Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why You Should Use the Camera's Monochrome Setting

Not all compositions are good for a B&W rendering - you have to "think" and "see" in black & white in order to turn out really nice B&W images with a great tonal range.  If the images are too dark or too light, with not enough midtones, it will make for a very drab image, with no detail in it.  

Since I still haven't been able to train my mind to see B&W in my viewfinder, I decided to turn on the Monochrome setting to help me preview, click and recompose what I'm clicking.

And the best part about this setting is - if you are primarily a RAW shooter, your monochrome setting will only display the image in B&W on your camera's LCD; and the preview of your image in your photo editing software, especially if you're using Lightroom, will also be in B&W.  But once you open up the image for editing, you will see the colour version, which you will then have to convert to B&W.  However, this is not the case if you're using iPhoto or Photoshop Elements, which will download and display a colour image, even though you shot it in B&W.  

If you're shooting in JPEG, your image is saved as a B&W image and will need no further conversion.  This definitely makes short work of the conversion process, but since your original file is in the lossy JPEG format, you won't be able to process it to your heart's content before the quality starts to degrade.

One word about post-processing - black and white images look their best when they are sharp, contrasty, with a wide range of tones, and my personal favourite is when they have some grain.  Sometimes a little bit of digital noise looks good, although technically, it's not really the "grain" that we think of when we think of B&W.  That grain derives from the film days.

And if you're using a photo editing software like Lightroom, iPhoto or any of the other Photoshop CS softwares, you can always play with the red, green, orange, yellow and blue filters that will change the hue of the B&W image.  Or, add a sepia, creamtone, cyanotype or selenium filter to transition your B&W image to a whole new level.

Have fun!

No comments:

Post a Comment