Even in the modern digital age black & photography still has a magical appeal to many people and can dramatically change the drama and impact of a photograph. Many of the modern digital SLR cameras have pre-set settings to generate black & white or sepia toned pictures to offer this capability but a far better way to do this is to do this in the post-processing phase.
I always take RAW format photos which allows me the ability to do some post-processing adjustments where needed such as exposure, white balance, etc. Although these RAW images are full colour, using a powerful black & white post processing software such as Silver Efex Pro from Nik Software, I can generate a large variety of black & white image effects.
Silver Efex Pro offers the power to control professional quality black & white images with patented U-Point technology to selectively control tonality and contrast in the image, a state-of-the-art grain engine to recreate traditional style black & white images, emulation of many popular film types and stylizing of images with popular tints and toners.
Let’s look at how we do the black & white processing …. here is an original colour image of the famous Taj Mahal at Agra in India.
Silver Efex Pro is a plug-in to Aperture so we simply select Images, Edit With, Silver Efex Pro to bring up the application.
The default view is as below with a neutral black & white effect.
Or we can split the screen with the original colour and black & white effect.
We can then choose a number of pre-set effects from the left hand column, such as the High Structure effect as shown here.
Here are another two examples:
Alternatively we can change the individual settings for brightness, contrast, structure, colour filters, film types or stylizing. We can adjust grain to reproduce an “antique” film effect. We can also add in control points to adjust brightness, contrast and structure in specific areas of the image which can be useful for example to reduce blown-out areas as shown in the example below where the top right of the Taj Mahal dome is over exposed. Each control point has individual sliders for brightness, contrast and structure as well as the area of influence.
The finished image produces a dramatic black & white effect as seen below.