Antique Black and White Version of Video

Posted on November 5, 2013


One of the projects I have to complete for YOP concerns using Photoshop’s channel mixer to alter the mood of a digital black and white image. I plan to use some images from my East End work for this project. However, rather than randomly playing with the colour sliders on the channel mixer I have opted to use Silver Efex Pro and have selected an Antique Plate template for the images.

This option creates an ‘old’ looking black and white photograph. It is fairly dark has a warm tone and has a slight grain. A fairly strong vignette is also applied.

Having applied this effect to a set of my East End photographs I rather like the results but am uncertain about using this level of digital manipulation for my YOP work. It gives the work a nostalgic feel and reinforces the historical nature of the photographic references. I must say that my choice of processing was influenced by my reaction to David Gillander’s ‘Uncivilised’ work, which is in traditional black and white with liberal post processing in the darkroom. See here for his work.

So why is it that I like Gillander’s work but I am uncertain about using a similar effect, but digitally created? I think the reason is that it is too easy with digital. The level of craft needed in the darkroom is much greater – at least I think it is, based on my very limited level of skill in the darkroom.

Having said that another side of me says that I should not be concerned about using the capabilities of digital. Other photographers far more famous than I have done just that. Pieter Hugo used digital imaging for his ‘THERE IS A PLACE IN HELL FOR ME AND MY FRIENDS’ and Simon Norfolk used the same approach for his portraits in ‘Burke and Norfolk’. Both were in fact adjusting the Channel mixer on black and white digital images to simulate the effects of Wet Collodion which is not red sensitive – so the reds come out very dark. Hugo wanted his ‘white’ subjects to look ‘black’ and Norfolk wanted his portraits to look like Burke’s original Wet Collodion images.

I would be interested in other people’s views on the issues I raise above and also on their reaction to the images in black and white. I have posted a pdf slideshow of the new images – just click the link below:


I have also produced another version of the video…this is getting quite long now. I have however made the intro much shorter…. Click the photograph below to see this video.

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