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Black & WhiteBlack & White

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The Black and White Gallery, containing about 250 monochrome images, collects all of the website's B&W photographs in one place for easier browsing of the B&W material. The Black and White Gallery, like the Favorites Gallery and all of the Thematic Galleries, is a cross-indexed gallery.  This means that you can find all of the same images scattered about within their home regional galleries.  All instances of a cross-indexed item lead to the exact same "big picture page" or final product page. Different paths, all leading to the same destination.  The photograph's catalog number or SKU Number that is shown at the big picture page, is that item's one and only catalog number.

 
Film capture versus Photoshop conversion
 
The B&W collection is about one-fourth B&W film captures and about three-fourths Photoshop conversions from film-captured color to monochrome. (None of the images on the website are digital captures.)  Although the website's notations about this subject (B&W shot versus a conversion) is by no means comprehensive and universal, an attempt has been made to present the material in a way that provides clues to visitors about the image's original capture medium.  About 90% of the conversions are shown on the thumbnail pages as paired items.  So if you see a color item on a thumbnail page and its next-door neighbor seems to be the same photo but in B&W, well, that is a no-brainer, the B&W version is a Photoshop conversion.  If you see a B&W item on a thumbnail page that seems to be by itself, most of the time (not always) that image will be a B&W film capture.  If you see about two to seven B&W images more or less in a row on a thumbnail page, that is a very strong and reliable clue that the mini-suite of B&W images is from the same B&W film roll. 
 
On rare occasions, you will see a B&W image by itself on a thumbnail page, probably surrounded by color images, that is not a film capture but rather is a conversion.  What happened to its color partner?  Long story short, it got rejected; it ended up on the cutting room floor.  Sometimes, a color picture can have mostly excellent aesthetic qualities but at the same time have a couple of aesthetic qualities that are bad. In such situations, the problem is usually weird, strange unattractive coloring, which can happen with certain kinds of film (especially Kodachrome, which is also notorious for producing problematic colors in scans) used under certain kinds of outdoor lighting conditions.  Strangely enough, a few of the better pictures in the gallery are monochrome "saves" of failed color photographs. 
 
At the big picture pages, the Caption (the longer callout that is below the photograph) will sometimes make note of either the type of B&W film stock used, or of the fact that the image is actually the color original converted to B&W. 
 
Technical information about shooting practices
 
Although we are only talking about maybe 65 images out of the more than 2100 images on the website, some B&W enthusiasts may nevertheless be curious about the methods used in the film captures. 
 
Favorite film stock includes: Kodak T-Max 100, Ilford Pan-F Plus 50, Arista II 100, Kodak 125 PX (probably out of production), and Agfapan APX 100 (long out of production). Most shots are with the classic T-Max or Pan-F Plus stock. 
 
Filter habits are a particularly important subject in B&W film capture.  General practice for this collection is to use yellow or orange in partly cloudy, moderately bright situations.  A Sunpak Ultra Contrast 3 filter has sometimes been used in foggy or misty conditions.  Bright conditions, depending on the kinds of clouds present, if any, and whether or not they will be in the pictures, call for dark yellow, orange, red, yellow-green or even green.  A polarizer has been tried a couple of times in bright conditions, but that method is no longer employed.  Most photographers probably reach first for yellow or orange, with orange being a particularly successful choice. Yellow-green filters do not seem to be as common as they were decades ago, but yellow-green has long been associated with monochrome film capture.  Its filter factor (a number used to help guess at how much you need to compensate in your exposure setting for the light absorbed by the filter) falls between dark yellow and light red, or about the same as orange.  Yellow-green is probably more successful at preventing unwanted darkening of foliage than is orange.
 
In many circumstances it is probably best to use no filter at all.  Examples of such situations include shady or partly shady conditions, or out in the open in overcast conditions (natural softbox light).  This is especially true when the focal distance to the subject is about 40 feet or less, in other words near to the lens.  (The subject itself then provides the punch you want to avoid a photo that is mostly boring light and medium grays.)  Dappled-light conditions, such as inside of woods on a sunny or partly sunny day, can present an opportunity to go unfiltered, if the sunlight getting through the trees is not sufficiently harsh to cause blow-outs.  The advantage of going unfiltered is that darker shadows are more likely to retain detail.  Orange and red can really steal the detail out of the shadows.  That's great if you are going for a very punchy and dramatic look, but it can also be annoying.  It's always quite the adventure trying to figure out how to filter B&W film capture.
 
 
Thanks for your interest in black and white nature photography. 
A wild part of lower Piru Creek area near Piru Lake in the far southeast area of Los Padres National Forest. An oak tree near Blue Point campground at the edge of Sespe Wilderness Area. The color photo converted to B&W.

A wild part of lower Piru Creek area near Piru Lake in the far southeast area of Los Padres National Forest. An oak tree near Blue Point campground at the edge of Sespe Wilderness Area. The color photo converted to B&W.