The beauty and elegance of classic black and white photography has captivated viewers for over a century. This series of workshops teaches the tools and techniques used to create this beauty using digital tools.
In Part 1, we’ll introduce the “look” we are going for by looking at prints and discussing the characteristics and intent that create the classic look.
We’ll then cover the three primary elements in creating this look. First, We’ll learn to apply the “classic” intent to RAW files to create a base for further processing. Second, converting our color digital files to B&W with a creative vision will be explored through various tools and techniques. Third, we’ll learn the foundational approaches to creating contrast in our photographs that creates form, volume, beauty, and visual tension. These three pieces are inextricably linked. How you use any one of them directly affects your ability to use the others to achieve your desired result.
Throughout the workshop, we’ll be making small 8×10 proof prints to test our work and get around the limitations for monitors to display the full beauty of the B&W image.
This workshop is limited to four students to maximize learning potential of the one day format. We’ll be working in Photoshop, taking advantage of some of its unique properties that are difficult to replicate in other software. You do not need to be a fluent Photoshop user, but you should be comfortable using editing software with intermediate experience in file processing.
Saturday January 25, 10am—4pm Technology Engagement Center 306 Minerva DriveMurfreesboro, TN
As I prepare my workshop curriculum for this year, I keep asking myself “Why should people take a workshop? What can I teach a student that they can’t get from a YouTube video?”
The answer is “A lot!” Deep statement there so let me break it down a little more.
Photography has always been about more than knowing where the dials and sliders and doohickeys are and what they do.
What makes a successful photograph is applying those tools to your photographs in a way that communicates what you want to say.
Improving as a photographer is about learning to see…improving your ability to observe what’s happening the world around you and using the tools to translate that into a two dimensional photograph that communicates what you want to say.
Learning, and improving at this requires individualized instruction. You can watch countless hours of videos on how to improve your golf swing, but I bet you’d learn more with just a short time with a professional instructor that can analyze your swing, and show you the techniques to refine it. A video can’t diagnose what you’re doing wrong and what is holding you back.
Photography is not meant to be learned alone. The same approach to coaching and training that works in other endeavors from sports to music, even spaceflight, work just as well in photography.
My experiences as an instructor is that I can take almost any student and help them climb more steps on the ladder of photographic knowledge, and gain more enjoyment and satisfaction from photography.
No workshop will turn you into a master overnight. But what I can do is give you understanding and a foundation of skills that let you keep growing and progressing. Often times I can accelerate that growth.
In thirty five years of photography, I’ve made about every mistake you can, so I know where the challenging points are, and how to help you overcome them. My twenty plus years of working as a professional printmaker has given me solutions that will work just as well as you as for my master level clients.
The advancement I see students make on workshops is always rewarding and encouraging. If you come on one of my workshops, I can show you how to apply the tools of photography individuals to your photographs to solve the problems you are having. I can help you learn to “see” better and more clearly. And hopefully I can inspire and encourage you in your growth as a photographer.
The personalized instruction that comes on a workshop will grow you in ways YouTube never will. Workshops continue to be a valuable, if not the most valuable way to learn and grow as a photographer. If you’re not happy with where you are at, then it’s time to take a workshop and grow!
Saturday January 18, 10am—4pm Technology Engagement Center 306 Minerva Drive Murfreesboro, TN
Are you 100% confident you’re making the best exposures you can? How about 75%? Or maybe, like many photographers, you just don’t really know.
Feeling confident in your exposures is a core skill. Once mastered, it frees your creativity because you aren’t always worrying “did I expose it right?”
This one day workshop will help you feel more confident in your exposure choices by giving you a greater understanding of just what “correct exposure” really means.
We’ll dive into things like ETTR, reading histograms, blinkies, RAW processing, bracketing, exposure latitude, highlight and shadow detail, and more. We’ll go beyond what you see in youtube videos to learn how to apply these tools with greater precision.
We’ll also talk about strategies for better metering, as well as determining what “good enough” exposure is in different photographic situations.
This is a hands on class so you’ll need to bring your camera with you, and know how to change shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings. We’ll be making test exposures during the workshop and evaluating them on the computer.
September 12, 2019 6:30PM The Brentwood Library 8109 Concord Rd, Brentwood, TN 37027
I’m really looking forward to my September 12th mini clinic with Brentwood Photo Group because I get to talk about one of my favorite subjects, black and white photography.
The focus of this clinic is on what I call “Classic” black and white.
What is “Classic” black and white? I’d consider the work of photographers like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, John Sexton, Alan Ross all good examples. Its roots are based in the best of what analog printmaking can do. The work of these photographers and others in this school focus on rich, vibrant, full tonal range prints. It’s a distinctly different look that you see in HDR photos, or that created by heavy use of slider based tools.
Creating the classic black and white starts with a vision of what the final print should look like, and then using the tools in a manner that achieves that vision. The are no magic presets or filters. It’s an exercise in manual control of the variables to bring them together into a harmonious whole.
This mini-clinic will focus on learning to see with the classic black and white look. I’ll cover topics from exposure, RGB conversion, the importance of local contrast, using brushing for creative control, and more.
This event is at the Brentwood Library . Looking forward to seeing you there!
A few spots left for my printmaking workshop this weekend if you waited till the last minute. Sign up and learn how to make your prints with more depth, more tonality, and more richness. Watching youtube just shows you where the controls are, I’ll show you want to do with them to make your prints sing!
Hands on learning is of incredible value to improving your printmaking skills, so I’m excited that Watkins College of Art is having me teach a one day workshop on July 13th.
The format of this workshop is very simple. I’ll look at your photographs, suggest changes, and then you can work through those changes with my help and immediately make new prints for further evaluation in the excellent computer/print lab at Watkins.
This rapid feedback loop allows leaps of knowledge and understanding to happen quickly. I’ve seen students make incredible strides in short periods of time with this process, and I know it can be of huge benefit.
This is not a step by step teaching class for an imaging editing program. It assumes you have some level of comfort and familiarity with an image editing program and with making prints. You don’t need to me a expert, that’s the whole point, but you need to know where the gas, brakes, and turn signals are, so to speak.
You can bring your own computer with your imaging editing program, or use one of their macs with Photoshop or Lightroom. I don’t care what software you use, as the goal of achieving good contrast, density, and color are universal to all photographs.
One requirement for this class is a ten print portfolio and corresponding edited and un-edited files. Don’t be intimidated by this…I’m not looking for anything fancy. Just ten 8×10 or 8.5×11 prints of photos that you think represent your work. The goal is that you’ve already printed them once, and that we can look at them immediately and jump in to learning. For students who register early enough, I’m going to try and evaluate these before the workshop so that we can get the most out of that one day.
Most photographers I talk with are not satisfied with the results from their home inkjet printers. That leads to frustration, and holds many back from a fuller enjoyment of the process of making prints.
If that sounds like where you are at, my April 6 Printer Tuning Clinic is for you. I’ll teach you straightforward solutions that will help you get more quality and consistency out of your printer, how to evaluate canned and custom profiles, and help you set good expectations for accuracy.
The process I’ll show you is the same one I’ve used in my professional printing business. The potential in unlocks in students once they grasp it is incredible.
Testing profiles and printers is an important part of ensuring your printer is “in tune” and maintaining a color managed workflow. To make sure my profiles are in tune, I use a reference print that I created that allows me to visually compare color that I find to be the best way to evaluate. This is the process behind the hundreds of thousands of prints I’ve made for customers.
Below are links for 8×10 sections of my reference print that you can print on your own printer and compare them to my validated reference prints. I bring my reference prints to select workshop, and I also sell them so that you can have a copy for reference.
I suggest you print these files using your normal workflow as a test of your process. I have found that in addition to color, they can uncover other problems in the printing process that you may not even be aware of.
The files are sized to print at 8×10, and should be printed to that exact size to make the most accurate and useful test.
You SHOULD NOT do any processing on them. That defeats the purpose of trying to see how the same file prints on different printer/profile/paper combinations. The file is our control to test the variables of printer setups.
How to use these test files in conjunction with my approved test prints:
Make a print on the paper you want to test using your normal printing procedures and profile.
Write the paper name, date, printing profile, and any other useful settings and data that will help you identify how when and where your test print was made. This will make it more valuable in the future when you want to compare new printers, papers, and profiles to it.
Use the right light to compare prints. I prefer to use SoLux 4700k bulbs, or if not available, actual daylight. Check out my blog post on SoLux for an explanation of why I use it.
Compare your print to my print. I like to stack the prints on top of each other so that I can view the colors right next to each other. Compare each image as a whole and then look at specific colors. Look at dmax (black density) and also be sure to consider white points. Warmer paper bases will make the image look warmer overall than color papers, and this warmth or coolness can not be added or subtracted in an imaging editing program as it is inherent to each paper.
If you are happy with the match, then “approve” your print by signing it and writing “approved” on it. This is now your known reference to use for your printer, and can be used in the future to test your printer against itself. Keep it in a safe place with the other reference prints you will be making. Why would you test your printer? If you are getting different results, if something significant changes, like settings, head replacement, three year olds, moving the printer, etc. It also becomes a record of what your printer was producing at a given point in time, and allows you to compare it to other printers, profiles, and papers.
MAKE YOUR OWN REFERENCE PRINT! Once you have a known and approved printing setup that has been validated with my reference print, pick some of your favorite images and make your own reference print so that you can have your own personal reference that you know is printing right because you validated your process with my reference print. Choosing a range of colors and densities will help, and you’ll learn over time which colors are most sensitive to changing with different ink sets and paper white points.
If my reference print was helpful to you, take a picture of your print overlapping mine and share it on social media with a few words on how it helped, and tag me in it so I can re-share it too.
I’ll be teaching a Mini-Clinic for Brentwood Photo Groupmembers on March 14. This clinic is a members only even and free to BPG members.
Musicians expect that middle C will sound the same on any piano in the world. Photographer should have a similar expectation of a properly tuned instrument when they make prints. This is achieved through color management. I’ll talk about what color management is, and how to use it properly. A key part of this clinic will be looking at prints to see what is correct calibration, and learning to see what is in-tune and out-of-tune. We’ll look at how to evaluate canned profiles as well as prints from labs. I’ll have samples of “in-tune” prints, and will encourage participants to print my test file to bring and evaluate their printer or lab. Participants will leave with a new understanding of the level of accuracy and repeatability possible with color management that will make their prints “sound” their best.