Want to add some drama to your landscape images? Looking for a way to have your best shots stand out from the crowd? Take a step back in time and relearn what you’ve forgotten from the early 70’s, to think in black & white!
If you’re like a lot of us that grew up before the age of “digital” when color film processing & printing was expensive beyond compare, you remember shooting roll after roll of 36 exposure Kodak Tri-X black & white film. Tri-X was one of Kodak’s most popular and versatile films and could be “pushed” from its native ASA 400 (before ISO) to ASA 1600 and beyond. The contrast in Tri-X negatives was spectacular as was the film’s “dynamic range” (different shades of gray). Photographers the world over praised Tri-X as the sports shooter’s best friend, the landscape shooter’s savior and the wedding photographer’s ticket to success.
Tri-X could be gently “push processed” from 400 to over 1600 allowing sports photographers to shoot night football, indoor basketball and even the dreaded hockey game at shutter speeds capable of freezing the action. Landscape photographers by the hundreds shot Tri-X at ASA 400 and found an inexpensive film that was capable of rendering scenes comparable to Ansel Adam’s large-format zone system. But it was the wedding photographer that made this film famous. No longer did a wedding photographer have to lug around 20 – 30 lbs of lighting gear just to shoot a few candid shots. Like sports shooters, wedding photographers quickly learned to push Tri-X to ASA 1600 or even 3200 with wonderful results and acceptable grain.
Citadel – Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 21mm, f/18 for 1/15th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro.
Click on the image above for a larger version.
Today we shoot with 21 megapixel CMOS sensors in cameras that are more computer than mechanical. We use computer-ground lenses sharper and smaller than we ever thought possible and we develop & print our work electronically, using incredibly powerful software like Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture.
And while these technologies have made our photography more plentiful and less time consuming, we still find drama, detail and beauty in a simple black & white photograph reminiscent of our work from 35 years ago, when all we had was a Canon FTb, a 50mm lens and a few rolls of Tri-X to play with.