Shooting in Black and White (Digital?)



An image I took in Puerto Rico using RAW/JPEG monochrome method of shooting… I needed that nice tonal range for the shallow depth of field.

Some really great questions came up in class yesterday about in camera color space when creating black and white digital images. Here is a great link that speaks more about that and summarizes what we talked about last night…. Just like anything in photography, you’ll have to find the workflow that works best for your own style and project goals.

It was mentioned that another instructor recommended that you always shoot in Adobe RGB for full color range in post-processing and to “never shoot in monochrome.” I say, always heed great advice but, also experiment on your own to see what works.

My suggestion is that if you are shooting in RAW (with a JPEG preview), the only thing the color space dictates is what is visible in the back of your LCD screen on most DSLRs. The sensor data is closely rendered in this preview. Remember…RAW has no color assignment because, it is PURE and untouched color info. It’s color info is the most dynamic. The benefit of shooting in a “monochrome” setting while you shoot RAW is that you’ll see the B/W results during a shoot which can help you visualize the end game better. It mimics B/W film values closer than shooting in color to my eye. 

If all you are shooting is jpegs, you have a different set of choices. You could shoot it in monochrome, but you’d lose color info you couldn’t retrieve again. This is where shooting in Adobe RGB could help. But…here’s the catch…If you are staying in 8bit (which is usually the depth assigned to jpeg in your camera), you are losing color information anyway. Adobe RGB doesn’t help much unless you are editing in 16 bit from my experience.

So, another vote for shooting in RAW from the start and then making color space choices later from a wealth of information. 🙂

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