Digital Black and White

I have always disliked the idea of converting digital photos from color to black and white. As with film, I feel that one should decide if a photo is to be color or black and white before pressing the shutter.

It's tempting to always shoot as Raw files and convert to black and white later if desired. That's the best answer for most people, but not for me.

As convenient and flexible as the color-to-black-and-white process can be, it feels wrong. It feels like cheating. If I see a black and white photograph and know that it was originally shot in color, it's less meaningful to me. Fake, somehow. 

I prefer black and white images to color, and I want to make black and white images even when shooting digital. I shoot black and white using only in-camera JPEGs rather than converting from color. The Acros film simulation in the X-Pro2 is terrific right out of the camera. I like the look.

Gene (2017). X-Pro2 Acros simulation

Shooting black and white using in-camera JPEGs also helps me avoid the urge to try every possible post-processing option. When converting from color to black and white I tend to tinker with VSCO or Nik or any number of other plugins and filters. As fun as that can be, it wastes time and leads to an inconsistent and haphazard style.

As far as I'm concerned, the only true black and white photos are made using black and white film, but I don't shoot using only film. I'm ok with digital black and white photos as long as they were made that way to begin with.