The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

facebook The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets * twitter The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets * plusone The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

About a month ago I started hearing the buzz. There was a new secret – a secret from a woman named Sonia who had incredible black and white images. I was curious. So I contacted her to learn more. And though I do not personally do a lot of black and white work and I do have some actions within some of my sets for black and white, I had to see what all the noise was about.

Once I did, I was sold (so to speak). Now she will be sharing a little of her secret here, today with us. Welcome Sonia from Bohemian Secret as our guest blogger today.

3 lucky winners will get to own her “Secret” products. 1 will win her combination set (of both photoshop actions and presets for lightroom, 1 will win the actions, and 1 will win the lightroom presets). So 3 amazing prizes.

All you have to do is comment on your thoughts on her article below. Please mention if you have Photoshop or Lightroom or both so that you do not win a prize that will not work for you. Winners will be picked on Friday, January 30th.  Good luck everyone!

She also has agreed to give a 15% off discount to all MCP Actions Readers. Go to BOHEMIAN SECRET – use the code 91b1abe3c5.

It’s about Light and You

What is the key success to beautiful B&W image? I have been asked many times how to achieve the result B&W images similar to what I do. Is there a secret to a successful conversion? Are there any more secrets apart from the processing?

Jodi asked me to write a mini tutorial for her blog so here it is …

There are many ways how to convert image to B&W using Photoshop. You can desaturate, use the monochrome, duotone tri tone features, use channel mixer, gradient map, calculations followed by curves, levels and other layers …. but how to achieve THAT! look .. that feel of B&W image being a beautiful B&W image .. it is not only about post processing … more than anything

it is all about light and You in the moment while capturing your image.

As many of you might know, the word “photography” comes from the Greek φώς (phos) γραφίς (graphis) which actually means “drawing with light”.

So said, one of the secrets to beautiful image (regardless colour) is light … for b&Wphotography especially. There is no way one can impress with colours in B&W image, Tocreate it, one has to master the light (and of course dark..)

When taking a B&W image all it matters is the light and the way it “paints itself” on the subject(s) … light gives the depth to the B&W image and “speaks” about all there is visible with eyes … many people don’t even think about it but I do see it as a very important point to photography itself .. without light there would be no photography ..

There is no right or wrong when “exercising” photography skills with light … one can shoot against it … or with it at the back .. coming from the side, above or below … as long as the exposure is close to good and light thoughtfully used .. (I personally tend to underexpose and later bring up the details while processing the image.) there is a good chance in creating a decent B&W image.

look for light The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
look for light1 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

One of my favorite books is A.de Saint Exupery’s Little Prince. I often get reminded of this quote when talking about B&W photography: “Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Once I have read that even Ansel Adams would had been an average Joe if he did not master light in his darkroom .. I disagreed a bit as if there was not a good basis to the exposure of his negatives in a first place, it would be difficult to achieve such depth to his images as much as he could try in darkroom … but what makes his work so spectacular is in my opinion Him …

 

… well here is where another big part of a successful B&W photography takes its place … as all you see with your eyes is not all there is (including the light) .. It is very important that one photographs with his/her heart or soul and looks within for the reflections of it deep inside the photographed subject (have you ever noticed how when shooting with someone, one can capture an image in the same instant moment, from the same angle with the same light yet it may look so much different to someone else’s? )…

 

Its all about the I within .. about You … the beingness of all that you are in the moment and about reflection of it in the subject that in the same moment you happen to capture .. When a photographer becomes aware of her/his own I regardless form .. it is so much easier to connect to his model or subject and see their beauty as is … feel the importance, the depth of it and of the exact moment .. which will then be captured on a whole different level an this way the image will gain the depth and feel of being timeless .. as the now is eternal and timeless … The moment a photographer puts awareness in all of these mentioned … there is nothing that can stop him/her in achieving a beautiful B&W image using any of the Photoshop conversions I have mentioned above …

moment The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

moment1 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

moment3 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
moment2 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

(except the girl’s petti … nothing in these images was posed)

 

The key point of the technical part of finishing the B&W image in Photoshop is to continue to work with the light and the feel … to paint with the light and to give the image all the love and meaning, while discovering hidden details in both light and dark parts of the image and blending them so they feel just right …

 

But apart from what I have already mentioned, I often get inspired by the olden days film images that are touched by their age and show few scratches and marks or the hazy glass plate negative effect … and personally love to add textures. A well blended texture has an amazing ability to “save” a pretty ordinary shot and turn it into a piece of art of love …

 

textures The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

And maybe be just one more thing before I finish … don’t be afraid … any moment is a good moment for a photograph … including moments like these …

including moments The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
including moments1 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *
pin it4 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

 

facebook The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets * twitter The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets * plusone The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

 The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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166 Comments and 0 Replies


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  1. 101
    Marlie says:

    Sonia, your actions are amazing and your black and white work makes me want to improve my photos and also how I work with black and white images. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I love a great black and white image and yours are inspiring. I work with both Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom 2.2.

  2. 102
    NiccoleCarol says:

    Sonia your work is incredible. I so would use the heck out of these. I especially love the hazed over ones. Oh, I have CS3.

  3. 103

    Gorgeous and inspirational! I loved hearing about your personal thought process and philosophy. It’s so rare to see the technical combined with the emotional and it just helps so much to see how you think. Very freeing in a way. Thanks so much for sharing and I would love either set, but especially the PS actions.

  4. 104
    ginna says:

    wow, what lovely work! I’m glad to be introduced to Sonia!

  5. 105
    Amy Mann says:

    Sorry for a second post but I forgot to mention that I use Photoshop (CS2, but getting ready to upgrade and explore Lightroom).

    Thanks,
    Amy

  6. 106
    Teresa says:

    So inspiring…I love the way you look at and feel painting with light. Beautiful, beautiful images and wonderful way of approaching your precious subjects. The photographs convey so much. Thank you for sharing. I use CS2.

  7. 107
    Annie says:

    Sonia’s images are classic. They will never go out of style. I loved that she explained how we have to put ourselves into the soul of the image. Even with great light, each person who took a picture of the same image would come up with something different. We all compare ourselves to other photographer’s omages too much. Thanks for the great tips. I’m a Photoshop user.

  8. 108

    WOW I love the one w/ the boys in the wagon these Black and whites are amazing. I am a photoshop user. thank you for taking the time to tell a few of your secrets!

  9. 109
    Jenny Carroll says:

    Reading through this article makes me want to be a much better photographer, learning about people, taking not just a “picture” but a moment in time. Thanks for the great inspiration. As said many times, your work is amazing. I have CS3 and LR.

  10. 110
    Lori says:

    Sonia your work is amazing and you are a gifted writer as well.

    I have the Secret actions and just love them. Having the LR presets would complete the package. My favorite tool is the magic light action. I even use it on color images. CS3 plus LR.

  11. 111
    Tiffany says:

    Great article and a great reminder that photography is all about light! Thank you for sharing! CS3 and LR girl here.

  12. 112
    Christy says:

    Sonia, your b&w conversions are fabulous! Thanks for your tips on how to view b&w as showing off with light since you can’t use color–I’d never thought of it that way, and that really helps it to click. I’ll have to give b&w much more thought and time!

    I am a PS user, btw.

    Thanks!

  13. 113

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I will definitely be thinking a lot about your article. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial. (CS4 & Lightroom)

  14. 114

    I LOVED the article, and couldn’t agree more! Its more than just an “action” that makes a great photo (or BW photo for that matter). You have to be able to SEE the light, frame the subject, capture the emotion, etc. Great processing afterwards will accentuate all of these things if they were done well to start with. Thanks for posting the article. (PS -I do have PS and Lightroom)

  15. 115
    Tyra says:

    Her work is beautiful! I love what she said about there being no “right or wrong” way to shoot light. I agree completely! I would love to win her photoshop actions as I do not have lightroom (but hope to someday)

  16. 116
    Beth says:

    What encouraging advice! Thank you for the lesson – I want to become a better observer of light! I’m a photoshop user . . .

  17. 117
    Jan Moller jensen says:

    Amazing amazing, fantastic pictures, beautiful look. i no that the plugins doesn’t do it all, but could i just come a little bit close :-)
    (CS3 and LR)
    Jan Moller
    Denmark

  18. 118
    Anna says:

    Your work is so beautiful, Sonia! Such a great article, thank you for sharing! I have both Photoshop and Lightroom, mainly use PS though.

  19. 119
    Ann Kantola says:

    These are amazing! I am so inspired after looking at your photography. I use cs4

  20. 120
    Stephanie says:

    Sonia, Thank you for your hints of wisdom concerning light. I have a little girl who I am constantly capturing and is the inspiration for my photography, so I loved the photos you have on your site of children. I use Photoshop for creating works of art for our family :) and hope to expand and shoot photos of other families in the future!

  21. 121
    Jana says:

    Beautiful work. Thanks for sharing.

  22. 122
    JennK says:

    This is the second time this week that someone has directed me to Bohemian Secret! It’s a sign :-) I need those actions. I enjoyed reading what is behind the actions. The images are beautiful and have inspired me to try more b&ws.

  23. 123
    JennK says:

    This is the second time this week that someone has directed me to Bohemian Secret! It’s a sign :-) I need those actions. I enjoyed reading what is behind the actions. The images are beautiful and have inspired me to try more b&ws. Forgot to add that I have CS3 and LR.

  24. 124
    Pam Davis says:

    Thank you Jodi for sharing Bohemian Art on your blog this is the second time this week that I have been directed to the Bohemian Art website. The images are stunning and the way you read the light Sonia is inspiring. I would love to win a set of these actions currently I have CS3.

  25. 125
    Heather says:

    Wonderful article and also very inspiring. Her BWs are exquisite.

    Please enter me, I have CS3.

  26. 126
    Simone says:

    Stunning photography and gorgeous convertions!! A super talented lady for sure. I would be an extremely happy camper to be chosen for those actions and presets.

  27. 127
    Jan Moller Jensen says:

    Amazing amazing, fantastic pictures, beautiful look. I know that the plugins doesn’t do it all, but could i just come a little bit close :-)
    (CS3 and LR)
    Jan Moller
    Denmark

  28. 128
    Dawn S says:

    These are simply delicious! Very nostalgic and they have a very “film” feel to them!
    Thanks!

  29. 129
    sonia says:

    thank you everyone for your lovely comments … they are so special to me … the more, where I can feel that it has touched the string in you and resonates to the same deep knowing we all have and that I love to share by giving it form in our lovely being …
    once again Thank You all who stopped and spared few many letters to let us know how you feel ..

  30. 130
    Stephanie D says:

    WOW! Simply WOW! I think after reading this you have really motivated me to see things differently with my eyes and camera. (cs3)

  31. 131
    Barb says:

    I love what Sonia says in here! I tried shooting in black and white way back in the film days, and that was hard. I’m wondering… does she shoot in black and white at all or are these all conversions? I think I’d like to see the color versions, if possible.

    Thanks so much for this! I came to read it just as I was preparing to work on converting one of my own photos. :D

  32. 132
    ShellyS says:

    Sonia, your images are truly soulful and inspirational! They light my heart to my own childhood memories. I would love, love, love, to win one of your action sets for CS4! Keep on shining on.

  33. 133
    April B says:

    I LOVE your work. Thanks for the article. I am a PS user and would love a chance to try out your product.

  34. 134
    Kimi Boustany says:

    oh WOW!! The images are fantastic!! I have been trying so hard to study light. Would love, love to be picked as one of the lucky winners.
    I have CS3 and LR.

  35. 135

    Those are fantastic images and wonderful memories that you’ve captured as well. I use both lightroom and CS3.

  36. 136
    Missy says:

    I’ve run into Sonia’s stuff before and I LOVE her style! She has great stuff about light and capturing the right moment! I have lots of practicing to do!!
    I would want the Photoshop version of the actions if I won!! I hope! I hope!

  37. 137
    Natalie says:

    wow!!! never seen Sonia work before !!! beautiful , amazing i just love it !!!!

    i have cs3 and lightroom

  38. 138
    JoAnne Bacon says:

    These images are beautiful, black and white is so timeless and your lighting makes it even more so. I rarely win anything but you never know! I have Lighroom and CS4. Thank you!

  39. 139
    Lauren says:

    Sonia, these are fantastic images! Thank you for sharing your “secret”!!!
    And, Jodi, Thank YOU for introducing us to Sonia! I LOVE your blog!!

  40. 140
    jen says:

    Gorgeous B&Ws. Love them. I have CS3.

  41. 141
    Jenn Hopkins says:

    Sonia, wonderful photos, thank you so much for the tutorial! I have been trying to master really great black and whites so this came at just the right time! I would love to win some of your actions, I use photoshop cs2. Thanks!!!

  42. 142
    Nicole says:

    I love what she said about it coming from within YOU :)

    I use both CS3 and Lightroom :)

    Thank you!

  43. 143
    tracy says:

    a whole new way of looking at things… amazing! i have ps cs only. thanks for the beautiful article!

  44. 144
    Sarah V says:

    Those images are stunning! I especially love the first one and the girl with the petti. Thank you for a great article and for sharing the “secret”! I have both Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom.

  45. 145
    Karen Ard says:

    Thank you, I have seen your work before and I love what you do with your processing. To top it off you added my favorite quote, from Little Prince! Thanks so much for this, both of you! Oh, all most forgot… I have both PS and LR.

  46. 146
    Candice says:

    Thank you soo much for all of the advice. I am excited to have found your blog! I am an avid reader of MCP blog and had never heard of this until now. Thank you again Jodi and Sonia. I have CS4 and Lightroom.

  47. 147
    Robin says:

    Since the days of having my own darkroom, I have long-preferred b/w images. They evoke in me a feeling of timelessness that color just cannot capture. Sonia, you have definitely caught the light, the emotion, and preserved it for the ages…your work is absolutely beautiful. I’m very anxious to try your Presets for Lightroom!

  48. 148
    Vicky says:

    Great article. I have always loved BW photography just for that reason – it shows the soul. Thank you both. I have PS and hope to have LR very soon!

  49. 149
    Amber Craig says:

    I am new to this blog but an avid storyteller of lifes journey through photographs. I find not only your images inspiring but your willingness to freely share of yourself as an artist refreshing! Thank you for this article….I dont feel one can ever be reminded enough to slow down and truly take in all that is around them. And…if you can use what you find to create a beautiful portrait… well then a day well spent I say! I have CS2 and LR.

  50. 150
    Nancy says:

    Wonderful images – I am finding more frequently, too, that textures add so much more depth to an image. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts with us.

  51. 151

    This was great! I love black and white photos! How intresting!!
    Thanks for sharing with us all!!
    I use Photoshop!
    Thanks!!

  52. 152
    Renee Bell says:

    Sonia you are amazing xxx

  53. 153
    Heidi says:

    I really like what you wrote… so true that we need to see the light before we can expect great photography! That last photo with the violins is perfect. Love it! I too would love your actions… I use CS3 and LR version 1.

  54. 154
    Carrie says:

    GREAT photos and I understand what you are saying about looking from within. I would love to learn more theory and working with your actions in Photoshop!

  55. 155
    Debi Gomez says:

    truly stunning images and great advice

  56. 156
    Ingrid says:

    There is something to be said about an image devoid of vibrant colour, your eyes are drawn to textures and shadows/light. I think you spend more time looking at an image in B&W and yours Sonia, are truly beautiful. The skill required to see past the colour of images and create B&W portraits eludes me, which is why I rely on talented people like yourselves who take the time to share their skills. (CS3)

  57. 157
    Stephanie says:

    Hi Sonia, you truly have a gifted eye and your photos are simply amazing. I find that there is always something new I learn about myself and photography each day. You are an inspiration to others such as myself to find the inner light within us. Thank you for sharing something about yourself and your secret! (I use lightroom & photoshop)

  58. 158
    Kate says:

    WOW WOW WOW what amazing images! Can’t wait to see more!

  59. 159
    Dembios says:

    Лично, я считаю, что Яндекс – Хороший поисковик!
    http://yandex.com

  60. 160
    Jackie Davis says:

    I think about B&W the same way – something strikes me….usually in nature and I see the variation, the light, the dark, etc. Hope to get out there today with falling snow. :) I also have a very intent black and white dog – he is an incredible subject. He is truly a photogenic dog!

    (Photoshop please – I’m an Aperture and Photoshop user)

  61. 161
    Bertus says:

    Beautiful images and i love what you are saying about “feeling” the photo and photographing with your heart!!

  62. 162
    Ann says:

    Beautiful, has reinspired me to play again with black and white as I see your amazing photos. Thanks for sharing. I have both lightroom and photoshop

  63. 163

    Beautiful images . Thanks so much for sharing

  64. 164
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  65. 165
    Anne says:

    yes it’s true. One of the most essential element is the “You” factor. It’s the same as almost any field of art. You might have the same tools as someone else, but how you use it, how you think while using it, and why you use it depends upon the artist, a step that no one can perfectly retrace.

    Thank you though. You have reminded me, and taught me the wonders of the light/dark elements.

  66. 166

    Congrats for getting your site mentioned in the ebook here! http://doiop.com/LootFormula


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