What can I say about my year of black and white! It was quite an easy project to be honest, a lot easier than I first thought! There were a couple of times I wish I could have posted some great colour images but not many. I did miss a few sunsets in 2013, well if I am perfectly honest I missed a lot of sunsets in 2013, I also did not shoot a lot of images in autumn and Christmas has been a little quiet on the photography front. But apart from that the year has been good.
I started out with my monitors set to black and white, but this only lasted a month! I could not cope with trying to work out the tones with my eye sight on the back of the camera in the field. I have also grown up shooting film and I did this without a view monitor on the back of my camera. I guess growing up shooting black and white you learn to see the tones of the colour image in your mind’s eye and you have an idea of what a final image will look like after editing. So the cameras got set to standard colour RAW.
The next issue that happened in my project was the X100 came in to my workflow and threw a great big spanner in the Nikon works. I started shooting with the X100 and its files were just the most perfect files I have ever seen for black and white. My favorite Nikon Body for black and white was the D200 this old Nikon body was just so good at producing a RAW file for black and white. But the X100 was better ! I started to use the X100 more and more and in the end I sold my D200 and my D7000 because I was only using the D3s and the X100. I thought these two cameras were just perfect for black and white and for my future projects. But then it all changed again! I found myself not using the D3s and having 30k in Pro DSLR gear laying about not earning its keep was bugging me! But the X100 could not replace a D3s ! So I went out and brought myself an XPro1 with a couple of lenses from Cambrian Photography. I was shooting the Liverpool International Music Festival at the time and took the Xpro1 along to give it a try ! It was slow and not a DSLR and I was not sure what to do, but after a while I decided I quite liked the way it made me think ! I was shooting with the pack with the D3s and when I got back home all my images shot on the D3s were the same as the rest of the Press Pack. Mine stood out only because they were black and white. But the few shots I got on the XPro1 that day had a little more thought go in to them. That was it I decided to sell all my Nikon DSLR gear and move over to Fuji Mirrorless ! This is a big leap and a leap of faith in my ability to make this system work for me in 2014 ! I have now got a Xpro1 and an XE-2 with almost all the lenses Fuji make. So this is one of the biggest changes that has come from my black and white year! I am now a Fujiholic ! Totally addicted to Fuji cameras, the build quality is amazing and the lenses are stunning, I am in the process of adapting the way I work to fit in with the camera system, it’s a very steep learning curve but I am getting there !
My black and white year has also taught me to slow down and think, to take my time, to wait and to shoot less! I am not a great memory muncher any way to be honest, but my black and white year has made me shoot less and this is a good thing when it comes to editing ! I now have more time shooting and less time editing.
I have tried to shoot Jpeg with the Fuji’s as others do but for me it’s just not working for me !
I have been asked over two thousand times this year how I process my black and white and what pre sets and actions I use! Well the secret is, there are no actions and no pre sets ! I shoot the image and have a plan in my head already for how I want this image to look when processed. So after downloading the memory card I import straight in to Lightroom 5.3, then I open the image in Lightroom and clone out any dust and marks as well as birds and crisp packets etc I check the image at 100% and also check for sharpness and camera shake. There are the odd occasions I have to go in to Photoshop to use content aware clone but very rarely these days. I then open the image in Silver Efex Pro 2 and convert it to black and white. I then use the sliders to give the image the look and feel I am after and this is how I first visualized it when I shot it ! There have been many times at this stage the image is rejected ! I just don’t like the look and feel. I then gets left on the hard drive to have a look at later in Colour ! When I made all the changes I need in Silver Efex I then import it back in to Lightroom for some final tweaks before exporting as Jpeg. I start every black and white image from scratch so sorry guys there are not actions to share or presets to share. I can’t show you all how I process my images because every image is different. I have however found a new way to process Colour so in 2014 I will be using the same method I use on my black and white images to make Colour images.
I have always hated Colour images and struggled for years with colour film ! I only ever processed Colour transparency film. I was late to Digital and have never been a fan of colour digital, until switching over to Fuji and now at last its growing on me, there is something about the Fuji Sensor and the way the camera processes the images that has made me want to explore colour !
So will I stop shooting Black and White in 2014 ? No, is the simple answer! I will probably shoot 90% black and white and 10% colour, black and white is my passion and always will be.
So my black and white year has made me move over to Fuji, I don’t think this would have happened if I had just carried on as I was, so that is one thing to thank this project for.
I have learnt a new way to shoot colour and discovered also that the Fuji cameras give me a RAW file that more suites my needs as a photographer and hopefully not only does it make my Black and White images stand out from the crowd but next year it might even make my colour images stand out from the crowed!
I have had some great feedback and interest on my black and white project and learnt a hell of a lot about myself that I want put in to words in a blog post, I can recommend a year of black and white to any one so why not start one in 2014 !
If you have any questions about my year of black and white or my change over to Fuji then please get in touch.