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The Art of Black & White Photography for the Digital Photographer

 

The Art of Black & White Photography for the

Digital Photographer

(or 256 Shades of Gray)

 

A 7 week course via email

 

Black and White photography is perhaps one of the least understand forms of photography.  Yet for over 125 years it was the most common type of photography and considered the true art form for serious photographers.  This course breaks down the mystery into easily understood weekly chapters.

Each week you'll peel back the shroud and learn step by step how to produce stunning black and white images.  The fifth week delves into the conversion and processing of color digital images into black and white.  Simple, yet highly effective techniques will be taught using Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom.

This 7 week course will come to your email in one part.  Every Friday you'll receive reading material requiring no more than 30 to 60 minutes.  You'll also receive an optional assignment to photograph.  When the assignment is completed, you will be encouraged to share your images with fellow students and receive additional feedback.

A sample of a small portion of the first week's reading is below.  If you would like to receive the entire first week's reading at no charge, please email us at [masked]  The assignment will not be emailed, just the reading.  Thanks for your understanding.

 

Here is a list of the weekly chapters:

Week One
- Introduction to Black & White

Week Two - The Equipment

Week Three - Understanding Exposure

Week Four - Composition for Black & White

Week Five - Color to Black & White

Week Six - Special Effects

Week Seven - Special Projects



Introduction to Black & White

Week One


In 1826, the first ever photograph was created. It was in black & white. The idea of creating a color photograph wasn’t too far behind, but for most of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, photography was essentially a monochromatic art form.

Black & white photography requires you to interpret the world in a different manner to the way you do when shooting color. A black & white photograph is a less literal representation of the captured scene. Because there are no color cues, tone and contrast become more important as a means of defining the relationship between the various elements of your photograph.

Learning how to see ‘beyond’ color takes practice, but becomes second nature surprisingly quickly. However, creating a photo is just the start of a creative journey. Black & white photography is a wonderful medium for self-expression. The history of black & white photography since 1826 has been a rich stew of experimentation in style and techniques.  In this course we’ll explore some of these possibilities. The only problem is that once you start you may find it difficult to stop!

Color

Visible light is just one small part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation that extends from gamma rays at one end to radio waves at the other. Light comprises discrete ‘packets’ of energy known as photons. It is the release of energy as photons strike your camera’s digital sensor that causes a photo to form. Visible light also acts as a wave, with a range of wavelengths between 400 nanometers and 700 nanometers (a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter).

At a wavelength of approximately 400 nanometers, light is perceived as a dark, purple violet. At 450 to 500 nanometers, this violet shades to blue; then as the wavelength increases, the color of perceived light continues through green, yellow, orange, and, at approximately 700 nanometers, reaches red. When relatively even amounts of all the wavelengths of visible light are mixed, light looks white.

We see color by the way that light reacts when it strikes an object. A red apple is red because all of the visible wavelength of light is absorbed by the apple except for the red part of the spectrum. These red wavelengths bounce off the surface of the apple and stimulate the red sensitive part of our vision.

Tonal values

When a black & white photo is created, the various colors of the subject are transformed into tones of gray. The art of black & photography is controlling what tonal value each color is converted to.

To take the example of a red apple again, when converted to black & white the red will be altered to a mid-gray tone. Green grass will also be converted to a mid-gray tone. If we create a black & white photo of an apple sitting on grass, the two subjects will have similar tonal values. In color, the two subjects are distinctively different. In black & white, it will be hard to distinguish one from the other.

Traditionally, colored filters were used to help change the tonal values of the subjects in a photo. A colored filter lets through the wavelengths of light similar in color to itself and reduces the strength of those that are dissimilar. If a red filter is used in the example quoted, the apple will lighten in appearance and the grass will darken. The tonal values of both will have diverged, creating a far more interesting photo.

The Black & White conversion tool in Adobe Photoshop can now be used instead of colored filters, though the principle is still the same. A black & white photo is about tones and how they can be adjusted to create the most striking image.

Pre-visualization

Your camera is a wonderful device but, no matter how sophisticated the technology inside, it does not know how to create a pleasing photograph. That decision rests with you alone! Before you press the shutter-release button to create a photo, you need to work out what you want the final photo to look like.

In order to do this you need to ask yourself a few questions. How you answer these questions will help you in this pre-visualization process. Given below are a few such questions, though it is not an exclusive list. As you gain in experience you will find you add questions of your own.

Emotion

What mood or atmosphere do I wish to create? Do I have a simple message that I want convey or will the meaning be more ambiguous? Is the light right at this moment or do I need to return at a different time?

Composition

What should and shouldn’t be included in the photo? What lens do I need to use? Will a different viewpoint work better? Should the camera be held vertical or horizontal?

Technique

I have my composition, now how do I technically achieve my aims? Can it be achieved ‘in-camera’ or will it require editing later? If so, how do I ensure I capture a sufficient tonal range to make the editing process easier? Do I need to use filters?


Do you want the entire first weeks course for free?  Email the Center requesting the entire first week reading material if you want the entire first chapter.

Join or login to comment.

  • Karen B.

    Anyone know what's going on with Florida Center for Photography?? Starting to wonder if they have folded.........???

    November 4, 2013

  • Sylvia B.

    If no one responds, how do I get my money back? The same thing has happened in the HDR course which I had also started. Did not want money back, would rather have the course material.

    October 21, 2013

  • Karen B.

    Haven't received anything since week 3 either...........I've seen several people ask if Jeff if doing any better but no response on that either???

    October 21, 2013

  • Judith C.

    Back from summer travels, trying to find out status of this course. Looks like deafening silence on all fronts.

    October 21, 2013

  • irma L.

    I'm still very puzzled by the silence over the course of black and white photography. I pay and I only sent three classes. who gives me feedback on this?

    October 7, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      You and I both Irma. Not happy at all.

      October 7, 2013

    • Joe T.

      Not sure what is going on with that. I don't mind losing the money as much as no explanation on this matter.

      October 7, 2013

  • Valerie

    Can you give us an update on Jeff please. Hope he is feeling better.

    September 20, 2013

  • FCCP S.

    I just sent the link for the revised Week 3 reading. It includes images and the Assignment is at the end of the reading. Your next email will be next Monday, September 2. It may be slightly delayed because of the holiday. If you haven't received it by Wednesday, September 4, please email me at:

    [masked]

    August 27, 2013

    • Joe T.

      I don't think that anyone has received week 4 yet.

      September 8, 2013

    • irma L.

      I don,t received week 4 yet What y have To do for obtain the rest of material for the class B&W

      September 18, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am not receiving any materials either on the B&W or the HDR, yet again.

    September 5, 2013

  • irma L.

    I hope he reconvers soon

    1 · August 27, 2013

    • Bill B.

      Hope Jeff is up and about soon. Thanks to the volunteers for keeping this going while he is out!

      1 · August 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Oh no. I didn't know that he was ill in anyway. Get well soon Jeff.

    August 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thank you for finally letting us know what is going on, please keep us informed. I have no problem waiting for the class materials in light of circumstances.

    August 27, 2013

  • Karen B.

    I totally agree with Valerie ......... certainly hope Jeff is doing ok and will be back with us soon.

    August 27, 2013

  • FCCP S.

    Correction for Week 3 material was sent via email.

    1 · August 26, 2013

  • Valerie

    Only speaking for myself, Jeff's health is far more important than the $12 I spent on this course. No worries, I can go with the flow on this. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

    1 · August 26, 2013

  • FCCP S.

    The Week 3 email was just sent. Please let us know via emai:

    [masked] if you didn't receive the material. Some of the images are missing this week. I'll send a revised version tomorrow once I get the formatting figured out.

    August 26, 2013

  • Karen B.

    Oh, my gosh ..... we certainly didn't get the word. Sure hope he is ok!
    Obviously ---- this is of very little importance compared to his health ... wish I'd gotten that info.....

    2 · August 26, 2013

    • FCCP S.

      Hi Karen, I've added you to the list and sent you the first three weeks. we should be back on track and getting the emails out every Monday from here on in. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

      August 26, 2013

  • Karen B.

    Ok -- what the heck?
    Paid for the course, been trying to get the FIRST lesson, e-mailed Jeff and no response on anything.
    Any suggestions here?
    Did I miss something that I was supposed to do???

    1 · August 26, 2013

    • FCCP S.

      Karen,

      The email you receive tonight (around 7 PM) will have links to the first two weeks. Please make sure you read the entire email. It has a lot of helpful links and information about the course.

      1 · August 26, 2013

    • FCCP S.

      Karen, the email was just sent for the first 3 weeks. Some of the images for week 3 didn't format correctly, but I'll fix that tomorrow. Sorry for the delay and inconvenience.

      August 26, 2013

  • Jerry C.

    What you missed is that Jeff went into the hospital, so everything is on hold for the moment.

    2 · August 26, 2013

    • Joe T.

      We never got the word on that. Hope he is doing well.

      1 · August 26, 2013

  • FCCP S.

    Week three B&W is going out today. Week 2 went out last Monday. We're (the Support Team) back on schedule for this class and the other two as well. The next Composition reading and photo assignment will go out tomorrow, as scheduled. The HDR course students received their reading and photo assignment just a few minutes ago, so everyone is current.

    August 26, 2013

  • David G.

    Now I will go back and see if the shots I took for week 1 look decent in BW

    August 20, 2013

  • David G.

    Okay, now I see assignment 1 was to get us thinking what color shots would make good BW. I like assignment 2 because it made me get my manual out and go through monochrome mode. I want to try and study the manual more often anyway, and this assignment made me do it for BW.

    August 20, 2013

  • Karen B.

    Thank you!!
    Just paid so please send me the first week????

    August 20, 2013

  • Karen B.

    STILL trying to pay for this course AND get the assignments........anybody got any feedback that would help me here???

    1 · August 19, 2013

  • FCCP S.

    Sorry for the delay, the email with the reading and photo assignment has been emailed. Please use this link to upload photos:

    http://www.meetup.com/Florida-Center-Creative-Photography/photos/16609352

    August 20, 2013

  • irma L.

    Anyone know what happened to the photography course in White & Black. I pay for the course, I received the first lesson and no more.

    August 19, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Not sure. But I'm sure that we will get it soon.

      August 19, 2013

  • Bill B.

    Nor have I received it.

    August 19, 2013

  • Bernie K.

    j have not received the week 2 assignment.

    August 19, 2013

  • irma L.

    I have not received anything either.

    August 18, 2013

  • David G.

    Was the 2nd week assignment sent out? I did not receive anything

    August 18, 2013

  • irma L.

    I Don't receive more information of black and white class

    August 17, 2013

  • Beth W.

    Are we supposed to upload the photos in B&W or color?

    August 14, 2013

    • Jeff D.

      Color is fine and B&W is good too, but not required.

      August 15, 2013

  • Karen B.

    Jeff---
    Can't figure out how to pay for this course and get in on it. Can you send me a link for payment (I just went to the one that you sent in your e-mail on August 8th but it's only letting me pay the $50 membership fee, which I've already done and nothing for this course).
    Help!!

    August 14, 2013

  • Karen B.

    Hey, Jeff --
    Back in town and was wondering if you could e-mail me the first weeks course please??
    Do you have access to my e-mail address or do I need to send it to you??

    August 12, 2013

  • Jeff D.

    First week's email sent Saturday 8 AM.

    1 · August 10, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thank you Jeff. Checking right now :)

      August 10, 2013

    • Mari R.

      Got it thanks :-)

      August 10, 2013

  • Joe T.

    I haven't gotten anything in my email yet either.

    August 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just wondering......was it sent out yet? I don't see anything in my email.

    August 9, 2013

  • Eileen K.

    I just love B/W phoyography, but I am overloaded now and will have to ................ Oh, just send me the first chapter for free an I will have more time to decide!!!!

    1 · August 9, 2013

  • Terri

    I would like to do this but do I need to be home every Friday at 7:00pm? Or can I do anytime that I have time.
    Thanks
    Terri

    1 · August 6, 2013

    • Jeff D.

      You do the reading and optional shooting assignments at your own pace.

      August 8, 2013

  • Karen B.

    I'd love to do this course but will have to leave town tomorrow afternoon for the weekend ........ I know this starts at 7PM tomorrow night.
    Can I still do this???

    1 · August 8, 2013

    • Jeff D.

      Sure, you can do the reading and such at your own pace.

      August 8, 2013

  • Judith C.

    I am still traveling but back in the States now and have email, so I can do this now. Sign me up. Judith Callison

    1 · August 8, 2013

    • Jeff D.

      You're ready to go!

      August 8, 2013

  • John Z.

    On July 12, I signed up and made the payment, but I don't seem to be on the list? [masked]

    August 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I can't wait! Thanks for adding such an interesting course :)

    1 · August 5, 2013

  • Effie D.

    Hey Jeff. What I really need to know is how to work the gosh-darn camera. Soooo, should I take this course????? Or would another course be better suited to my level and love of machines? Thanks!

    1 · July 6, 2013

    • Jeff D.

      HI,

      This is not really a beginners class for someone wanting to learn their camera. I suggest the Beginning Digital Photography Bootcamps/workshops. They are an all day in person class. You can learn more about them here:

      http://www.meetup.com...­

      July 8, 2013

34 went

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Additional notes: Please email the Center to receive a refund.

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