Black and White Digital Photography Photo Workshop

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Black-and-white Vision

Why Black and White?

Creating Black-and-white Images

Visualizing in Monochrome

Selecting Your Images

Creating photographs


The problem with digital

Timing the Moment

Hurry up and wait

Create perfect timing

When Should You Use Black and White?

Finding Photos Wherever You Are

Chapter 2: Photography Fundamentals


Learning the histogram



Exposure compensation

Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO


Shutter Speed


White Balance


Rule of Thirds

Balance and symmetry

Exploring design

Shape and simplicity

Your Unique Point of View

Get close to your subject

Anchor your photos

Find natural framing

Get high and low

Chapter 3: Getting the Most Out of Your Camera

Read the Manual

Knowing the Controls

Using the Exposure Modes

Reading the histogram

Exposing to the right

File Settings

Image quality

Raw + JPEG

Adjusting Tone and Contrast in Camera

White Balance Questions

Using Filters

Black-and-white contrast filters

Polarizing filter

Neutral density filters

Settings to Start with

Everything is a situation



Still lifes

Street photography

Chapter 4: Working With Light

Metering and Exposure for Black and White

Zone System Basics

Learning Your Metering Systems

Center-weighted meter

Averaging, Evaluative, and Matrix meters

Spot meters

Light Direction




Light Quality

Hard light

Soft light

Looking for Landscape Lighting

Great Light for People and Portraits

Reflectors and fill light

Shade and even light

Lighting groups

Dealing with Tones at Twilight

Black and White After Dark

Chapter 5: Tools and Toys

Infrared Digital Photography

IR filters

Dedicated IR cameras

Shooting in IR


Black and White by Your Side

Camera phones and effects

Point-and-shoot black and white

dSLR specialty cameras


Off-camera flash

Studio strobes


Getting the most for your money

Tripod heads

Chapter 6: Tonal Quality in Black and White

Colors in Black and White

Tones and Contrast

Working with Shadows and Contrast

Light Quality

Soft light

Hard light

Light direction

Time of day

Dealing with Weather

Opportunities in bad weather

Making the most of where you are

Looking for Highlights

Building Depth in the Shadows

Chapter 7: The Black-and-White Digital File

Converting to Monochrome

Learning from Film Filters


Do I need to shoot a RAW file?

Black-and-white mode from the camera

Maximizing RAW + JPEG

Digital RAW Black-and-white Conversions

Adobe Camera Raw



Digital Negative

Canon Digital Photo Professional

The Nikon Software Suite


Photoshop Elements

Chapter 8: Working in the Digital Darkroom

Understanding Local and Global Changes

Multiple RAW Processing

Working with Adjustment Layers



Setting black points and white points

Dodging and Burning

Layer Masks

Shadow and Highlight Tool

Additional Filters and Tools

Nik Silver Efex Pro

Plug-ins, actions, and presets


Selective Effects




Brightness and contrast

Film Simulations

Create Your Own Workflow

Create a protocol for storing images

Process your images

Manage your images

Chapter 9: Toning, Coloring, and Special effects

Old-process Effects

Adding Tints and Tones



Split Toning

Coloring Monochrome Images

Infrared Effects

High Dynamic Range

Compositing New Images

Chapter 10: Output: printing and Presentation

Inkjet Printers and Papers

Calibrating your Equipment


Paper and printer profiles

Creating Black-and-white Prints

Printing contact sheets

Making test prints

Your final print

Creating your own book

Archival printing and storage

Digital Output Options and Ideas

Creating digital contact sheets

Building Web galleries

Sharing images online

Black and White
Digital Photography
Photo Workshop

by Chris Bucher


About the Author

Chris Bucher is an award-winning, Indianapolis-based photographer and author whose work, assignments, and clients are extremely diverse. Chris has editorial and commercial photo projects across the country, and he takes every opportunity to return to the deserts of the Southwest, where his fascination with natural light is fueled by the harsh but striking landscapes. His artwork has appeared in shows, galleries, and museums throughout the country and overseas. When not behind the camera, Chris enjoys mountain biking and serving the Humane Society of Indianapolis as a foster parent.


Acquisitions Editor

Courtney Allen

Project Editor

Chris Wolfgang

Technical Editor

Haje Jan Kamp

Copy Editor

Lauren Kennedy

Editorial Director

Robyn Siesky

Business Manager

Amy Knies

Senior Marketing Manager

Sandy Smith

Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Richard Swadley

Vice President and Executive Publisher

Barry Pruett

Project Coordinator

Patrick Redmond

Graphics and Production Specialists

Jennifer Henry, Andrea Hornberger, Jennifer Mayberry

Quality Control Technician

Robert Springer


Laura Bowman


Infodex Indexing Services, Inc.


For my mom, Lee Bucher


So many talented people have added their time and expertise to make this book a success. Thanks to Courtney, Rayna, Haje, Kristin, and Lauren for working so hard to help me achieve my vision for this book, and for the opportunity to work together on such a great project. Also, a special thanks to Chris Wolfgang for her hard work, determination, and meticulous editing. She made the best of my words.

Thanks to Lamar Richcreek at the Herron School of Art for helping me get back into the black-and-white darkroom where I rediscovered my artistic passion and vision. The amount of help and good photo conversation that I get from good friend and assistant Kenneth Rhem is always appreciated. I also want to thank my two interns, Nicole Fraga and Justin Jett, for all of their help, especially when the projects weren’t particularly fun or interesting; they were both immensely helpful in making sure these projects happen on time.

I will be forever indebted to Coach Pat, Tevin, Dajon, Denzell, Cody, and Dewayne for letting me into their lives for a while and showing me what can come of great passion and focus.

Most important, thanks to my wife and partner Jennifer for the encouragement, for crafting new ideas, and for working with me on a million different things at once.


Now that digital cameras are just called cameras, and film can be the added modifier, some might think that black-and-white photography is passé and no longer of interest, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There has actually been a revitalization of black-and-white imagery because there are so many options for creating new visions in black-and-white photography.

From the many monochrome options now onboard any digital camera to the black-and-white photo apps for today’s camera phones, opportunities for black-and-white images are all around us. The ability to create fantastic black-and-white images is right there in every digital image that is taken (even when taken in color).

It wasn’t too long ago that as a budding photographer, I put together a makeshift darkroom in my studio apartment. With an enlarger in the closet, chemistry trays perched across the sink and commode, and the shower to wash the prints, I attempted to create my own black-and-white masterpieces of the deserts in the Southwest. Those bathroom prints were mediocre at best, but it fueled my passion to become a photographer and to build on what I learned about black-and-white photography in that makeshift darkroom.

The advent of digital black-and-white photography opens all types of creative doors. By moving a slider or clicking a button, you can affect exposure, contrast, and tone greatly or subtly, and get immediate feedback. The learning curve is often greatly shortened, as is the amount of time it takes to create a masterpiece. Don’t hesitate to spend a few extra moments to push the envelope a bit more to create something that you couldn’t have even imagined a few minutes before.

This book looks at many different avenues of black-and-white photography in the digital world. The book focuses on how to expand your black-and-white vision and the creative options that digital black and white affords you. There are discussions on how to handle different effects and options using various image-editing programs; even if you don’t use one particular program for all your editing, the theories hold true from one program to another with minor differences.

While there are people who simply push the black-and-white button on their cameras and have done with it, there are plenty of photographers out there who are constantly trying to create better black-and-white photos. This book is for those of you who know that your inner Ansel Adams or Richard Avedon is just ready to break out. The examples in this book show you that there is a great black-and-white photographer in every one of you if you just try a few new things; and that while there are so many avenues to take, one of them will make sense for you depending on your thought process and how you look for a solution.

My hope is that this book will push you to create your own black-and-white masterpieces as you learn to think critically about your own work, and to recognize the opportunities around you. While plenty of photographic and computer techniques are discussed, the book is not a technical manual documenting every step of the digital-imaging process. Photography should be fun, so use the directions, and examples of the imagery, to create the photographs that you want.

Please note that some special symbols used in this eBook may not display properly on all eReader devices. If you have trouble determining any symbol, please call Wiley Product Technical Support at 800-762-2974. Outside of the United States, please call 317-572-3993. You can also contact Wiley Product Technical Support at