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Thread started 25 Feb 2006 (Saturday) 16:40
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B&W Conversion question

 
DAG123
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Feb 25, 2006 16:40 |  #1

What is the best way in PS to convert to B&W?
I have read that the 'desaturate' process that I have been using is not the best.




  
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CyberPet
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Feb 25, 2006 19:32 |  #2

I prefer to use "Channel Mixer". Gives you some control over the grey scale. I use an adjustment layer, so I can change my mind, if I'm not totally happy with the conversion. And when I'm all satisfied I'll save the image with a new name.


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Spiral ­ Photo
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Feb 25, 2006 19:37 |  #3

I agree with CyberPet on this one. If you go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Channel Mixer, it will bring a dialog box with 3 faders (Red, Green, Blue channels). First, on the bottom of that box, click "Monochrome". You will see the image turn to b/w. Then adjust the faders to your liking. You'll notice that setting each channel to 100 while keeping the others at 0 will have a different effect. It gives the same result as it would if you'd shot b/w in the camera with colored filters on the lens, but with MUCH more control.

For example, I'll use the following image:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
Byte size: ZERO | Content warning: NOT AN IMAGE


When you bring up the Channel Mixer window, if you turn the Red & Green Channels up to (roughly) 50 on each, then start bringing the Blue channel into the negative, you'll notice the sky (if you've got a good blue sky) will become very dark, almost black, giving you a result resembling the following:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
Byte size: ZERO | Content warning: NOT AN IMAGE


HOWEVER...keep an eye on your highlights. If you crank any channel too high, you'll notice you'll start getting hotspots, where they blow out to total whiteness. If you don't go high enough, they'll be gray. Same goes for darks. If you go too low, you'll make your picture too contrasty. Don't go low enough, and they won't be dark enough. Once you play with it enough, you'll train your eye to spot that right away.

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CyberPet
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Feb 25, 2006 19:46 |  #4

That's a great conversation, Spiral Photo!!! That sky is just awesome!

Since skin tones has a lot of red in it, it can be a good starting point to start with 30-50% Red, the Green at about 50% too and then tinker a bit with the blue and see what happens if you increase or decrease the red and blue, etc. It's pretty fun to see how you can affect an image. You can also play with the Constant a bit to darken and brighten the image.


/Petra Hall
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I shoot as much as possible in available light... sometimes, my flash is available – Joe Buissink

  
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DAG123
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Feb 25, 2006 20:31 |  #5

Thanks Spiral! I have been playing with this since you posted it....what a difference on some of the oher B&W's I did before just using desatrurate.

Greatly appreciated!!!




  
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RAitch
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Feb 25, 2006 21:09 |  #6

Channel mixer is one of the best options... but there are several other ones if you get adventurous.

For example, if you switch to the channels palette, you'll see the data for the RGB channels. You can use one of these to convert your image.

I always check the channels out first when converting to get an idea of what "good things" are in each channel before going in to the Channel Mixer dialog.

You can also copy a few of those channels into new layers, then apply some masks to blend them together. This is kind of like the Channel mixer, but you can fine tune areas in the image.

To make things even more complicated, you can create several conversion layers (including multiple channel mixer layers) then blend them together to get the best of each area. For example, a blue sky will convert better with different settings then the green grass in the foreground.
Layer masks and a gentle hand are key here.

You can also use a gradient map to convert your image. This is an underused adjustment but is very nice.
You can use some of the gradients that already exist... or dive in and adjust the colours and ranges for the conversion (where the mid points are).
It's a very unique dialog that's different from everything else (due to what it does) and I think that's why it scares people away... but it's nothing to be afraid of.

Also, you can go crazy and check out the channels in LAB mode. They will be different from the RGB channels so there's more data to pull from.

I'd stay away from the general desaturation adjustment... but that's not to say it's useless.
You can also just change the image mode to greyscale... but I wouldn't recommend that either.

You can also get some plugins to do this which will provide some different results. ImageFactory has a really nice B&W converter that quickly produces some amazing results. Yet, it costs money if you go that route.... after the demo expires.

I like to focus on the major areas of an image and create an adjustment for that area only. Then when I have 2, 3, or 4 adjustment layers, I use masks to blend them all together.
Then I usually throw a desaturation layer on top to make sure I get everything.


The options are endless... so it's up to you to be creative.
What's the best way? That depends on each image and what you want to do with it.
Channel mixer is very popular because it's flexible and easy to customize. Even though I use it all the time, I hate the interface. Since it takes so long to change 3 sliders, it's hard to do before and after comparisons.
I find myself making several layers and checking them after with layer compositions... but that's not very efficient... and that's what drives me nuts. But after ImageFactory, I use CM layers the most.

(sorry for this long winded reply.... phew!)


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RAitch
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Feb 25, 2006 21:09 |  #7

BTW Spiral Photo... nice image... really like the sky.


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tim
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Feb 27, 2006 17:46 |  #8

Great conversion Spiral Photo, very dramatic. Would you care to post your settings or workflow?

I do my B&W conversions using one of two methods:
- A channel mixer adjustment layer. I view the channels individually and mix them to taste.
- In RAW I desaturate, change the curve to strong contrast, and I tweak the sliders on the calibrate in a way that approximates the channel mixer. I save my favorite settings as a preset so it takes 5 seconds to a B&W conversion.


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bpuppy
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Feb 27, 2006 23:57 |  #9

tim, can you post some of your favourite settings?

This is great because you can do it in Adobe Camera Raw and save the BW Conversion settings along with all the other RAW settings.


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tim
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Feb 28, 2006 02:41 as a reply to  @ bpuppy's post |  #10

Here's two - BW1 is custom done for the photo, BW2 is one of my presets.


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rightaway
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Feb 28, 2006 19:08 as a reply to  @ tim's post |  #11

Great info here guys!! Thanks!




  
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