The Best Software for B&W Photography - TDS Photo Podcast

This is The Digital Story Podcast #853, July 26, 2022. Today's theme is "The Best Software for B&W Photography." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

As we prepare for our upcoming B&W Photography Workshop, I've been having a lot of fun revisiting some of my favorite software. And the one thing that really jumps out at me is: there is black and white, and then there is BLACK & WHITE! So the first story of this week's show is dedicated to apps that help you create masterful monochromes that dazzle. I hope you enjoy the show.

Digital Photography Podcast 853

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The Best Software for B&W Photography


I think B&W imagery lives somewhere in our DNA. There's just something about it that draws our attention.

We have many options for monochromes in the digital age. We can use the built-in effects in our cameras. These can be particularly sweet if you shoot Fuji or if you have an Olympus PEN-F.

In any software app, we can totally desaturate an image to create a monochrome. Most apps have a dedicated B&W adjustment panel that does an admirable job. Lightroom, Capture One, and Photos for macOS are all capable of producing excellent monochromes.

But one of the aspects of this type of photography is its ability to withstand "pushing the creative envelope." This tradition goes all the way back to the film days when we would alter the processing recipes to stretch Tri-X from its native ISO 400, to 800 and beyond.

And that's when we step beyond Lightroom presets and Capture One Styles into the uncharted waters of specialized plugins. Let's take a closer look at a few of these.

Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 3 Mac/Windows

I like using Silver Efex Pro 3 DxO PhotoLab 5 that comes bundled with the entire Nik software package. I can point PhotoLab to a folder of images, take care of my basic edits first, then launch the Silver Efex plugin from within PhotoLab.

This plugin also works well with Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. So if Lightroom is your everyday asset manager, you're in great shape with Silver Efex.

Silver Efex is such a fun app to work within. On the left side of the interface you have a column that features 64 magical presets. In all honesty, these are so good that you could pick your favorite for an image, click on it, and be done.

If you want to keep playing, however, on the right side you can tap a cornucopia of adjustment tools that are designed for B&W photography. I particularly like the Film Types panel that has some of my favorite emulsions from the analog days.

You can also use their Control Points technology for selective adjustments, and then use DxO Clear View for a finishing touch. It's really sweet.

If you come up with a magic formula that you like, you can save it as your own custom preset.

The entire Nik Collection, including DxO PhotoLab 5 is $149. There are usually discount codes online that can bring it down to $129.

ON1 Effects 2022 - Mac/Windows

I originally fell in love with ON1 Effects for my infrared photography. But it has a lot of muscle for straight B&W work as well.

Again, I tend to start with the B&W presets on the left side of the interface, the fine tune with the Black & White adjustment panel on the right side. In addition to the usual tonal sliders, I really like the Film Grain panel where I can choose from all the popular analog emulsions, then apply Amount and Size.

I also like the Opacity slider for each panel that allows me to add just a hint of color to my B&W conversions, almost like toning.

There are lots of other great effects to choose from that complement your B&W work, such as Vignette, Vintage, Lens Blur, Photo Filter, LUTs, Dynamic Contrast and more.

Unlike Silver Efex, you can buy ON1 Effects 2022 by itself for $69. It's wonderful for a variety of uses, and it works as a plugin with Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, Capture One Pro, and Photos for macOS.

Final Thoughts

Both of these apps will help you elevate your B&W work to the Wow Level. And they are fun to experiment with as well.

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Update on Peakto

There was an update this week that brought us up to version 1.0.2 that smoothed the normal rough edges.

I now have all of my Aperture libraries loaded, spanning images from 2000 to 2014. The performance is particularly good with Aperture catalogs.

I also have Capture One catalogs from 2015 to present in Peakto. The previews from C1P don't look quite as good as those from Aperture, so I am going to check my preview settings on the catalogs themselves to see if I can improve that situation.

Currently Peakto is digesting 897,730 items using 42.26 GBs. Performance remains strong.

Peakto is available three ways:

  • $9.99 Monthly with Zero Risk 7 day free trial.
  • $99 Yearly per seat with 15 day free trial.
  • $189 One time per seat with 30 day Money back guarantee.

Kodak to Use Film Manufacturing Machines to Make EV Batteries

You can read the entire article on

Kodak has announced that it is repurposing some of the expensive, high-tech machines used to manufacture its photography film for use on batteries for electric vehicles (EV). The company has invested in Wildcat Discovery Technologies, which makes EV batteries.

Engineers at Kodak have discovered that the "supercell" batteries Wildcat manufactures, require a similar coating and engineering services, like their 35mm film. So, with minimal retooling, these $70 million machines have a new life, producing materials needed to create batteries.

According to a video tour of the Kodak facility by Destin of Smarter Everyday on YouTube, Kodak's current process of film manufacturing , known as ESTAR, requires using polymers to create the film itself. These polymers have replaced the old school acetate base in 35mm film (except for motion picture film) and requires special chemical coatings, which Kodak says is very similar to what is required in Wildcat's Supercell EV batteries.

"[These machines are] probably a $70 million or $80 million machines, and we were selling them extremely cheap, [for less than] $2 million," Jim Continenza, CEO of Kodak, tells the Rome Sentinel. "And it's like, 'No, we've got to put this back to work. This is an incredible piece of equipment.'"

Continenza goes on to say that it was at that moment that he realized, accidentally, that George Eastman made a battery company, he just didn't know it. "It's identical to making film and coating on batteries."

n order to keep the company growing, Continenza and his team have been looking for ways to capitalize on the manufacturing capability of its Advanced Materials & Chemicals business at Eastman Business Park (formerly known as Kodak Park). Since then, Kodak has expanded into making components for pharmaceuticals, health care operations, and chemicals for various lab operations.

With this new vision for Kodak, the company has gone from laying off personnel to cope with a shrinking film industry, to working overtime to fill nearly 100 vacancies. That is a remarkable turnaround.

Tell a Friend

I was thinking the other day about how people love to tell me about their favorite podcasts, which I appreciate!

Then, I started thinking, we should be telling our friends about The Digital Story podcast. It's available on every service that's commonly used: Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, and on and on.

If each or our regular listeners told just one friend about this podcast and encouraged them to listen, those should be substantial numbers.

So let's try it! Tell a friend about the TDS Photography Podcast.

Virtual Camera Club News

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The New Donation Kit for Carefree Shipping of Found Film Cameras - If you've discovered a film camera that's no longer being used, our new Donation Kit makes it easy to pack and ship. Just visit the Contact Form on, click the box next to Donating a Film Camera, and let me know what you have. In your note, be sure to include your shipping address.

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Red River Paper - And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

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