Useful Photography Tip #153: Creating Pure Black and White Images in Adobe Lightroom

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If you’ve ever tried creating a black and white image in Adobe Lightroom, most of the advanced photographers know that you should start by converting the image using the Black and White Treatment option. But the problem here is that sometimes you don’t really get just pure black and white photos. Instead, what you’ll get is a mix of some sepias or other tones that oddly look something like Kodak Tri-X or Kodak BW400 CN.

To create images in pure black and white that instead look something like Ilford Delta 400 or Delta 100, the process is fairly simple.

  • In the basic adjustment panel, move the black levels to the left a specific number. Then adjust the exposure of the image to be basically what you want.
  • Move the white levels to the right the inverse number. So if your blacks are -38, move the white to +38.
  • Scroll down to the color channels and you’ll see options called Black and White mix with specific color regions and channels.
  • Click the color selection tool and move the mouse pointer over areas of the image that aren’t quite either black or white. Then click and raise or lower their exposure levels.
  • After this, come back to the basic adjustment panel, lower your contrast and adjust your exposure.

That’s it! That’s how you create more pure black and white photos using Adobe Lightroom and all in less than a couple of minutes.

Useful Photography Tip #150: Black and White Images Fool The Eye Into Thinking They’re Sharper

Black and white vs Color comparison the phoblographer

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A while back, I posted a short tutorial on the secret behind sharper photos; to this date it’s one of the site’s most popular posts. But as I’ve been experimenting more and more with black and white photography, I’ve noticed something different. In that secret to sharpness post, I talk about the black levels and how deeper blacks help the eye to perceive that you’ve got a sharper image. It’s part of the idea behind the manipulation of contrast and mid tones in Adobe Lightroom.

While I’m not suggesting that everyone always shoots in black and white, if you want an image to appear sharper, you should convert it to black and white. But at the same time, don’t use this as a crutch to not getting good lighting and a sharp image to begin with. Just use it as a way to enhance the experience if you absolutely care about a critically sharp image that will make people on DPReview’s forums order Vaseline and Kleenex.

In general, high contrast and overly sharpened black and whites generally look much better than images in color.

You can view the images individually after the jump.

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Hiroki Fujitani: Black and White Street Photography in Japan


All images by Hiroki Fujitani. Used with permission.

“I had been painting since I was a child,” says photographer Hiroki Fujitani. In 2000, he took up photography at the birth of his child. Hiroki was the winner of this year’s EyeEm Photo Awards for the Portraitist category, but here’s the thing, he isn’t really a portrait photographer. Instead, Fujitani is a street photographer who hails from Japan who has won the Photokina World of Imaging Award in 2014 and has been featured in Vogue Italia.

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Ron Gessel: Black and White Street Photography in Coney Island


All images by Ron Gessel. Used with permission.

“When I am in New York I always go to Coney Island to shoot there. Especially on a warm summer day; you see the most fascinating people, you see them everywhere.” says photographer Ron Gessel who lives and works in Amsterdam. “Everybody has their own story and I try to capture their stories. For me it is just like a candy shop.”

Before becoming a photographer, Ron trained in graphic design and became an art director for many ad agencies. After teaching himself photography, he started to travel more often. For Ron, photography was always an interest that was only truly awoken during the digital revolution. “It was so much easier to take pictures because you could see the results immediately. Then i decided to combine my profession as an art director with photography.” In 2012, he received the prestigious PANL Award, presented by the Dutch Association of advertising, print and fashion photographers. And just recently, he featured part one of a Coney Island street photography project on Behance.

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Should Street Photography Be in Color or Black and White?

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Street photography colloquially was done in black and white, but since the 70s, color has become more accepted. These days, either one typically works. But to figure out whether your street photography image should be in color or black and white, photographer Marius Vieth explains that it’s about the specific moment. It varies with positive and negative space, and he goes through three different scenarios and compositions.

Marius explains why you may want to keep colors or make the scene black and white and that there are always moments that can work both ways but there are also times when one is just very clear. He also says that everyone should pay attention to colors and how they affect a scene despite the images not really being traditional street photos in this sense because of the posed nature. We explain more of this here.

Marius’s video is after the jump. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Secrets of Black and White Portrait Photography


All images by Niall Hartnett. Used with permission.

When it comes to portraits, composition can mean a heck of a lot. But when you add the simplicity of black and white to the mix and a dash of what the square format can do for you, you can create something infinitely beautiful. Photographer Niall Hartnett tries to do this with large format film, careful compositions, a meticulous and exacting process, and by working with the person to create an image that is very telling about them.

And to Niall, it’s all about telling a story in a single photo with his Black and White Portrait Photography.

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Andreas Ott’s Black and White Street Photography Emphasizes Geometry

Andreas Ott Street Photography 2All images by Andreas Ott. Used with permission.

“I am a street photographer based in Bonn, Germany.” says photographer Andreas Ott in his original pitch email to us. Andreas works in IT and has been a photographer for 15 years. He became a street photographer in 2013 after discovering the work of Thomas Leuthard. However, balancing a job, a family and a personal love of art can be very tough to do.

He recently shot a series about street life in Cuba and was amazed by the friendliness of the Cuban people whom he photographed. But Andreas’ true strength is with his sense of composition. Andreas shoots in black and white sometimes and much of this work is high contrast–emphasizing shapes and the way that he composes scenes.


We talked to Andreas about his sense of composition with what he sees on the streets.

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Useful Photography Tip #129: High Contrast Black and Whites Are All About the Midtones

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The art of creating high contrast black and white images has to start with what first comes out of the camera. To do that, you first need to create an image with very bright whites and with darks as dark as you can possibly get them. You’re most likely to skew one way or the other. But the biggest edits come in the post-production stage. This is where you need to work with the entire dynamic range are of the image since the colors are more or less moot due to the color scheme being removed.

So at this point you’ll need to work with four critical areas in Adobe Lightroom:

– The Blacks

– The Whites

– The Tonal Curve

– Clarity

Blacks adjust the most extreme end of the dark area while the whites do the opposite. Then you’re going to need to work with the entire space in between–which are the midtones. You can manipulate these mostly using the clarity slider for quicker adjustments but more fine tuned adjustments should be done through the tonal curves.

At that point, you’ll be playing with the settings to get a look that you want. These are the basic tools that you’ll need to get iHigh Contrast Black and White images, so go ahead and give it a shot.

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Useful Photography Tip #100: Shoot in Black-and-White so You Don’t Get Distracted by Colors

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lightroom 5 Black and White Conversion

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Back in the days of film, when color wasn’t as commonplace as black-and-white, one of the most important things for any photographer to learn was to look past the colors they’d see in the viewfinder, and concentrate on the intensity of the light. Because when you shoot monochrome, you don’t get any color information, you get shades of grey. Equally important when shooting without color is composition, that is the various forms and shapes in an image and their relation to each another.

In general, learning to work with light and shapes is a good idea in photography, because it’ll help you get better pictures. Better in this case means pictures that are pleasing to the eye, and that evoke an emotional reaction in the viewer. Learning to see just the light and the shapes in an image, and to neglect all color information, is not an easy task. But luckily, in this day and age of digital cameras, there’s an easy and effective trick that’ll help you not be distracted by colors.

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Laurence Bouchard Finds Magic and Whimsy in City Life

“Fatherhood has shaped my perspective,” the Tokyo-based photographer Laurence Bouchard tells me. “Having a daughter has changed the kind of places I visit, and without a doubt, I’ve found some very cool locations that I would never have been to otherwise. My wife usually works on Sundays, so I make a deal with my daughter: we go somewhere that interests me and somewhere she wants to go.” 

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The Best Cameras, Lenses, and More! The Editor’s Choice Awards for 2021

The year 2021 was fascinating for the photography tech world. Presented by loads of semi-conductor issues, the photo world took to doing what we’ve been asking for for years. They put out more firmware updates, produced more lenses, and gave longer life to some of the best cameras. In some ways, we hope that sustainability sticks around for years to come. It also meant that companies tried some things that they wouldn’t have done before. Their brave choices added a lot of sparkle to the current selection of products. So today, we’re rounding up the Editor’s Choice Awards for 2021. Here are the best cameras, the best lenses, and the best photo accessories of 2021.

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Brian Bowen-Smith Frames Pandemic America in a Beautiful Vintage Ford

“I actually never even thought about looking at the world through my car until the pandemic,” photographer Brian Bowen-Smith tells us. “It’s a 1958 Ford F100 that can’t sit too long so every once in a while I will take it out for a spin…When I was photographing my neighbor I noticed that it looked really cool through all of the windows because of the curves.” And that’s how BBS Drivebys was born. So Brian took his truck and went on a true road trip around America during the pandemic. The result is a timeless look achieved by shooting with his Leica.

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Chart: The Look of Film Photography Explained in Terms of White Balance

How many of you can tell the difference between daylight white balance and shade or Tungsten?

When you think of daylight white balance, we’re positive that many of you have a tough time figuring it out. You’re probably shooting in auto white balance. And if you had to take an educated guess, you’d think that it would be a warm-toned balance. Daylight is indeed warmer than Tungsten, at least in terms of white balance. And the way that it works is that the two try to cancel each other out. Tungsten lights are pretty warm, so the white balance has to be very cool. Daylight is very cool, so the white balance needs to be warm. However, folks like their images to be even warmer. If this is all sounding confusing to you, then please check out our infographic below.

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Improved Animal and Face Detection! Sony A7 IV Review

Sometimes I find myself shaking my head at what cameras can do these days. The jury is still out as to whether it’s shaken in disbelief or wonderment. That is the case with the long-awaited and fairly priced Sony a7 IV. It packs a lot of features that photographers have been asking for along with capabilities that are overkill. I think Sony’s next camera could take an entirely black or even stark white image and recover almost every detail.

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6 Photographers Show us Their Beautiful, Heartwarming Photography

Some photographers aim to challenge societal views. Others like to make bold statements with their images. Not all photography is pretty, and not all of it will make you feel good. There’s an important space for the type of work. But we’re not visiting that space today. Instead, we’re here for the feel-good and the heartwarming photography. The six photographers below will give us everything we need to wear a smile on our faces.

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What We Want to See in the Panasonic S1R and Panasonic S1 Successors

It’s been a few years since the Panasonic S1R and S1 came out. We reviewed both cameras. And we’ve since updated our reviews of both cameras. It’s prime time for a refresh. To be honest, I don’t know anyone who bought the originals. The Panasonic S5, on the other hand, was very popular. When these cameras were announced, people were much more excited for them than what Canon delivered around the same time. Canon ended up causing more commotion, but Panasonic has done a whole lot to improve. And I’m hoping that the successors to the Panasonic S1 and Panasonic S1R are better. Here’s what they need to do.

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It’s 2021, and Diversity in Photography Is Still a Struggle

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As the Arts & Culture editor of a leading photography publication, it’s my responsibility to ensure we remain as diverse as possible. It’s not only my doing; all staff at The Phoblographer remains committed to showing the best photographers from all walks of life. Diversity in photography isn’t tricky either. Dig into any subculture, and I promise you will find remarkable photographers. So, the question is: why do camera manufacturers still struggle to get on top of diversity within their camps?

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Mermaids and Photographers Got Innovative to Make Team Submerge

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“Forming a synergy and shared understanding of the project’s goal is very helpful”, says Submerge team member Felicia. She’s the model featured in the ‘Springs Widow’ NFT, a project that came about from the collaboration of four friends. Each team member of Submerge has an area of specialization that came into play to create their latest Non-Fungible Token. We spoke to the team to understand how they created their newest NFT – ‘Spring’s Widow’.

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This Simple Photography Tip Will Help You Beat Your Creative Rut

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Not having the motivation to do something you love is demoralizing. And unfortunately, stagnation in photography is all too common. I’ve experienced crippling creative ruts, and been left wondering if I’ll ever pick up my camera again: that’s no exaggeration. I’ve also seen so many talented photographers not create for months, later sharing how they have zero motivation to go out and shoot. All this would suggest stagnation in photography is unavoidable. But there are ways to snap out of a creative rut sooner rather than later.

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This Nikon F Just Got a Full CLA, And It’s Ready to Be Yours

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If you’ve been in love with photography for the past decade, then you’d understand the appeal of the Nikon F. In many ways, this is the SLR camera by which many others are measured. It’s made of metal. It’s so durable that they’re still used today. They’re rugged. And most importantly, they still work. Plus, they’re very modifiable to your needs. Best of all, if you absolutely live for using a light meter, this specific Nikon F is worth looking at. What’s more, it just received a full CLA before arriving for the Rare Camera Store.

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The Black and White Landscapes You Want Use This Special Secret

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Black and white landscapes are kind of a tricky thing. Lots of landscape photographers will tell you that you have to do it all in post-production. We’re not going to disagree with that, but there’s a lot you can do beforehand to get it right in-camera or give yourself less post-production. The work of many photographers is inspiring to say the least. And today, we’re giving you a few short pointers to how to make better black and white landscapes.

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