Technique Thursday — Black and White

This week on Technique Thursday, we are talking black and white images.  Black and white images are timeless, gorgeous and one of my personal favorites.  We had decided to not feature as much black and white on Let the Kids just because it doesn’t translate as well to the computer BUT we had such a backlash that we scrapped that right away.

So while there are beautiful black and whites, there are tons of variation and a million ways to get there.  We are going to show you some beautiful images and tell you how the photographer got there in each one.  You pick what look you like.



Kellie Hatcher — from her own L.R. presets “dream” from the BW set.


let the kids

Makena Gradient — Digital – I used the Nik Software, Silver Effects and chose a high structure high contrast pre-setting.


let the kids

Fabio Ventura — This is tri-x 400 pushed to 1600, developed in xtol 1+3. Scanned on a epson V600, using silverfast 8. Pentax 67 + 105f2.4 wide open. (minor adjusments in LR4)


Lisa Robinson-Howeler of Pure Photography by Lisa – The photo was converted to black and white using My Four Hens Photography’s “Striking” black and white action. She offers four black and white actions that I absolutely love the tones of. I have used other black and white actions that I enjoy as well, but this one gives the image a beautiful, film-like tone.


Tara Bamford –  Nikon F100, 50mm 1.4G, Kodak Tri-X 400. I rated the film at box speed and used my in-camera spot meter on the shadowy part of her skin.



Celeste Jones – D90 w/50 1.8G lens, 1/200, f/3.5, iso 400. Processed w/vsco film presets (tri-x 400)
Two Birds Photo – Shot on the Nikon D700 with a Voigtlander 90mm lens taken at f/4, 1/60th, ISO 800. Simple conversion to Grayscale, back to RGB, and added a little red + yellow for toning. I have my own action set up for this to keep things simple. I like my blacks to be black but I don’t want the image to be overly contrasty.
Reggie Campbell – Phenom Images – Mamiya 645 AFD and 80mm f/1.9. (manual focus FTW.) Oh and the film used was Tri-X 400 pushed 1 stop
Natalie G Photography – his is Kodak Tri-X 400 in 120 shot on a Contax 645 w/ 80mm f/2.0, exposure was 1/60th at f/2.0, also the scan has been slightly toned to be a bit warmer in Photoshop. I love Tri-X with indirect window light as it really draws out the film’s ability to balance both softness and that great panchromatic contrast from true black to true white so well.
Jeff Yeats –  shot this on Kodak Tri-X 400, developed it in D-76 developer, and scanned it on an epson v500.  Shot with a Mamiya RB67 Pro sd, 90mm f3.5.   (this is my absolute favorite.. I love the high contrast and the black black through the white whites).
Trish Barker – rad, right?

Shot with Nikon D700, 20-70mm f2.8 lens, 32mm focal length, f/22 at 1/5 sec. ( I got lucky… it was an overcast day…)
Noelle Swan Gilbert – Mamiya 6, 75mm, Illford 3200, rated 1600, shot at 1/30, f/3.5, spot metered  for the statue


Amy Lucy Lockheart Nikon D90 and Nikon 35 1.4G, Digital PP Method: Clickin Moms Film Art Preset, canvas extension, selective dodging and burning, and sharpening

kate t. parker Lightroom, converted to black and white with Kellie Hatcher‘s “drama” preset…then lightened a few areas with the brush tool.

let the kids

Jessica Chia – Essence Images -Image is shot on Nikon D700 ISO 320 50mm (Prime) F1.4 1/500 shot indoors using window light. Processed with totally rad’s “boring black and white”

black and white film

polaroid film

Wendy Laurel – because nobody included 2 of my favorite black and whites.  First one is with my all time fav and not a “real” black and white- Kodak BWCN 400.  The second is on Fuji Instant Film (negative scanned) 100b.


Mitchel Issel –  1940s Graflex super d 4×5, f5.6 1/400, mid afternoon full sun. shot on Fuji Acros100 developed in HC110. this is a scan from a contact print.


So gang, we got flooded with submissions on this one.   If you submitted but aren’t up here, I apologize. We had so many and I tried to do first come, first served with alot of diversity.  We appreciate it and will try to include you next time. (we also are looking for images 600 pixels wide and no watermarks).

Maybe we will need more than one on black and white. The variations on both digital or film are endless.  There is large format, tons of different film stocks, polaroid and then developing.. thats a whole blog in itself.

On the digital side we are chock full of different pre-sets, actions or techniques.  This is obviously just the tip of the iceberg in this post.

Some information on metering for true black and white film ala Jonathan Canlas. — although its through my ears and out my mouth so there may be something left in the translation:

  • Use the spot meter
  • Point it at the person’s cheek
  • Use the zone system to figure out if you need to overexpose and by how much (fair people are usually 1.5 stops over)
  • Shoot.

Of course, if you do this often, you start to just “know” your exposures.

For my fav film — Kodak BW CN400 , its actually a C-41 (regular color) film so you expose like most color films, a bit over exposed looks like creamy skins and beautiful tones.  Simple. Thats the way I like it.

For digital — well you got me.  I’d totally cheat and look at the back of my screen.  And get home and try out a bunch of actions.  As you can see above you have a ton of options — Totally RAD, Clickin Moms, Kellie Hatcher, My Four Hens, Nik Filters and probably a thousand more.

Come back and see us tomorrow. We will be talking more about black and white shooting with one photographer who decided she loved it so much, she went all black and white. We will see some of her children’s work and see how she attracts and wows clients.

And don’t forget our giveaway! Like us on Facebook and Tweet or FACEBOOK us today and tell us about it below.  And we will randomly pick a winner this week and GIVE the winner a Richard Photo discount coupon (50% off for first time or 25% off for returning customers).



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