Thoughtfactory: pictures experiments journeys

brief working notes on various photographic projects

seascape #4: fog

I've started experimenting  with digital black and white whilst making some seascapse with the 5x4 Linof Technika IV  and colour sheet film. The weather condition chosen   was the mist and fog hanging around Encounter Bay on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula over the Xmas/New Year period (2023-24).  

I've never had much success with digital black and white conversions from a colour digital file using the Sony A7 R111--- the results have always been disappointing, as  the images have  looked bland and muddy.   The recent seascapes and fog offered me an opportunity  to experiment to see if I could create something better.   The above 'behind the camera' image is an example  of  this experiment.  

The reason for why the standard bland looking images result from  the  digital b+w conversions lies in  the nature of digital. on his Imaging  Resource website  David Etchells usefully  points this out in passing whilst he is digging into, and evaluating,  Fujifilm's various colour  presets on their digital cameras. 

He says  that changing the color mode from RGB to Grayscale in Photoshop (or Lightroom)  just removes the colour information from the image, leaving behind the luminance or brightness data. The contrast and effective color sensitivity will then depend a lot on the characteristics of the color original, but in general, this luminance-only conversion tends to produce bland-looking images.

 Etchells  observes that you can of course just bump up the contrast in Photoshop, or even use the Curves control to create a custom tone curve, but his experience is that he's never been as happy with the results he  could achieve as when was making  the black and white prints from the black and white film negatives in the darkroom. Ditto, for me with my scanned b+w film images. 

 Etchells was impressed by Fufj's monochromatic film simulation that mimics a specific family of Fuji's film, specifically the Neopan ACROS series. The  ACROS-simulated images look good to his eye. Another  digital b+w option is the specialised  Leica M11 Monochrom.  I cannot  afford it,  nor am I interested in just a black and white digital camera.

So I  continue to  use b+w film with my  medium format cameras given that my  black and white digital conversions only work  for the odd   image.