I’ve always preferred black and white photography to color. Landscapes take a more dramatic look, portraits become timeless. B&W images can also look flat and boring and it’s all up to you to create magic in the digital darkroom. It’s a daunting task for some but, with a little training and lots of practice, you can take your black and white photography to the next level.
The author, John Batdorff, is a landscape and travel photographer. He has learned to see the world in black and white and shares his knowledge and expertise in this easy to read book. Like any other book in the ‘From Snapshots to Great Shots’ series, this one is geared towards beginning to intermediate photographers using a dSLR.
The first few chapters will cover fundamentals such as equipment, settings, monitor calibration followed by composition, light and exposure. One great tip in the book I want to share with you now is to set your camera LCD to monochrome. This simple step will help you see your subjects without color and train your eye to see the different tones. As long as you shoot RAW you can still decide to process the image in color later.
Each chapter consistently starts with a short intro followed by a double spread B&W image ‘Poring over the picture’ which includes a few words about the different elements in the image as well as the settings and lens used. Each chapter ends with a series of assignments and an invitation to share your images on a Flickr group.
Once you understand the importance and the techniques of getting the image right in camera, you are ready for chapter four titled ‘Postprocessing’. If you are new to Adobe Lightroom, this chapter can serve as a great tutorial to get started. John takes a step by step approach through his workflow with plenty of sample images and screen shots to explain each adjustment. I’ve been using Lightroom since it first came out but I keep learning new and exciting features about this fantastic software.
Chapter five goes into fine tuning mode and defining your style with the Silver Efex Pro plugin by Nik Sotware. John Batdorff’s excitement about Silver Efex Pro is contagious. Although I’ve been wanting to download it for quite a while, I kept putting it off because it’s one more thing to learn and master. I’m done procrastinating and I am determined to bite the bullet and add it to my workflow in the near future!
Finally, everything you’ve ever wanted to know about printing, posting and sharing your work is covered in the final chapter of the book.
Is this a book for you? Whether you are new to black and white photography or wish to finally define a style of your own, this is a great resource. It’s technical but in a ‘gentle’ way. With plenty of screen shots and beautiful images to illustrate each step of the process. It’s one of those books that may never make it to your bookshelf but will sit near your computer with sticky tabs on key pages for future reference.
You can learn more about John Batdorff and a free B&W contest he is currently running here.
Black and White From Snapshots to Great Shots is published by Peachpit Press and retails for US $24.99. It is usually available through Amazon.com for a really good price.