you get it, the longer you enjoy it.
    I welcome you @ www.benaw.zenfolio.com

  12. #12

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77
    Yes, i like the strong dark 'Umphhh' of the black and the details like skin texture etc. I like the contrast that divides the black and white.

    Now lets talk about lights.
    Using the FM2's zonal system, lets imagine that i focus on a person with a white T-shirt in a relatively shady area like the lift landing. (cant think of any other common area that all will understand)

    Lets say my readings are:
    a) Apreture - 4
    b) shutter 1/60
    c) ISO is 200

    the metering gives me a - (underexposed). since i do not have a flash, lets assume that i have a tripod.

    i decide that i will lower my shutter to 1/15. and fantasically i get a 0 reading.

    To me, i would take the shot.

    but according to Student's post, I should increase it by 2 stops. Meaning it should be ISO 400 (lets not sacrifice the apreture)
    the reading should now give me a +. am i right? NOW, STUDENT would take the shot.

    is this right student? if this is right, then am i right to say that 'i should ignore the 0 reading that my camera gives me when i initially did the 1/15 reading? coz that would give me a underexposed reading.
    I am not familiar with the FM2 metering system. But let me assume that it will be something like this

    -2, -1, 0, +1, +2

    Usually, people would change their aperture and speed settings to make sure that the needle points to 0.

    And another point. The meter NEVER gives any wrong exposure. It is the photographer who gives the wrong exposure, not understanding what the meter meant. The meter is ALWAYS predictable - to make sure everything is grey when the needle points to 0.

    With that assumption, I will try to dissect your problems.

    BTW, I do not use flash at all for my photography (flash are only meant for quick holiday shots when the sun is behind my family). And as far as exposure is concern, it is irrelevant whether the subject is is in shade or in strong light contrast. The difference is that in shade the contrast is narrower and in strong light, the contrast is greater. This difference in contrast will help you to decide how to develop your negative depending on how you want the negative to be.

    The ISO is irrelevant as far as exposure is concern. Choice of ISO is determined by other considerations such as grains and hand-holdability.

    Now you said that the readings are f4 and 1/60. I take it to mean that when you point the camera at the white shirt (Please do not talk about centre-weighted metering etc), the meter reads f4 and 1/60. - and the needle is pointing at 0. Now this is where the problem is. If you change the shutter to 1/15, the needle would point to +2, not 0. And yes, this is when I would fire off the shutter.

    I hope I have not confused you!

    But let me put it in another way. I point the meter at the white shirt and adjust aperture and shutter so that the needle point to 0. Assume this is f4 1/60. This is the reading to make the white shirt grey. But the zone system tells me that a white shirt is at zone 7. So I give two more stops of light (each zone is one stop different). In this case I will expose the negative at f4 and 1/15.

    I do not ignore the initial reading. NEVER! Because this reading is the predictable standard from which I make my deviation. Without the initial reading, I cannot make my deviation properly. The meter is always right. But we must know how to use it. The meter has no brain. We have.
    Last edited by student; 6th June 2006 at 05:22 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77
    Yes, i like the strong dark 'Umphhh' of the black and the details like skin texture etc. I like the contrast that divides the black and white.

    Now lets talk about lights.
    Using the FM2's zonal system, lets imagine that i focus on a person with a white T-shirt in a relatively shady area like the lift landing. (cant think of any other common area that all will understand)

    Lets say my readings are:
    a) Apreture - 4
    b) shutter 1/60
    c) ISO is 200

    the metering gives me a - (underexposed). since i do not have a flash, lets assume that i have a tripod.

    i decide that i will lower my shutter to 1/15. and fantasically i get a 0 reading.

    To me, i would take the shot.

    but according to Student's post, I should increase it by 2 stops. Meaning it should be ISO 400 (lets not sacrifice the apreture)
    the reading should now give me a +. am i right? NOW, STUDENT would take the shot.

    is this right student? if this is right, then am i right to say that 'i should ignore the 0 reading that my camera gives me when i initially did the 1/15 reading? coz that would give me a underexposed reading.
    Umm okay... this is like basic exposure techniques...

    Yes, to achieve what you want in that certain situation, you must ignore the proper exposure as suggested by your camera's meter and expose it a further more 2 stops (btw, the 0 reading is not an underexposed reading, it is the reading that is deemed correct by the inbuilt light meter. That's why you should use your meter not rely on it) .

    However, it is always advisable not to go about changing your ISO values around as you are using film and its simply not possible unless you're pushing or pulling your film. So we'll stick to let's say, ISO 400.

    Your Meter Reads: 1/60s @ f4
    -> Since your meter is calibrated to 18% grey, it is porgrammed to render whites as grey for a proper exposure. Too make the subject a more lighter shade of grey (or more whiter if you want to call it that), you have to give it more exposure, which will be signaled as OVEREXPOSED or + on your meter. From student's advice, following the Zone System (an exposure system used to get well exposed negatives, hard to master but the basics can be understood pretty quickly) to get the white shirt white (or a much lighter shade of grey) you can increase the exposure by 2 stops and still retain the details on the shirt.

    Now, looking back at your meter, you should readjust either your shutter speed or aperture to expose the shirt by 2 more stops higher. So for example:

    Your Current Settings: 1/60s @ f4 (Correct Exposure frm Meter)
    Option 1: 1/15s @ f4 (2 stops overexposure reading frm meter)
    Option 2: 1/60s @ f2 (2 stops overexposure reading frm meter)

    So, by using anyone of these options (option 1 is of course advisable if you dun have a very fast lens, it is an example anyways..) you would be able to get a relatively white shirt on the negative...if you can understand this, you can now see how you can pre-visualize your shot before even making the exposure.

    Of course there are infinitely other possible situations with different lighting and so forth..Take time to read up on how your meter works and general exposure techniques, would help alot..

    By the way, what metering mode are you using? Center weighted, spot, matrix (not sure how they call it on the fm2, like a general reading from the entire viewfinder).
    if my camera is there at the right moment, click, all I have to do is accept it.
    -edouard boubat

  14. #14

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    the FM2 uses centre weighted metering and it uses LED lights + & - and 0 to denote the metering. I do not have +1 +2, it would have to be guaged by it being flashing or not.

    so one of the options is for me to take the reading from the surrounding, then compensate for the white T shirt later.

    if i finally manage to get a reading of 0, would the black be jet black in the shot enough without me having to manupiliate the developing process?
    The sooner you get it, the longer you enjoy it.
    I welcome you @ www.benaw.zenfolio.com

  15. #15

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77
    the FM2 uses centre weighted metering and it uses LED lights + & - and 0 to denote the metering. I do not have +1 +2, it would have to be guaged by it being flashing or not.

    so one of the options is for me to take the reading from the surrounding, then compensate for the white T shirt later.

    if i finally manage to get a reading of 0, would the black be jet black in the shot enough without me having to manupiliate the developing process?

    1 LED lights are fine. Just get the initial "correct" readings and then go from there.

    2 You can use any metering system as a spotmeter. Just go straight up to the white shirt and point it close to the shirt, making sure you do not block the light. The shirt does not have to be in focus. You now have a reading to make the shirt grey. Now give two more stops of light.

    3 If you want black to be jet black with no details, well, then do it this way. Let us say you are looking at a black shirt. Now bring your camera to the black shirt and get a reading with the needle pointing to 0 (or equivalent). This reading will make the shirt grey. Let us say the reading is f4 1/60. Reducing the light by two stops will make the black shirt black with some details. So it will be something like f4 and 1/250. But if you do not want any details at all, then change the settings to f4 and 1/500. The shirt will be totally black with no details. But now you may have another problem. If the contrast is not very great, everything else may be grey. So you may have to extend development to lighten up the whites.

    In practice it may not be necessary to make the black to be jet black in the negative. You can achieve a black in the print by using a harder grade of paper.
    Last edited by student; 6th June 2006 at 06:15 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    heh, turning out to be exposure basics 101...
    if my camera is there at the right moment, click, all I have to do is accept it.
    -edouard boubat

  17. #17

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Hi LKSC
    Thank you for the link. It is most useful!

    Hi Patryk & Student
    Please correct me if I am wrong:

    a) For my FM2 Zonal System metering, it does not mean that I should get a 0 reading for every shot. If I have light tones in the frame (eg: white T-shirt), I should increase the f/stop by about 2 stops or so.

    b) For film development, if my shots are correctly exposed, I can actually control the contrast (black & white tones) using the quality of paper and through the development process.
    The sooner you get it, the longer you enjoy it.
    I welcome you @ www.benaw.zenfolio.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77
    Hi LKSC
    Thank you for the link. It is most useful!

    Hi Patryk & Student
    Please correct me if I am wrong:

    a) For my FM2 Zonal System metering, it does not mean that I should get a 0 reading for every shot. If I have light tones in the frame (eg: white T-shirt), I should increase the f/stop by about 2 stops or so.

    b) For film development, if my shots are correctly exposed, I can actually control the contrast (black & white tones) using the quality of paper and through the development process.
    ermm... FM2's metering is centerweight metering - ie, IIRC the meter will average out the entire scene but 60% emphasis is on the center of the scene; where the big focussing circle is. so, if u have too much contrast in ur scene, ur FM2 meter will be fooled into over or under exposing.

    actually, u can try BnW photography (not developing or printing... not yet, anyway) by getting the Kodak 400 BnW film which uses C41 processing - ie, any neighbourhood lab will be able to develop the film for u.

    yah... i see the BnW purists preparing a bonfire and stake for me liao... (sorry, doc...)

    its not the best BnW film ard. but for experimenting with bnw photography without being too bothered by developing and printing (which is both an art and science), the kodak film is worth a try just to dip ur toes into BnW. once u get the hang of seeing the world in tones rather than colours, then move onto proper BnW films and mebbe sign up for proper classes on developing and printing. both Objectifs and SAFRA Photography Club offer such courses.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

  19. #19

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77

    a) For my FM2 Zonal System metering, it does not mean that I should get a 0 reading for every shot. If I have light tones in the frame (eg: white T-shirt), I should increase the f/stop by about 2 stops or so.
    1 Yes, provided your initial metering was taken from the white shirt.

    2 To my knowledge, only one of the Hasselblad V cameras (FE?) has a metering system to take into account the zone system. The FM2 is highy ulikely to have a "zonal system".

    Quote Originally Posted by benji77
    b) For film development, if my shots are correctly exposed, I can actually control the contrast (black & white tones) using the quality of paper and through the development process.
    The correct word is "grade" not "quality". Papers were made in grades with 1 and 2 relatively soft (less contrast) and 4 and 5 hard (more contrast). However nowadays papers are made with variable grades all combined into one. You get different contrast ny using different filters.

    It is possible to get high contrast prints by altering/reducing paper development time. I do not recommend this because it often leads to uneven development.

    Another way to increase contrast is to use lithographic printing.
    Last edited by student; 8th June 2006 at 11:58 AM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Black & white tips?

    Sorry, my bad, all this while I thought that Zonal meant Centreweighted.

    What are the things that I should look out for while requesting for prints after I select them? What is the average price for each print? 4R? or is there a different size that B&W guys go for?
    The sooner you get it, the longer you enjoy it.
    I welcome you @ www.benaw.zenfolio.com

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