Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Tag Archives: Black-and-white

Create Stunning Black-and-White Images in Lightroom

Lightroom is the new black, sorry for mixing my industries, photography and fashion, but I guess you know what I mean. I am asked on a regular basis “what is the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop and do I need both?” Well they are different but confusingly very similar a bit like near identical twins. Once the use of Lightroom was to provide global changes only to an image in the RAW conversion process but not with history brushes and other useful tools it covers many of the things that could only have been done in PS in the past.

There are many reasons why I thoroughly enjoy using Lightroom, and near the top of my list is creating black-and-white images. Although the majority of my work is in color, I’m constantly drawn to black-and-white photography because it uniquely “…reduces, simplifies, goes deep, and gets beneath the surface,” as photographer Ryan Caldwell explains. Let’s dive into the process of how to use Lightroom to create better black-and-white images.

This rather excellent tutorial is clear and concise with good examples have a look here I also teach a black and white digital course, more information here

Exposing for Black and White – Free pdf download

In the distant past, when life was simple for a photographer there was black and white film. If one studied the way light worked with film and combined this with an understanding of the effects of film development and finally how the resulting negative could be printed to achieve optimum results then there was a satisfaction in that we were working as the greats like Ansel Adams. AA wrote three books that were seminal to an understanding of black and white photography; The Camera, The Negative and The Print. He was introducing to the world the Zone System.

The evolution into digital left many skilled and experienced photographers bereft, decades of learning and practical application were almost valueless in the new world, or so we thought. Eventually methods were realised that allowed us to apply much of the Zone System to digital photography. Of course it is not quite the same as working in a darkroom; it is cleaner, you smell less of hypo, your clothes are less stained and you do not spend hours on your own in a darkened room. I often think this last point was much of the attraction for some photographers although not for all, hence the success of The Photographers Workshop where from 1982 until 3 years ago you could rent professionally equipped communal darkrooms and were able to share the dark with others, it became….well communal. We still operate as The Photographers Workshop as well as The Oxford School of Photography but no longer have darkrooms.

We run a Black and White digital course that embraces the concepts of the Zone System as applied to digital photography, it is involved and technical but even in the chemical days it was always thus. This course is proving to be a great success and many of the images produced by students for the class have well….class. some are below from the most recent course.

Anyway the point is that the nice people at Lightstalking have prepared a pdf, which is free to download here that goes some of the way to explaining how to achieve the best results shooting black and white digitally. The information is not as precise or as inclusive as we provide on our course but you may not be lucky enough to live in Oxford and be able to attend one of our courses so this will have to do.

Graham Rollerson

Richard Parker

Eniko Varga

9 Useful Tutorials on Black and White Portraiture

Everyone loves the traditional charm of a classic black and white portrait. Black and white can add depth, drama and glamour to your shot and so, here are some great basic (and not so basic) black and white portrait tips and tricks to get you on your way. You could also take our Black and White Digital course or our Portrait Course both of which start before the end of this month.

These tutorials from Light Stalking would be a good place to start in understanding about black and white portraiture

Before Colour: photographer William Eggleston in black-and-white

Variously described as the father of colur photography, William Eggleston is now recognised as having started his off beat imaging making in black and white. Eggleston in black-and-white? It seems a contradiction in terms. But here, finally, is the evidence that even the most famous colour photographer of all once saw the world around him in monochrome.As these rediscovered prints reveal, the man who made colour photography into an artform worked brilliantly in monochrome – and his eye for unsettling detail is every bit as sharp

If you don’t know his colour work have a look here for a taste