Category: Environment Portrait Photography

Merchant with a used stuff store

Photo of the Week – The Last Smile

Getting a beautiful black and white shot is not as hard as it used to be.

Merchant with a used stuff store

It used to be that you developed your own B&W film using different chemicals and agitation to get a certain grain and tonal range. Then you dodged and burned while exposing the paper using your negative. All this to get a beautiful B&W photo to jump off the page. These days it’s all about using Photoshop and other processing programs like Lightroom 5 and Aperture.

The secret is to make sure you are shooting in a RAW formate so that you have enough data to import into one of these programs. More dat means a wide enough tonal range to create punchy blacks and crisp whites without blowing all the information (pixels) away. RAW is the only way to go if you are planning on creating stunning shots and not just family snaps. I have my camera set up for RAW with no JPG for about 80% of the shots that I take. The other 20% is for family or fun nights out. The I switch over to JPG large with fine grain.

For RAW it’s best to expose for the highlights and not worry too much about the blacks.

So now that you have your RAW image selected from the 90 shots you took it’s time to invest a couple of hours to make the image pop of the page (or screen). Keep the whites hot and the black rich by tweaking the curves. Add a bit of vignetting to bring the eye into the image and focus more on the subject. Here is a great tutorial on how to get close to this look. Remember it’s not about copying what I have done but you deciding what pleases your eye. You are not doing photography to get praise from everyone who looks at your shots you are doing photography to make your inner artist pleased with the results.

  • Camera Olympus OMD E5
  • 45 mm Lens (90mm equivalent)
  • Shutter at 1/4000
  • F1.8
  • ISO 6400
  • Window Light inside store
  • Processing in Lightroom 5

By the way, the reason this post is called “The Last Smile” is that I took over 90 exposures of this guy in about 20 minute. This was the last shot I took, so remember to shoot more than you think you need because the next shot may be the best of the day.

Next Week: Get silky smooth moving water shots every time.