What's your recipe for high contrast B&W?

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
I stand in awe of some of the images I see here, and I would really appreciate it if some folks would share how they get such magnificent high contrast B&W.

What camera do you start with? What settings? Do you under expose? Over expose? Do you do a lot of post processing? If so, what are some of the basic steps you take?
 

nikki

Veteran
Sep 12, 2011
103
Dublin ,Ireland
if you shoot in colour - then convert to black and white i feel you get more tones , also silver efex pro is a terrific plug in for photoshop ! except if you use a ricoh grd or leica you get excellent black and white straight out of the camera ! fuji x100 looks great too for black and whites but I dont have one of those ! ( yet!):)
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
123
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
These days I use silver efex which has certainly made life easier. Prior to that I would start with a colour image and make some basic adjustments like exposure, saturation and tone curves. This step maybe wasn't totally necessary but I thought that it helped to provide definition between the colours when they converted to b&w. When I was happy with it in colour I would convert to b&w using software that allowed me to make adjustments to the individual colour channels. After that I'd probably tweak the tone curves again.

My starting point for all this was a raw image, or otherwise a plain colour jpeg with no additional sharpening or contrast added in camera. Each camera has it's own methods of in-camera jpeg processing so it's hard to provide any recommendations for doing b&w images that way.
 

Grant

Veteran
Nov 12, 2010
68
Lunenburg Nova Scotia
I start out by shooting in areas that have extreme contrast. For example strong light coming through a window as apposed to soft diffused light. I don't use the average meter settings but I expose for the bright light and the shadows will automatically go black. While you can do fine tunings in post you will find the preplanning will give you wonderfully contrast images right out of the camera.
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
I start out by shooting in areas that have extreme contrast. For example strong light coming through a window as apposed to soft diffused light. I don't use the average meter settings but I expose for the bright light and the shadows will automatically go black. While you can do fine tunings in post you will find the preplanning will give you wonderfully contrast images right out of the camera.
Grant,

I can see right off your mother didn't raise any dumb kids. Planning for high contrast when you shoot?!! What a concept!

And that's a great tip on the exposure.

Cheers, Jock
 

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