Make the best of your BlackMagic / by Y. Feliks

Let me start with a short introduction – I am a photographer. Started many years ago with film cameras, negatives and darkrooms and now, use a DSLR camera.

From the very beginning of my digital workflow, I tried to reproduce the “filmic” look of my photos, especially the black and whites. It was always a work-around, consumed a lot of time and effort and many times, resulted with some compromise…

Then came Lightroom and I realized that I can get there with its magnificent presets logic, so I started developing a workflow, that will be similar to the darkroom workflow.

Let me be honest with you, it was for my personal usage at the beginning.

After a couple of years of experiments, lots of trial & error and many trashed presets, I was able to establish my workflow and packaged it in PSKiss BlackMagic.

The purpose of this workflow isn’t creating fancy effects (although you can create stunning effcts with it – more about them in my next post…).

It is, first of all, meant for recreating the old traditions of Black & White photography.

Let me show you what I mean.

This photograph is under-exposed because there wasn’t enough light and I didn’t want to extend exposure time that would end with movement smears.

Step #1

Choose one of the 03 Wide Rang Grayscales in order to pick the best contrast and tone transitions. For this kind of photos, the best practice would be 1a-Natural Standard which will maintain the tones of the photo:

As you can see it is still quite dark and lacks details in the shadows, however contrast is good and there are many tone transitions.

Step #2

Use the Additionals > 5a-Add illumination preset to reveal shadow details:

Now the image is brighter, tones are clearly defined and there are much more details in the dark areas. The downside is that the marble floor is a too bright and looks flat.

Step #3

Use the Additionals > 5-Highlight Recovery preset:

Looks better, but I prefer more shadow details and I refuse to give up on the reflections in the windows…

Step #4

Use the Additionals > 4a-Open Shadows 1 preset:

Now the image looks great.

Its gray tones are rich, it is detailed in the shadows as well as the bright areas and contrast is good for monitor display and for print.

Note – Since we work with Lightroom presets, you can always modify the results of each step, if needed.


Sometimes I plan my photos to be black & white while shooting. In these cases, I use Lightroom’s feature – Apply During Import and select the preset that fits the photos lighting conditions:

• For standard and under exposed photos select 03 Wide Rang Grayscales > 1a-Natural Standard

• For over exposed photos select 03 Wide Rang Grayscales > 1b-Natural Standard – Darker


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