30 Jun 2014

Black and White Control


Australia, cityscape, Harbour Bridge, HDR, high dynamic range, Kirribilli, long exposure, New South Whales, night shots, NSW, Sydney, tourist attraction
Spanning my Dreams in Black and White

There are so many ways to get a black and white photo.  The most popular is converting a colored photo to black and white.  Though you can achieve this right there in the camera.  In the digital age, converting a photo to black and white is just a press of a key or initiate an action.  In my workflow, I can use the following to get black and white photo:

  • In Camera - either force the camera to capture black and white or edit in-camera.
  • Lightroom - it's Develop module has enough to give awesome B/W photos
  • Photoshop - sky's the limit, do everything you want to do
I don't use my camera to capture black and white.  I wanted to get as much information of the scene as possible which includes color.  For me, converting is the way to go.  This way, if I want color then I have it, if I want black and white then I'll convert it.



Lightroom

For quick snaps in black and white, I use Lightroom.  I believe that Lightroom has enough tools to do a good job converting a photo to black and white.  Even when I finished editing a photo in Photoshop, sometimes I feel that I need to convert it to Black and White.  In these instances, I still use Lightroom to convert them.  

Asia, dedication, Japan, Land of the Rising Sun, letter, Meiji temple, Philip Avellana, prayer, Senso-Ji, temple, Tokyo, tourism
Original Photo in Color before Converting to Black and White

To convert the photo above:
  1. Open Lightroom
  2. Enter Library module (press 'G')
  3. Enter Loupe View (press 'E')
  4. Press 'V' for instant black and white conversion
Asia, dedication, Japan, Land of the Rising Sun, letter, Meiji temple, Philip Avellana, prayer, Senso-Ji, temple, Tokyo, tourism, lightroom conversion,
Lightroom's Conversion, after pressing 'V'


Note that pressing 'V' in Grid view converts the photo in black and white as well.  But since Grid view shows smaller thumbnails, it's best to enter Loupe view.  The instant black and white conversion is also an 'optimized' conversion by Lightroom.  This is like auto-levels or auto-color in which Lightroom tries its best to give you an optimised black and white photo.

To further control Lightroom's instant black and white conversion do the following:
  1. Enter Develop module (press 'D')
  2. Show the right panel bar (press 'F8' if no right panel bar is showing)
  3. click 'B & W' (along 'HSL' and 'Color')
If you did it correctly, you'll see Lightroom's optimised settings.

Lightroom, auto black and white, settings
Lightroom's Auto-Black and White

Once you see the panel, you can play around with the sliders to darken or lighten certain colors in the photo.  This gives full control to modify the conversion.  I tried to modify it and I arrived with the following settings:

Lightroom, custom, black and white, bw
Iori's Modified BW Conversion
Below is what the settings gave me:

 Asia, dedication, Japan, Land of the Rising Sun, letter, Meiji temple, Philip Avellana, prayer, Senso-Ji, temple, Tokyo, tourism, lightroom conversion,  Lightroom's Conversion, custom black and white, bw
Iori's Modified BW Converted Photo

Overall, there is not much difference between the photos above.  But if you look closer, you'll see small changes.  Probably if you're used to black and white conversion, you can dramatically edit this panel to show better b/w conversion.  If, at any time, you want to 'reset' all these settings, just press 'ALT'  and the 'Reset Black and White Mix' will show - just click it.

Lightroom, black and white, conversion, slide bar
Reset the BW Settings


Photoshop

You can also do the same technique within Photoshop. 
  1. Click on 'New Adjustment Layer'
  2. Select 'Black and White'
  3. Manipulate the Slider
Note that there is a Preset dropdown menu where several filter settings are already available.

Photoshop, Black and White, Slider, panel, adjustment layer
Photoshop Black and White Slider Panel

Since I'm already in Photoshop, I took advantage of the layers.  I add a Curves layer (and did some selection).  I added a non-destructive Dodge and Burn Layer as well.


Photoshop, adjustment layer, black and white, curves, dodge and burn
Photoshop Layers with B/W and Curves

The final photo is seen below:


Photoshop, black and white, conversion, adjustment layer
Photoshop Black and White Conversion with other Layers


Final Thoughts

When I want a quick black and white conversion, Lightroom's auto settings are usually sufficient.  If I want to tweak it, I go to Develop -> B & W.  There are also 'presets' (free from the internet) you can use to cycle through which black and white conversion you like.  

If I want more black and white control, I export and edit this in Photoshop.  Most of the time, I add many adjustment layers to achieve the look I want.  But this depends on the user as some would find Photoshop, overboard in doing black and white.  Your mileage may vary.

In the end, time is always a main factor then personal style.





4 comments:

  1. Great photos! I like black and white variants! Is Lightroom free or paid? I didn't used it, last year i was with macphun.com/tonality but now my licence is expired and i am looking for alternatives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lee,

      Sorry for the late post. Anyway, if you're still not with Lightroom, I do suggest to download and try it for a month (if possible). You won't go back. It has enough editing tools to satisfy your photos (as long as you capture the shot right).

      It also has tons of tagging & segregating photos that you don't need to jump to another program. I use both Lightroom & Photoshop simultaneously.

      Delete
  2. This is a very awesome post on converting a colored photo to black and white. I am very impressed to read your post. It is very informative post. You’ve presented the post very nicely. Thanks for sharing. I need to learn neck joint service in Photoshop. Do you have any tutorial on it?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Month display and adjust the rolex daytona length of the month set by the date display disk in the two pin control. The first pin on the disc is set to fake watches rotate the set wheel. Push a stylus on the lever with a darker cut on the swiss replica watches set wheel to identify a 30-day month to set a long toggle route. In this way, the date of the double conversion the next day through the push rod to be achieved.

    ReplyDelete