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. Absolutely gorgeous post, Anne. I use Silver Efex too and really prefer it to LR and PS. We are delighted you hosted this week and provided a great prompt and examples!

  2. Exquisite, Anne! Thank you for hosting – and I am late…but i am home now and will try to send something in. Your photography is perfect. Love them all, but have a sweet spot for the mountains there.

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