showin off our art.... : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

First off let me say I have NEVER considered myself an artist. If another does that is their problem. I have always considered the thrill of producing a quality image reward enough. And the old "is photography art?" argument need not be rehashed here. I know that an original Weston or Adams is art, if anything can possibly be art. I would like to discuss this...... Say on a scale of 1 to 10 I consider the quality (technically and emotionally) of an original black & white print of mine a 10. And when scanned and displayed on a web site only a 3. Why this enormous loss of quality? I know very little about scanning but know there is some difference in who is doing the scanning and what scanning software is used. There are several well know images I have seen the original print and then seen the same image on a web site and the difference in quality is great. The worse example I can relate was Weston's "Pepper #30" displayed on a university's web site. It was just a black blob. Truely a sin. There does not seem to be this problem with a color photograph. I have seen some excellent quality color photographs displayed on web sites. Surely a true reproduction of the original. Is there any hope for improvement in the quality of black & white scans? Is anyone working on this problem? I know there are some knowledgeable people out there that can give us some input on this. Thanks, Dell Elzey

-- Anonymous, January 28, 1997


Dell, Interesting topic! I was just following a thread on another forum about scanning, specifically 35 neg/slide scanning. It seems the current crop of $2k to $3k film scanners have a lower dynamic range than many silver negs and chromes. Color negs, apparently, have a lower range and are easier to scan without losing highlights or shadows. Now, I realize that much of what's displayed on the net is probably print scanned on a flatbed. But, I wonder if some of this doesn't apply? Maybe the quality of the scanners & the skill of the scanner operator as not up to the demands (in terms of dynamic range) of the print? I'm no expert and I'm just throwing out some food for thought. There's also the question of brightness & contrast calibration of the viewing monitor. This cannot be "done at the factory because the ambient room light has to be taken into consideration. This would not be as critical for color, as for black & white-I think. Maybe I should run for cover as those WHO KNOW tear my theories apart. Still, great topic!-Fred

-- Anonymous, January 29, 1997

Part of the problem is the limitations of the web. It is possible to get an excellent dynamic range using a higher-end scanner that is operated by someone competent, although these scans are generally at a high pixel depth and 300dpi or higher and printed out on dye-sub or digital photographic printers.

Images destined for the web are limited because they are viewed at 72 dpi. They are limited to standard screen resolution; and to shorten download time, files are kept as small as possible. Pixel depth is reduced, and dynamic range suffers. Then there's monitor callibration, which is out of the web page designer's control...

On the other hand...I've seen books of photographs with horrid image reproduction, and web pages where images look great, given the above limitations. So while there are technical limitations, I think the skill of the person handling the images can also make a big difference.

-- Anonymous, January 30, 1997

Processing Digital Images

I totally agree with Mason. A good initial scan from a good scanner and knowing how to process it for the web in a program like Photoshop is key. Processing for books or magazines is different than for the web. It takes alot of practice!

-- Anonymous, February 12, 1997

Digital Black and White

If it's not too late to jump in here it seems that black-and-white images take a back seat to color in the imaging programs, especially those used on personal computers. The scanning programs and aquiring programs use millions of colors for color photography, but use only 256 shades of gray for black and white. When you scan a b&w is looks like a posterization, especially in the transitiion from dark to midtones. Many times I find it better (and I'm not talking about commercial programs) to scan the b&w in the color mode and then balance the color out to look like b&w.


-- Anonymous, February 27, 1997

RE: Digital Black and White

I think you may be in confusion about bit-depth. If you are getting a posterization of your black and white scans on your monitor then check these two things. First, what is your monitor set at? Go into the monitors control panel and see what choices it give you. If it says that you can get only 256 colors or 8-bit or if it says that and 32,000 colors or 16-bit then your machine can't support the millions of colors(24-bit) to eliminate the illusion of posterizing(it needs more V-Ram). Set your monitor at the highest it can go. If that's millions and it's still poserizing then what are you scanning at? For grayscale it must be 8-bit. If it's lower than that, say 4-bit, then you are not scanning all 256 shades of gray from the get-go. If this is the case see if that can be adjusted on your scanning module, the window that comes up when you access your scanner. Good luck!

-- Anonymous, February 27, 1997

256 grays vs. 16 million colors

It may seem as if color imaging is favored over black & white, but in reality the 16,777,216 colors available in 24-bit color contains only 256 true grays! This is because 24-bit color used 8 bits for red, 8 bits for green, and 8 bits for blue on any given pixel. The only true grays are when red=blue=green, which leaves you with 2^8=256 grays. Scanning in color mode may look better because there are more intensities, but reduction to 256 grays in the end will not give you any more shades.

Of course, if you are doing additional image processing it may be beneficial to scan in color, manipulate and finally convert to 256 grays.

Then there's 32-bit color. I'm not sure how this works on PC displays, but in theory it would yield 1024 or more grays. I'm not sure if there's a B&W file format to support more than 256 grays, either. You might have to save a 32-bit B&W image as color just to preserve the extra grays. Has anyone tried this?


-- Anonymous, March 13, 1997

B&W Scanned as Color

When scanning b&w as color it's best not to convert to back to grayscale. You balance the color out to look neutral, unless you want a toning effect. This gives a few extra dots from the ink jet printer.


-- Anonymous, March 13, 1997

Reply to B&W Scanned as Color

I see what you're saying. I was thinking of a different way of handling the color. If you adjust the saturation to zero on a 24-bit color image, you are essentially converting it to a 256-grayscale image in a 24-bit colorspace. If you retain the saturation and adjust the color balance, you'll still have only 256 true grays but you'll gain about 1500 'near-gray' colors. But the price you pay is a 3x increase in file size. That may be important, especially if you're scanning for the web.

Interesting how technology is changing things.


-- Anonymous, March 13, 1997

B&W-Color File Size

Yes, the file size can get large. I haven't done anything for the web so I haven't considered it. Just a 5x7 can eat up almost 10,000 KB and an 8x10 is close to 20, 000 KB.

I look forward to the changes we will be seeing in this technology in the future.


-- Anonymous, March 13, 1997

Kodak PhotoCD for 35mm B&W

35mm black and white negatives can be scanned onto a CD-ROM disk by many photo finishers. The quality is excellent and detail is great in the highlights and shadow areas. I've found that jpg's and gif's made in 24 bit color look as nice as the fine prints. An additional benefit is that using 16 million color images for the web is they can be "toned" by adjusting the color balance to look sepia or copper toned.

-- Anonymous, April 28, 1997

showing off our art

We lose all the time, look at your negs, you have lost shades from your motiv, look at your print, you have lost so much even if you are very carefull. And when you scan you lose again, even the best scanner lose, and a bad scanner its gone. Thats the law every time you make a copy you lose, so you have to be as carefull all the time and skip a copy if possible..

take care Steen

-- Anonymous, May 28, 1997

art on the web.

There are many variable as stated in another response to your thread. Black and White is more subtle than color. Especially when the quality of the prnt is part of the Art itself. Both Ansel and Weston contact printed to high silver paper. Kodak says that color paper has a resolution of 200ppi (I don't have the data on b/w. Images on the web are 72 ppi. Then if the print is scanned and not the neg, well there is another degredation. Even then, from my own experience you would have to do some tinkering in Photoshop once you had the scan, try to bring it back alittle maybe. And would someone want to tinker with something so "holy" as an WESTON. In all seriiousness though, chances are they are not. Then, it could be that it was prepared viewed on a crummy monitor and you have a good one OR the converse. m-p

-- Anonymous, July 25, 1997

I think that we can see the problem by reading the above messages. B/W with only 256 shades of grey? If this was true in the world of silver printing I probably wouldn't be doing B/W anyway.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 1998

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