Black and White
Back when I did everything with a large format camera, I did everything in B&W. When I got the EOS-5d, I made a sort of mental commitment to really give color a try – do everything in color for a year, at least. It was a rough adjustment.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about B&W again. That decision between B&W and color feels different now that I feel comfortable doing both B&W and color. Maybe I’m ready to live with one foot in each world.
Back when I was doggedly pursuing B&W in the wet darkroom, I had lots of honed technique to apply to the problems of printing B&W. Then I switched to printing in the digital domain, and all of a sudden I was plunged into the world of scanning, etc. Just before I bought the 5d and switched to a digital workflow start to finish, I’d done a bunch of experiments with tweaking development of B&W film to get the best possible scans, and I had on my plate the idea that I’d try shooting E6 color film, scanning that, and then converting the color scans to B&W in photoshop. Color transparency film scans well, and preserving the color info through to photoshop would have let me, perhaps, leave about two pounds of color filters behind. Plus E6 film processing is something I felt I could entrust to a lab.
Well, the 5d came along and put an end to all those experiments. But the thought that you might get really good, malleable results in B&W by exposing in color and doing the translation to monochrome in the digital domain was stuck in my mind. The noisefree nature of the images from the 5d gives you B&W that has that large format creamy goodness.
The problem I run into is this: when I’m converting from color to B&W using the channel mixer in Photoshop, I’ve got four sliders to fiddle with, and it always seems not very productive to go searching around in four-space trying to find the optimum result. Today it occurred to me that the problem of optimizing results by searching through an n dimensional space of parameters is not that hard – computers run simplex searches to find optimums in multidimensional spaces all the time. And now I’m wondering how hard it would be to write a simple script or plugin for photoshop that would take a color image, and do the hard work of fiddling with the color mixer to get the ‘best’ result, either automatically or guided by a human driver.
Anyone have any experience with writing scripts or plugins for Photoshop?