So there's that old joke. Man says to his wife, "Honey, you look nice today." Wife answers, "Are you saying I don't look nice every other day?"
In the Sigma DP2M post on Friday, I didn't mean to imply that the Foveon Merrill sensor is the only one that can create natural-looking B&W. It looks to me like it does, but it's not the only one. I also wrote, "I'm seeing excellent digital B&W much more often now, and from different cameras, for example from the E-M5 and the latest Fujis."
Which is like the husband in the joke saying "honey, you look nice today," and then adding, "...of course, you usually do." But I meant it.
I also said, of the rendering of highlights in digital B&W, "...this has been getting better and better over the years, as equipment improves and as digital photographers improve (both of which are happening, I think)." That was meant to imply that, yes, it's partially a matter of individual technique, as Ctein and others asserted at greater length.
There's also the issue, which I did not explore, of peoples' tastes in B&W tonality being different. That's one of the nice things about B&W; it admits of lots of different interpretations and styles. Maybe some of the harsh gradation I see was done on purpose.
It's impossible to fully develop every aspect of every argument or assertion or contention in every post. But saying I like the tonality I was seeing from the Foveon sensor doesn't imply that nothing else looks nice.
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Richard Newman: "I'm curious, did you try your D800e in B&W? Its supposed to have excellent dynamic range, especially at lower ISO settings, so it should be able to handle the highlights well. And of course resolution is good, so it seems a good candidate for B&W imaging."
Mike replies: Yes, I've done a lot of B&W with Ye Big Dragoon (the D800—I tested the D800e but bought the cooking version). It's capable, and yet I don't get results I'm quite 100% happy with. As you know there are a thousand ways to convert to B&W in digital imaging, though, so it may well be that I'm just not far enough up the learning curve with it yet, or haven't found the best conversion method/workflow for me. More recently I've been doing the most B&W with the NEX-6.
Lars S.: "Coincidentally I just came across an interview with Michael Ernest Sweet, in which he says: 'I could care less about having 50 shades of gray in a photograph. It's not interesting. I'm not Ansel Adams. I don't care about the tones. You could photocopy my photographs and they would look the way I would like them to—gritty and rough, edgy.'"
Mike replies: That falls under the heading of what I said about B&W admitting of lots of different interpretations and styles. And also by coincidence, I was just looking at Michael Ernest Sweet's work.
I've always said that you have to take mature artists at their word—meaning, you have to assume that the way their work looks is the way they want it to look.
Bernie: "It looks like Gianni Galassi has read your monochrome musings and answered. He has posted his monochrome workflow on his website."
Mike replies: That could be very helpful—to those who want their conversions to look like Gianni's. Like Michael Ernest Sweet's, his is a very distinctive style. It works very well for his photographs. If you look at Gianni's B&W style and then look at Michael's, the big difference between them becomes readily obvious.
This is part of the fun and challenge of black and white, without question—developing a look that you really like and that not only suits but enhances your own work.