Uncovered: My b&w process

I’ve always loved black and white photographs for its simplicity and how it makes me feel.  It is especially great for pre wedding and weddings.  Done properly, black and white photography can draw the viewer into the photograph the more they look at it.  Look at the old photographs of your grandparents and parents in a silent room, with no distractions.  Think about what they felt at the time, what was life like for them?

Black and white photography has become a trend in recent years of the digital photography age.   In this day and age, it’s possible to have your colour photos converted to black and white.  Not all photos will look great in black and white.  There are digital cameras out there that capture purely in black and white as well to make things a bit easier.

For the purpose of this article, we will look at a black and white conversion of a photo from one of my pre wedding photography sessions.

Black and white conversion example | Photography by Wayne Wong with Evoke Eternity (www.evoke-eternity.com)
Black and white conversion example | Photography by Wayne Wong with Evoke Eternity (www.evoke-eternity.com)

Most examples, and the easiest, is to a change all the colour information to black and white tones.  This is also called desaturation.  It’s an easy two second process that  is quick and   simple.  However, as you can see from the example above, it’s not very flattering and doesn’t offer much depth to the photo.  The details aren’t crisp and it feels very unfinished.

Black and white conversion example | Photography by Wayne Wong with Evoke Eternity (www.evoke-eternity.com)
Black and white conversion example | Photography by Wayne Wong with Evoke Eternity (www.evoke-eternity.com)

Another way is to desaturate the photo and adjust the different colour channels – red, green and blue – to give the photo more contrast.  The details in their faces and hair have been brought out a bit but it is still very lacking.  This is again, another quick and easy process to do but it lacks a finished image.

Kerrie-Anne and Phil Melbourne Pre Wedding | Photography by Evoke Eternity (www.evoke-eternity.com)
Kerrie-Anne and Phil Melbourne Pre Wedding | Photography by Evoke Eternity (www.evoke-eternity.com)

The final example is the type of black and white conversion which I typically do for many of my photos, including documentary wedding photographs.

Throughout the years of photography, people frequently comment on the quality of my black and white conversions.  I combine various techniques using Silver Efex Pro and editing using my Wacom tablet in Lightroom to make the final image more refined.

It takes more time but I’m more satisfied with the quality of it as are the people who look at these photos.  The photography prints are stunning and looked far more refined than the other ways of processing.

Not all photos look great in black and white.  The selection process comes down to what the final photo communicates and how it should make the viewer feel.  I don’t rely only on a preset that the program provides.  The software only takes the image along the journey a little bit.  To complete the image, I observe it and further process it to give it a more personal touch, similar to a process in the darkroom.  None of my black and white photographs can be re-created like for like as I don’t recall how long I spent burning or dodging a particular area.  This is another way of creating unique pieces of art of my clients, for my clients.


If you wish to have your wedding or family lifestyle documented in Hong Kong, or anywhere in the world, contact us to tell your story.
Wayne is an active member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA) and the Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (AGWPJA).