Still Lookin for that B&W Answer
“When do you shoot B&W?” It’s a continual question I receive most often after I blog a B&W image. I truly wish there was a little recipe I could post that one could follow and it would create success for photographers. But I’ve not run into such which is why I keep posting B&W images with the hope that if I babble on about how I shot it, something might click for you to help you with this incredibly dramatic medium. It also has me looking at those photographs of mine that are B&W asking myself, “What did I see that told me to go B&W?” And in this case, a resounding answer doesn’t come flying back. There is something about the light, but what exactly it is I can’t put my finger on. This photo is a good example of what I’m referring to.
At Oshkosh in the Warbird Theater are featured aircraft each day. They aren’t exactly simple clean shots, there is all sorts of “stuff” around making getting a clean background a challenge. Now I’m fascinated by the Focke-Wulf 190 because it’s very simplistic looks are misleading to its lethal reputation. So when I saw this parked in the circle I walked around and around and around it just staring at it. Of course I had my camera in my hand but making clicks was a bit of a challenge. When I was at this angle you see here, I liked the drama of the angle and was happy to see a clean background, but the clouds weren’t enough. The biggest obstacle though for me was the backlit fuselage. The paint pattern is lost in the backlit, that is until you go B&W. I would love to tell you that this thought process went streaming through my consciousness but that’s not the case. Looking at the elements I placed in the viewfinder, I think that’s what came together when I went click. All I know is that when I made this capture, I knew it was a B&W photo.
The finishing is for the most part pretty straight forward. The first thing I did was finish my normal way in ACR. Then in Photoshop, the first thing I did was to remove some “stuff” over the left wing. Then I used my favorite B&W tool, Silver Efex Pro (did you know you can get a discount buying it clicking on the button at the bottom of the page?). I did my usual move with Structure and then used 5 control points in the sky to darken it. Then in Photoshop I darkened the tarmac on the right. Lastly, I using Stamp Tool > Luminosity to remove some halo around the tip of the prop. And all of that took less then two minutes to do. And I think that is kinda the key to knowing if the image you thought would make a good B&W is really a good B&W. Of course you need a clean black and white in a B&W image, but if you have to spend a lot of time getting there, then perhaps the image doesn’t make a great B&W image. These are just some random thoughts that I hope click with some helping them getting involved in this very romantic pursuit.
Photo captured by D3x, 14-24AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film