Alignment XXIII

Alignment XXIII

There are many ways to convert color images to black and white.

Here’s my preferred method.

1       Optimize Color

Start with an optimized color original; set black point, white point, and lightness; clear color casts; boost saturation to reasonably high levels; avoid clipping. Use Lightroom or Camera Raw.

2       Establish a Tonal Structure

Establish a tonal structure - the relative lightness and darkness of diverse image areas. For basic global conversions use Lightroom or Camera Raw. For advanced local conversions use dual adjustment layers – Hue/Saturation below Black & White.

(The primary goal of a black and white conversion is to set the overall structure of the tonal relationship in an image. During color to black and white conversions, you'll be tempted to perfect the lightness and contrast of an image. Resist this temptation, if it leads you to creating too much contrast, loss of shadow and highlight detail.)

3       Enhance Global Lightness and Contrast

Enhance global lightness and contrast, the relative relationships of tone, after you establish the tonal structure, the fundamental tonal relationships. Use Curves.


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"In this episode of The Complete Picture Julieanne demonstrates the best way to convert images to Black and White in Lightroom as well as how to save presets to increase your productivity.  Click here to download the presets discussed in the video. Note: although this video was recorded in Lightroom, the same techniques are available in Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CS6."

Read more with my B&W ebooks.

View more in my DVD B&W Mastery.

Learn more in my B&W Digital Printing workshop.


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Colorless black-and-white images are beautiful, but sometimes it’s nice to add a little bit of tone. By adding color to your b&w photos, you can enhance their expressive qualities.

These days, you can add color to your black-and-white digital images in virtually unlimited ways. Sure, the choices before you can be dizzying. Fortunately the techniques are simple, and the experimentation process for determining which tone qualities work with specific images is easy and fun. Here are five go-to ways for bringing color back into monochrome images in Adobe Photoshop.

1 Colorize With Hue/Saturation
2 Split Tone With Curves
3 Restore A Percentage Of Original Color
4 Add Color By Hand
5 Selectively Tone With Masks

For all the details visit PopPhoto.com.

Learn more with my black and white digital photography ebooks.


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Black and white printing presents several significant challenges; the ability to produce a neutral color, the ability to maintain that neutral appearance under different light sources (reduced metamerism), the ability to attain graybalance (consistent color throughout the entire tonal scale); the ability to achieve a very dark black (high dmax) without sacrificing shadow detail (low dot gain), and longevity. All of these things are now easily attainable.

Black and white inkjet printing has come of age. In past years, there have been many compelling solutions for making black and white prints with inkjet technology; some have been fraught with problems (third party quadtone ink sets clog easily) and others have been expensive (ColorByte's ImagePrint RIP). Today, superior quality inkjet printing is both affordable and easily achieved.


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Many people find it easier to see composition in black and white. If you're one of them, try setting our camera's preview to black and white. When you do this, seeing line, shape, form, and relative light and dark relationships may become easier. Doing this will also help you get a better sense of how an image will look in black and white. Remember though, the saturated hues in your image can be converted to black and white as either light or dark, so the relative tonal distribution of your image is quite fluid - and seeing the hues in the image (whether with your naked eye or on the camera's LCD) will inform you how fluid you can expect it to be, where it will be fluid and where it won't.

Setting your camera's preview to black and white will only affect the JPEGs your camera creates; your Raw files will still be in full color.

Find more digital photography online resources here.

Learn more in my Digital Photography Workshops.


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What’s Unique About B&W

December 31, 2009 | 2 Comments |

Learn what's unique about black & white and how to best adjust and print it.

Here's a short excerpt from my DVD.

Learn more in my DVD Black & White Mastery.
Learn more in my Fine Art Digital Printing workshops.


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