Raise your hand if you ever do any black & white photography. How about HDR black & white? For old time black and white shooters, like me, revisiting this traditional medium in the digital age with HDR technology can lead to new and amazing images! Topaz is making it easier for any photographer to now make compelling black & white photos with their release this week of B&W Effects 2 plugin. I’ll talk about that in a minute.
The Masters of Black & White Photography
When I picked up my first camera, an OM-1 back in 1978, all I shot for years and years was black & white photography. I studied from the maters like Ansel Adams & Edward Weston.
Even today, I would recommend, as almost required reading, the Ansel Adams series of books; The Camrea, The Print, The Negative, etc. These are technical bibles for those of us geeky enough to want to produce the absolute highest quality photographs possible. Of course there is no discussion of digital photography in these volumes, but many of the concepts overlap into the way we do photography today. I would not be the photographer I am today without having studied what Ansel Adams graciously shared decades ago.
The Daybooks of Edward Weston taught me so much about seeing. Form, texture, shape, and even color, are the elements that Weston demonstrates are what makes a photograph “work” or not. The Daybooks are accounts from his personal journals giving great insight into how to love and live without distractions of things that clutter life distracting us from our focus on our passions. Edward Weston lived very simply in spartan environments with photography and his lovers the only real things that mattered to him in life.
It’s been 30 years since I read those books, yet they still resonate strongly with me. Here I am talking myself into the possibility of cozying up and re-reading them for new inspiration. I may just pull one of these books off my shelf to re-read this weekend.
The New Way to Perfect Black & White Photography
The reason I’m talking about black & white photography today is because Topaz released their new B&W Effects plugin this week. With this plugin it’s easy to do what used to take hours in the chemical darkroom or was simply impossible to do. With Topaz B&W effects it’s now within reach of every photographer to create breathtaking black and white images with relative ease.
Here are some of the features of the updated Topaz plugin.
- The color filters give you selective control over tone values in your black and whites. We used to use color filters over our lens when shooting to get these effects. I would often use orange or red filters to get dramatic skies in my black & white work. So now the Topaz B&W Effects 2 significantly improves how color filter and sensitivity options work.
- B&W Effects 2 features realistic grain creation from a true digitized grain library. Grain is not noise. Grain gives body to an image and digital black & white photography actually requires the photographer to add in grain which this plugin does so well.
- Get easier access to the 200 one-click effects in 8 collections with the new preset QuickView and Preview functionality. EZ PZ to get lots of different looks to your work.
- New re-imagined interface designed with speed and functionality in mind. Use quick tools, a new loupe, viewing enhancements, and a cleaner interface.
If you already own Topaz B&W Effects 1, it’s a free upgrade to the new version so go for it. If you want to buy Topaz B&W Effects 2, it’s on sale for 30% off through the end of February. That’s less than a week. You can use their promo code bwfx2 today to get the plugin or it also works for the entire Topaz bundle, which includes the legendary Topaz Adjust! Topaz has a 30 day double guarantee on their software so it’s really risk free to see if their products will help your photography. I’m pretty sure they will.
Last week was so great for me during my time on Vancouver Island. We did a good amount of photography and today’s shot is from one of the small islands accessible by ferry. This is Thetis Island where I spent the afternoon exploring with friends and camera. There is some cool honeycomb sandstone on the beaches here too. I’m visualizing making a black & white from one of those shots. Stay tuned.