Embellishing Skies with Photoshop

written by: Dick Dickerson & Silvia Zawadzki

This column was prompted by a query from a reader in Thessalonica seeking a good Photoshop technique for darkening weak skies, especially in black-and-white. After exploring a variety of tactics, we settled on the use of Selective Color adjustment layers. This is a hugely versatile command that receives rather short-shrift in most textbooks and Web discussions dealing with Photoshop. Given its versatility, it takes some time to understand its operation. Our approach was to explore its many options using a photograph of the familiar Macbeth ColorChecker Chart. Go to the Layers palette, choose Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer, and Read more »


Characteristic Curves for Digital Cameras

Understand the Strengths and Limitations of Your Cameras– And When One May Be Better than Another for Recording a Given Brightness Range
written by: Dick Dickerson & Silvia Zawadzki

In the world of traditional silver photography, characteristic curves (also known as D-Log E or H&D curves) serve as the transform between actual scenes and the images we create of those scenes. They make it possible to meter an item in a scene and know the shade of gray it will lead to in a finished print. By using the elaborate calculations of four- quadrant tone-reproduction diagrams, that gray shade can be forecast in density units with a precision of two decimal points. Even a general knowledge of curve shapes and how they are influenced by development allows prediction of Read more »

T-Grains: More than Marketing Hype?

written by: Dick Dickerson & Silvia Zawadzki

We grew up in a jaded era. Back in the Sixties, everything from toothpaste to gasoline had a magic, secret ingredient, identified only by meaningless initials. Everyone understood claims of such components were not necessarily a good reason to buy a product. When Kodak introduced its “T-Grain technology” in the T-Max line of films, we shuddered a bit at the sense of déjà vu it prompted. And we in fact continue to this day to meet people (largely our own age) who ask, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, if the concept isn’t just so much marketing hoopla. The basic claim with this line of Read more »


Perfecting Digital-Tone Reproduction

A Shortcut to Better Digital Prints
written by: Dick Dickerson & Silvia Zawadzki

In the July/August 2009 issue of PT, we discussed the Ideal Tone- Reproduction Curve, a product of research conducted more than a half century ago that identif ies, for a scene element of any luminance value, the shade of gray (ref lection density) at which it is “best” reproduced in a black-and-white print. We also raised the question of how readily this ideal tone-curve is achieved in a purely digital workf low—the subject of the present article. With the magic of Photoshop, any kind of tone reproduction can, of course, be realized with exacting precision. But what is inherent to digital Read more »

Can a Photograph Change History?

written by: Dick Dickerson & Silvia Zawadzki

Mt. Everest, June 8, 1924, 12:50 pm: George Mallory (“because it is there”) and Andrew Irvine are spotted 800 vertical feet below the peak and “going strong for the top.” Neither climber was ever seen again. Did they perish as they continued their ascent or after having reached the summit, 29 years before the successful climb of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay? An answer—a photograph from the top— may exist in one of the Kodak Vest Pocket Model B cameras the two carried, a “miniature” (for the day) camera that had become very popular with soldiers during World War Read more »


The Perfect Shade of Gray

What Constitutes a
written by: Dick Dickerson & Silvia Zawadzki

Your country’s flag on a sunny day: Easy enough to say how it should reproduce in a color photograph. But in black-and-white? There is no hard-and-fast rule about the shades of gray most appropriate to a colored image. Over a period of many years beginning in the early forties, that issue was the subject of some fascinating research by men such as L.A. Jones, C.N. Nelson, H.R. Condit and others. The topic was termed “tone reproduction” and was concerned with how scene elements of varying luminance were best reproduced as shades of gray in a black-and-white photograph. These gentlemen selected 170 outdoor Read more »


Does Printing With Both High-Contrast and Low-Contrast Filters Create a Richer Print?

Split Filter Printing Has Many Advocates– Tests Reveal Whether It Actually Helps
written by: Dick Dickerson & Silvia Zawadzki

When printing black-and-white on variable contrast paper with a color-head enlarger, the usual tactic is to make a single exposure through a discrete filter, such as 20M (magenta) or 50Y (yellow). That specific filter is selected to afford good overall contrast to the print, which may then be fine-tuned by dodging or burning selected portions of the image. An alternative technique—so-called split-filter printing—is to expose a print twice, once through an intensely magenta filter and then through a strong yellow filter (or vice-versa). With this approach the relative times for the two exposures are adjusted to create a print of the Read more »