Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beyond Just Black & White

Chris by Ron Martinsen (ronmart)) on 500px.com
Chris by Ron Martinsen

For years I hated Black & White photography with a passion, but occasionally I would see someone’s work that made me say “wow” and it would be the exception to the rule. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was about their shot that made it better than other black and white images, but it had a kick to it instead of the flat blah that so many other black and white images had. When I reviewed Silver Efex Pro I discovered what that magic oomph was and then I took it to the next level by experimenting with duotones. Now most people when they hear the term duotone they think of nasty colors like cyan and black or something really bizarre like orange and yellow, but I’m not talking about those hideous monstrosities. Instead I’m talking about something that some will confuse with sepia or black and white as I’m talking about changing the white in the black and white to another color like white with a touch of blue for a selenium look or a touch of bronze to get the look shown above. This color has two tones and they are black and this bronze color and everything in between on the gradient ramp to create the image you see above. It starts its life as a color image before the conversion, but the result is something I find so much more compelling.

This image of Chris Vaughan was shot with my lighting setup (article) using a Canon 1D Mark IV using a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens stretched out to 120mm at f/14 for 1/200 sec at ISO 100. The key light here was an Elinchrom 39" Rotalux Deep OctaBox (no diffusion at all) that my friends Tim Wallace, Joe McNally and Frank Doorhof told me was “the” light to have – I couldn’t agree more. I lit the hair with a 27x27” softbox and the background with a bare light from my quadras on a magic arm kit.

Post processing began with Lightroom, then moved to Photoshop CS5 and featured traditional editing along with the use of Viveza and Silver Efex. I sharpened the image with Sharpener Pro then took it back to Lightroom where I added the PC Vignette 2 preset. 

This looks outstanding printed on Epson’s Hot Press Natural on a 4900 ($1000 rebate) using the Advanced Black & White method that Greg Gorman uses (as discussed in my ABW article).

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