Zach Zupancic

Zach Zupancic

Senior Designer, SolidWorks addict, AutoCAD zealot, Cyclist, Shade Tree Mechanic, & moderately tall. 

Times they are a convertin'

With my recent outing to the Sartorialist's book signing I have rekindled my love of being behind, and in front of, the camera. Although I have mentioned it before, there is one picture and person in particular that really nudged me in the direction of taking my camera everywhere; that person is Alex Lombardi, and that photo is this one 4051653865_4a58411997_o
(since I can't take the link from his site I had to add it to my photostream, here is a link to his Flickr site

Looking through his sets, as well as the photos that I was sent from Steve Valentine, I noticed how they both included a few black and white photographs. I started to think about how they went about doing this. I know that both of these gentlemen were using a digital camera, so they either did a quick setting change in the camera or they used Photoshop. Although more then likely they used Photoshop to turn the colors into grays; this idea did not sit to well with me.

There was a time for me when everything had to be raw, unedited, and in its purist form. I was just starting to get into music (back when hipsters were called Scene kids) and the albums of The Stooges (Pre-Weirdness) and Guitar Wolf helped to create this massive attack that was on constant repeat. This idea of being raw dominated most of what I was all about. My cars were torn to the bare metal, stripped of all vanity. My drink of choice was Bacardi 151. As well as lived a pretty debaucherous/Humian day to day. Some of who I was back then has remained to this day, but usually in small doses and in excellent moments. This brings me back to the photographs. While I choose not to shoot in RAW format due to the size of the file, I did stick to the idea that a photograph should not be modified (rotating doesn’t count). With this idea etched into how I take photos, I tried to figure out a work around for the B&W transition. I used some pocket squares due to the wealth of color and pattern to help illustrate the differences between my various ways of removing color.

-All photos were taken with the same lens, focal length, aperture, exposure time, ISO speed, and angle-


A pretty basic shot, by itself it doesn’t really draw me in; but it is a good place to start.

taken in BnW

There is a setting in the D40 which lets you take photographs in B&W; in other words, there is no conversion that the user has to do to take this shot.

converted in camera

The D40 also gives you the option to convert, or retouch as they call it, the original photo that was shot in color to Monochrome. You can actually see the differences between shooting in Black and White and converting in camera. The shot taken in B&W actually has a bit more depth to it than the converted one has: the dark petals on the green and yellow pocket squares jump out at you, and the circles are a better defined on the red pocket square.

While converting a shot in the camera will get the job done, it doesn't do it well.

converted in MOPM

Using the original color photo I used Microsoft Office Picture Manager to remove all of the color. I would have preferred to use Photoshop to better illustrate this conversion, but I am at a loss to find my Photoshop install disk. This quick conversion is the worst of them. There is a loss of depth and everything kinda gets washed out.

converted and corrected using MOPM

Using the converted photo in MOPM I made some quick changes to the contrast, brightness, and midtone settings. This photo is at least on par, if not better than the photo taken in B&W. I am sure that if I put some effort into it I could get it better, but this version suits my needs.

This result kinda throws me at an impasse. By using a program to modify a photo I feel that you are taking away from it. It no longer becomes real life; it becomes hyper-life, where all the colors are vibrant and glorious. Everyone sees differently anyway, so why change it? Then again if I want to start getting some B&W photos into my mix I need to use a program to do it. There is also the concept of using a B&W film camera, it also ties in with the whole "keep it raw, and to a bare minimum" concept. While I respect that opinion, and love the idea, the ability to transfer photographs from the camera to the internets for no cost at all, and at a quick rate is amazing. And since I am not a professional, and am doing this for recreational purposes, the only thing that I should be buying for my camera is lenses.

In the end I will go to the dark side of using Photoshop for my B&W conversions as it really is the standard to do such things, but I will still cringe whilst I do it.

-till next time