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In the film photography days, I had this odd, greenish, disc that I could peer through to get some idea of how a scene would look in B&W. I never thought it was that effective, and I don't even know where the darn thing is today.

Partly because I don't need it anymore. I can now use my digicam to evaluate any scene's potential in B&W. I was working with this technique as part of the writing for my latest book, Digital Photography Companion that will be out in March. (Between now and then, I'll give you sneak peeks of the techniques and photos I'm preparing for the book. Virtual camera clubs are about sharing, after all.)

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Color version of the scene as I saw it while working in the field. But how would it convert to B&W? Should I make changes now?

I carry my Canon G9 with me most of the time, and one of the things I use it for is to evaluate scenes for B&W conversion. It has that beautiful 3" LCD that displays images well in the field. I don't like to shoot in B&W with digital cameras per se, rather, capture in color and convert to grayscale later on the computer. That way I know I have all of the information for the shot at the time of capture, plus I have the color version too if I need it later on.

But I do like knowing how a scene is going to translate to B&W while I'm shooting it. That way, I can make capture adjustments on the spot that give me a better idea of what I'm going to do later in post production.

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So I take a shot in B&W mode on the G9 to help me evaluate what I will have to work with later in post production.

So for a few shots, I switch to B&W mode on the G9 to give me a real preview o the scene. With the shot that I included here, for example, experienced B&W photographers would have guessed that the red coat would translate to about the same tonal values as her black slacks. But to see it in the field is a good reminder of some of the adjustments that I'll have to make later, or to have her change wardrobe if I don't like the look.

One final note, if you shoot Raw+Jpeg in B&W mode, your camera might render all of the images in color when you upload them to the computer. Software applications tend to ignore the accompanying Jpegs (which are your B&Ws) and build the previews right off the Raws (that have all the information).

If you haven't played with previewing in B&W, give it a try. You might see something inspiring that energizes your shoot... or saves it from disaster.

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A Raft of Software Updates

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The next time you fire up Adobe Lightroom, you'll be asked if you want to download the 1.3.1 update that is primarily a bug and compatibility fix. Adobe also released Camera Raw 4.3.1 that fixes support for the Nikon D100 and the Olympus E-3. You can download both the Mac and the Windows versions of ACR from the Adobe site.

Microsoft released the HD Photo Plug-In for both Mac and Windows that allows you to open and save any HD Photo file -- .wdp or .hdp -- in Adobe Photoshop.

And finally, Sigma updated their Sigma Photo Pro to 2.3. This is their application for processing files captured with Sigma cameras.

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Thanks to the release of the Lightroom 1.3 Export SDK, we're starting to see some handy export plug-ins for Adobe's all-in-one photo management application. Over at Jeffrey Friedl’s Blog, he has provided some very useful export plug-ins for Flickr, Smugmug, and Zenfolio. So you no longer have to fool with workarounds to get your images out of Lightroom directly to these other services.

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I use AA batteries for a few of my digicams and for all of my electronic flashes. When I have a big event, I can go through 6 sets (of 4 batteries) in a shoot. One of my frustrations is that, if I haven't used a set of NiMHs for a few weeks, the batteries can be partially drained when I put them in the device, giving me only half the shooting time compared to a freshly-charged set.

According to Mike Pasini over at Imaging-Resource, Sanyo's new Eneloop AA NiMH batteries have "a new super lattice alloy which increases the electrical capacity of the battery, reduces the internal resistance and allows higher discharge currents -- all good stuff in a digicam."

Mike and company get into some good battery specs in the article, and it's worth taking a closer look to learn what an improvement these new cells are. And the best news? You can buy a kit of 4 batteries and a charger for about $20. If you already have a NiMH charger, you can buy the batteries alone for for just $9 a set. What a great stocking stuffer for your favorite photographer (even if that's you).

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Warming Up to the Huey Colorimeter

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Back in March 2006, I reviewed the Huey colorimeter and was lukewarm about its performance. Even though I loved its price ($80) and thought is was a snappy looking device, I wasn't sold on its screen calibration ability.

Well, I pulled it out of mothballs the other day, downloaded the latest driver from Pantone, and tried it again on my MacBook Pro. It worked great. And the profile the Huey created seems spot on. I retested again and got results that were just as good.

Go figure. It could be me of course. But I think some nice improvements happened in software over the last year and a half. So now I feel very good about recommending this this $80 colorimeter. What a difference software can make...

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Graphics tablets are great tools to help with detailed image editing in Photoshop. They can be pricey, however. Fortunately, Wacom has released the Bamboo line of tablets that start at $79 US.

PhotographyBLOG had just published a review of the Wacom Bamboo tablets that will help you decide if it's time to add this device to your image editing workflow.

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Ben Long on Specialty Lenses

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We've talked about extreme glass before on The Digital Story. In this article Ben Long says, "If you have a digital SLR, but haven't yet explored the world of unusual lenses, you're in for an eye-opening treat."

Ben then takes you on a tour of fast, wide, fisheye, lensbaby, and tilting lenses, with photo examples for all. He captured this shot of me in Mexico with a Nikon 10mm lens, a wonderful piece of glass he discusses in the article.

On a side note, Ben is teaching the Aperture Power Tools Workshop with me at Macworld SF in January. And he knows his stuff...

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If you're a Mac shooter and have been curious about incorporating digital picture frames into your display options, PhotoVu has now built-in compatibility for the Mac.

“We have garnered a very loyal following from the Apple and Mac user community,” said Robert Jordan, Partner, PhotoVu. “Our PhotoVu customers who use the Mac OS X Leopard operating system and iLife '08 recognize PhotoVu as 'the' premium digital picture frame to accurately and seamlessly display their life's photos directly from a iPhoto® '08 digital picture library or from their .Mac Web Gallery using RSS.”

PhotoVu frames come in a variety of sizes (10" - 22") and have beautiful screens that show your work in the best light possible. One might make a nice holiday gift for the Mac photographer in your family.

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Dave Lists Favorite Digicams for 2007

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Thinking about the perfect digital camera for Mom, your friend the serious enthusiast, or just an all around snap-shooter for the family? Then you might want to hop over to Imaging-Resource.com and take a look at Dave's Picks. He gets straight to the point, listing his favorite cameras in each category, then providing links for you to learn more about the models you're most interested in. Even if you're not in the market to buy, it's terrific window shopping.

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"Workflow" is the kind of word that makes most hobbyist photographers cringe. But the fact of the matter is, if you've taken great photos with your digital camera, don't you want to find the easiest way to organize them and share with others?

If this sounds appealing to you, then you might be interested in my workshop this coming weekend titled, I've Taken Great Photos, Now What?. You'll learn about the coolest photo management applications including Adobe Lightroom, Apple iPhoto, Photoshop CS3, Photoshop Elements 6, and Apple Aperture. We'll build a workflow tailored specifically for your needs. And by the end of the day, you'll see that managing your images can be as fun as taking them in the first place.

The workshop begins at 10 am on Sat. December 1 at 1678 Emeritus Hall, Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, California. You can sign up for the class online, or call for more information at 707-527-4372. The course fee is $63.

Photo of Derrick Story teaching on a recent Geek Cruise taken by Randal Schwartz.

Event Calendar

Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances.


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