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MacPhun's new Tonality looks pretty cool

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by jonbrisbincreative, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. jonbrisbincreative

    jonbrisbincreative Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 30, 2014

    I'm going to try the trial, I think. I've already got Lightroom, Nix Silver Efex Pro, DxO Optics Pro, Intensify, and onOne Studio so I definitely don't need another B&W processor! But the images (albeit their best foot forward) look pretty good.

    But that also makes me wonder: are we really doing ourselves any favors by trying to get B&W conversion down to 1 click? That seems to be a big selling point in a lot of this stuff. Granted the images produced are really attention-grabbing. But I'm reminded of one of my favorite Nat Geo photographers of all time: Sam Abell. He was almost rejected from Nat Geo early on because his images were almost too quiet and subtle. That was years ago and now we're no less addicted to flash! bang! sharp! contrast! look at me! We can't really appreciate anything that takes some time to really take in.

    I got to see an exhibition of Paul Strand's photos at the St. Louis art museum and seeing them in person is very interesting. They're all 8x10 contact prints from a view camera. He didn't even want to enlarge them because it necessarily involved a loss of detail. His images are also very quiet and subtle and, due to their relatively small size, are easy to overlook. The same museum has a Monet like water lillies and it takes up a whole wall. That's a pop you in your face type of display. Granted photography isn't generally displayed that large but the intended effect is the same: grab your attention with something loud and sharp (and dare I say: shrill?). I've found m43 to be less forgiving in the highlights as well as in the B&W conversion of tones. I have to be more careful when shooting images for B&W conversion with m43 because the images seem to degrade quickly at the extremes of the dynamic range.

    I enjoyed using some of the more specialized B&W processors at first but I'm starting to have a harder time finding something actually better quality than a tweaked conversion in Lightroom from the RAW file. All these other processors use TIFFs and their output at 100% is less than impressive (except for maybe Silver Efex Pro, which has pretty good fine detail IMO without adding a software conversion smudginess).

    Are we suffering from this pandemic in our society to shout and otherwise try and grab attention over all the noise? What makes a B&W digital conversion good anyway? (I'm not actually asking that question other than to myself as that could be a gigantic and inflammatory topic ;) 
    • Like Like x 1
  2. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    That looks really interesting, I'd be very curious to hear your impressions if you do the trial. Things have to cross a very high bar beyond what I can do in LR before I'll bite but B&W is one thing LR isn't that optimized for. So far, it has been "good enough" though.

    No. See five years ago and "HDR".

    My experience too, but I think you probably gave the B&W processors a much more thorough try than I ever have.

    My starting point for this is usually "when color doesn't add much to the photo". I usually view photography as subtractive. Painters intentional add to a composition, for photographers we typically need to go out of our way to subtract from a composition. Sometimes that is color.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. GBarrington

    GBarrington Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I feel much the same way about B&W conversions from ACDSee Pro 7. Their LCE technology just results in better B&W conversions (better lighting and contrast qualities in general, I think). And when I was a Lightroom user, I also never found any 3rd party conversion software that could do any better than Lr. IMO, Lr and ACDSee Pro are about equal in B&W capabilities. That is not the reason I switched, LOL!

    The truth is, I have found that the built in tools for B&W in most software gives, at the very least, results equal to the third party tools. And frequently, they are every bit as easy to use as the 3rd party tools. I personally have yet to find any third party tool that can do a better job than the good old Channel mixer tool found in most mid level editors and higher.

    As far as what makes a good B&W conversion, I know it when I see it! I am posting an example of a B&W conversion of mine that I think exhibits the qualities I like in B&W , OK two, I LIKE these!

    Why I like them is that they offer good tonality, while keeping a crisp sharpness. I like that there is still some detail in the shadows. Then again, a good photo doesn't HAVE to adhere to those standards either! Quality is allowed to break the rules.

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    • Like Like x 1
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