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Thursday, 29 January 2009 22:31

Tip - How to make BW photo

bwhuemin140 The BW (Black&White) photography has always been an amazing field of the photography and it will always find its place even in the new era of digital cameras. There are certainly many people including me who have not experienced the age of classic analogue photography and started to take pictures mainly due to the availability of the digital technology nowadays. However the digital cameras are still not in the same league as the analogue cameras especially when it comes to the BW photography – and it is not only the lower dynamic range of digital sensors compared to film although the latest digital cameras are now very close to the analogue cameras in their characteristics.

When taking pictures with digital camera, we have several options how to create a BW photograph – the vast majority of today digital cameras have built-in function „BW photo“ available through the custom functions of the camera; some of the cameras have even the choice of color filters for BW photography which are in fact algorithms simulating the real color glass filters used in classic photography. The best control over the BW conversion can be by no doubts achieved by using the color-BW conversion in PC using appropriate software. The easiest and fastest technique is of course the plain desaturation of the picture but it often gives a dull grey pictures with low contrast. The way that brings you far better BW pictures and that I will present in this article is a bit more complicated but not too much, don’t be scared :-). It is based on the use of layers in Photoshop but it is not very complicated and gives you a maximum versatility with the minimum of effort. It can simply be described as a simulation of color filters in analogue BW photography but with the convenience that we can arbitrarily adjust the hue, saturation and lightness of the color filter.

 

Lets start with this short and simple Photoshop tutorial for conversion of color pictures into BW...

 

So we have a color picture at the beginning - it does not really matter whether it is a JPEG picture we got directly from our camera or if it is already adjusted photograph (levels, curves, colors...) but the experience says that it is always better to work with already adjusted photograph. This color photograph will represent a Background layer for us in Photoshop that will be overlaid by other layers for conversion into BW.

 

 

col

 

 

We will paste the first layer for converting the picture into BW through the command Layer - New Adjustment Layer - Hue/Saturation as is shown below:

 

1

 

 

Lets name the new layer as Odstín / Hue and choose the color option in the drop-down menu of the function. This layer will be the one that will simulate the real color filter.

 

2

 

 

The dialog window below appears - for now let`s keep the values of all parameters set to "0" and press "OK" - we will call this dialog later to change some of its parameters...

 

3

 

 

We create the second layer in the same way as the first one - through the command Layer - New Adjustment Layer - Hue/Saturation...

 

1

 

 

But in this case we keep the "Mode" value set to default "Normal" and name the layer e.g. Odbarvení / Desaturation

 

4

 

 

In the dialog window that appears then (screenshot below) we set the Saturation parameter down to a value of -100, which means that we convert the image into greyscale; then click OK.

 

5

 

 

So now we have the original color picture as a Background layer overlaid with two more layers as is obvious from the picture below - the layer Odbarvení / Desaturation was used for picture desaturation and the layer Odstín / Hue will be used for simulation of the color filter by changing its parameters, so how to do that... it is very simple: we double-click on the layer adjustment icon on the left side of the layer dialog of the layer called Odstín / Hue as it is shown in the image below...

 

6

 

 

The dialog window below appears - it is the same that we have already seen during the setting up of the first adjustment layer but we kept the parameters unchanged. Now we can play a little with these three parameters, which are Hue, Saturation and Lightness - the most important for our purpose is the parameter Hue that changes the overall color balance of the photograph - of course we don`t see these changes because the picture is desaturated - but the color changes can be seen when the Odbarvení / Desaturation layer is made invisible in the layer dialog window.

 

In the picture below we can see how the BW version of the picture looks when we keep all parameters at default "0" values - it equals to the plain picture desaturation, i.e. the picture conversion into the greyscale. If we want to give the picture better contrast, we play more with the parameters until we are satisfied with the result...

 

7

 

 

In the image below I set the Hue parameter value to +30 - the picture is almost the same as the plainly desaturated picture above but the contrast is even worse in this case so this is the BW image that we really dont want - so let`s play more with the parameters to get as good picture as we can...

 

8

 

 

In the image below I have achieved the best result with best contrast balance (in my view) by setting up the value of the Hue parameter to -130. I got darker sky with better detail, the bridge is now lighter, the skyscrapers protrude now better from the background, the picture has much better overall dynamic. We can play even more with the other parameters as are Saturation or Lightness but we have to take care not to exaggerate the adjustments - in some cases the detail can be lost in the image and some bad artifacts may appear, especially at the dark-light transitions in the picture...

 

9

 

 

The screenshot below shows the real color balance of the picture above without desaturation - this is the way I changed the Hue of the original image to get the best result during the image conversion into BW:

 

10

 

 

And one more example of the conversion of color picture into BW at the end - the photo of a landscape - its plain conversion into greyscale and adjustment of its Hue for the best result:

example

 

 

Enjoy your own color-BW pictures conversion...

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 February 2011 09:07
 
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