After several posts the other day, featuring the moody B&W looks here, here and here, I was asked, once in person and once via comment, what I was doing. What follows is a slightly modified version of my reply to the comment question.
In these cases, I was working in manual with off camera flash. The X100s was set to daylight balance (cos shooting with flash outside), ISO 200, DR 100, H-Tone -1, S-Tone -1, B&W + R filter and all other settings default. That’s my custom setting for when I use off camera flash, except for the film simulation part, which is usually set to Pro Neg. Std.
Incidentally, this is a little different from my usual in-camera B&W custom settings, which are auto for ISO (200 – 3200), DR & white balance, and NR -1, H-tone 0, S-tone +1 and B&W R filter. All others at default.
Anyway, then in Capture One Pro I converted the jPegs (& the RAWs) to TIFFs, and after that then imported them to Lightroom. Basically, I adjusted them in Capture One Pro to give nice open and bright, but not too contrasty files. These form my good, solid starting base for more precise adjustment in Lightroom. I have no idea if this makes any difference at all. It’s just what I do. If I’m going to use jPEGs, I just like to turn them into more robust TIFFs first. Might actually be a huge waste of time. Who knows? I personally get better results from Capture One with Raw, but it’s close. Also, Capture One also works for me here as a first edit stage. So, that’s what I always do, my typical workflow, regardless of intent or image type (except, in the case of these images, I was also experimenting with the structure slider and over cooked several of the files – the hair, especially in the colour files, looks too brittle, so won’t be doing that again).
Then, in Silver Efex Pro (via Lightroom), I used the TIFFS from the jPEGS, so started out in B&W. I had first adjusted them as I wanted in Lightroom, brushing in some exposure in places, darkening in other places and adding vignettes. So, by the time they arrived in Silver Efex Pro, they’d been adjusted twice. First in Capture One to give a basic starting point that’s fairly well exposed across the board, but not too contrasty. Then fine tuned in Lightroom. Again, maybe over the top and unnecessary, but who knows?
This has been my basic approach for a while now to B&W – try in the Fuji, and if I don’t like it or want a different took altogether (after the above multi-step workflow), take the B&W file to Silver Efex Pro.
Then, in the case above, I just used the Antique Plate I (i.e. Antique Plate 1) template. In this session I didn’t do too much. I increased the exposure a little, and also the mid-tone exposure slider a little too in all cases, to suit. In some (don’t remember which) I also increased the highlight exposure slider (I used the preview / tone thingy bottom right to find the tonal range of the faces and then adjusted accordingly). In a few (again, don’t remember which), I also ever so slightly increased overall exposure once back in Lightroom.
In Silver Efex Pro, at the time, I didn’t even scroll down to look at the other settings for Antique Plate I, but I suspected it was adding vignette, and assumed that the final images had then had two doses, once in Lightroom and once in Silver Efex Pro. Once I’d finished I thought that in hindsight, it probably would have been better to only add a vignette in Lightroom at the end as a last step, once I’d seen what the Silver Efex Pro versions looked like back in Lightroom – as the Silver Efex Pro generated files sometimes look different once back in Lightroom. Today playing around again with the same workflow, I see that Antique Plate I is indeed adding a vignette, so today I didn’t add one first in Lightroom, but only later if I thought an image needed it – in the B&W photos below I added a fair amount at the end to bring down the highlights.
Here’s two, rather rubbish photos from today, illustrating the same workflow. In each case, I’ve first given the original, only adjusted in Capture One, and then the version that follows the above workflow. Note however, I didn’t feel compelled to to anything in Lightroom with these, other than the post Silver Efex Pro vignette (also, you can see that the second one did in fact start as colour). In the case of the Silver Efex B&W images, I brought the mid tone exposure down in Silver Efex Pro, as I though that’s what these images needed (there’s no right or wrong remember, just what you like the look of). The top Silver Efex Pro image I took down less than the bottom Silver Efex Pro one, and you can see the difference in feeling – the top one is much airier and lighter in feeling, even though the tonal difference is not that much. Well, that’s what I think anyway.
Another thing to note, when going for these kinds of heavily modified, somewhat over the top looks, it does’t always matter so much about blown highlights or blocked up shadows. Well, that’s also what I think anyway…
That’s about it. Hope someone finds it useful.