Thursday, October 6, 2011

My "aha!" moment in Photoshop

At the risk of sounding boastful, I used to (still think I can, with the right tools) "make a B&W negative sing in the darkroom", to paraphrase Ansel Adams' famous quote: "the negative is the score, the print is the performance". With the advent of digital cameras and printers, I couldn't duplicate or replicate my darkroom expertise, until yesterday! The early digital cameras, in my case the pro quality Nikon D100, did not have sensors and processing engines with a decent dynamic range. When the full frame Canon 5D finally got it right, printer technology could not deliver black Blacks, white Whites, and everything in-between.
When Epson introduced two-black pigment printers (the state of the art is now three-blacks, two-cyans, two-magentas), it seemed that the final hurdle to classic B&W had been achieved. Well, it has been, but not for me, until yesterday.
I envy, and admire, B&W prints that have that Adams-Weston-Paul Caponigro-John Sexton look and feel to them. And I could never achieve them, until yesterday.
Suffice to say that my processing technique involves the principles of channel mixing, and highlight/shadow adjustments in ACR, followed by, if need be, manipulation in Photoshop. The good news is, and this was a surprise to me, is that ACR is sufficient, most of the time.
Of course, processing technique is insufficient; the image itself has to have been exposed with a view to prioritizing tonal values (sadly, the push/pull, pull/push available in film is not available). AND, OF COURSE, composition remains the heart of an image.
I will post samples when I get to my laptop (I'm writing this on an iPhone).
AND, I will revisit some of the thousands of images and mine them for their potential, once again.

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