The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *

About a month ago I started hearing the buzz. There was a new secret – a secret from a woman named Sonia who had incredible black and white images. I was curious. So I contacted her to learn more. And though I do not personally do a lot of black and white work and I do have some actions within some of my sets for black and white, I had to see what all the noise was about.

Once I did, I was sold (so to speak). Now she will be sharing a little of her secret here, today with us. Welcome Sonia from Bohemian Secret as our guest blogger today.

3 lucky winners will get to own her “Secret” products. 1 will win her combination set (of both photoshop actions and presets for lightroom, 1 will win the actions, and 1 will win the lightroom presets). So 3 amazing prizes.

All you have to do is comment on your thoughts on her article below. Please mention if you have Photoshop or Lightroom or both so that you do not win a prize that will not work for you. Winners will be picked on Friday, January 30th.  Good luck everyone!

She also has agreed to give a 15% off discount to all MCP Actions Readers. Go to BOHEMIAN SECRET – use the code 91b1abe3c5.

It’s about Light and You

What is the key success to beautiful B&W image? I have been asked many times how to achieve the result B&W images similar to what I do. Is there a secret to a successful conversion? Are there any more secrets apart from the processing?

Jodi asked me to write a mini tutorial for her blog so here it is …

There are many ways how to convert image to B&W using Photoshop. You can desaturate, use the monochrome, duotone tri tone features, use channel mixer, gradient map, calculations followed by curves, levels and other layers …. but how to achieve THAT! look .. that feel of B&W image being a beautiful B&W image .. it is not only about post processing … more than anything

it is all about light and You in the moment while capturing your image.

As many of you might know, the word “photography” comes from the Greek φώς (phos) γραφίς (graphis) which actually means “drawing with light”.

So said, one of the secrets to beautiful image (regardless colour) is light … for b&Wphotography especially. There is no way one can impress with colours in B&W image, Tocreate it, one has to master the light (and of course dark..)

When taking a B&W image all it matters is the light and the way it “paints itself” on the subject(s) … light gives the depth to the B&W image and “speaks” about all there is visible with eyes … many people don’t even think about it but I do see it as a very important point to photography itself .. without light there would be no photography ..

There is no right or wrong when “exercising” photography skills with light … one can shoot against it … or with it at the back .. coming from the side, above or below … as long as the exposure is close to good and light thoughtfully used .. (I personally tend to underexpose and later bring up the details while processing the image.) there is a good chance in creating a decent B&W image.


One of my favorite books is Saint Exupery’s Little Prince. I often get reminded of this quote when talking about B&W photography: “Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Once I have read that even Ansel Adams would had been an average Joe if he did not master light in his darkroom .. I disagreed a bit as if there was not a good basis to the exposure of his negatives in a first place, it would be difficult to achieve such depth to his images as much as he could try in darkroom … but what makes his work so spectacular is in my opinion Him …


… well here is where another big part of a successful B&W photography takes its place … as all you see with your eyes is not all there is (including the light) .. It is very important that one photographs with his/her heart or soul and looks within for the reflections of it deep inside the photographed subject (have you ever noticed how when shooting with someone, one can capture an image in the same instant moment, from the same angle with the same light yet it may look so much different to someone else’s? )…


Its all about the I within .. about You … the beingness of all that you are in the moment and about reflection of it in the subject that in the same moment you happen to capture .. When a photographer becomes aware of her/his own I regardless form .. it is so much easier to connect to his model or subject and see their beauty as is … feel the importance, the depth of it and of the exact moment .. which will then be captured on a whole different level an this way the image will gain the depth and feel of being timeless .. as the now is eternal and timeless … The moment a photographer puts awareness in all of these mentioned … there is nothing that can stop him/her in achieving a beautiful B&W image using any of the Photoshop conversions I have mentioned above …




(except the girl’s petti … nothing in these images was posed)


The key point of the technical part of finishing the B&W image in Photoshop is to continue to work with the light and the feel … to paint with the light and to give the image all the love and meaning, while discovering hidden details in both light and dark parts of the image and blending them so they feel just right …


But apart from what I have already mentioned, I often get inspired by the olden days film images that are touched by their age and show few scratches and marks or the hazy glass plate negative effect … and personally love to add textures. A well blended texture has an amazing ability to “save” a pretty ordinary shot and turn it into a piece of art of love …



And maybe be just one more thing before I finish … don’t be afraid … any moment is a good moment for a photograph … including moments like these …



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  1. January 24, 2009 at 12:03 am —

    I LOVE reading your blogs. I have learned so much through them. This article is no exception! I am so excited to take what I have learned from this article and use it in my future photo sessions. I know that with it, my sessions will greatly improve! Thank you so much for it! I have PSCS3… I would be so thrilled and excited to be able to use your actions. They are beautiful, and help the pictures tells a story!

  2. January 24, 2009 at 12:03 am —

    oops, forgot – no Lightroom, only CS3; thanks.

  3. January 24, 2009 at 12:02 am —

    Wow. Sonia, your images are so beautiful, so real. I love the textures especially and how they make you remember those photos in your grandma’s albums. I really don’t do anything with textures, but Sonia makes me want to try one right now! Thank you for this post Jodi. I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve such beauty, but I feel inspired!

  4. Amy Burton
    January 23, 2009 at 11:58 pm —

    Jodi and Sonia! You both are amazing and talented, and so willing to share your knowledge, that is a rareity these days! You both inspire me! Sonia, to hear you talk about your art is very…..moving! Thanks for sharing! I have CS2 and hope to get Lightroom soon!

  5. January 23, 2009 at 11:55 pm —

    Beautiful images and helpful info. Thanks so much for sharing! I use Lightroom 🙂

  6. January 23, 2009 at 11:45 pm —

    I have a photo shoot in the morning and was THRILLED to get to read this blog tonight! You were so right about connecting with your subject, once you do, your photo will speak volumes! THANK YOU for sharing with us. I have PS CS2 and Lightroom. I would be SO honored to use your actions…to your site I go!

  7. January 23, 2009 at 11:45 pm —

    VERY inspirational! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I too, use textures a lot.. and they can add so much to an image (or take away from it). Most shots are wonderful, but those that are really “in the moment” as you said.. they always have that something *extra* that just draws us in!

  8. January 23, 2009 at 11:44 pm —

    Jodi and Sonia, I’m moved every time I read you talk about how you create your artwork. Thank you for sharing so passionately. I love your actions and use them solely for my b&w’s…I have dabbled in LR but haven’t dove in yet. Your presets would most certainly make me dive.

  9. Danielle
    January 23, 2009 at 11:44 pm —

    wow so stunning oh I could only hope to one day be half as good these are beautiful! Great points to think about too I often do not think so much about light other than having enough to take the pic LOL but this really makes me think thank you for sharing this with us (photoshop)

  10. January 23, 2009 at 11:42 pm —

    Beautiful images, I love your work. I especially liked what you wrote about looking into soul…this is SO true, thanks for the reminder! I have both photoshop cs3 and lightroom 2.

  11. January 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm —

    wow! so, so true and very inspiring. thanks for sharing sonia. you are a true artist.

  12. January 23, 2009 at 11:34 pm —

    Oh my god…
    this TOTALLY makes my uterus TWITCH and WISH i had a baby tumblin’ around the house!! These are precious!!!!!
    photoshop cs2 user

  13. January 23, 2009 at 11:05 pm —

    Sonia, thank you so much for your insight I love reading about how passionate people get with photography and your images are amazing. My favorite part is when you quote “Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.” just very inspiring. Thank you again for letting us in on your secret!

  14. January 23, 2009 at 11:04 pm —

    First of all, these images are simply amazing, they make such a statement. I am very inspired by your work and thankful for all you have said. I would be so greatful to have your actions/sets and only hope my photos would do them justice. I have both photoshop and lightroom but find that I do not use lightroom as much… but hey, beggers cant be choosers 🙂 Thank you!!!

  15. January 23, 2009 at 11:00 pm —

    I totally agree that you have to be in the moment to really capture the feeling in the shot.. Great article and beautiful images. I’m a photoshop gal myself, and can’t wait to try some of these actions!

  16. January 23, 2009 at 10:57 pm —

    How fun to read this and realize the depth someone feels about photography. It puts things into perspective for me. Thank you for your insight. (PS4)

  17. January 23, 2009 at 10:57 pm —

    This was a great read. I absolutely love black and white photos, and your work is beyond amazing. Thank you so much for sharing a few of your secrets. I am a Photoshop user who has only recently began taking portraits, and I would love to win one of your action sets. Stacie

  18. January 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm —

    Excellent advice…but BEYOND stunning photography. I would love your sets. I use CS2.

  19. January 23, 2009 at 9:42 pm —

    Sonia your work is amazing. Very inspiring. I loved what you wrote about seeing light and looking into the soul of the image. Oh, and I have Lightroom. Thanks for sharing.

  20. January 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm —

    As always I love reading what you have written. Your work is amazing and your actions are even more amazing.

    Although I have your sets already I want to win them for a friend!


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The Secret to Black and White Photography * Enter a Contest to Win B&W Actions/Presets *