Getting Black and White Right In Camera

Getting Black and White Right In Camera



December 30, 2017


This morning I drove up through Wyoming in brutal cold winter weather. The car’s outside thermometer fluctuated between 7 and 9 degrees fahrenheit and for a while near Cheyenne the landscape looked like it was completely plastered with rime ice. On closer inspection I found instead that it was thick fluffy snow plastered onto everything by the stiff Wyoming breeze. I was psyched to try out the in-camera black and white settings I’d just programmed into the D700, but absolutely not excited to wander around in the cold.


In an attempt to impart some film-like grain, I was taking a tip I’d read on Eric Kim’s website and shooting everything at ISO 1600. I was also taking his advice and shooting in “P” mode. I’m pretty sure that Kim, a street photographer, was setting up his camera with high ISO and using P so he could “set it and forget it.” His article recommends not getting hung up on the settings and focusing on composition, light, and reacting quickly when photo opportunities present themselves. My priorities were a little different. Like I mentioned in my last post, I was hoping to capture a bit of the film magic with my new/used full frame digital body, and today I was hoping to make that happen in-camera instead of relying on Lightroom in post-processing.

Lines1 Nikon D700, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, Wyoming


What I found was that by shooting in “P” mode, a place I’ve refused to visit since I decided to become a “real” photographer, and using a higher ISO in bright, reflective sunlight, the camera selected fast shutter speeds and smaller apertures which allowed me just to point, shoot, and focus on making photos with compositions that I enjoyed. While I was taking pictures today I really didn’t think about what the camera was doing, but I really did spend more time considering composition as I looked through the viewfinder. The two photos in this post were uploaded without any Lightroom love and with just a wee bit of touch-up in the Mac Photos app. I’m happy with how they turned out and I’m glad I took a chance with “P” mode.

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