My B&W Experiment in a Beautiful Place

During our TDS Photography Workshop in Pt. Reyes, CA, I put forth the idea of working in B&W over the course of the event.

P8203873-BW-Tomales.jpg Skipper on Thistle flower. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO zoom in monochrome mode. Photos by Derrick Story.

Since many of the participants had mirrorless cameras with electronic viewfinders, we could view the beautiful Northern California landscape in Black & White right there in our cameras. I consider this a wonderful feature that makes this type of capture even more exciting.

Another nice feature is the ability to shoot in RAW+Jpeg. In my case, my Jpegs were the monochrome images, recorded at full resolution with SuperFine compression. But I still had the corresponding RAWs for each shot. This provided me the luxury of choosing which version I liked best for any given scene.

P8214009-BW-Pt-Reyes Tomales Point. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with 14-42mm EZ zoom in monochrome mode.

I was surprised at how often I liked the monochrome better. Yes, I had anticipated that some of the landscape scenes would look great in B&W, but I was delighted that many of the wildlife images looked great too.

P8213932-BW-Pt-Reyes Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO zoom in monochrome mode.

Because the monochromes were Jpegs, I knew that I would be able to edit them quite as much as the RAW files (although they held up better than I anticipated). So I did try extra hard to get them right in the camera. I think this led to me slowing down a bit and really enjoying the experience of photographing the diversity of Pt. Reyes.

P8203907-BW-Tomales Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with 9mm "lens cap" fisheye in monochrome mode.

A few of our photographers also went this route and created very artistic images. Others stuck with RAW and converted to B&W in post. But almost everyone shared a stunning monochrome or two during our class presentation at the end of the workshop.

P8203880-BW-Tomales Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO zoom in monochrome mode.

So what's my conclusion after this artistic experiment? I think I'm going to use this technique more often. I really don't have anything to lose with RAW+Jpeg, and I felt that my concentration was improved while shooting. Not to mention that I really like some of the images.

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