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Old January 31st, 2005, 04:17 PM   #1
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lighting for black & white?

I have heard before that black & white is a different world from color as far as lighting is concerned. I think it has a romance to it that I must capture, but I'm not under the delusion that black & white = instant romantic effect.

Anyone have any insights on how to achieve a great photographic effect using black & white? or at least on the other end, how to avoid doing it poorly?

If am shooting specifically using the incamera black and white effect, or turning it to black and white during the editing process?
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Old February 2nd, 2005, 04:24 AM   #2
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Lighting for black and white requires quite a different approach. Two key things to pay attention to are contrast and seperation of your subject from the b/g. (Though sometimes you may not desire that) You have to think in tones and density rather than color and density. It really helps to have callobrated reference monitor with you to see your image in black and white. Though there are many methods to lighting b/w, my usual go-to formula is a soft wrapping cross key and a semi-soft rim or liner. Also keep in mind that complimentary colors of the same intensity will come out as the same shade of grey.

As far as achieving a "great photographic effect", it will depend on what camera you shoot with. Some overall tips would be to shoot toward the long end of your zoom or use long primes and work with a shooting stop that is close to wide open. That way you'll minimize depth of field and that will have a very film-like effect.

Another key thing is to always SHOOT IN COLOR, and then desaturate in post. That way, you'll have more of a greyscale to work with. Also your blacks are very important to watch. You may or may not know that video black is not "true" or "film" black. Film black = 0 IRE, while video black = 7.5 IRE. (100 IRE = pure white)

I recently shot a film with an XL1 that was to be finished in b/w. My formula was to shoot in color and use a reference monitor, always making sure NOT to blow out the highlights (a glaring video characteristic). The XL1 produces very milky camera-raw blacks, so once the project was cut, I went in and desaturated everything and then crushed the blacks down to 0 IRE. I then brought the midtones up to preserve the contrast range.
The results were fantastic. Many people who saw the film thought it was a telecine from Super 16.

Another person who might be able to shed light on this for you is Charles Papert.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
Matt Irwin
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