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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Still Life, B/W & Experimental Talk 
Thread started 09 Aug 2015 (Sunday) 06:35
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Convert to B+W before or post shot?

 
raksphoto
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Post edited over 4 years ago by raksphoto with reason 'The usual suspects: spelling errors'.
     
Sep 19, 2015 11:58 |  #16

absplastic wrote in post #17712413 (external link)
I feel a bit differently about the in-camera styles, tbh. I understand the point you're making, about the limitation forcing you to consider other elements more carefully (composition, lighting, careful control of exposure, etc) at the time of shooting, but on the other hand what you end up with is really just one possible rendering of the RAW data, and it's a rendering preset that Canon chose, not you. There is nothing wrong with imposing these limits on yourself, but I'd personally want to shoot RAW + JPEG in this case, so that I would have all the benefit of how the limitations affected the composition of the shot, but none of the drawbacks of possibly getting stuck with a photo that should be a keeper, but can't be saved due to technical limitations. Memory cards are cheap, and you can always through data away.

Again, all of our cameras can shoot RAW + JPEG, and unless you need the highest possible framerates and buffer capacity for an action sequence, there is little downside to having the RAW data available. You can have SOOC shots for your clients, but still have the digital "negatives" available if they ask for changes. Post-process burden is all relative and totally in your control. You can tweak each shot for days, or you can just batch render the RAW to JPGs with a few clicks. Plus, pulling a shot by a stop or two, or correcting white balance is less of a burden than reshooting.

These are quite salient points of course, absplastic. And toward your point, the saving of "digital negatives" is enhanced with a camera like the 7D2, because you could record JPEG on one media (which I subsequently copy from for the client), and RAW on the other media. In fact, I will sometimes do this for a black and white Picture Style.

Creatively though, I find there is just never time for the post-work mandated by such a workflow. There is something peculiar gained making the choice of "digital film" when the model is live on the set, and the lighting setup is fluid. This intimate coupling of elements is something that having the RAW later will be unable to recreate. If you "see" tonal relations from SOOC work live in situ, note where the shadows fall, and then you relight, and change your setup in response -- having the RAW later does not expose to you what could have been a different, or more favorable setup. It's too late to move the light after the shoot. That's a rendering you will not have had, RAW cannot save you from a choice you did not make at the time you could. This phenomena is not about how tones end up in a 14-bit 2D spatial digital rendering, it's about what could you have done with everything present in the 3D physical space before the foto was taken.

The "limitation" of making an experimental choice of "digital film" is a kind of freedom from bondage. Rather than presume everything can be "fixed" in post, you are instead forced to "get it right" in the camera at the shoot. The maximal exploitation of this freedom is the inducement to be unafraid to move the light to compose a creative foto. Instead of using a zoom lens, it's much like using a prime to force you to move your working distance and angle in order to obtain a potentially novel or beautiful framing. Fixed digital film forces you to examine all of the elements composing a scene, particularly the light, since that is what the "film" responds to.

Let me augment the dialog here by commenting on one of your assertions. I'm not using rendering presets with Canon picture styles, far from that. I don't even think about those few Picture Styles supplied by Canon. Instead there are other, far more creatively-inclined sources available. Among others, there is a very lively cottage industry that creates truly wonderful Picture Styles for Digital Cinema applications. Those Picture Styles are no less applicable to stills work. Some of them in fact offer gorgeous treatment of skin tones right in the camera, a big plus for the glamour-related work that I do. Nothing less than fantastic options, all around. Plus, there is much artistic skill to be gained by having the knowledge to create a custom application-specific Picture Style. In this way, you come to know your camera imaging system very intimately, and can make it do your bidding.

I can see RAW really helping for very high quality results in commercial workflows, where a team of people work together in a pipeline, with lighing assistants, including perhaps a Photoshop master, a professional retoucher, and so on. Jobs where it's not only the final image quality that matters, but rather how quickly final images can be produced. In other words, RAW is a good hedge against modest lighting errors in a case where working quickly on set is important - because "time is money." Here there might be a model or models, they do their thing; and the photographer and her/his team do their thing. Everyone has their separate job in this scenario.

I sure don't have budget for such productions, and more particularly, I don't even want to work that way. My models (belly dancers) are generally Muses -- we always work together, going as far as pre-planning looks before the shoot. So, the model takes a role in choosing a suite of options on tonal relations before we even start the project. And when we're in the studio, we work interactively in our development of the work. This is a kind of pre-work that augments the work in the studio, so that with intentional choices in Picture Styles, we get the best results without requiring a post-work project cycle. A much smaller team. Everyone is an artist interacting with another artist in this scenario.

The last point I wanted to make about Picture Styles is that the state space of all of the possibilities with RAW is so enormous, it is highly improbable that every possibilty that could be will present itself in post-work. Picture Styles could be viewed as a form of guidepost: something to show you the way, and from there you respond. This use of RAW appears to affine your views absplastic: choice after the fact.

My experience though is that making choices given a myriad of options in post with RAW after the fact is a very different than intentionalizing a result before it happens; perhaps somewhat analogously with how it was with film. Learning to move the light in the studio to improve the "read" of your "film" is very different than tonal adjustment in post, never having confronted the question of where could the lights have been.


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absplastic
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Post edited over 4 years ago by absplastic.
     
Sep 19, 2015 14:59 |  #17

raksphoto wrote in post #17713380 (external link)
Let me augment the dialog here by commenting on one of your assertions. I'm not using rendering presets with Canon picture styles, far from that. I don't even think about those few Picture Styles supplied by Canon. Instead there are other, far more creatively-inclined sources available. Among others, there is a very lively cottage industry that creates truly wonderful Picture Styles for Digital Cinema applications.

Ahh OK, I hadn't even considered that. I knew in the back of my mind somewhere that our cameras had this capability, but like you suggest, I've only ever seen it discussed by the digital cinematography folks, and never gave much thought to it. But I can certainly understand how seeing a certain look right on the camera is good feedback, no argument there.

That said, you can actually make some pretty significant lighting changes to photos in Lightroom/PS post production. You can very convincingly add lights to a scene that weren't there, I've done this more than once with hair lighting especially. But you're right, it becomes a project when you do this, and it would not fit into a "shoot and deliver same day" workflow. That's not really what I was referring to though, with regards to having the RAW data to save a shot, I was thinking more about the case where you're shooting a model and notice in post that the best expression/pose you got out of him/her happens to be in one of the shots where you hadn't quite got the lighting right yet, or there is a technical error that resulted in it being under or overexposed. With the extra bits, you could save the shot and then still apply your Picture Style to the RAW data in DPP and end up with a technically better result than the SOOC JPEG, but with exactly the same style you wanted.


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raksphoto
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Sep 19, 2015 15:50 as a reply to  @ absplastic's post |  #18

absplastic, your point is also well-taken that RAW has the latitude that it does allow some lighting errors to be fixed in post, for example with Photoshop. I meant to also acknowledge this idea as well, but forgot. This is salient in showing a continuum of approaches to photography; one size does not fit all.

And of course, I've certainly done fixes like this myself! LOL, I think one of the best ways to improve your lighting skills quickly is to be forced to edit your own fotos!

I do find though that the real latitude available when you are inadvertently not lighting well is much smaller than desired, in terms of having realistic or glamorous results. It's just nearly impossible to fix a face in shadow, when after the fact you realized, 'Crap! I should have had face light for that shot.' But adding to hairlight, and tweaks to improve separation, sure.

As just one little aside, I have learned that you really have to see hair separation, because the camera LCD and computer display really never match each other on terms of contrast. Numerous times it looked right on the camera, only to turn out the hair just kind of blended in. So, nowadays, I intentionally add extra light for separation, knowing this effect of digital.


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Dan ­ Marchant
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Sep 25, 2015 23:49 |  #19

raksphoto wrote in post #17713380 (external link)
The "limitation" of making an experimental choice of "digital film" is a kind of freedom from bondage. Rather than presume everything can be "fixed" in post, you are instead forced to "get it right" in the camera at the shoot."

Your experience of RAW shooters doesn't match mine. I don't know a single photographer who shoots RAW for the purpose of "fixing it in post" or to "decide later" what to do with it. They usually have a clear idea of what they want the image to look like before they press the shutter and they work hard to get the shot right in camera.

Are there RAW shooters out there who don't have a vision for their shot before shooting? Almost certainly... but the same applies to JPEG shooters. It's not the format they shoot in, it's just they aren't very experienced/good photographers.

You obviously have a great workflow that suits your needs, which are saving time and focusing on collaborating - at the expense of accepting the creative vision of the preset maker. That's not said as a negative. If their vision matches yours then there is no reason not to use them.

However there are a lot of photographers out there whose needs are the opposite of yours. They actively want to invest time into post production, not to fix images, but in order to develop their own artistic style and to make the sort of edits that can't be done in camera/to a JPEG.


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maverick75
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Oct 01, 2015 18:37 |  #20

Best way is to shoot black and white film! (this is a serious answer by the way)

BW film is so easy and dirt cheap to develop at home, I'm spending 10 cents per 120 roll.


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Oct 01, 2015 22:19 |  #21

Would like to be able to try but sadly don't have the space. In Hong Kong the total size of the average apartment here is slightly smaller than a darkroom.


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lance60031x
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Oct 04, 2015 14:17 |  #22

maverick75 wrote in post #17729454 (external link)
Best way is to shoot black and white film! (this is a serious answer by the way)

BW film is so easy and dirt cheap to develop at home, I'm spending 10 cents per 120 roll.

I did not realize that. Thank you for that. By chance do you have a good link that would have the basic stuff I would need or should I just do a search at B&H and see if they have a basic kit? I picked up a Canon film camera a few years ago but have not used it yet.


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Skaperen
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Post edited over 4 years ago by Skaperen.
     
Oct 11, 2015 05:09 |  #23

Dan Marchant wrote in post #17729633 (external link)
Would like to be able to try but sadly don't have the space. In Hong Kong the total size of the average apartment here is slightly smaller than a darkroom.

it's the printing that takes so much space.

get a film/slide scanner. shoot and develop B&W film. scan negatives into your computer. reverse it there.


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Skaperen
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Oct 11, 2015 05:16 as a reply to  @ lance60031x's post |  #24

you just need a room without light to load a developer tank, a kitchen sink to process in, something to hang from for drying, and a digital slide scanner that can do unmounted film (most can). BTDT


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Nov 15, 2015 19:36 |  #25

Skaperen wrote in post #17740962 (external link)
you just need a room without light to load a developer tank, a kitchen sink to process in, something to hang from for drying, and a digital slide scanner that can do unmounted film (most can). BTDT

Actually since most film is panchromatic you have to load the film into the reel in total darkness. Given that you might as well just use a changing bag and not have to worry about blacking anything out. I have to say that I would often shut my eyes while working in a changing bag, for some reason it would help me with doing things by feel.

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airfrogusmc
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Nov 16, 2015 11:39 |  #26

Since I no longer have a darkroom I am now all digital. Forced downsize (divorce) Clients also help my move to digital. If I had a darkroom I would still be shooting film in some capacity.

The Leica MM is the only digital B&W I have warmed up to. Things I really like about it is I can go from 320 ISO to 6400 ISO on the very next frame and 3200 ISO is as cleaner than Tri-X processed in Rodinal.




  
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Nov 28, 2015 11:20 |  #27

excellent thread discussion.

speaking for myself as a total armature in the digital world. Since I don't own any of the post processing software I "force" myself to think the image through in camera so I can "get by" with minimal post processing in freeware like Gimp. Usually a white balance tweak and a touch of sharpening.

when I re-started my camera usage two years ago, I have re-learned and learned new theory on exposure and styles. I also re-started my love for film and by using the older mechanical cameras I force myself again to think through the images. I use B&W and develop with the New55 monobath chemical which for me, it is like the uber darkroom on a budget. I have 35mm reels, 120 reels, one tank and a changing bag. That is all I need to develop "poor man style" LOL

Thanks for all the insight and theory. I love reading stuff like this. Maybe someday I can put it to work and make a few pennies here and there.
Prost!!


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Dave ­ G
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Nov 29, 2015 13:02 |  #28

I shoot in colour and convert later. I generally know what I am after before I take the shot though.


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cal2016
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May 08, 2016 23:13 |  #29

I usually shoot in color and RAW. Convert to B&W in Camera Raw, Photoshop or Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (Nik is currently a free download).




  
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Celestron
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Jul 11, 2016 15:40 |  #30

I still use an XSi 450D but when I shoot B&W I shoot RAW , in monochrome. As mentioned it will be in color you can switch to grayscale but I find it more effective when you first open in camera RAW drop the saturation to Zero then open image in PS . To me that gives me a more clear sharp B&W image to work with .




  
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Convert to B+W before or post shot?
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