Last night the Chapel Hill (North Carolina) Camera Club held a free workshop using Silver Efex Pro2 taught by Mark Lipton. It was fun to select a few of my color photos and work with the (free) Google program that then becomes an editing option in Lightroom.
I want to share these with you.
Mark first recommended that we watch the video Seeing in Black and White by Eileen Rafferty. It’s almost two hours long, but well worth it to understand that color can be a huge distraction from seeing the texture, composition and artistic quality of a photograph.
Color evokes emotion. Our eye goes directly to the intense red, blue, orange or green and fools us into thinking that a photograph may be better than it really is.
Mark says that with B&W photography we can see the layout, the diagonals, the triangles, the textures. But, there are times when color has much more of an impact than black and white, is more effective. It’s up to us to decide!
The questions to ask are: Can a black and white photo serve me more artistically? Can an unremarkable color photo have greater impact as a B&W image? Does this image need/want a sense of history or timelessness — enough to choose B&W over color? Does it offer an aspect of artistic abstraction in shape and structure?
Color is information. The stronger the color image, the more the brain loses the detail of texture and shadow.
In using B&W and to convert from color to B&W, we have to begin to think in hues and tones. Is there enough tonal differentiation in the photograph or will greens, reds, blues just blend into the same shade of grey when it’s converted? Is there enough contrast? Which filters do I want to use? What b&w film and speed do I want to simulate?
Photographers must be aware of light, dark, shadow. There is no saturation in B&W photography. There is glow. Using the sliders in Silver Efex can enhance the glow, says Mark, but we must be aware of keeping a photo natural.
Compare these photos I’ve worked with today and let me know which you prefer — the color or B&W version? Why?
I’m just learning Silver Efex so experimenting with the post-processing software is more about getting a feel for what it can do.