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The Art of Black and White Photography In Recess
Instructor: David Nightingale                                                                        Duration: 4 Weeks            Cost: US$169       

Since the first black and white photograph was produced by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce in 1826, using a bitumen covered pewter plate, black and white photography has remained enduringly popular: and to this day it is still the preferred medium of many professional and amateur photographers as it can be used to produce simple, yet stunningly beautiful and striking images. With black and white photography an image is reduced to nothing more than form and tonal range: the interplay of light and dark against a backdrop of varying shapes and textures. As Andri Cauldwell (an American photographer) once stated, "To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul".

Since the introduction of digital cameras and image processing, black and white photography has lost nothing of its popularity, but the skills you need to create a stunning black and white image have changed. Now, rather than loading your camera with black and white film (and then enhancing the tonal range and contrast in the darkroom), creating a black and white image from a digital negative requires an additional, crucial step: you need to convert your original colour image to black and white.

In this four week course we begin at that point - by exploring a variety of techniques that you can use to convert your original photographs into black and white. We will discuss which techniques are most useful and powerful, when you should use one technique rather than another, which techniques to avoid (and why), and a range of related topics. From there we will move on to discuss a variety of advanced topics and techniques (detailed below), but the aim of each week's lesson is to enable you to develop the skills you need to create not only technically optimal images, but ones that are aesthetically striking too. As Ansel Adams once stated, "you don't take a photograph, you make it": a fact that seems especially true for black and white photography.

Course Outline:

Lesson 1. Black and white conversion techniques: an overview

In this lesson, working with a variety of different images, we will explore eight techniques you can use to convert your images to black and white, comparing and contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of each: the Hue/Saturation tool and Desaturate command (and why you shouldn't use them), the Calculations method, converting to black and white in Lab Color mode, how create a black and white image using a Gradient Map, the Channel Mixer, the Black and White tool, and how to convert an image to black and white during the RAW conversion process. Having discussed these techniques we will move on to take a more detailed look at the Channel Mixer the Black and White tool - two of Photoshop's most powerful and flexible black and white conversion tools - and how you can use them to alter the tonal balance and tonal range of an image to create both technically optimal and aesthetically stunning images.

Lesson 2. Combining conversion techniques and selectively altering tonal range and contrast

It's often the case that a single black and white conversion technique will work well for an image, but there are times when combining one or more different techniques can produce a more effective image. In this week's lesson we will work through how to do blend multiple black and white conversions, and other selective adjustments, using adjustment layers and masks.

Lesson 3. Black and white portraiture

While all of the techniques we worked through in lesson one can be used to convert an image to black and white, portraits present a number of unique challenges. In this lesson, using the Lab Color mode conversion method, the Channel Mixer, and the Black and White tool, we will concentrate on how to overcome these challenges: how to minimize or accentuate skin tones and skin detail, how to emphasize a subject's eyes, and how to delineate a subject from their background.

Lesson 4. Toning and colorizing your black and white images

In our final lesson we will take a look at how to tone and colorize your black and white images, using the Hue/Saturation tool, Photo Filters, the Color Balance tool, the Curves tool, and the Selective Color tool. We will work through a variety of simple techniques, such as adding a uniform tone (e.g. sepia), through how to split-tone an image (a common toning technique in film-based black and white photography), to how to use a variety of tools within Photoshop to create unique and complex tones that will really bring your black and white images to life.

Course Requirement:

A Digital camera and Photoshop 7 or above (please note that the Black and White tool, discussed in lessons one through three, was introduced with Photoshop CS3).

Instructor: David Nightingale

David NightingaleDavid Nightingale lives in both Blackpool, a seaside town in the North West of England, and Ganchovets, a village near to Veliko Tarnovo in central Bulgaria, with his wife Libby and seven children. He was formerly a university lecturer, but is now the full-time Creative Director of Chromasia Limited - a fine arts and commercial photography company specialising in commercial and private commissions; image licensing; and print sales ( He is also the director of Chromasia Training Limited – a photographic and post-production training company, specialising in online tutorials and one-to-one training (

His blog, from which he developed both companies, has received numerous nominations and awards including Winner of the Most Popular Photoblog category in the 2008 Photoblog Awards and Best European Photoblog in the 2007 Photoblog Awards.

He has also authored three books: Baby Photography Now (2007), published by ILEX Press in the UK and Lark Books in the US; Practical HDR (2009), published by ILEX Press in the UK and Focal Press in the US; and Extreme Exposure, scheduled for publication in 2010.

David believes in the intelligent application of photo enhancing techniques and brings to his students, not only the technical skills to create stunning images, but also the discerning eye and critical judgement of what is needed to improve an image.

What students are saying about David Nightingale and his courses?

Click here to see what is in David's camera bag.
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