Black and white Pictures NOT Grey and white

Here is a little set of pictures to show the stages of taking a colour RAW file to an exhibition quality black and white print.

This shot was taken at the Big Pit Collery Museum in South Wales UK. What interested me here was the light tone of the grasses against the darker corrugated iron sheeting.

Black and white photography requires a different way of thinking and seeing. monochrome is about lighting, tone, contrast and texture it is not about colour. When looking through the viewfinder you are arranging areas of tone from light to dark.

Here is the RAW colour file straight from the camera. It will not look like a jpg file because it has not been processed, it is the raw unprocessed data, hence why it called a RAW file.

In Lightroom if you just convert to Black & white it will look like this grey and flat with little contrast as the picture below.

Again it not very impressive it doesn’t look lile black and white print.

The version above has had the colour channel sliders adjusted in Lightroom 3 to lighten the yellows and green of the grasses in the foreground

The final version above has had basic Dodging and Burning (a darkroom term for lighten and darkening). I used the adjustment brush in Lightroom to darken and add contrast to the sky and foreground. The edges were also darkened with the Lightroom edge darkening tool.

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(c) Andy Beel FRPS

8 responses to Black and white Pictures NOT Grey and white

  1. kuldeep says:

    Dear Andy Beel,
    I came across your Blog typically dedicated to Black and white Photography,
    It nice and fantastic read, I do have Photography as Hobby and would like to share some of my photos for your comments and advises, if you permit,
    Thanks again for your nice blog


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Kuldeep – You can email your one best black and white picture of the week for comment at File size 400px on the long side at 72dpi to keep the a manageablesize for email.
      If you reuse the comments on the internet they are to be credited to me and a link to my website inserted.

      Are you aware of the Indian blog cameraunlimitted at wordpress?

      Andy Beel FRPS


  2. A.Barlow says:

    Very nice write up. It is true, you have to think a bit different when shooting for mono. It just speaks more to me than color though. Love the image in the example BTW 🙂


  3. markramsden says:

    Andy, again, thanks for this post. Sums up my thoughts on “black and white” pretty much exactly. Just desaturating isn’t enough, and most people don’t think about it.


  4. mina says:

    so nice to learn how to convert raw files into exceptional pictures !! thanks for sharing … and for visiting my blog 😉


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Mina – Like most things in life there is a basic process to how things work, once you know that everything else falls in to place.
      Thanks for dropping by.


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