B&W tips or suggestions?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by robertmac_33, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. robertmac_33

    robertmac_33 Member

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    Hey, im fairly new to the forum.

    I wondered if any veterans out there could give me any tips or tricks etc when shooting in Black and White.

    At the moment i only have a basic setup consisting of...
    35mm SLR with 50mm lens (i do have an 28-80mm lens, but the aperture setting doesnt work at all!!)
    Olympus T20 flash

    I've bought 2 rolls of Ilford HP5 400 film, are there any techniques i need to bear in mind to get the most out of my shots.

    Sorry if this sounds stupid at all, but i've only really used colour film before (Fuji Superia)... I'm Looking to broaden my skills :smile:

    Thanks
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    First, go out an shoot film. The more the better. Become one with the camera and its features.
    1) Then you can learn about opening the lens if the scene is mostly light and closing down the lens if the scene is mostly dark - yes, it sound counter intuitive.
    2) You could spend time learning various forms of the Zone System and then dedicate you life to endless testing.
    3) You could avoid #2 by taking a light reading of what you want middle gray to be.
    Or some form of the above.

    I recommend that you just shoot film and enjoy the camera, keeping things simple. Later, as you come to various situations or learn more from this website, feel free to ask questions.

    Remember, the only silly questions are the ones that do not get asked. We have all been where you are, so we will understand and help.

    Steve
     
  3. BenP

    BenP Member

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    Im new to it as well and i was wondering someone could explain to me how to post an article or at least ask a general question to the forum.

    One really good rule for shooting black and white is the rule of thirds. Which is when you break up your picture in your head into a tic tac toe grid across your viewer and put the subjects of your picture into the boxes in the tic tac toe grid. Also dont take pictures of red stuff. The camera wont pick it up very well.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    two words: incident meter
     
  5. softshock

    softshock Member

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    1/50 @ 1,5! =D
     
  6. robertmac_33

    robertmac_33 Member

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    Thanks for the great reply Sirius and BenP, will take that on board, im trying to get some time to shoot as often as possible.

    2F/2F - Is an incident meter simmilar to a light meter?

    softshock - Can you explain a bit more?? sorry, told you i was a n00b lol
     
  7. karthik

    karthik Member

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    One important difference from shooting color is that scenes that look interesting in color may not be so in black and white (or the other way around, as well). We are used to judging scenes by color contrasts, whereas the BW film is only going to see shades of grey. Try to look for interplay of light and shadows - makes much more interesting BW photos.

    Look for interesting textures (e.g., weathered wood, rocks).

    Also look for interesting patterns (e.g., marks on the sand at a beach showing ripples due to waves - may look dull in color, but can be very nice in BW).
     
  8. karthik

    karthik Member

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    You may have already realized - several photos in your flickr album would look nice in BW (dare I say, better) : Stanecastle Keep, Broken Gate, Tree Trunk with Moss, Logs.
     
  9. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    With black & white, you are looking for textures, lines, and contrast between elements in the scene. Analyze the scene before you shoot. If the main thing that attracts you is something bright colored, shot might not work. If the main that that attracts you are the lines & shapes, b&w probably will work. Buy three filters: green, orange, blue, red. Hold on a minute. Maybe that was four filters. Anyway, buy the filters and learn what effect each has on what color. Example. Where I am, the ground is covered with white snow, and today the sky is blue. If I were to shoot b&w with a red #29 filter, the ground would stay white and the sky would turn black. That can be pretty cool.


    Kent in SD
     
  10. robertmac_33

    robertmac_33 Member

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    Thanks for the information karthik, i understand what you mean.

    Thanks for taking the time to look at my album :smile: those were my first pictures taken with an SLR camera. I did wonder of some would look good in B&W. The Broken gate is one of my favourites :smile: i think i got the DOF just right
     
  11. robertmac_33

    robertmac_33 Member

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    Cheers Two23 - as i'm new to the scene so to speak, are filters fairly generic? the lens i have just now is the Fuji x-mount 1:1.9 f 50mm. I've had a look at filters recently, but im a bot lost as to what will fit my camera :s

    Thanks again
     
  12. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    +1

    Very easy to get hung up on zone system testing and spend time driving oneself nuts, with nothing decent to show for it...except for a bunch of tests. Don't concern yourself too much with shadow detail that you never find your unique vision/style and in turn deliver only very proper but boring images. Be daring!
     
  13. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    1: Learn to develop your own film

    2: Learn to print your own photos in the darkroom, or if you don't want to do that, get a GOOD film scanner and learn to use it.

    3: Practice. A lot. Years of practice are needed to get really good. Its worth it. Don't be stingy about film, waste a lot of it, its not really waste, its practice and if you learn from your mistakes you will get very good.

    4: Learn to get perfect exposure every time, it makes a big difference in your image quality. Either use an incident meter like 2f/2f suggested or learn the zone system and use a spotmeter.

    5: The true speed of a black and white film is not what is marked on the box. Different developers affect the speed of the film, and you may need to use a lower or higher speed if your light meter is not in agreement with the meter used by the manufacturer to determine speed. Test your film.
     
  14. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    The final result is to make Phographs

    I look at black and white photography as a complete process. For some, the process can be quite involved and for others the process is very simple. Making exposures on the film is an early step in the process. Other steps are processing the film and making a print from the negatives.

    You do not specify if you will be performing all of these steps yourself or if you will have a lab do some of the work. I strongly encourage you to develop your own film and make your own prints. Only through the hands on work of making a print is the process complete.

    One pitfall can be an early sense of dissatisfaction that your photos aren't "good enough". Just start shooting the film and get into the darkroom and make some prints. Good luck.
     
  15. Laurent

    Laurent Subscriber

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    Many good answers here... here are my 2 cents...

    I found reading about (and understanding) the Zone System can only be beneficial, even if you don't do the whole testing afterwards... Good substitutes for me were "Finely focused" from Bruce Barlow (http://www.circleofthesunproductions.com/FinelyFocused.htm) and/or "Way Beyond Monochrome" (a bit tougher, but you don't have to read it cover-to-cover immediately (though I'm sure you will, sooner or later).

    Incident metering is the easy way to get the right* exposure, and when in doubt I've found that it's almost always better to expose too much (within reasonable limits of course) than too few (in which case you'll loose some information you cannot recover).

    Keep your process as simple as you can (the good old "one film, one developer" saying can go a long way, even if you'll want to extend the range later) until you master it.

    With HP5 you can't go wrong, I personally rate it at EI 250, and it gives wonderful negatives.
     
  16. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    As someone else has said, the greatest satisfaction and best results (i.e. closest to what you want) are obtained by performing the whole process yourself. It's not difficult or expensive, and don't be put off by references to a need for great accuracy in temperatures, exposures, dilutions, etc.. That can come later (to the extent that you want it to). For starters, shoot a film (HP5 is an excellent choice), develop it, scan it if that's the only facility you have, but ideally learn to print the traditional way. A makeshift darkroom is easy to put together and needn't be expensive.

    IMHO, don't get bogged down by incident light meters or the zone system until you've got a lot of practice under your belt, if at all. You don't say what model of Olympus you've got, but presumably it has Through-the-Lens metering, which is more than adequate for 90% of applications - you'll learn to interpret and 'tweak' the meter reading with experience. My father, a keen footballer, used to have an expression "Never mind the ball, get on with the game!" and I'd apply the same sentiments here - shoot some film, have fun, make the inevitable mistakes but learn from them. Don't get bogged down with detail (yet).

    Good luck,

    Steve
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Actually, the incident meter suggestion was to avoid getting bogged down with the technical details like exposure compensation that is required to get the ideal exposure 90% of the time with in-camera light meters. IMNSHO, incident meters are the #1 best way to simplify everything for a beginner, while also providing much better results. They are one of the first things that should be taught to beginners, the way I see it, if not the first, before even the camera.
     
  18. robertmac_33

    robertmac_33 Member

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    Thanks again guys. Personally I've never thought of developing my own film, as I don't know how to do it, or the space to do it. It's something I'd like to do at some point, but just now I'll be taking the film to my local photo processing store.

    Out of interest though, how difficult would it be to develop my own film? I'd imagine that developing the film would be a simple enough process, but what is the process for printing a photograph?

    Once again, thanks for your input, its really appreciated
     
  19. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    I agree with 2F/2F about the incident light meters, but your in-camera meter will get you close on many scenes. Incident is better, however.

    As far as developing your own film, if you have a kitchen sink, you can develop your own film. Just use a small film developing tank (Patterson or stainless steel), then get some developer, stop bath and fixer and jugs to store it in and you're nearly done. You need a thermometer and then either a film changing bag for loading the film into the developing tank in daylight, or a dark closet or dark bathroom. I develop my film in the kitchen sink. When I'm done, the chemicals get poured back into storage jugs and taken back to the basement for storage.

    My darkroom is in the basement but I don't have running water down there so that is why I use the kitchen sink.

    Dave
     
  20. karthik

    karthik Member

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  21. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    photograph things that interest you ..
    explore
    and enjoy yourself ...
    after you follow all the rules
    break them all ..

    don't forget to have fun
    john
     
  23. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I got started devekoping my own film for under $200 and it is easy. Again, just takes practice. And it can be done in a downstairs half bath or a closet. Any space that can be made light tight.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    ...or even an area that is not quite light tight enough for film, if you use a changing tent. (Yes, tent, not bag. I have a bag because I got it for free, but it drives me crazy, especially when doing slightly more complicated things like trimming off a roll midway through or loading sheet film holders.) I have never really made any spot in my home to be light tight enough for film. Paper, yes, but not film. When processing at home, I always load in my bag (with the lights off).

    You don't need a great darkroom (or even a good one) to do great work!
     
  25. robertmac_33

    robertmac_33 Member

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    Hey, thanks for all your tips and suggestions. Will definitely look into developing my own film at some point.

    In the mean time i bought some filters. Got a job lot of 6 filters for.... 99p :smile:

    All look new, they are as follows

    Hoya Filters
    -Yellow (K2)
    -CS
    -Skylight
    -UV (0)
    -PL-CIR

    Vivitar
    -Orange (o2)

    Looking forward to trying them out, and see what results they produce