Shooting for Black and White – Valley of Fire
January 18th, 2010
I spend a lot of time in Las Vegas for various trade shows – CES, PMA, Photoshop World, to name a few. Every year I try to get outside the city for a morning shoot, just to get some fresh air and reset from the weirdness of the Strip. There are amazing places within a fairly short drive, and one of my favorites is Valley of Fire state park, which is about an hour and a quarter north. It’s an otherworldly, weird place, with incredible volcanic rock formations and amazing pink stone.
I just got back from CES, and for my get-out-of-Vegas shoot this year I went up with a specific purpose – I wanted to shoot some black and whites to add to a wall of landscapes that I’m putting up in my house. This doesn’t require anything different in the camera – with digital, B&W is all done on the computer – but you have to think a little differently about what you’re shooting. You have to strip color out of what you’re seeing and focus on lines, shapes, forms, textures, and patterns. It’s a discipline I used to have in spades – I shot almost exclusively B&W film all through college because I was the photo editor of the school paper so film and a darkroom were free – but I haven’t done lot of thinking in black and white in recent years.
I definitely felt a little rusty but here are some of the results. Post-processing note – I use Adobe Lightroom to manage my photos and it does a reasonable job converting to B&W, but not outstanding. For all these shots, I used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro which is in my opinion the best B&W conversion tool available.