Black and White Portraits

Drew Levin Black and White photo portrait


Photo tip:  It’s easy to take photos when you have a good subject.  Why not try making it a black and white photo?? I think my first inclination is always to make a black and white (or Monochrome) image.  I suppose that goes back to the photos and photographers who inspired me as I began my interest.  Also, I would imagine I probably have leftover influences from my darkroom experience in the “old days” which was exclusively with black and white film.
Anyways, we were lucky and happy to have Drew for an unplanned, impromptu sleepover after our Seder.  So, it was a great opportunity to make a portrait of him.  Easy to do because he’s photogenic and cooperative…and because he’s one of our grandsons.  And I am beginning to think he’s interested in photography!
Note:  I like the shirt!! An old Chicago Bulls shirt of ours that he slept in.  Who says you have to get dressed up for a portrait?!?!

Nowadays, it’s easy to make black and white images.  No muss, no fuss.  If you’re shooting with a camera phone, there are many apps that will allow you to edit your image from color to black and white.  I have a ton of iPhone photo apps I’ve accumulated over the years, but I seem to go to Snapseed (which includes B&W options) for much of my editing of iPhone images.  There are also dedicated B&W apps like Noir. And there are many, many more like that.  My newest app that includes very good B&W editing features is Red Dot Camera….not surprising since they are trying to emulate the Leica camera experience in appearance, handling, and function.  Let me know (in the comments  below) if you have or find others apps for B&W.
For B&W conversion of color images on your computer, I suggest Nik Softwares Silver Efex and the B&W features in ON1 Software.  I am also on the verge of trying Macphun’s Tonality…I’ve been doing some “research” on that.  If you are using Adobe Lightroom for editing your photos, it also comes with various monochrome presets and you can also get more (for fee or for $$) or make your own.  Keep in mind, though, that it’s generally not good enough to simply desaturate or remove the color from a color image…your results will look flat and muddy compared to how they could or should look.  Even though black and white implies no color, be aware that color channels, so to speak, are important and essential tonal elements of an image!
Finally, IF you are really committed and dedicated to black and white photography, you can always get yourself (or me!!) a Leica Monochrome camera.  It’s a 35mm digital camera that shoots exclusively monochrome images.  Click the link HERE if you want to read more about it.  By the way, you can have one for a cool $7500.  Yes, I said $7500.  And that doesn’t include a lens.

Drew posing for portrait in front of the Wescott softbox

More Drew

So, now that you may know more about black and white, here’s another portrait of Drew.
Details:  Canon 5dMkiii with a 50mm f1.2 lens.  ISO 800 at f8 and 1/100th of a second.  Single flash in a Westcott softbox held up and to the right by my favorite and best assistant, Judy, to derive a sort of Rembrandt lighting. Drew was standing against a wall in our bedroom.

IF you want to see a color version of either of these, send me an e-mail at sml@stephenmlevinphotos.com and tell me which one!

Thanks for visiting!
-Stephen M. Levin


SML Photography