September 2021 // The Black & White Edition

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How to Take a Clean Headshot Using Great Lighting with Vanessa Joy


Shades of Gray - Black & White Photography for Boudoir with Amber Jones


The Two Best Ways to Create a Black & White Image with David Byrd

5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic with Dustin Lucas 46


Best Practices for Printing Black & White Photography with Graeme Purdy


Tips to Use Perspective in Photography with Jess Hess


How to Take Better Black & White Landscape Images with Jennifer King


How To Shoot Moody Black & White Portraits with Lisa Jones

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Inspirations from Our Readers

Ideas for Impactful Black & White Images with Raph Nogal


Final Inspiration with Shannon k Dougherty



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P U B L I S H E R S a l C i n c o t t a

E D I T O R - I N - C H I E F A l i s s a C i n c o t t a

D E S I G N E R E l l i e P l o t k i n

C O P Y E D I T O R A l l i s o n B r u b a k e r

Shutter Magazine ’s focus is on photography education. Our goal is to provide current insightful and in-depth educational content for today’s professional wedding and portrait photographer. Shutter uses the latest technologies to deliver information in a way that is relevant to our audience. Our experienced contributors help us create a sense of community and have established the magazine as one of the leading photography publications in the world.


C O N T R I B U T I N G W R I T E R S Amb e r J o n e s D a v i d B y r d

D u s t i n L u c a s G r a e m e P u r d y J e s s H e s s J e n n i f e r K i n g L i s a J o n e s R a p h N o g a l Va n e s s a J o y


Shutter Magazine: By photographers, for photographers.

Nothing in life is Black and White , but your photography can be. This month we explore how photographers are using this option to create stand out images. - Sal Cincotta



TITLE: life Is a dance

PHOTOGRAPHER: felicia schütte WEBSITE: CAMERA: canon eos 5d mark iv LENS: canon ef50mm f/1.2l usm

EXPOSURE: f/8 @ 1/125 iso 100 LIGHTING: the backlight is created by one canon speedlight behind the backdrop directed towards the white wall behind it and bounced back through the white fabric backdrop. The main light is a newer strobe on camera left, fired through a 1,50m double diffused octa-softbox, feathered across with bounce back from a white wall camera right.

MODEL: mieke de louw HMU: bärbel heusinkvel

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Oftentimes I notice an element or thing and “I want to do something with it somehow, someday.” Here I was inspired by a stretchy tube dress that beautifully accentuates body shapes. During the same time, I wanted a pregnant dancer in my folio and had that vision to create a bold, graphic image based on shapes and contrast while having the drive to create something I haven’t seen yet. Intuitively I combined both ideas together and found a way to create the image I had in my mind before the actual shoot.

How to Take a Clean Headshot Using Great Lighting | Vanessa Joy

with Vanessa Joy

How to Take a Clean Headshot Using Great Lighting | Vanessa Joy

Clean, no-makeup headshots are a key component of an application to a modeling agency or for jobs in the acting and modeling business, but a quick snap of someone with no makeup under unflattering lighting can come out looking very rough. It's possible to create a clean headshot that flatters the face and neck features without any makeup, just using the tools of light, shadow and strong photographic technique. Oh, and no Photoshop required either. Learning how to take these shots is a great way to take advantage of that photography demand area, since being versatile helps you build your business and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Once you master this type of clean lighting, it’s easy to apply it to generic headshots that your clients will love. While many people are justifiably nervous about being photographed with no makeup if they are accustomed to wearing makeup, it can be a great experience. By photographing to emphasize natural looks and de-emphasize imperfections, you can create an excellent clean headshot, while also wowing a client with your ability to put their best on display.


Your studio lighting setup is what creates the possibility of a great clean headshot. Not only does the kind of camera, light and reflector matter, but also your own awareness of the quirks of your studio space and of your equipment. I'll give you a rundown on what I use, but you'll also adjust as needed for your own setup. This is even more true if shooting in someone else's space or a rented space, since the more you control the lighting and background, the more fine-tuned changes you can make to the photos in the moment versus trying to copy and paste a process that you can’t troubleshoot if anything small changes. I start with the Canon 1DXIII camera or my Canon EOS R5 and either my Canon 85mm F/1.2 lens or the Canon 70-200mm F/2.8. I have three Profoto D1 lights so I’m using a Profoto Air Remote in my hot shoe to trigger them. I also bring a Glow 5-in-1, 42-inch Glow Reflector. You'll see in a minute why having the reflector and putting it to careful use is key to getting the best shot to fit the needs of your acting or modeling client. There are quite a few different reflectors you can use, which are a bit easier if you don’t have an assistant. The Westcott Eyelighter and Lastolite Trilite are great solutions for the same concept that I’m going to show you, and they’re hands free.

How to Take a Clean Headshot Using Great Lighting | Vanessa Joy


Start with setting your camera’s exposure for a completely black frame. This will tell you that only your studio lights are impacting the shot, not ambient light from elsewhere in the room. You'll have more control of this shoot, not bringing any other light into the shot, especially when most room light is not the most attractive color in the world. My settings for headshots are typically ISO 100, F/5.6 and 1/250th of a second with my white balance dialed in to 5800K (slightly warmer than my 5600K lights). I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but I bet it’ll be a good place to start. I place one light in front of my client, slightly overhead and pointed down at him/her with the Profoto Beauty Dish with the Diffuser. I have two lights illuminating the background, one out of frame on the right pointed towards the left of the frame, and the other on the left pointed towards the right of the frame (see the video for the setup!). This lets me get the background to be PUREWHITE (no ugly gradient gray shadows, please) and the bounce-back off of the white background will end up giving a slight rim light for my subject as well. When you start shooting, I recommend turning on your highlight alert on your camera to ensure that the background is actually blank, totally white. This gives you an excellent base image and ensures there's no distracting stray mark or gray gradient in the background of the final shots. I also tether to make sure there isn’t too much white blowback from the background lights. If you see a haze start to come across the image, lower the power of the background lights. At this point, I’ll go into TTL, fire my lights and start adjusting from there to get the background pure white and the proper light power hitting my subject. While I know exactly where I want lights set for my studio, you'll obviously have some of your own adjustments to do. Adjusting them to get the right light allows me to know I'm set up for portrait-taking success and then we can free flow from there.

How to Take a Clean Headshot Using Great Lighting | Vanessa Joy



Take a photo without the reflector at all. This image will reveal to you how much the light coming up toward the face is impacting the photograph: you can see eye circles, skin texture, and usually a pretty dark shadow on the neck without a reflector to move light up the face. That’s where the reflector comes in.


To minimize these shadows, move to using the white reflector, as close to your subject as you can get. It's important to have that reflector very close up to the Beauty Dish light, because much farther back and your reflector doesn't do a whole lot because the light isn’t hitting it. As you move the reflector back, you'll see how little of the reflected light is even falling on your subject, if any at all. You'll still see some shadows on the face while using the white reflector. You may sometimes like that look: emphasizing cheekbones or seeing a little bit of a shadow on the neck is nice, while still diminishing eye circles. It's a good option to keep available and may work given your model's unique skin tone and face.


If you switch to using a silver reflector instead, you get a really clean look, almost no shadows at all. If this is the look you're going for, you've got a great option, but it's possible to remove so much shadow that the differentiation between head and neck isn't really prominent. By lowering the reflector a bit, you can get much of the silver reflector effect but regain some of that definition between head and neck that you want.

How to Take a Clean Headshot Using Great Lighting | Vanessa Joy


Reflectors are a great way to fill in the way the skin looks, giving it tonality and filling it in. They help you truly capture the luminosity of a face without makeup on by harnessing the power of your studio lighting, both from above and from below with the use of the reflector. Light and shadows can either accentuate or hide skin texture. In this case, we’re attempting to hide skin texture as much as possible as it will make for a smooth, clean look. If you check out ShutterMag’s YouTube video on this subject, I show you just how different the images become because of the reflector used and you see a shoot just like this from start to finish. Working with your individual client and a few different poses, crops and reflector locations will give you a plethora of options. If you need some posing inspiration, download my Posing Inspiration Guide at, which features so many ideas, whether you're photographing couples, families or individuals to help you pose creatively and to great effect. This way, you'll make sure you end up with a no-makeup headshot that makes them feel confident and beautiful.

LEARN MORE . Click here or check us out at

Vanessa Joy has been a professional wedding photographer in New Jersey since 2002, and an influencer in the photographic community for years. Since starting in 2008, she has taught photographers around the globe at almost every major platform in the industry ( Vanessa has been recognized for her talent and business sense at the renowned industry events CreativeLIVE, Clickin’ Moms, WPPI and ShutterFest. Her peers love her informative, open-book style of teaching. website: instagram: @vanessajoy


This drop features a whimsical pampas design. Its soft light and blend of cool grey tones will make for a dreamy look.

b i t . l y / 3 y JX l yW ENTER NOW!


Shades of Gray - Black & White Photography for Boudoir | Amber Jones

with Amber Jones

Shades of Gray - Black & White Photography for Boudoir | Amber Jones

Do you know when photography was invented? In 1826, 195 years ago to be exact. For nearly 200 years, photography has changed and morphed. It’s so accessible now, we can pull our phone out of our purse or pocket and instantly take a photograph. I am sure that would have blown Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s mind as the inventor of photography. When you look back and see the early photographs from the 1800s, what do you notice? I see the grain, deep shadows and beautiful highlights. I see the time it took to compose the photograph and see the light and decide when the right moment was to click the shutter. The time it took to take those original photographs was much longer than now; a standard exposure time was 60 to 90 seconds for a tintype, so think about the time you would need a person to stand still! Because photography started as black &white, there is a sense of nostalgia. Look back at the famous photographers who shot primarily in black & white like Ansel Adams and Richard Avedon, and let’s not forget Vivian Maier. There is so much to learn and study from their photography. Their use of light and composition is incredible. Let’s break down the key elements of black & white photography, specifically from the boudoir side of things.


Contrast and all the shades of gray is what makes photographs dynamic. Muddy and muted pictures don’t do it for me. On the following page, you can see a progression of photos. Photo A is the color photo. Photo B is one of my favorite black & white presets, and there is a richness to the shadows and the blacks. Photo C is adding grain, which is an ode to the gorgeous old black & white film that had the grittiness that some of us long for in the digital age. Photo D is what I don’t like; it’s flat and doesn’t evoke any emotion. Now don’t come yelling at me that a mid-tone gray photograph can’t be pleasing because it can be, but it isn’t easy!

Shades of Gray - Black & White Photography for Boudoir | Amber Jones


Don’t forget about posing. Seriously though, you could have one of the most beautiful black & white photographs, but if your posing or composition isn’t on point, it won’t matter to your client. Below is an example of two photos taken so close, but the pose is slightly off from where I took the first photo to the one I delivered to my client. If you are trying a new pose, walk around your subject because there will most likely be another great angle, which will create more variety for your gallery.


Your aperture has a great deal of impact on your photo. Bold, crisp and filled with detail, photos feel punchy and dramatic and are taken with a high aperture to show the detail. Photographs taken with a lower aperture like 1.4, 1.8 and 2.0 feel soft and sensual, especially if you add a bit of grain to your photo.


Please tell me you play with the shutter speed during your shoot! We have so much freedom now with our cameras that we can be instantly gratified with the photos we are taking. Most of my photographs during a boudoir shoot are taken with a “proper” shutter speed to freeze motion. But what happens when you slow it down? Motion is another way to create drama and impact in your photo. Some of my favorite shots are done with my client walking towards a window while dropping a sheer lace robe or twirling and swishing a robe or flipping her hair. 1/25th of a second is a good starting point to capture motion.

Shades of Gray - Black & White Photography for Boudoir | Amber Jones


My go-to lighting for black & white photography is four different setups. The first is with a single 1x6’ strip box and a strobe, which is how I light the majority of my fine art nudes. Sometimes I will use two strip boxes, but it is rare.

Next is sidelight window light. This creates a beautiful light gradation on the body. You will get a larger spectrum of grays and the ability to pull more details out of your shadows.

Shades of Gray - Black & White Photography for Boudoir | Amber Jones

Backlight is probably my favorite way to photograph with black & white because of the deep shadows I get. It gives the mood and feel that has shaped my style of photography over the last decade. The feeling my clients get when they see those photos is what draws them to my studio.

Flat light, window light coming straight at the subject, is flattering on pretty much everyone. It will fill in any wrinkles, cellulite and bumps. The quality of light needs to be soft and come straight at the subject, whether from a soft window or a large octabox, or a large shallow umbrella with diffusion.

Shades of Gray - Black & White Photography for Boudoir | Amber Jones

Let’s get back to the shades of gray: the shadows. Creating photographs with deep shadows gives the feel of drama and perhaps emptiness, void of light. On the flip side, you have the option to fill the shadows with detail. There isn’t a right or wrong answer as it is purely a personal preference.


I suggest photographing in color and then changing your photograph to black & white. If you find that you can’t get a black & white photo to have the punchy feel or old-time grain to it, buy a preset. There is no shame in that! Be sure to do all your skin retouching before changing to black & white and save it in color first, so you always have a base to go back to. Experiment with changing the color sliders on your black & white mix panel in lightroom; you can isolate specific color ranges and change only those. The beauty of living in a world with digital photography is that we can experiment with our photographs at a meager cost. Take the time to study lighting and posing to break free from a rut and create impactful black & white photos.

Amber is a published and award-winning boudoir photographer and educator based in Central Connecticut. She has recently launched her course for photographers on how to build a boudoir business. Go to to check it out. She empowers women to see their beauty and empowers photographers to build a business that gives them the financial freedom to follow their dreams. website: instagram: @amberjones_photography

The Two Best Ways to Create a Black & White Image | David Byrd

with David Byrd

The Two Best Ways to Create a Black & White Image | David Byrd

As the saying goes, “There are many ways to do something in Photoshop.” This is accurate for most things, except when it comes to turning a color image to black & white. There are only a few select ways to achieve this goal, but you only need one. Black & white on the surface is just a removal of the colors of the spectrum until we are dealing with two primary colors that are separated by a world of gray. Digital image conversion to black & white can be that simple: Remove the other colors and just deal with the three (black, white and gray). However, the true power here (and the best way to convert an image to black & white) comes from the difference between the terms “desaturate” and “black & white.” When you use a control inAdobe Camera Raw, Lightroom or Photoshop to remove the saturation of an image, you see the colors fade until they reach the final conclusion of black, white and gray. That is not converting an image to black & white—it’s that simple step mentioned a moment ago.

“Hey, fancy pants, the image looks black & white to me, so why isn’t this the right way to do it?” Glad you asked.

Through the lens of black & white, you are letting go of an entire world of color that can be controlled—either from the colors themselves or the luminosity (light) values in the image itself. That’s where the Black & White Adjustment Layer comes into play.


Let’s break down the properties panel of this powerful adjustment layer and get a sense of where we can go with this. Like most things in digital photo editing, there are presets you can draw from to achieve a fast result. The adjustment layer should be on Default and the various color sliders will have numbers populated immediately. Moving downward you’ll see a hand/index finger and an arrow on either side. This is a color selection tool that lets you target a specific area in the image; the tool will find the corresponding closest color family match and begin to increase or decrease that respective slider in the main window. Next is the word Tint and a check box, a very simple way to create a “sepia” black & white image by checking the box to activate the color option, select the color and its intensity and then apply it. Lastly, theAuto button, which, much like anyAI-driven auto-tuning of an image, can wield very broad results. Now we come to the magic of this adjustment layer and that is the RGB/CMYK controls, or simply put, the color sliders. These sliders are broken down into the two major ways that Photoshop understands color in a digital format: red, green and blue or cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Those sliders are why this tool is the best for converting an image to black & white, because you are doing precisely that: converting the existing colors to a saturation of zero. You now still have access to a vital part of those colors, their luminosity and how intense they fall between black, white and gray. Just like when you choose a color for your foreground sample, that color consists of a hue, saturation percentage and brightness percentage. All human beings on Earth (regardless of ethnicity) have red, orange and yellow in their skin tone. So by using this Black & White Adjustment Layer, we can increase the visual brightness or darkness of the human being in the image and thus get a level of artistic control over our work. Simply desaturating the image will not provide that option. Further, any other colors available in the image or background can be adjusted to be more prominent to catch the eye of the audience, or subdued to provide less distraction. Most of the time you’ll find that the red and yellow controls will be the most impactful during the conversion, but I urge you to experiment with the other colors to see what you can affect. Under this same principle of affecting the luminosity values of a black & white image, we move to the second way that I would recommend creating a black & white image: by using a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer.

The Two Best Ways to Create a Black & White Image | David Byrd

Before you navigate to the adjustment window icon in the layers window, make sure that your foreground and background colors are black & white, respectively. You can do this by hitting the D key on your keyboard (making sure the background layer or any other layer is selected and not a layer mask). Now, when you create the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer it will associate the color black to the darkest light values in the image and slowly transfer through various stages of gray until the brightest points in the image are associated to white. Unlike the Black & White Adjustment Layer, you don’t have the ability to control the various luminance levels of the available color in the image; however, you can shift the variance between how bright or how dark you want the image to be—by allowing the color black or white to be more prominent.

To get to the Gradient Editor, simply click the black & white rectangle you see in the properties window.

Click and hold the small black box on the left-hand side of the Gradient Map (called a Color Stop) and begin to slide it to the right to increase the darkness of the image. If we move the white Color Stop to the left, the image gets significantly brighter.

The Two Best Ways to Create a Black & White Image | David Byrd

The main magic of this method to convert an image to black & white is the little diamond right in the middle. It functions on the same principle as the two Color Stops and when you click directly on it and move it to the left or right, you are changing how much “gray” has to be traveled before we reach the black & white of the scene. Pro tip: this little diamond can often be confusing because the moment your mouse pointer is no longer actively hovering over it, the arrow will turn into a hand and index finger. If you click during that time, you’ll make another diamond control point and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Experiment with adding some extra control point diamonds and see how the gray in the image can vary for unique results with every image.


Now that we’ve explored the two best ways to convert an image to black & white, I challenge you to begin to add subtleties to your image that make it uniquely your own. Even though we are dealing with a black & white image, the same three fundamentals (according to David Byrd) apply: color, luminosity and detail. Let’s start with color. Similar to the ideology of making a “sepia” image, explore adding faint little hints of neutral colors to the scene, utilizing blending modes. My favorite is to make a Solid Color Adjustment Layer that has a deep blue.

and put that adjustment layer on a blending mode of Lighten. Then, reduce the opacity of that layer to 10% or further so that it’s just a faint hint of something we see in the black tones of the image. If you like the matte effect in your artwork, use a Levels Adjustment Layer and reduce the Output slider on the bottom left.

from 0 to 25 and adjust to your liking. You can also add some more contrast to the image by using the main three sliders found under your histogram in this adjustment layer. Lastly, a super detailed, sharp AF (as foretold) black & white image can be alluring in this modern digital age, but I think it’s safe to say that many humans still associate black & white with history and our past. Consider adding a blur to the image throughout most of it and allowing only the eyes, nose and mouth of your subject to remain sharp.

The Two Best Ways to Create a Black & White Image | David Byrd

The Two Best Ways to Create a Black & White Image | David Byrd


The adjustment layers in Photoshop are some of the most powerful tools you could ever work with and they have been with the program for ages. We often think we need to turn to third-party programs or other “I click one button and it does the work for me” solutions to our art making. This is simply not ever going to be better than doing the work by hand. If you have the vision and desire to make the art, take that art all the way and finalize it to your satisfaction. Then share it with the world.

David is an award-winning photographer, Photoshop artist and educator who specializes in unique portrait and photo manipulation art. Through his brand Reality Reimagined, his artwork spans the genres of fantasy, glamour, fashion and all the stories found therein. In 2018, he received the Grand Award from the ShutterFest image competition and is currently nominated for a Grand Imaging Award through Professional Photographers of America. The center of his universe is his wonderful wife Bethany, who reminds him to never be afraid to fly. Together they have traveled the world and continue to explore all the possibilities of Reality Reimagined and the imagination it is based on. website: instagram: @ realityreimagined

with Dustin Lucas

5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic | Dustin Lucas

In a digital world, it’s easy to forget about shooting for black & white images since we can easily convert later. When shooting in color, it’s hard to focus contrast and tonality and when it comes to post-production, we find out quickly how much impact an image loses once the color and all the tonality are gone. Well, the editing can certainly enhance a black & white photo, even though in most cases I truly prefer the color version. In this article, I want to take you through five steps for creative black & white editing with darker skin tones in Lightroom Classic. It is vital I maintain a natural skin tone complexion without compromising my creativity. It all starts with a technique to drop vibrance and saturation instead of converting to monochromatic. From there, I like to tweak the tone curve to bring back some dynamic range. Burning down the background and dodging the subject is a vital part of my creative edits. Next, we will get up close and retouch the skin. The last step is the final touches to make sure we hit every detail.


Most of us strike the V key to quickly convert images to black & white. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, nor is lowering the saturation to -100 better. (fig. 1ab) What I like to do is start by dropping the Vibrance to -100 to see what color and tones are left. (fig. 2) Now, to get a more true black & white image we can start to lower saturation while maintaining this creative look. (fig. 3)

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5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic | Dustin Lucas

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The main reason I like to use this technique is so I can still manipulate colors and get a really unique black & white style. (fig. 4)

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We can increase the temperature on this image to get a warmer toned edit, whereas when you convert to black & white, you can’t. (fig. 5) You have to use color grading to try to get this effect. Next, we can mess with the tone sliders in the Basic panel to balance brightness in the skin tones. (fig. 6ab) A quicker way to do this is by using the target adjustment tool for the Tone Curve. Let’s jump into that tool by holding Shift, Option, Command and striking the T key.

5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic | Dustin Lucas


With the target adjustment tool engaged, we can start clicking and dragging on parts of the image we want to affect. If you drag up, it increases the slider and if you drag down, it lowers the slider adjustment, all while automatically choosing the tonal region. You can also hover over an area to see where the pin will affect the tone curve as well. If I choose the highlight on her cheek, the pin goes closer to the middle where her hair sends it down to the bottom. I typically start with brightening the face by clicking and dragging upwards. Then I can click in the background to drag downward. (fig. 7) This tool isn’t perfect by any means and tonal adjustments don’t stop there. I can also bring in the Basic panel sliders like whites and black to control density. I can achieve this quickly by holding Shift and clicking on whites as well as blacks. (fig. 8) By doing this, we have to recover the highlights in the dress to keep focus on her face. Let’s move on to dodging and burning to really make the subject pop in this image. (fig. 9ab)

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5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic | Dustin Lucas

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For most images, I am using the adjustment brush to brighten the subject and burn down the brightest spots in the image. For keeping tonality, I like to lift exposure to 0.20 and shadows to +20. Now her face is looking flat, so we can lower blacks to -20. This subtle change can make all the difference. (fig. 10ab) Now we want to brighten the eyes, so l left the mask off this adjustment and made a new one. To see our mask, strike the O key, hold Option and mask out the eyes. (fig. 11)

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5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic | Dustin Lucas

For the eyes, I like to add exposure, whites, blacks and clarity. Starting with exposure at +0.25 and whites at +25 I can get a sense of how much I should lower the blacks slider. In this case, moving it to -5 is plenty. The last adjustment is adding +10 to clarity to bring some definition to her eyes. (fig. 11ab) Another thing we need to do is darken the highlights on her dress. This is quickly done with a new adjustment layer and lowering highlights to -25. Let’s move on to the retouching! (fig. 12)

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First things first, we gotta soften the skin, remove blemishes, accentuate the lips, sharpen the hair, etc. Since we have a previous mask for the face, we can right-click and duplicate this pin. (fig. 13) Then we can hold Option and remove the mask from the eyes and lips. Then we can apply the skin softening preset to get started. For skin softening, I lower the Texture slider to -50. I know a lot of editors use Clarity and that works too! (fig. 14) Now we can use the Spot Removal tool and turn on Visualize Spots to see the blemishes. I like to use the Heal tool as it samples quite well, so we can pick and click blemishes to remove. (fig. 15)

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5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic | Dustin Lucas

For this client, I know her lipstick was a darker tone than her skin complexion, so I would mask her lips and add some exposure. To echo my earlier technique for dodging, I like to keep the numbers the same. I set the exposure to -0.20, highlights to +20, whites to +20, blacks to -5, and clarity to +5. I want to accentuate her lips but not have them stand out so much that we draw from her eyes. Next, we can mask the hair to bring out some detail as well. (fig. 16)

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For hair and other defined areas, I like to turn on Auto Mask to help keep the skin and background off my mask. This works most of the time and saves me even more time. (fig. 17) I want the highlights to pop a bit while making sure I don’t flatten the darker tones. To do this, I lift exposure to +0.10, highlights and whites to +10, shadows to +5 and lower blacks to -5. This is how I recover the shadows while keeping that beautiful natural tone of the hair. Lastly, I like to use texture to bring out sharpness without affecting mid-tones. Adding clarity would start to shift the tones and you can see the difference. These are my go-to retouching steps and now we can move on to the final touches to take care of the final details. (fig. 18)

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5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic | Dustin Lucas

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Distraction removal is the first thing I like to handle once I am done retouching the client. Luckily in this image there isn’t too much to clean up, so we can move into cropping and straightening. Once we strike the R key we can quickly crop our image to bring even more focus on our subject as well as straighten the wall behind. Treat this like a horizon line. We don’t want it crooked. Let’s move to sharpening to get help keep the entire image balanced. (fig. 19) Since we already have a black & white image, we don’t need to hold Option while we dial in the Amount slider. Using the Option key is helpful for the radius, details and masking sliders though. For radius, I like to lower it to the left then slowly move it right until the faintest details appear. (fig. 20) Same for details as well as masking. For masking, I want to reduce as much sharpening to the skin which we softened, so I will bring that to an appropriate level. The white area is where the effect is being applied so we can keep this in check while holding Option. (fig. 21)

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5 Steps for Creative Black & Whites with Darker Skin in Lightroom Classic | Dustin Lucas



I really like the way this image looks now and I have another creative option to show my client. BOOM, we’re done! (fig. before and after)

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Dustin Lucas is a full-time photographer and educator focused on the wedding industry and the academic world. After achieving his Master of Fine Arts degree, a career opportunity opened once he began working with Evolve Edits. Through teaching photography classes and writing about photography, Dustin continues to expand his influence on art and business throughout the industry. website: instagram: @evolveimaging

with Graeme Purdy

Best Practices for Printing Black & White Photography | Graeme Purdy

In today’s world, most of our images are captured digitally and remain digital. This is the modern way and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It avoids the cost of printing, is instantaneous and it’s great to share your photos. So why go to the trouble of printing when viewing on screens is so convenient? If I’ve taken images from a family event or any occasion shared with others, I often prefer to share the memories in the form of printed photographs. I’m not looking for technical perfection. Often a low-cost online printing service does a great job. These prints end up on fridges, beside the family PC or in a proud mother’s handbag. If your black & white images are crafted to stir a reaction from the recipient, to drive emotion, then what better medium is there than a black & white print? First of all, I would steer clear of the mindset of “digital vs. print.” Printing your images is simply one presentation option. The better question is: “What am I trying to achieve with my black & white photography?” The wonderful thing is that printing can be both the end result in mind as well as a tool to create your final image. One small warning: When you start printing, you might need to go through a learning curve. I certainly did. There are so many choices in printing processes and materials. There is the technical jargon to learn and then after all of that there are the inevitable surprises when you see an image printed out. To be honest, at first I found the process tedious, time-consuming and full of frustrations. I wondered why my lab kept asking me so many questions. I wondered why they couldn’t just print it like we can both see it on the screen. After a long and eventful journey of discovery, I now shoot differently, I certainly edit differently, and I have a clearer sense of what “good” looks like (for my tastes).


1. Become a better editor-in-chief. Imagine you have attended an event and want to frame one image from the day, but you have 1,000 to choose from. Or say you are entering the biggest photographic competition of the year with your best image. It’s the same dilemma. We often aren’t pushed into choosing our very best image. It is much easier to settle on our best 25. If you listen to some of the greatest photographers on the planet, they often use prints to help live with a set of images before deciding their best. Living with prints for a while really helps you understand the longevity of each image. Test prints are a very powerful tool for curation. You may be assembling a collection, a new portfolio or that all-important “best image.” Being editor-in-chief is a tough job. Use prints to bring your images to life.

Best Practices for Printing Black & White Photography | Graeme Purdy

2. Toning a black & white print. Through studying my prints I realized I don’t often like true black & white images. I’d say 95% of my images have some tone applied. For my subjects and tastes, it is often a sepia tone applied to only the shadows. This subtle warmth brings subjects to life and adds mood. Using test prints of your black & white images allows you to put them side by side and move them around. This is where the true value of a print really comes into its own by pulling together your image with different tones, paper color (there is everything from brilliant white to warm ivory undertones) and printing machines. Fine-tuning your final print can only really be done through some trial and error.

3. Paper is a very different medium. Your image on a screen is effectively back-illuminated, which will appear brighter than a paper print. If you want your images to appear more similar to how they are on paper, then turn down your screen brightness. If printing in black & white, it’s very important to see an image more true to the printed outcome rather than amping up your screen brightness which will never match the reality of a printed image.

4. Trust your histogram. Following on from the point above, trust your histogram and not your eye. Your histogram will tell you if you have true whites or blacks and how much clipping you may have. Coupled with screen brightness, you will start to visualize a print more easily. If you can read the histogram well then you can pre- visualize the print’s overall contrast and whether it has the tones you want in your image.

Best Practices for Printing Black & White Photography | Graeme Purdy

5. When printing, you are able to crush your blacks (if the image requires it) but avoid clipping your whites. When you clip your whites you are telling the printer to not add ink to that area and, depending on the paper and printer, it can spoil the print to have clipped whites.

6. Be creative with the base materials. No longer are we stuck with matt vs. glossy paper. No longer are we even confined to paper at all. As well as a limitless number of papers, textures and finishes, you also have the opportunity to print on different surfaces. This can range from card to aluminum, and making your prints weatherproof is certainly a modern twist. Think about what your black & white image is trying to say. Experimenting with different materials can certainly add to the storytelling of the image.

7. Contrast, clarity and sharpening are often down to the photographer’s taste. Key tools of a black & white photographer are managing overall contrast or areas within the scene and micro-contrast of details. So when you think you have your image just right, it can be surprising that additional edits are needed when you go to print. When printing you sometimes will need a little “over sharpening.” This often means pushing an image beyond your tastes when viewed on a screen so that when printed out it really hits the mark. A good understanding of the eventual print process will help you edit for the eventual print.

Best Practices for Printing Black & White Photography | Graeme Purdy

8. Will megapixels help? This is where you will need to invest a little time to understand the impact of resolution. A common measure of this is pixels per inch (PPI). The standard screen resolution is a humble 72 PPI, while for printing you will often aim for 300 PPI. What does this mean for your prints? Well, in short, you will need more resolution in your images if you plan to print larger.

9. Giclee vs. C-type. In the world of printing there are two main technologies. Giclee is an inkjet printer allowing for truer blacks (a good thing for black & white photographers), more vivid colors and a broader range of base papers containing a variety of base textures and color tones. C-type is more akin to the traditional darkroom where lasers “expose” light-sensitive paper, producing more subtle tones, and can create more tonal variations within the image. You may find a preference for your own style of work or change image by image as to which process suits you best. If when printing a black & white image you want deep rich blacks, then Giclee will be your choice. If you are looking for a more retro black & white print, then maybe consider the softer tonal gradients that you have with C-type printing.

10. Framing. Framing your print (should you wish) is very open to taste, but I like to ensure enough room for the image to breathe. Go for black or something neutral if the frame is the sideshow or make a statement and go for ornate or color. Whatever you choose, make it intentional. Framing is very much part of the presentation.

Best Practices for Printing Black & White Photography | Graeme Purdy

11. Make it fun. If test prints in the lab or home or the pursuit of printing nirvana is not your thing, then try an instant print camera. Share the instant joy of making a print there and then. This technology has been around for over 70 years and has made a real resurgence in recent years. It’s a great way to enjoy photography and have some fun. By adding in some black & white paper, you can also use such a camera to practice “seeing in black & white,” a skill worth developing when building your black & white photography skills.

An exciting world of print awaits. Printing is so much more than a replication of our monitors, it is an art and a craft all in itself. If you take time to explore printing, it can only add to your black & white image-making.

Born and raised in Northern Ireland, my photography has been inspired by nature and my love of the outdoors. More recently, I am driven to help protect wildlife and wild places, driven to make images that connect viewers with nature. I feel my best work is achieved by going the extra mile, looking at wildlife from a different perspective and not following the crowd. Ultimately, my goal is to give viewers a fresh perspective on wildlife that drives greater empathy and action towards conservation and the environment. website: instagram: @graemepurdyimages

©Maxim Guselnikov

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Tips to Use Perspective in Photography | Jess Hess

with Jess Hess

Tips to Use Perspective in Photography | Jess Hess

It’s no secret that the key to good photography is balancing the seemingly endless array of options, styles, techniques, settings and so on. First you have your subject, which comes with its own set of planning. Hair, makeup, color schemes, design, etc. Then you add light into the mix, bringing in choices that need to be made on the placement of the lights, the power of the lights, the modifiers and so on. Next, you’ll mess with your ISO, aperture and shutter speed in conjunction with those lights to get your proper exposure. Let’s not forget the choice of other gear you’re using, like lenses or gels, that add yet another layer of planning and balance to get your exposure. But then you’re done, yeah? Just take the photo? Well, not quite. When you pick up your camera and aim at your subject, you are composing your shot. Composition in and of itself has its own set of variations and choices that you’ll need to factor into the overall shot. Composition is an integral part of photography and can truly make or break a photo. In composition, you are setting your focal point and telling the audience what to look at. You are using leading lines to guide viewers’ eyes to that focal point and filling the frame with the important details you want to show. Your composition, in a sense, is the image. It is everything the viewer sees and perceives. One major component of composition lies within your perspective, and that is the key element and idea we’ll be playing with today. Perspective is how your viewer sees an image. Changing your perspective can lend to the overall feel or tone of an image, or even help with something as simple as obscuring background noise. Utilizing perspective, you can make a subject appear menacing or absurd, or even soft and weak. You can help tell a story within a photograph solely by the perspective in which that image is shot. Allowing yourself to think outside the box and be mindful of your perspective will help you to tell those stories and convey the messages you want to convey in your work. As the easiest example of perspective and the usefulness of minding it, let’s jump back to what I said about hiding background noise. Everyone is likely to find themselves in a situation where they are shooting in a less than ideal environment. Being able to adapt to those places and overcome testing situations is what sets apart the true professionals from the wannabes. So how does perspective help us here? Well, it’s simple. If you aren’t focused on a part of an image, your viewers aren’t likely to see it either. You can hide things in the background as easily as moving a few steps to the side and shooting from another angle, or you can step back from your subject and zoom in to compress and blur the background, which is another great way to hide ugly background bits. If you are familiar with the “Hobby Lobby Challenge” where photographers were tasked with shooting professional level portraits inside regular department and craft stores, you are likely already aware of how perspective can make stunning images in even the most mundane of locations. The following images were shot one right after the next, with the only change being the perspective in which I shot the images. It took me a millisecond to make this change, and yet it completely changed the image from an unusable snapshot to a professional looking portrait.

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