A thread for discussing Black & White work

Let me start with this image, from the Chatterly Whitfield Colliery, near Stoke in England.

I used the Kodak HIE™ filtered (High speed infrared) and not much else apart from the standard lens corrections and a little fine contrast.

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If I understand you correctly, this was shot on infrared film, with an infrared filter on the lens???

Now that I know what you you wrote in the other discussion that linked here:

In fact, it’s a digital file from a Nikon D200, taken hand-held

…I’m confused. Is this Kodak HIE filtered High Speed Infrared film, or a D200 digital Nikon?

The short answer is - Yes.

The slightly longer answer is it is a D200 image with the Kodak HIE™ filtered (High speed infrared) preset from FilmPack, along with the grain from Fuji Neopan™ Acros 100.

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Hmm, well, my five rolls of Fuji Neon Acros 100 II film arrived this morning. I’ll get to try them out soon.

Maybe in a month or so, I’ll be ready to work with FilmPack. Once I can reliably create good, standard, images from film, I may move back to Digital for a lot of my photography.

Also for now, I’ve been shooting a lot of B&W, and I guess this thread would be a good place to discuss B&W images, both film and digital.

So, it’s rather Kodak HIE faked than filtered…

Since it was discontinued around the time this image was taken, that’s not surprising.

Being quite close and following the musician’s expression, I almost missed his hand. :slight_smile:

  • developped in PL3 ? (denoise ‘Prime’)
  • background cleaned up in PS
  • B/W conversion in Nik SEP2
    (don’t think I used Film … , but changed settings to taste)
  • Nik CEP4 - Darken/Lighten Center
  • some dodge & burn

Screen Shot 09-26-21 at 08.47 PM


One word… Stunning!

Without in any way wishing to downplay your image @Wolfgang, for comparison of software used, not image, here is one I did totally in PL4, from a 10,000 ISO shot with virtually no adjustments apart from Fuji Acros 100 Film Pack, the default optical corrections and DeepPRIME NR.

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well done :slight_smile:

– and it (also) shows the capacity of recent sensors in combination with DxO’s noise reduction

For future reference, with any of my cameras, is there a difference between shooting in B&W mode to begin with, or shooting in color and then converting to B&W Using PhotoLab? I am guessing there won’t be…??

I do enjoy B&W, and I suppose I should start out in B&W, rather than convert.

B&W mode only affects the JPEG preview, not the RAW data. As soon as you open the file in PL, you will see the colour RAW, even if you took it in B&W mode

I guess that’s a good thing. I don’t need to make the decision until after I open the file in PL4. I could always buy a Leica Monochrom, but that’s $7,000 or so that I don’t plan on spending.

I’ll solve this the easy way - when you are taking a photo intended to be finished as B&W, let’s say, in your D810, what do you do? Emulating you has worked out very well for me so far, in so many ways (probably almost all, other than what camera to use…) but I did find this earlier today:
I decided to stop the megapixel game, and stuck with my D750 since 2014 or so. I had a choice of D750, D800, or Df.

If I’m taking landscape type images, I think D750 is ideal for me. My heart is in the Leica though, since the 1970’s or more. After what I’ve learned about metering recently, the D750 is advanced far beyond the M10, but the M10 does give me the information so that I can make use of it… while the D750 will do it for me if I let it.

Then there are all the new cameras that Leica and the rest of the world seem to be moving to, “mirrorless” rather than “DSLR”. Have you had a chance to try one? The don’t excite me, but I seem to get excited about things that you are excited about!

Well… Hmmmm…

I’m going to make a statement or two that not everybody will necessarily agree with, but they come from my experience.

You can either see B&W images or you can’t.

My good friend Helen is one of those people who can see in B&W - not physically, but she can look at a scene or subject and tell whether it will make a good B&W shot or not. How annoying is that to those of us, myself included, who don’t have that innate something?

Mike, you can buy a dedicated B&W camera but, if you don’t have that “something”, it won’t make any better B&W images. You must know this - it’s not the camera that makes the image, it’s the photographer :wink: :sunglasses:

Somewhat ashamed to say, I very rarely know a shot will suit B&W until I try it in PL. But I think that is more than likely where most photographers are.

Helen says that you need to be able to see things like:

  1. good contrast, not just light and dark, but colour also. It’s no good taking a shot of a green Iguana in the middle of green grass, you need to appreciate which colours produce which tones
  2. strong graphic content - shapes, textures, patterns

Whereas some photographers will tell you not to shoot in midday sun because the contrast can be too strong, for B&W it’s ideal because it suits contrasty subjects. Although, shooting in strong low light can also yield amazing results, in that it separates subjects from their background with shadows.

Not shooting in midday sun is a leftover from the days of colour transparency film with only 4 or 5 stops range, whereas B&W negative film could be made to cope with 14 stops by using the Zone system.

But enough of our ramblings. Helen says you should read this article by Spencer Cox. The only thing we strongly disagree with is his choice (or non-choice) of PhotoLab, presumably because he has a Photoshop workflow and that’s all he knows.

Re: the rest of your words about camera choice:

Ask yourself why you like the Leica so much. Is it because it takes better pictures? Or is it because it has a certain “feel” to using it that is somewhat nostalgic and comforting?

Personally, I can’t find anything of major advantage that other modern digital cameras can’t do and, from our discussion about spot metering, it is obvious that it can actually be more difficult to use. If money were no object, I, personally, wouldn’t buy a Leica digital camera - it’s just not $'000s better than my D810.

You already have a pretty decent camera in the D750 but it is “only” 24 Mpx. If you’ve really got a hankering to step up the quality of your photography, consider upgrading that to something like the D810 or D850 - they could well be the last great reflex cameras, as the world seems to be going increasingly mirrorless.

Talking of which, I really don’t like the idea of mirrorless. Why? Because it takes me one step away from reality. What I get to see in the digital viewfinder is what the camera wants or allows me to see, not what is really there. If the sensor, software and display can’t cope with certain lighting conditions or contrast, I will not be able to see to frame or even assess what I want to photograph.

As it is, I never look at the screen on the back of my D810, for shooting purposes, because I can set it up and use it with the “external” controls. The rear screen is next to useless in bright light so that only rarely gets used for the occasional assess and delete operation.

And then there’s the consideration that the LCD screen, either in the viewfinder or on the back of the camera, usually only shows a JPEG quality, processed, version, not the full range RAW image, which is what I really need to properly asses whether an image is worth printing.


Use your D750 as if it were a film camera. Don’t even glance at the rear screen, neither for preparing for a shoot nor for checking if a shot has “worked”. You know, just like film, which you had to wait to be processed before you knew if it had worked or not.

What this will do is force you to consider what you are shooting and work it through before pressing the shutter. And, if you are likely to be shooting in rapid order, use your skills from the film days, when you would set things up “roughly right” before you start shooting and let the aperture priority mode and centre-weighted metering do all the grunt work, leaving the precise manual mode stuff for those images that really matter.

A few thoughts on what you just wrote, as it describes things buried deep within my mind…

Since my photography started in the 1950’s (at summer camp), and I started developing film (from a box camera) before I learned anything about making better photographs, and I could only afford (and process) B&W, I think I have always had the ability to “see” in B&W. (What I lack, even today, is the ability to “see” in color.) I used to squint my eyes, so I saw no detail, only shapes, and I wanted those shapes to make an interesting, balanced, pattern in my blurry eyes. I don’t remember where I got that idea - probably from Popular Photography Magazine.

I think for me, that is natural - it’s much more difficult for me to think about color.

When I read things like that, I take it as a challenge. If I see something interesting, I go for it, for better or worse, and I think I’ve learned that it’s fun to do things I’m “not supposed” to do. I think I hear that from people who don’t know how to do something - I get the feeling you could take anything you see in front of you, and squeeze it into your camera as a pleasing photo, technically and artistically.

I know why for me - it’s because my dad had a Zeiss Contax II (from 1936) and I somehow talked him into letting me use it, and most of my cameras back then, one after another, were rangefinder cameras. I thought the Leica M series was the best of the best, with my Nikon SP close - but the Leica “felt” better. The Leica (and the others) became an extension of me, and a part of me. Not so when I got my first DSLR. I liked what it could do technically, but it was always something I held in my hand. To get a good photo in the Leica was more work - I had to make it good. The Nikon F, and what followed, did most of the work semi-automatically. I loved them as cameras, even as they became more and more like computers with a lens.

If I did buy a D810/850, it would be because of its maybe being the end of the DSLR. I have never liked digital viewfinders - but I can tolerate the one in the Fuji, as with the flick of a lever, it is back to being optical. I need to try out a Nikon Z, but the reasons you gave are exactly how I feel about everything you wrote. I don’t “know” it, as much as I “feel” it. I’m not seeing reality, I’m seeing a simulation. I find that annoying.

Been there, done that, both with the D750 and the Leica. No chipping, no composing, get it right in the camera and take ONE (or at most two) shots. This forces me to do all the things I used to do when I was a kid, and do it right, rather than “trial and error”. But even then, there were times when I wanted to be sure, as I never expected to be back in the same place again, and maybe I was trying something and I wanted to assure myself that it was working. Of course, with both my cameras, I can’t ignore the screens on the back, as that is where most of the controls and settings are. I refuse to put anything on (A)uto, so it’s up to me to put in the correct values. Just for one example, you have suggested I adjust my light setting to 5600K when shooting in sunlight, but if I wander into a restaurant or any building, that setting is no longer appropriate - the only way to adjust it is the rear screen. Or even the self-timer - none of my new cameras have one, it’s a selection on the menu. My old Contax and Leica M3 had a lever I could “wind”, with the camera on a tripod, and it would take the photo after the delay. I guess this is called “progress”.

Well, most of the time I have learned to set my camera to aperture priority mode (so I select the depth of field), manually select ISO, and let the camera pick a suitable shutter speed. My “skills” at doing it all manually are very rusty. Especially with the Nikon, it often does it better than I can, but that setting may or may not be what I wanted. I prefer (especially with the Leica) to adjust the exposure manually, and looking at the exposure indicator to judge if what I’m doing is close to what the camera wants to do.

However, the camera does NOT know what I want to capture - it tells me when IT thinks the exposure is correct. The Nikon does this very, very well. My Leica - it doesn’t, it gives me the information I need so I can make the best choice. This video taught me a lot, and when I get into situations like the one this fellow uses to teach how to do it, it’s ME that needs to make an acceptable, and hopefully the best, compromise:

As shown in this video, using the Leica, it does very well at suggesting, and giving me relevant information, but it leaves it for ME to make the best choice/compromise. (I think the Nikon is programmed to make a more appropriate choice automatically, and has a metering system far beyond what is possible in a rangefinder camera.

Gotta stop here - time to make breakfast, and load up my car. By 10am I want to be on the road. Am taking the M10, 35, 50, 135, and Visoflex. I might still pack my 90. …and I updated my laptop to PL4, but I’ll miss my 27" display.

Yes it is. The WB you set in the camera is only a “suggestion”, which primarily affects the JPEG preview and is recorded for the RAW image but can be changed at any time without loss of quality. Try it sometime - take a shot at 5600°K in artificial light and change it in PL - you’ll be surprised.

Hmmm. If you press the WB button on the back of the camera, doesn’t the control panel on the top of the camera show the setting? It does on the 810.

Enjoy your trip.

Mike, you need some fresh air :slight_smile:
a Leica Monochrome produces B&W only

Great, so I can leave my setting as-is, and adjust in PL4 as needed. I don’t know about the WB button displaying on top - never thought to look there.

I’m now at my brother’s, and by some miracle, they now give me 11 mbps download, and 0.5 upload. Before I could watch the meggies flying into my computer in slow motion. It’s nothing like what I get at home (50+mbps download), but I’m not complaining!!!

I agree about the fresh air - got lots of it here, out in the country.

I know about the Monochrom, but $7K just to get better B&W images? I’d rather put the $$$ towards a more recent Leica M10, which will also do color, but I’m not Joanna, and I think 24 megapixels is already more than I ever, in my wildest dreams, thought I might have.

I strongly believe it’s “the photographer”, not “the equipment”. If I was still working, I’d almost certainly update, but do I really want all my image files to be that huge?

On 11/11/2021 Leica will release the M11, likely with 55 megapixels. I think I would be better off putting any money towards lenses, not camera bodies, but I think I’ve already got more than what I “need”.

For what I think is a useful way to think about exposure, here is a link to an article by Thorsten Overgaard - I often struggle to understand what he is saying, but for the most part, I trust him to be giving good, useful information.


One quotation from him:
For me a camera is essentially only about ligth control and capturing. Which is why I feel the Leica M9 is the camera that comes closest to not having anything in front of my eyes. And also the reason why I feel anger when I see cameras like a Nikon D800E with so many features that has nothing to do with light - because the camera then acts as a barrier in front of my eyes and take my attention away from creating the image my eyes saw. Others may not agree, but that is how I see things. I want simplification, not amplification or complication.

By simplifying things down to the basics, I usually get the point, and then expand on it so I can apply it to my own life.

He’s written lots of articles and books - I always need to read them very slowly, to understand what he is telling me.