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Shooting B&W on DSLR


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#1 Austin Pink

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 06:51 PM

Hey guys, pretty basic question here. So I'm about to shoot b&w on a Nikon d800 for the first time, using the monochrome preset. The set is an interior and the look they're going for is a smoky jazz lounge.  Does anyone have any basic tips for lighting and camera settings when doing b&w on a dslr? Any help is appreciated, thanks.


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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 08:30 PM

I don't think there's anything specific to shooting monochrome with DSLRs versus other types of cameras that you have to think about. The lighting is the same - create separation by layering light/dark subjects to create depth, use harder lighting units, don't be afraid of deep shadows, use rim lights on subjects and glows on back walls, etc.

One suggestion - since you're working with a full frame sensor, stop down a little bit so you don't have such shallow depth of field. With color, sometimes shallow depth can help separate foreground from a distracting background. But in B&W, this can sometimes lead to flat-looking images since you also lose shape and texture in the background, creating a 2D cutout effect.
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#3 John E Clark

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 06:03 PM

I would not recommend shooting in B&W with the manufacturer's preset. The reason for this, is the camera will still be shooting RBG, but the the transformation to B&W will be whatever Nikon engineers 'thought good enough'.

 

Perhaps that's good enough for you as well...

 

I'd recommend shooting in RGB mode, then use an NLE/ColorCorrection program to transform to B&W. In Premiere there is a filter called 'channel mixer', and one can 'weight' the contribution of R, G, and B, to give different effects, and simulate to some degree B&W filters, by decreasing 'blue', resulting in deeper sky 'grey', for example. I think there's something similar in Davinci Resolve as well.

 

With B&W photography, one is looking for contrast in shades of grey. The 'color' of the light is not as important as it is for color photography, but... if it has a high red content, such as tungsten, that may affect the resulting image, due to saturating the 'red' sensors. The same was true for Film film, but one would buy 'tungsten' balanced film for that lighting, and use 'Daylight' balanced for outdoors... unless one wanted some 'interesting' results.

 

There is one 'reason' for setting the camera to record in B&W while learning to see in shades of grey, is that color contrast may result in no B&W contrast, as the values of the objects are the same, and only differ in their color.

 

Or, sometimes things in weird color look better as B&W than if one used 'real' color. My usual example of that is the 1950s TV show "Superman".

 

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Edited by John E Clark, 15 May 2017 - 06:05 PM.

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#4 Justin Hayward

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 07:10 PM

I shot this for my brother in law a couple years ago on a DSLR.  Those cameras don't have much latitude which makes them naturally contrasty... which actually lends itself to black and white.  I mostly just looked for contrast and exposed for it.

 


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#5 Mei Lewis

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 02:07 PM

I agree with John, I definitely recommend shooting color and doing your own conversion.

It gives you much more information to work with, and you'll probably find you'll want to do a slightly different conversion for each shot.

 

 

 

There is one 'reason' for setting the camera to record in B&W while learning to see in shades of grey, is that color contrast may result in no B&W contrast, as the values of the objects are the same, and only differ in their color.

 

 

 

 

And by shooting color and converting yourself, you can choose if and how much different colors contrast with each other when converted to black and white.


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#6 AJ Young

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 02:40 PM

You should read up on how they shot Francis, Ha. The June 2013 issue of American Cinematographer has a great article on it.


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