I’ve been trying out the new PhotoLab channel mixer and black and white mode in DxO PhotoLab 7 and I have to say I’m somewhat underwhelmed. First, it’s a feature that really it should have had before. Second, it’s not very strong in its effect.
Black and white photography
Technically, black and white photography should be ‘less’ than colour, but its popularity is, if anything increasing. Black and white suits some subjects extremely well, drawing more attention to shapes, lighting and composition than is generally possible with colour photography. Most cameras have black and white picture modes, which is very useful when you’re composing images, but you get more control over the results by converting colour images to black and white on a computer later, so it’s a bit of a dilemma which route to take.
Black and white photography is as popular as ever, though now it's seen as a means of artistic expression rather than just a way of capturing images. Its continued popularity might be hard to explain logically since it offers 'less' than colour, but that may be part of its appeal – black and white offers fewer distractions, it's less 'literal' and it's easier to control the graphic and compositional elements that go to make up a picture without them fighting or undermining each other.
You can shoot black and white JPEGs in camera or do what most black and white fans do, which is to shoot RAW files and then process them into black and white later. This offers a 'digital negative' with a much wider brightness range and more scope for manipulation without image degradation.
Programs like Lightroom and Capture One are really good at producing strong, technically excellent black and white images, or you can use 'analog film simulation' tools like Analog Efex Pro, Alien Skin Exposure X or ON1 Photo RAW to create a film-like look.
In the days of film, taking the picture was only the start of the black and white image making process and the real work was done in the darkroom. It's the same now, and the most striking black and white images are created with careful enhancement and manipulation in software.
DxO has launched a major new version of its flagship DxO PhotoLab raw processing, correction, enhancement and editing tool. DxO PhotoLab 7 brings new color calibration tools, support for LUTs, the ability to use HSL tools for local adjustments and a new black and white workflow.
Verdict: 5 stars Silver Efex Pro 3 is still the best black and white plug-in there is. It creates rich, dense black and white images that echo classic analog films and darkroom techniques in the digital age.
For many the answer will be obvious. If you want to do any serious editing later, then shooting RAW is a must, right? Normally I’d say yes, but here’s an instance where I decided to work from the JPEG rather than a RAW file, and I’ll explain why.
This under-the-pier shot is a classic composition in black and white – you’ve probably seen a lot like it already – but the color original looks very ordinary indeed. So here’s a step-by-step guide to how I transformed it into a powerful graphic image in Lightroom.
What’s in a name? Preset effects typically have names to give you an idea of the kind of subjects they might work with, but in reality you should just choose a preset that gives you the ‘look’ you want. For this dramatic seascape I turned to the Hollywood Glamour preset in Silver Efex Pro, one of the key plug-ins in the DxO Nik Collection.
Kodak HIE infra-red film was one of my favorite films, delivering dense black skies, dreamy soft highlights and heavy grain. Can I get the same effect digitally?
I love Silver Efex Pro. It’s a black and white photography plug-in developed by Nik Software and now part of the DxO Nik Collection. What makes it great is that it recaptures the look and feel of traditional darkroom black and white in a way that other plug-ins don’t. The preset effects down the left […]
Black and white photography is as popular now as ever. Here are some key things to know about black and white photography with digital cameras, and how they change the way you see, shoot and edit black and white.
Battery Point lighthouse. Using Lightroom Classic’s Profiles, Color Grading, Post Crop Vignetting and Radial Filter tools to create a strong black and white image.