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Thread started 05 Aug 2008 (Tuesday) 23:04
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How to convert your images to B&W (with pictures!)

 
auroraskye
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Aug 05, 2008 23:04 |  #1

Oooookay. I am constantly, constantly saying "nice picture, but your conversion is flat" to people. Sometimes the flatness is worse than others. I know there are a variety of ways to do it, so I am going to share my favorite and tell you how to NEVER do it. :P

Hope this helps some people out.

Okay, first, we have our beautiful couple. They just got married, look how happy and cute they are!

IMAGE: http://www.auroraskye.com/photos/bwconvert1.jpg

Now, I just desaturated the image. That works right? No! Don't do that! Why? It makes your image muddy and yucky. Look at their lips, they are pale, particularly if you compare it to the other conversions. Now, this photo is not the worst desaturated photo ever, because it has a lot of depth to it already, but, you lose a lot of shadows and highlights when you desaturate. Never do it. Just resist the urge. :P

IMAGE: http://www.auroraskye.com/photos/bwconvert2.jpg
We are sad. Please do not desaturate us. :(

Okay.. What about the gradient map? Do you know how to find it? The best method is to go to layers, click the little yin yang symbol (as I like to call it) and go to "gradient map". I always prefer to work in layers, it makes life easier when you want to make changes. So here is an image with the gradient map applies and then just flattened. Be sure to compare it to the desaturated image of doom and particularly look at their lips, cheeks and other areas that should have definite shadows and highlights.

IMAGE: http://www.auroraskye.com/photos/bwconvert3.jpg
We're looking a lot better now...

Now.. if you want that baby to REALLY really look pretty... Let's add an curves layer! It's really simple, go to the yin yang again, and go to "curves". You are going to make it look roughtly like an s, with the bottom left curving toward the floor, the upper right curving toward the ceiling and a little dot in the middle. Different images call for different s-curves, so adjust to your liking, just watch those highlights.

Compare this image with the two images above. You can see a huge difference!

IMAGE: http://www.auroraskye.com/photos/bwconvert4.jpg
Wow, look how amazing we look! Now that's a conversion with some depth, baby.

Okay dokey. Hope this is helpful to explain what I (and other people) mean by the dreaded.. FLAT CONVERSION.

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cdifoto
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Aug 05, 2008 23:11 |  #2

The type of B&W I do depends on the image. Sometimes a straight desaturate works well. Sometimes more is required. I also have some actions in which I have no idea wtf is going down, but I like 'em.


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auroraskye
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Aug 05, 2008 23:20 |  #3

Okay well I would be interested in seeing an image in which desaturation is superior to gradient map or another method.. :) I am always interested in learning more.

I don't generally use actions from other people, outside of a few, I usually create my own.


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scrumpy
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Aug 06, 2008 04:03 |  #4

Thanks for going through that for us. But, IMHO the first plain and simple desat looks the best. Sorry.


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auroraskye
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Aug 06, 2008 09:39 |  #5

lol. Well, I guess there is no accounting for taste, but that's okay.. :) I guess that everybody likes something different. Afterall, there are people who likes wrestling, Nascar and the movie "You, Me and Dupree". :P


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recrisp
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Aug 06, 2008 10:27 |  #6


Very nice, and that is a good way of getting what you need from a color image, big difference.
I think that all you did was good, the only thing I see is that your Curves are too much, the S-curve is the best contrast you can do in a quick way, but if you go too far, you can get hot spots, like in his forehead, etc.
It all depends on what the end result is needing to be.

I also agree that we all see things differently, and have different ideas as to how the outcome should be.

Another way is to use your Channels...
I used your image to convert, but I didn't upload it, 'cause you don't have your "Image Editing OK" on.

I opened the image, made a new Layer, went to my Channels tab, and opened that.

I clicked on the RED to see how it looked, it was too high key, so I went to the GREEN Channel, it looked good, so I selected it, copied that, (Ctrl A) then clicked back onto my RGB Channel at the top to ensure all three Channels were active.

I pasted the Green Channel over my color Layer (Ctrl V) and flipped the Layer's eye icon on and off to see what the differences were...

I did the same thing to the Blue Channel, the Blue and Green both have a different look, and they are both useful, but it all depends on the image, some landscapes are better using the Red Channel, in my eyes, of course.

Personally, I use a combination of these sometimes, I may use the eyes from one, and the clothing from another, and mix and match using Layer Masks.
I may also use a filter like the Artistic/Film Grain, or Texture/Grain, or Texture/Texturizer, all depending if I want a gritty look, or a ink stippled look, pencil, or a combination of a lot of things, or whatever.

If it needs sharpening, I make a New Layer of my Channel of choice, and use the High Pass method of sharpening, it gives a little more control (I feel) over other types of sharpening.
(Filter/Other/High Pass)
I move the slider of the High Pass to just barely show a difference in the gray background. (You'll see what I mean when you try it, I used 1.4 in your image, then Fade, then Adjusted the Layer Opacity to my taste)
If I feel it's too much, I either adjust the filter by using the Edit/ Fade option in the upper left hand corner.
(Too much on the slider and it can give you haloing just like any of the other sharpening filters)
I change that Layer to Overlay in my Layer Adjustment Options.
I might also adjust the Opacity of the Layer too, but all of this depends on the image, how large it is, and well, all images are different, and we are all looking at things slightly different too.

I didn't feel that it needed any contrast at all for my tastes.

EDIT to say that I feel as though it's all up to the shot at hand, for portraiture, the method you say works, at least in this shot, but in landscapes, where details matter, or can, and other styles of photography, it may be entirely different.
A wedding shot and an urban portrait can be two different things.
Softness in a wedding portrait is much needed, and this is a good shot, by the way...

Randy


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JLukeW
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Aug 06, 2008 11:44 |  #7

I use Photoshop's Channel Mixer for all my Black and White conversions, often subtracting some of the red, green, or blue channel to get the effect I want. (One good example is removing or highlighting freckles). I'll try posting a picture example some time...




  
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J.P.M.
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Aug 06, 2008 11:59 |  #8

I am a fan of channel mixer myself .....

http://www.dcmag.co.uk …_mono.YX55vXRo3​9cnPg.html (external link)


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te1221
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Aug 06, 2008 12:57 as a reply to  @ J.P.M.'s post |  #9

How does this compare to Digital Photo Professional's Monochrome options within RAW files?


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tmonatr
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Aug 06, 2008 18:13 |  #10

cdifoto wrote in post #6054888 (external link)
I also have some actions in which I have no idea wtf is going down, but I like 'em.

I have presets in Lightroom like that. ;)


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IainUK
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Aug 06, 2008 18:50 |  #11

Any advice when using Aperture? (as in the Apple product)


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How to convert your images to B&W (with pictures!)
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