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hammam

B&W from M8

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Let's bring this full circle:

 

First, Hammam raises a very interesting problem: "As much as I like the M8 for color, I don't like digital for straight b&w." In other words, the results that Hammam has produced and seen others produce on this forum have not been convincing so far.

 

Hammam then says, "It always ends up looking like some sort of dull chromogenic b&w C41 film," concluding that it is the medium, the digital-ness of the M8, if you will, that is the reason for this problem.

 

Later, Charles challenges and, I think, successfully negates this conclusion by showing us the work of Alex Majoli, done with point and shoots no less. Those pictures are far from appearing like "dull chromogenic b&w C41 film."

 

Charles offers his own conclusion that M8 photographers that want to do convincing black and white work will have to "work" their pictures.

 

My own contribution to this discussion is point out that black and white tends to be more about interpretation than description. Accordingly, "processing" and "converting" and making global adjustments is insufficient to produce convincing black and white. Convincing black and white has to have life breathed into it. It has to be crafted. Something has to be envisioned, and then post production tools have to be employed to achieve that vision.

 

My suggestion is that we talk about post-production approaches toward achieving vision with the view that "the computer is the darkroom" as Charles states forthrightly:

 

"I think one thing that's forgotten to a degree here is that the computer is now your darkroom. And if you were never that great in the darkroom...... To me it's all about dodging and burning and making an image come alive as one visualised it in the first place."

 

This is key:

 

"Doesn't matter if it's got the resolution of an 8x10 view camera (or the grain of tmax 3200) if it's not "printed" with some degree of sophistication and understanding it won't draw the viewer fully into the experience."

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Hi Everyone,

 

I'm looking for feedback from any Leica M shooters who use both a film M and an M8, those who shoot black and white predominately. In fact, I'm wondering if anyone is willing to do comparative testing between film and digital black and white, posting the results here? Actually, starting a new thread would be best.

 

Timothy

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I can't make a caparison between film and digital but here is an example of the difference between a BW jpg direct from the camera and a BW made by a long post production in PS from the colour dng converted in tif in C1.

 

IMO direct BW jpg are usefull only to have an approximate preview on the camera LCD.

 

I took this picture to PHOTOSHOW (a big exibition of photographic stuf in Milano) and I used it to test some printers HP and EPSON and a lot of people looking at the prints (1 mt x 70 cm) could not belive it was a digital file!

 

ciao

 

Lorenzo

 

http://www.lorenzocevavalla.it

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Personally I feel that the M8 B & W capability is excellent and am having a lot of good experience with it.

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Again, some nice shots.

 

I have a suggestion for those trying to get that film look ... huh ... shoot film and it'll look exactly like film : -)

 

Good point!

 

Terry

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Good point!

 

Terry

 

Alright, I give up. I'm going to side with Marc and Terry. I'm going to buy up as much Ektachrome 1600 as I can for color work. I prefer the TRI-X look to HP5, but instead of buying up TRI-X, I'm interested in testing a polyester base film of similar character. Any suggestions here? I'm probably going to use pyro-triethanolamine as my primary developer. From what I'm seeing so far, it gives a brilliant image with gorgeous tonal gradation. Especially with its being stored in gallon jugs rather than liters and its reuse and ripening, it reminds me of the pyro version of Harvey's 777, HCB's film developer of choice, or so I have heard. Next, I'll need to get me some retro lenses. . . .

 

Only problem is I don't have a darkroom. Does anyone have an underused darkroom they want to share with me?

 

Timothy

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I LOVE the M8 w B&W. Yea, and M7 and TriX may beat it for that "look" but to me, it kills the XP2's and Kodak400 for B&W.

 

I shot a TON of B&W film with my M7 and MP all last year and am now shooting an M8. Have not touched film since I recieved the M8.

 

Many more here:

Zenfolio | Steve Huff | Leica M8

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Andy,

 

If you have time and interest to rework your picture, I would be interested to see you improve the tonality in the girl's face, as, I think, I have done. I opened your JPEG in Photoshop; converted to 16-bit for less destructive editing; created several dodge and burn layers; and, at the conclusion, stamped visible in a new layer, changed the blending mode to soft light, applied high pass with a moderately low pixel setting and then "Fade. . ." lighten. Oh yeah, I used layer masks for everything so my work was local more so than global. No levels. No curves. Just the good ol' paint brush and the special use of the high pass filter at the very end. All in all, I changed less than 50% of your pixels in any significant way. Also, I gave priority to subtlety.

 

This is black and white so it is wide open to interpretation. I'm not asserting that my interpretation is necessarily better than yours. Nevertheless, I ask you, have you considered an interpretation similar to mine where there is more "body" in the girl's face? I think it is important for photographers to try different variations. If you have already made different variations, I wouldn't mind seeing one or two of them. If you have not yet done so, I would challenge you to try it.

 

By the way, this challenge is for all of you.

 

Warm regards,

 

Timothy

 

P.S. I'm reposting your original as well as posting my variation. Keep in mind that the purpose of mine is more idea than implementation. I don't have the original DNG (just a low resolution JPEG) to work on. It's not my picture. I don't have a reason to spend much time on it other than to demonstrate my idea.

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Steve,

 

Here's a variation of yours to bring in more of that water detail on the boy's skin. Maybe what I mean by variation is more of an optimization or a refinement in this case.

 

Warmly,

 

Timothy

 

FYI for anyone who usually just scrolls, I find it much better to compare images in separate tabs by control-clicking (or right-clicking) on each for the "Open Image in New Tab" option.

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Timothy, at least for the little girl, I must say that I prefer the original with its more subtle tones. However, I could imagine that your technique might work really well on men and older people, as well as graphic B&W photos.

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Guest sirvine

I'm amazed you can pull those details out of a tiny JPEG!

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Good call, Carsten.

 

Gritty reality photographers like me can get carried away even trying for subtlety. In this reinterpretation, I've more or less maintained the dimensional tonality of my previous interpretation but have replaced texture with smooth skin. Do you still prefer Andy's original with its infra-red like glow? If so, that's great. I'm not going for better. I'm going for different. I'm going for a more realistic interpretation, and I'm probably subconsciously thinking of how film exposed normally would render the face, and I'm trying to get away from the red channel aesthetic that is so dominant in the digital forum (no doubt because many people have a liking for that aesthetic).

 

Timothy

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I do appreciate it when people make different interpretations of an image.

For my personal taste I still like the original but also the 2nd one you did Timothy.

 

The first interpretation imo loses some of the glow that I liked.

 

In this particular shot if I remember correctly it was a straight JPEG with some sharpening and contrast applied.What I really do acknowledge on the M8 is the relative ease with which you can generate pleasing B&W results in a short time compared to analog and the control you have on the final image.

 

This thread shows that each of us are able to interpret an image how we want without having to spend hours in a darkroom and can learn the trade easier and more comfortably.

 

Timothy, thanks for the involvement and showing us different views, appreciated.

 

andy

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The second one I am beginning to like much more. However, the effect is still a little too strong. If you load both images into Preview at the same time, and flip back and forth between the two, you will see that there is some posterisation on the right side (for us) of her face, and that the smooth roundness of her face has given way to a more bumpy look. I do like the tonal differences in the hair and the clothes, however. I wonder if a slightly more subtle version would be the best compromise. Of course, the DNG should be the starting point for real work, but it is certainly interesting to see the alternatives.

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Andy, you're welcome. I'm having one last go at you picture. Hopefully, the third time's the charm.

 

Carsten, thanks for pointing out the posterisation. This time I decided to zoom 400% to edit precisely. Wow, those bumps looked like mountain ranges that close up!

 

Timothy

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I can't make a caparison between film and digital but here is an example of the difference between a BW jpg direct from the camera and a BW made by a long post production in PS from the colour dng converted in tif in C1.

 

IMO direct BW jpg are usefull only to have an approximate preview on the camera LCD.

 

------------------]

 

Lorenzo proves that most BW images need filtering. The first one he shows is unfiltered. The second is filtered. The fact that the first is a jpg and the second a post-processed dng is relevant only because you can filter raw pictures (with the canal tool) in Photoshop, but with a jpg you must use an actual filter before the lens. Lorenzo's post-processing is equivalent to a yellow-orange filter. Traditional BW filters in the Y-O-R series work perfectly well with the M8. Burning and dodging does of course demand Photoshop, but the need does often indicate that you have to some extent botched the neg.

 

The old man from the Age of Brovira

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Olivier,

 

After looking again at the picture you posted at the beginning of this thread as well as Jørn's revision, I decided to give it a shot myself. Jørn decided to lighten the face. I decided to darken it. Strictly speaking, I do not think I succeeded in recreating the black and white film look. I'm posting (1) yours, (2) jørn's, (3) a clean version of mine, and (4) a noisy variation for which I used Alien Skin Exposure. It was both fun and frustrating (if that makes any sense).

 

Timothy

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Timothy,

now I think this version is very nice indeed....

Can you share the summary of changes you made?

 

Good job1

 

Andy

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I like that last girl-photo a lot. This time the skin stays nice-looking, but the hair, clothes and other details get enhanced.

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