Part of my photographic expression over the last several years has been the black and white landscape. I hate to label a body of work in such a limiting fashion, but in this instance the description is accurate. I have been shooting with intent for more than 25 years and of course I have been making landscapes all along, with a vast number of other sorts of images, people mostly, but as of late I have been obsessed more than ever with the earth around me.
I made images with film for years, color and black and white. I have spent time in the darkroom printing color and black and white, and I am well-versed with respect to the characteristics required for a good photograph. I began using digital capture roughly 10 years ago. For a long time I rarely converted my work to black and white. My thinking was that the data (light) landed on the sensor, passed through the array and was saved as a color file, so who was I to alter it. The difference of course, when shooting film I was making a “choice” by loading black and white film. Plus, early digital conversions to black and white were pretty terrible. Then, one fine day, I read about Jon Cone and his ink. I ordered a set for my Epson printer. The set of fancy custom ink arrived and I set it aside, ignoring it for a year or so. Every now and then I’d look at the box of ink in my office, and wonder what a print made from that ink would look like. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I opened the box, loaded the ink into the printer, converted some files to black and white, and made some prints. It was when I viewed those prints that I became hooked. I loved them. The process took some getting used to, and just like the dark room there is a bit of trial and error involved, but I was at last able to make extraordinarily high quality black and white photographs. I was using Epson’s least expensive 6 cart printer (I don’t remember the model number) and the prints were really very good. it was at that moment that I became a dedicated landscape photographer. Simply: I needed material to make the photographs.
I now use an Epson SureCol0r P600 and Epson’s excellent ink for printing.
Anyway, how to get from capture to final image:
I was out yesterday afternoon. My go to location for a short photo fix is Southern New Jersey. The sky looked interesting and I had the urge to shoot so off I went. I came back with 3 potential prints. This is the first:
What we have here is the Nikon Electronic File, straight off the sensor, converted to jpg in Lightroom and resized in Photoshop. The untouched file. My concern with the exposure was the sky. I wanted to maintain detail in the clouds, so the foreground is underexposed while the sky is exposed more or less normally. I knew that the information in the foreground would easily render when I processed the file in Lightroom.
Here is the first swing at a black and white conversion:
This is close, sort of, but there is still work to be done. Halo is visible where the edge of the barn roof meets the sky, and there is some foreground that need to be revealed.