j zorn PRO 7:49pm, 8 August 2012
mona chrome 5 years ago
I found this work interesting and wondered if these were connected in some way


We may have discussed Camille's work here before but my sense was that it was a bit over processed in some cases. Mitch's work seems a bit more controlled and elegant in that way--and b/w might be the reason.
j zorn PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by j zorn (member) 5 years ago
i was first exposed to his earlier stuff in an edition of LensWork. for me, some of it seemed a little over-processed but this more recent project has only a couple that fall into this category (again, for me) and i like it's concept and execution. he does get very convincing B&W out of a digital camera and i would be interested in his workflow (how he actually does it). and he does have a way with light (or the idea of light). i don't like the color photos you linked to as much. they do seem over-processed in general and just not as interesting in composition and capture of light.
mona chrome 5 years ago
"he does get very convincing B&W out of a digital camera"

I think this is an interesting comment and it reminds me a lot of what I felt about digital maybe 5-10 years ago. I don't really see this as an issue with the newer cameras. Even the iPhone images I created in my series Lotus have an incredible substance to them that surprised me. The prints, contrary to what older materials could produce, rival silver prints and may even surpass their ability to print rich blacks with detail. That said, there is still nothing like a beautifully done silver print, it just has a different quality to it, but the new materials and inks create something that also can be incredibly beautiful itself.

I think I would tend to agree with you about Mitch's earlier work, I do think he pushed it often just a bit too much but that also seems to be something people like. Camille's work is at a disadvantage because it is color. To get the details their, both Mitch and Camille, work relies on, you have to really tweak up the contrast and color just seems to "break" whereas the same shot in b/w will feel less pushed or broken. Some of the first work I saw of Camille's cloud series just seemed like bad Post processing--but, again, people seem to like it (think we might have discussed it somewhere in this group). I don't think I remember any such issues in her iceberg series.
j zorn PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by j zorn (member) 5 years ago
well i'm open to any suggestions when it comes to converting digital color to B&W. i have always wanted to achieve B&W tones comparable to work from photographers from the 50s and 60s like Frank, Friedlander and Winogrand but have not had much success. it would definitely be easier than buying a scanner for 35mm and getting good at developing my own film. plus the costs of all film types seem to be going up pretty siginificantly. so again, i really would appreciate any suggestions.
john.king 5 years ago
I assume you are shoot RAW and working from there. The latest version of Lightroom 4 has some very good potential I think. Some people swear by Silver Efex Pro by Nik software too.

I can't lay claim to any expertise in making B&W conversions from digital but I have many years of darkroom experience printing B&W film including large format.

If I were to really put my mind to it I would try to find the sweet spot in the tone curve where the higher values show silky transitions. This is where I see the greatest difference between film and digital B&W work-- Zone VI to Zone IX looks different to me in many digital images. Mine included.

I think it's possible that doing great work with digital B&W might be more finicky and demanding than colour.
mona chrome 5 years ago
Zorn, I think there are some pretty wide differences between Dobrowner, Frank, Friedlander and Winogrand as to the tonal rendition of images. To me that is the first thing to recognize. I know that although I was considered a master printer in the darkroom, I couldn't replicate certain looks that others produced. Maybe not that I couldn't but I just didn't shoot images that would work with those looks. I also probably processed the film in a different way and so my raw material may not have lent itself to those types of interpretation.

To me it is the same with digital and not knowing where your issues are makes it more difficult to suggest any workflow. I also don't know your level of experience with digital post work either.

But my own way of working probably changes depending on the image. I also post processed the Lotus work in a way totally different than I ever had before doing that work. The one I used was specifically advantageous for those digital files and much more was done in raw than I would normally do and the results could not have been replicated in PS alone.

One issue, of course, is that digital doesn't have grain and grain is a major factor in the look of film, even when it doesn't show. Reportedly, Salgado has shifted to digital but uses DxO's film emulation software to normalize the look to his earlier work.

I also think a huge difference can be had if one has more MP and works from raw into 16bit through the final image. Maybe you can share your work flow and we can figure something out.
j zorn PRO 5 years ago
well, i was just looking for tips and seeing if i could apply them to better effect. i don't really have a workflow because i don't really do much B&W conversion. i have the most basic software (PS Elements 5) and camera (Nikon D50) and shoot in raw and use the channel mixer function and mess with contrast and the black and white point, but i might invest in better technology if i felt i could do more with it. right now my holga pictures take up most of my time, but, in the future, who knows.
mona chrome Posted 5 years ago. Edited by mona chrome (moderator) 5 years ago
The main drawback of Elements is that you can only work in 8 bit to adjust an image once it is output from RAW. That alone can be a big drawback to smoother transitions and subtle changes. Also, although I have gotten some very good conversions from an old rebel xt (8 mp), the d50 is pretty small MP-wise at 6.1MP. I haven't used the camera, so I don't know much about its image output.
joe zander 5 years ago
j zorn, try Adobe Lightroom, there are numerous free BW film presets from MikeyG available. I use it mostly. Its fast and easy and you can test different film characteristics on your picture.

If you want an free RAW converter, test Raw Photo Processor (only Mac), it has an unusual interface but converts really good and offers "true film simulations" presets.
j zorn PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by j zorn (member) 5 years ago
mona - i just looked at your Lotus series and was very impressed. beautifully seen and the B&W is indeed gorgeous.

Lotus: johnacurso.com/lotus.html

i've been thinking about giving the iphone camera a try. could you give some of the technical information on these photos (iphone model, software apps used, post-processing)? it would be appreciated. again, excellent work.
mona chrome Posted 5 years ago. Edited by mona chrome (moderator) 5 years ago
zorn, thanks

I used the iPhone 4 with the 5 mp camera but would have preferred the iPhone4s with the 8mp camera--am waiting for the iPhone5 to come out!

I did use the Hipstamatic App and a "lens"-"film" combination that I felt would work with this subject--actually used one that I had chosen for a larger project that this grew out of. The particular lens-film combination creates a vignetted image, although it uses an algorithm that changes what appears to be 3-5 variables with each shot. So there are differences(camera generated) between images of the same subject--and thus obviously over the body of work unlike a Holga, for instance, where the vignettes and such stay consistent.

My post work was pretty complicated and if you get a phone and the app, I would be glad to give you some more of the information about it. I actually did write an extensive blog post--5 parts and an Epilogue on the creation of the series and the process I was using when I came upon this location. acurso.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/finding-lotus-part-i-expl...

Just as an aside to the Lotus series, I have returned about once a month since I shot the series. The inlet that had the plants was filled with them last year with the lake level low due to our draught here and the use of the lake's water to fight fires. This year, with lots of spring and summer rain, there are almost no plants at all--only some isolated one's which don't seem to be maturing in the same way. My wife and I have often discussed just how the timing of our visiting last year couldn't have been better. I think it is just another example of the lesson we all seem to learn that you can't thnk you can shoot it later if you see something now worth shooting.
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