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In this Foundations of Photography, Ben Long shows photographers how to develop a black and white vocabulary and explains the considerations to take into account when shooting for this medium. The course follows Ben as he goes on location and explains what makes good black and white subject matter and how to visualize the scene in terms of tonal values and contrast rather than color. Along the way, he demonstrates some exposure strategies for getting the best images. Back at the computer, Ben demonstrates techniques for converting the resulting photos into black and white using Photoshop and other imaging tools, and offers tips on printing and output.
Before we get started, I want to get an ugly truth out of the way. The term 'black and white' is a misnomer. Here is an image that contains only black and white--that is, every pixel is either completely black or totally white. But when we think of black-and-white images we usually envision something more like this, that is, something with gray in it, lots of gray, lots of different shades of gray. Now there is still black and white in this image, but we also have all that wonderful gray that makes all those intermediate tones.
So in this course every time I say black and white, I should really be saying grayscale, but our photographic tradition equates the term 'black and white; with grayscale. Now I'm not just being stuffy here. Once we get to post-production it's actually important to understand the difference between these two terms because it is possible to create a purely black-and-white image from a color original. So I will continue to say black and white, but through the rest of this course we're going to be outright wallowing in gray and spending lots of time thinking about and manipulating shades of gray.
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