B&W at a Preminantly Color Wedding

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by karl_borowski, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. Hello everyone. I am getting requests for black and white pictures
    interspersed with color. The last wedding I shot I took along a roll of Tri-X
    120 with me, but we ran out of time and I never shot it. The bride then liked
    the color of the proofs so much that she decided to forego B&W completely.
    While I like color just fine, and print it in much the same as I do B&W
    save with MUCH dimmer safelights, I feel as if I cheated her out of some very
    stunning B&Ws. I see a lot of people on this forum that mix four or five film
    stocks at a wedding shoot. I've been trained to "stick to basics" and never
    use more than one emulsion at a wedding, but I wouldn't honestly mind two or
    My question is: HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO USE WHICH? Obviously one uses
    160 speed film outdoors or in the 35mm camera, and 400 speed film in the MF
    cam, but when it comes to making an artistic decision as to when to slap the
    B&W back on or when to just stick with the color, I find my head hurting. I've
    always been terribly indecisive when it comes to choices like this, so is there
    some simple way that those of you who mix emulsions decide when to do B&W or
    when to do color, or am I lacking in a very basic and essential ability to make
    the determination spur-the-moment?


  2. Thanks for the question Karl, I was just saying in another thread, with digital, I don't know when to convert to B&W and more so with film, when to USE B&W.
    I'm very indecisive and am currently struggling with this so hope you get lots of great answers!
  3. Ok, I'm not a pro and am actually more of a traditionalist (shoot mostly 4x5 film, do my own B&W wet prints, etc).

    But what makes you think you need to shoot B&W film to get "stunning" B&W prints? If I were in business as a wedding photographer, I would shoot everything in color. If you get some requests for B&W prints, then desaturate some of the shots in Photoshop (play with the color mixers to simulate B&W contrast filters). You can get very good results with the right printer.
  4. hi Karl,
    I'm all digital now, so for me it's a bit easier -- I can decide after the fact which ones to convert! I admit that I would hate to have to make those choices with film, because you have less time to switch it out quickly.

    I agree with another poster: Can you do most of it in color, and then scan/convert your faves to b/w in PS? If you have a high quality scanner and a good method of conversion, you won't lose resolution AND you'll get great quality!

    good luck,
  5. I shoot digital and when I give a couple a proof album with 300 images i have mix of color,
    b/w and sepia 60/30/10 but not always. I usually convert to some b/w or sepia getting ready
    shots and reception. I leave formals and ceremony in color
  6. Karl, you ran into the real problem. If you had shot B&W there is no chance for color. If you shoot color you can make a B&W print from the color neg or scan the neg and convert to B&W. And as you found with the customer the original plan was changed after-the-fact. If you had shot B&W she might have said "gee I wish this shot was in color..." So IMHO shooting color is the safest route.

    The problem when shooting mixed film (color vs B&W or just different speed color films) is how to keep the cameras straight...which has color and which has B&W? When things are going fast it is easy to get mixed up and grab the wrong camera, not to mention loading the wrong film in the camera (B&W into the color camera). There are tricks to minimize these errors, but they can still happen. Hence guys like me who subscribe to the KISS rule. The more stressful the situation the simpler you want to make it.

    I'll give you an example. I was shooting my nieces wedding in a DARK church. I set the ISO level on my D70 to 1600. Well that worked fine inside, but during the recesional I forgot to lower the ISO when they went outside the church. :-( Things were moving too fast, and I did not remember to lower the ISO level. If I had an assistant, one of their jobs would be to follow a check list and tell me to lower the ISO as soon as they exit the church or do a "New York reload" and switch to the camera with the lower ISO already set.

    I think once you have a routine down pat, then you can start mixing. But by then you have a solid foundation and are less likely to get confused.

    gud luk
  7. The trick is to keep it simple. Find a set up that works and use it. Quit worrying about it. What works for me is 160 speed color film in either 35mm or MF if I'm using that. At a wedding most of my color is in digital. I sometimes also have a second shooter using color film. I also have a body with nothing but B&W. The way I shoot it is to shoot color for a while and then shoot B&W. I don't constantly change from one to the other, that's a pain. If you get an image in B&W but not in color, well, okay. Move on. At the end of the day you'll have a nice mix of color and B&W images that will make the client happy.

    I don't generally desaturate color images because I've never been happy with the result no matter how I lose the color. My favorite is to use channels but that has its limits. Bottom line is make a decision before you start and stick to it. Prepare to deal with the unexpected but don't obsess over it.
  8. I shoot primarily digital but have taken to slinging my film camera loaded with BW film over the other shoulder while working. My feeling is the digital is always for the must have shots. The BW film will be for my more creative/artistic photographs, which I'll process myself.

    While post processing and culling through all of the images I'll then decide which of the digitals "feels" like a BW, and convert those.

    I generally tell my clients to expect 10% of the images to be in BW, whether they be originally shot in film or digital.
  9. I shoot all digital now, but back when I shot film, I shot color in medium format and I also had a 35mm SLR and a good lens loaded with only black and white film. Creatively, if circumstances give you a vision that the image is perfect for BW, the 2nd camera is there ready to go. Digital is the perfect format for making hoo hum color shots stunning black and white creations and sometimes popping it monochrome is just what the doctor ordered. Adding an ok 35mm and a solid lens would solve your worries or two film backs.
  10. Karl, I forgot something. The spur of the moment determination...If you are surrounded by colors, then shoot color. If by chance, you see a shot that could be anywhere...that doesn't speak wedding or reception, try a shot in BW. Other wise, shoot a little of each. Personally, I think wide shots in color, like shooting the dance floor with the camera over your head, lose their effect, but the same shot in black and white and you can pick out all the action. They rented a vintage car? Shoot it in BW...Step up your vision. We are basically directors without the movie camera. Pale complexions photograph beautifully in BW. Bridesmaids with light dresses and darker contrasting sashes, excellent BW opportunity in a group.
  11. Much as you are hearing from others, when you have a second body loaded with tri-x (or whatever your poison), you will begin to 'see' the b&w shots. It becomes a natural thing if you use two cams. I usually previsualize the shots I take and then convert accordingly (digital), however, there are times when I see a shot that was not shot with b&w in mind but it cries for it later. These are fun days we live in, and I am already jealous of the developments that my kids will see long after my demise.

    Load one with the roll you like, pop a fast lens on there and skip the flash :)

    Best, D.

    Answered by David Wegwart - Denver/CO. Photo.net Patron Prolific Poster (david@wegwart.net) from on July 19 00:42, 2006.
  12. There is no right or wrong answer for this, it's simply a creative decision that you make for
    yourself. For myself, often times if it's an ugly room with distacting colors, or if it's finding
    one face in a crowd of bright dresses, or if I just want a minimalist look.. that's when I go
    B&W. Eventually you decide what's right for you.
  13. I've shot weddings BW/color interpersed. Not again....IMO shoot color, covert some to B&W, or at BG request, or unless color neg is expected - in which case we wouldn't be having this discussion.

    Best - Paul
  14. We always shoot color neg--the B&G can dial out the color --of any selection they like. We used to have to shooters but, the budgets have dropped this year...
  15. "Much as you are hearing from others, when you have a second body loaded with tri-x (or whatever your poison), you will begin to 'see' the b&w shots. It becomes a natural thing if you use two cams."

    This is exactly what I am trying to teach myself. I shoot mainly digital, but one of my backups is an Elan loaded with cheap C-41 stuff. I grab it once in a while and it helps me make the descision to compose for B&W when I 'see' the shot.

    But to answer Karl's question, I 'know' when to shoot B&W through my selection of digital shots that I choose to convert to B&W. Often, I find that they are either high contrast or high-key lighted shots which I like. Colorful, mid-toned subjects are crap for B&W. Hope that helps.

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