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Camera Settings For Black And White Street Photography.

Shoot RAW + JPEG. The greatest monochrome conversions are made it to by editing raw files which have the full colour information, but if you shoot raw and JPEG files simultaneously and set the camera to its monochrome photograph Style/Picture Control/Film Simulation mode you get an indication of how the image will look in black and white. As numerous photographers struggle to visualise a scene in black and white, these monochrome modes are an invaluable tool that will help with composition and scene assessment. most cameras are also capable of producing decent in-camera monochrome images these days and it’s worth experimenting with image parameters (usually contrast, sharpness, filter effects and toning) to find a look that you like. Because compact modus operandi cameras and compact cameras show the scene seen by the sensor with camera settings applied, users of these cameras are able to preview the monochrome image in the electronic viewfinder or on rear screen before taking the shot. DSLR users could also do this if they kick in his camera’s live conception course of action , but the usually slower responses mean that many will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.

Look for Contrast, Shape and Texture. The complimentary and opposing colours that bring a colour image to life are all reduced to black and white or shades of grey in a monochrome image and you have to look for tonal contrast to make a shot stand out. In colour photography, for example, your eye would straight away be drawn to a red object on a green background, but in monochrome photography these two areas are likely to have the same brightness, so the image looks flat and dowdy straight from the camera. fortunately , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours singly to introduce some contrast. However, a good starting point is to look for scenes with tonal contrast. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule look for scenes that contain some strong blacks and whites. This can be achieved by the light or by the brightness (or tone) of the objects in the scene as well as the exposure settings that you use. The brightness of the bark of a silver birch tree for example, should inject some contrast (and interest) in to a woodland scene. Setting the exposure for these brighter areas also makes the shadows darker, so the highlights stand out even more. Look for shapes, patterns and textures in a scene and move around to find the most excellent composition.

Try Long Exposure. Long exposure shots may work really well in monochrome photography, especially where there’s moving water or clouds. During the exposure the highlights of the water, for example, are recorded across a wider place than they would with a short exposure and this could help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If required , use a neutral density filter such as Lee Filters’ Big Stopper or Little Stopper to reduce exposure and extend shutter speed (by 10 and 4 stops respectively). naturally , when exposures extend farther than as to 1/60 sec a tripod is required to keep the camera still and avoid blurring. It’s also advisable to use a remote release and mirror lock-up to minimise vibration and produce super-sharp images.

Use Filters. Graduated neutral density (AKA ND grad) and polarizing filters are merely as useful in monochrome photography as they are in colour. In fact, because they manipulate image contrast they are arguably more useful . An ND grad is collaborative when you require to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter could be used to decrease reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, think taking two or more shots with different exposures to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite. Don’t be afraid to use a ND grad with a standard neural density filter if the sky is brighter than the foreground in a long exposure shot. Coloured filters, which are an essential tool for monochrome film photographers, can also be useful for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of their opposite colour while lightening objects of her own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green one will lighten foliage.

Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a mechanism that comes from the traditional darkroom and is usually used to burn in or darken highlights and hold back (brighten) shadows. Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools allow a level of control that film photographers can only dream of because you can target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you could use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to brighten up them to grow local contrast. It’s a good custom of sharing a sense of superior sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you should set the opacity of the tools, you could build up his effect gradually so the impact is subtle and there are no hard edges.

Take Control. Although coloured filters could still be used to manipulate contrast when shooting digital black and white images, it’s more common to save this work until the processing stage. Until a some years ago Photoshop’s Channel Mixer was the favored means of turning colour images monochrome, but now Adobe Camera Raw has more strong tools (in the HSL/Grayscale tab) that allow you to adjust the brightness of eight individual colours that make up the image. It’s possible to adjust one of these colours to make it anything from white to black with the sliding control. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the whole image when adjusting a particular colour as crafty gradations can become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or pink shirt with the red sliding control, for instance , will have an impact on the model’s skin, especially the lips. The Levels and Curves controls could also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create delineation between objects of the same brightness but with varied colours.

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Walking past my subject briskly, I hold the shutter button down to start the capture process. Technically I’m shooting blind as the camera is by my hip and I don’t know what it’s seeing. Since the center AF point is active, I try to aim the center of the camera towards the subject. During this high speed burst, I’ll capture anywhere from three to six photos. If aimed correctly, the autofocus will lock onto the subject in the center of the frame and achieve sharp focus. You may have captured something great, or an out of focus series of your feet. I’m aware this isn’t the most precise technique as the percentage for missed shots is high. However, it’s better than leaving the camera in your bag because you were afraid of the consequences.

The instant you bring the camera up to your eye, everyone becomes self-aware and changes their behavior. To counter this, you can shoot from the hip, also known as the “spray and pray” technique. If you’ve never heard of it, let me explain how it works. I start by setting the camera to the high speed burst mode and choosing the single center autofocus point. I then set my exposure manually and use the lens at its widest focal length. A wide angle lens is an important consideration here, as it sees more, offering a better chance of capturing the subject.

1) Shoot with a fairly small aperture so you have enough depth of field to keep your subject(s) in sharp focus. As the old war photojournalists would say, “f8 and be there”, meaning put yourself in the right place at the right time, set the camera to f8, and you have a good chance to succeed.

It was Zack Arias who said “If you aren’t close to getting clobbered for a photograph then you aren’t trying hard enough.” At times like this it feels like I’m on the right track.

3) Since you’ll be using a small aperture and fast shutter speed, a high ISO will likely be required. Just how high should it be? Try 800 first and go to 1600 if the photo is still too dark. The ISO will make your camera more sensitive to the existing light, absorbing it faster and brightening up the scene.

Street scenes require a photographer to work fast or potentially lose the moment. Unlike a posed portrait, there are no re-dos. There is rarely time to fish the camera from the bag, remove the lens cap and fuss with your settings. Considering how unpredictable life can be, it’s best to prepare for anything. I start by dialing in all of my camera settings based on the existing light. The precise settings will vary depending on the existing light, but here are the main technical considerations that I keep in mind when shooting black and white street photography.

I’ll cut through all the misinformation and get right to the bottom line. In America, it is absolutely legal to photograph people in public spaces without their consent. This includes streets, public parks, and sidewalks. Model releases only become necessary for commercial use and instances where the image implies that the subject endorses a certain product or statement.  For editorial and artistic use, releases are not required. Now that you know your rights, consider downloading a copy should someone approach and ask what you are doing. In countries across Europe, there can be variations to these laws, so it’s advisable to familiarize yourself with their specific customs.

2) Select a shutter speed of at least 1/250 which is fast enough to freeze a person walking and also prevent any camera shake. If your subjects are moving very fast, you may even opt for 1/320 or 1/500.

With black and white street photography images, I add 50% of “regular grain” and reduce it to taste, usually settling on about 30-35%. This always gives me joy. Most photography magazines and camera manufacturers promote “noise free images” as the gold standard. However in black and white street photography, a bit of grittiness is a welcome addition.

I put some informational nuggets about how I use Exposure for B&W’s in the image captions.

As a final step, I apply a subtle black vignette in Exposure 7 to darken the corners and bring attention to the subject. For those images where a heavier vignette is desired, I prefer the “distortion large lumps” option. I appreciate how easy it is to move, shape and place the effect in a precise location.

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Processing: I prefer great contrast in my black and white images and Exposure 7 certainly has no shortage of options to choose from. Agfa Scala 200 provides my shots with inky blacks without muddying the highlights. Depending on the particular image, I will also used the “brighten highlights” preset or the “crush blacks”  on the Tone Curve panel.

As is always the case in all good art, rules are meant to be broken. The same is true with black and white street photography. You have even more flexibility as shadows can be inky black, and highlights can clip the histogram while retaining their visual appeal. A subject with dark shadows and bright highlights would not be ideal for a color photograph. In fact, it’s one of the reasons techniques like HDR have become so popular. Yet, for black and white street photography, this type of high-contrast light can be extremely effective. The harsh mid-afternoon sun is no longer a detriment, but an enhancement.

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