Challenge Yourself with Black and White in Colorful Locations!
by Alan Winslow – August 28th, 2018
Whenever we head out to photograph a new location, we are looking to expand our practice, push ourselves, and capture exciting moments. Earlier this month we hit the road and went to Newport Beach, California to explore. Before we set out on any shoot, we do a little research on the location. One thing stood out we didn’t see many black and white images. It makes sense the sky is a beautiful shade of blue with white puffy clouds meeting a dark blue ocean and white sand beach. On top of all that you have crowds open people wearing bright, colorful swimsuits. We thought let’s challenge ourselves and photograph this colorful environment in black and white.
After exploring the beach, we knew we wanted to highlight the overwhelming presence of the sun. It was late in the afternoon, but the sun was still out in full force. We wanted the viewer to feel the heat and experience the brightness. To achieve that look we overexposed our cameras by 1.5 stops pushing the highlights to the brink of clipping. If you are photographing in manual, you meter 1.5 stops over. If you are shooting in any other setting, you can use an in-camera feature called exposure compensation. Often the button looks like this +/- or you might have a dedicated dial on your camera. We suggest taking a look at your cameras manual if you are having a hard time finding the setting.
What is Exposure Compensation doing:
While working in Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority or any other automatic setting the camera’s light meter selects the appropriate exposure settings. Exposure compensation allows you the photographer to override these setting to achieve an overexposed or underexposed image. We recommend when you are first exploring these setting to make small adjustments not all scenes need to be 1.5 stops over. Keep on eye on your histogram so that you do not clip any highlights.
You can see here that we are close to clipping, but still, have the needed information.
* A stop in photography is how we measure exposure. The three factors that make up our exposure include ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Typically our cameras are set up to make 1/3 stop adjustments as we rotate the dial. This small adjustment will start to push the snow to a more pure white.
Why In Camera:
We recommend always getting the best possible image camera rather than relying on post-production. By nailing your vision and exposure in the camera, you will save time and have cleaner images. The more you tone an image, the higher the possibility of introducing artifacts.
Black and White in a Color Workflow:
Believe it or not but a proper color workflow if just as critical in working in black and white as it is in color! Our Coloratti Rocco Ancora summed it up best in a recent interview. “If you want to achieve a good black and white image, you’ve got to start with a good color image. People think I’ll capture it; it doesn’t matter what I do to the color because I’ll turn it into black and white. That is the biggest load of garbage I’ve ever heard because color, every color hue should translate to a shade of grey. Once we have that, and once we have good color and image, you’re going to get an amazing black and white. The black and white side of things does become effortless once the color is there and once you’ve dealt with color probably – and you’ve paid due respect to what you need to do with color in a managed workflow.” To check out the rest of his interview click here.
Let us know what you think of black and white images in colorful places and of our beach images in the comments below!
To get more information on X-Rite’s color management solutions and more tips and training head over to www.xritephoto.com. Check out i1Studio, the all in one color management solution with the revolutionary ability to create an optimized black and white profile and use the same measured data to create profiles that can convert a color file to black and white, high contrast black and white, sepia tone, and cold tone in print. Yea… that’s right. Print each of these black and white looks directly from your color image file without taking the time to convert and edit the file!