The Dark Secret of heart stopping black and white photography!

The Birds, by Gavin Seim

Photography is all about tone, but especially black and white.

It’s a huge reason I love shooting in black and white to help me see tone better, even if I return to color. That tone-based sight makes you see better. It makes you plan your image to amaze.

My mentor Ken Whitmire died about 5 years ago now but I will never forget one of the most important lessons he taught me.

“Tone”, he said, “is the least used and least understood aspect of photography”.

That knowledge has driven me for years as a photographer, developer of tools, a YouTuber. And what I learned is that tone is complex and yet not. Photographers are not using tone because they are afraid of it.

There are histograms, exposure charts, tools for luminosity making and tone, and RAw and actions. I even make some of them like Lumist.

But I realized that rich tone starts with blacks. Zone 0, Zone 12 for us Ansel heads. If you stop being afraid of blacks, it changes the way you see and build photos everywhere because you start seeing that contrast.

This is better shown than told, so today’s video from YouTube is all about.

Photography dark secret and how to use it to take control and make your photography better.

There’s also a free pack of some of Silver 4, the black and white Lightroom presets. Play with those and watch how blacks are being used to do what we’re seeing in this video. See in tonal ranges first, regardless of whether you’re photographing in black and white or color.

Take the time to watch this video till the end. If you apply what’s shown here your blacks, your tone and as a result, your entire photography game will level up.

Let me know what you think.

Gavin Seim

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About the Author

Glad you're here.

I'm from WA State USA and started studying photography in 97. I started work as a pro (using that word loosely because I sucked) using film at age 16. I learned fast but was not as easy to find training then. Sometimes I beat my head against the wall until I figured stuff out.

As digital dawned I went all in and got to study with masters like Ken Whitmire. In 09 I founded the Pro Photo Show podcast. I started promoting tone-focused editing. When Lightroom arrived, I started developing tools to make editing and workflow better.

20 years of study and photography around the country earned me a Master of Photography (M.Photog) from PPA. I got to see my workshops and tools featured in publications across the industry. Once I even won the prestigious HotOne award for my "EXposed" light and tone workshop.

Wanting something calmer, I moved to Mexico in 2017. It's a land of magical light. I'm here now exploring light and trying to master my weak areas. I make videos of that for my Youtube channel, sharing what I learn. I hope you'll stick around and be part of Light Hunters Tribe... Gavin

Gavin Seim