Reader Question: Do you need a plug-in to create compelling B&W photos?

by Joseph Linaschke

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Reader William Meldrum asks:

Can you produce a winning B&W photo from a RAW image using just Aperture, or do you really need to invest in something like Nik’s Silver Efex Pro?
— William Meldrum

That's a superb question William, and I'm largely going to post this as a challenge to our readers to see what they can come up with. 

Personally, I use Nik Silver Efex Pro II because, well, it's awesome. And yes it does allow control way, way beyond what you can do in Aperture. You could probably achieve the same results in Photoshop if you really knew what you were doing, but SEP gives you controls that have been designed specifically with the black and white image in mind.

But your question wasn't if these tools were better. Your question was if you can produce a "winning" (and by that I presume you mean "friggin' awesome") image just using the built-in tools in Aperture (or Lightroom; let's expand this a bit). I'd certainly say YES you can. Can you achieve the same results? No, I don't think so. But that doesn't mean you can't achieve rockin' results.

So… readers… what do you think? Up to the challenge? Set aside your fancy plug-ins, and let's see what we can create using just Aperture or Lightroom. No Photoshop, no plug-ins, no other software. Presets are allowed, because after all, that's just the native software, already dialed in.

Please link to your results in the comments!