Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 1:13 pm
Caption: Male lion (Panthera leo) licking his lips, digital color image converted to black and white, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.
Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi); Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/1000; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 400.
In the early 90s I worked as a news photographer on The Witness, a South African daily newspaper. We used 35mm film cameras, loaded mostly with black and white film.
The film of choice amongst Press photographers of the time, certainly in South Africa, was Kodak’s Tri-X, a 400 ASA black and white film ideal for Press work because of its high speed — good for action, low light, and the type of unexpected situations that news photographers have to deal with.
If circumstances demanded, for example in low light with no flash allowed, we could “push” Tri-X to 800 or even 1600 ASA. In the latter case, we were under-exposing by two stops and would compensate for this by over-developing. (Note that ASA, a measure of film speed or sensitivity, has been replaced by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization’s method of measuring sensitivity).
This push-processing increased contrast and grain, but the results were usually acceptable for printing on newsprint and produced those gritty, grainy shots one associates with hard news pictures from the latter half of last century (wow, that sounds sooo long ago!).
You’re probably wondering where this is going … okay, it’s just some background to explain why I still love black and white images, and why I’ve been playing with DxO FilmPack 3 from DxO Labs. This software, either standalone or as PhotoShop plugin, lets you “rediscover the magic of film” by applying vintage film effects to digital images.
So you can make your digital photo look like it was taken with Kodachrome or Fuji Velvia, or a bunch of other positive and negative color films, plus a range of venerable black and white films.
The digital image above (taken at ISO 400) was converted to Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white using DxO Film Pack. Ideally you want to print the converted images with a good quality printer to fully appreciate the effect. The software also allows you to apply various filters. The image below has an orange filter added. A bit too dark, but it gives an idea of the possibilities.
Lion picture converted from digital to Tri-X black and white plus orange filter using DxO Film Pack 3