It seems I’m currently “very into” black and white photography – although to be fair, it’s something that I’ve always liked when other people have done it but never really bothered with it myself.
With the advent of digital photography I think B&W has got a bit of a bad name for itself – tools which can greyscale an image mean that it’s an easy way to attempt to salvage a flawed colour image (not that I don’t convert my own colour images sometimes also). The shot above however was achieved using a Cokin P003 red filter, with the image then being desaturated and the contrast tweaked slightly – which took about 30 seconds at most – the ideal amount of processing time when you’ve got a lot of photos to work through :)
Why desaturate? Why not just shoot in black and white mode on the camera? Well, if I was shooting in jpeg mode it might be a good idea but as I’m shooting in raw mode, when I get the images into Lightroom they will be red again anyway so there seems little point. It doesn’t really help for reviewing the shots on the camera either as the black and white preview displayed on the camera seem quite different to what I see in Lightroom. Besides, I’ve got used to previewing the red images now – once you’ve learned to trust your manual exposures it’s not that much of a problem.
Using an external filter isn’t without its problems though – the main drawback with the red being that you lose 3 stops worth of light so you end up having to make sacrifices in either ISO, shutter speed or aperture (or a combination of the three). Shooting at ISO100, f/11, 1/250s isn’t going to be an option unless you are taking a picture on the surface of the sun so I usually end up at ISO200, f/8, 1/100s – not ideal, but as an exercise in learning to take control of your camera in its manual mode I can heartily recommend it.
Fortunately many DSLRs now have the ability to simulate the affect of certain colour filters built in to their Monochrome picture options – certainly the Canon range do. These can be used without any loss of light, but only have an effect if shooting in JPG – raw images remain unaffected by them.