I am delighted to be your guest host for this week’s LAPC. Thank you John for getting us into/onto the water last week.

As much as I enjoy photographing water, I also love black and white photography! I don’t process a lot of it, but when I do I enjoy the texture and depth it gives a scene. It reaches a place in your soul that color can’t. Some images cry out for black and white.

This post is not a “how to” or history lesson, but a vehicle to get you excited about processing in black and white. As photographers, we all have our own unique way of doing that. Some shoot in black and white while others shoot in color and process in black and white.

I’ve watched many videos and attended workshops on black and white photography only to realize there is no set way to create a good black and white image. I have, however, settled on a workflow that produces the results I like. This is my workflow.

First, I always shoot in RAW and in color. That gives me more flexibility and more tonal range to work with. Very rarely do I see the image in black and white before I shoot it. I mostly see color until I get it into Lightroom.

This fog landscape I saw in black and white as I shot it. One of my rare moments.

Once I get my images into Lightroom, I process them in color. If I see an image with a lot of contrast, texture, and tonal quality, I finish the color processing and then look at it in black and white in Lightroom. If I see a possibility for a good black and white, I transfer the color image into Nik Silver Efex. This is where the fun begins.

Here’s a lily in color and black and white. Look at how the various colors, contrast and lighting transfer in tonal quality to the black and white.

Although Photoshop and Lightroom have improved in their ability to process black and white, I still prefer Nik’s Silver Efex. I guess I’m just used to it and I like their presets. Better yet, I need their presets! I’m not an artist. I choose a preset and work on it from there. Nik also has the ability to use more than one preset on a single image. You can use the control points to dodge and burn (darken and lighten). I rarely do this but work more with the contrast and tone of the image. If you like different film effects, there are many film types and tones from which you can choose. Honestly, I don’t change film types but, sometimes, will give an image a different tone color.

This is the color version of Waterton Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada. A foggy day and not much color.

The same image processed in black and white. Adding texture and contrast, created a more inviting image.

While in Silver Efex you can also add texture and do other editing that I prefer to do in Lightroom.

Sometimes the venue calls for black and white photography. One of my earlier black and white images taken while at Bodie a ghost town in Northeastern California.

Here’s another where I think the black and white conversion accents the splash of the wave on the platform. Taken in Pacifica.

Once I’m done in Silver Efex, I then export the image back into Lightroom for the finishing touches. I sometimes continue working on the contrast and light. I love how Lightroom’s tone curve helps with that. For me I like images to have some “pop!”

Also figures in shadow are accented in black and white. This image was taken at the Marin Headlands during one of my first Meetup outings.

Back to the present, my latest black and white conversion is a lotus in the William Land Park pond. It’s beautiful in color, but how do you feel (Yes, feel it not think it!) about it in black and white? For me, the curves, contrast and lighting are accented.

So, this is my method for processing an image to black and white. I’m sure you have your own workflow for black and white photography, and I’d like to know what it is and see your images. This week’s challenge invites you to dig through your archives for black and white images or process color images in black and white. You can also take new pictures and process them in black and white.

As you post them, please explain how you processed them. This will help all of us learn new ways of doing what we’ve been doing for a long time. I hope you are now ready to see the black and white possibilities as you shoot and/or process.

Thank you, Tina, Amy, Ann-Christine and Patti, for giving me this opportunity. I do appreciate it!

Remember to link this post and use the Lens Artists tag. Next week’s challenge will be presented by Rusha Sams of Oh The Places We See: Getting Away.

She will be followed by:

July 24: Beth Smith of Wandering Dawgs: TBD

July 31: Ana Campo of Anvica’s Gallery: Postcards

138 thoughts on “Lens Artists Challenge #156: Black and White

  1. What a lovely, informative post! I’m just now “warming up” to black and white photos since I’m a color person, so to speak. But if anyone needed any convincing to the power of black and white, this post should do it. I’m most fond of Waterton Lake — the silhouettes, peaks, etc. are highlighted with your techniques.
    Thanks, too, for the detailed information and techniques from which we can all learn. I’ll start looking now for black and white examples to share.

  2. Anne, thanks for hostessing. I love when the themes are announced in advance because Saturdays I usually have things to do other than work on a post. Your photos are wonderful but I realize when an amateur I am as I really have little to post about how I process my photos. Some were taken with an iPhone and other than cropping, sometimes adding a frame or vignette, or making them black and white, I do very little. I don’t have Lightroom, Nik or any of those things. I use Picasa (free) or Pixlr (also free.) Be that as it may, here are my offerings for this week. 🙂

    Lens-Artists Challenge #156: black and white

    janet

    1. Oh Janet. First thanks for responding to this post so quickly. I saw your blog post before I saw this comment and was awestruck! Check out my comment. And, you’ve answered my request on processing.

  3. How interesting! I much prefer both your flower photos in colour. The lake landscape is amazing in black and white though. I used to convert but realised I was no good at it, I love my colours too much, but will see what I can do. Also I don’t postprocess for longer than three minutes (using only my trusted Windows Photo Gallery).

    1. Thanks MMM! I can see from your previous posts that you are into color and that’s great. Photography is so subjective, and not everything converts well into black and white. I’m so glad you enjoyed the lake.

      1. You’re welcome, Anne. Yes, I love bw images. In the 1980s I run my own lab (bw only). It is so much more, then simply desaturating colours. You can develop an eye for bw. This can also bring some progress for your photographic eye.

  4. Thank you Anne for these remarkable black and white images! Appreciate you taking time to explain the process. I’m inspired. A great post!

  5. Wow, I completely ignored looking at my flower images with the idea of black and white conversion. Your flower images above have shown me how wrong I was. The good news is that now I have a whole new venue of images in my gallery to explore.

    I am also a fan of black and white, and our workflows are amazingly similar. I just finished a special set of Black and White images prepared for this challenge. I will write up the post and have it online on Thursday.

    Great challenge topic!

      1. I added one floral attempt to convert to black-and-white. As I saw in your examples, you’ve picked some flowers that look especially nice when converted. Going through my library, I found very few examples of flowers that converted nicely. 🙂

  6. Great challenge and thank you for hosting, Anne! I always shoot in color because sometimes a subject I think will look good in B & W, doesn’t. Pictures might look better in sepia tone or with other processing. I use Corel PaintShop Pro to convert images to B & W. I almost always bump up the contrast. I liked your last image of a flower because its interesting structure is highlighted in B & W. Here’s my contribution this week. https://bendbranches.com/2021/07/11/creatures-of-the-mist/

  7. What an excellent challenge! It really made me take my time over some edits, as I was noting down what I did at each stage – very interesting: https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/seeing-shrewsbury-in-black-and-white/

    As to your photos, I totally agree about having some pop! I love what you’ve done with the Waterton Lake shot and that old building in Bodie is perfect in black and white. I also really like the B&W lotus – for me it has an air of mystery that the colour shot lacks 🙂

  8. I enjoyed your description of the process. I like the extra details that you manged to bring out in the monochrome version of the photo of Waterton lake. The photo from Bodie also looks good in B&W; the texture of the corrugated metal is lovely. As for the lotus, the dramatic light is better in B&W, but I like the lovely colours in the other version.

    Here’s mine this week:

    A walk

  9. I got very excited indeed, Anne. Thanks for the challenge and the much needed distraction. I loved hearing about your process. I wish I had room on my computer for some of those photo editing tools but probably a good thing I don’t have them otherwise I would be playing with them all day.
    I loved your flowers, Anne, especially the water lily. The ghost town was a big hit with me too.

  10. A lovely interesting post. I like the difference the editing made to the Lake photo. I usually prefer flowers in colour because I feel that is their characteristic, but sometimes and especially with the more structural plants black and white works well to bring their features to the fore. As I think it does with the lotus flower. I do have a problem with the sky in black and white, especially when it is very blue and has very white clouds. It just looks wrong. A grey sky however can be hugely enhanced. Thanks for the challenge and the post. Jude

    Black and White Sketch

  11. Nice photos.

    I especially like the tree and the flowers.
    The tree due to how the branches seem to become matted within each other, and the flowers due to how the monochrome brings focus to their form.

    Here’s mine for this one.

    Ducks Take Flight

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