BWGallerist

Noteworthy: 12 Ways to Make a Black & White Photo

In Article, Black and White Photography, Software on April 16, 2010 at 10:01 am

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Adobe Design Center photo

Stumbled on this “check list” of conversion techniques by Brian Auer. Though Photoshop centric and not acknowledging some of the latest 3rd party offerings, it is a good list with links.

  1. Layers From Channels – This is probably my favorite way of making a black & white. It offers the most control over the image, but it can be very time consuming.
  2. CS3 B&W Adjustment – I love this tool for evaluating if a photo has that black & white potential. This method is an extension of the channel mixer, it just has more channels to play with. The nice thing is that it has a list of presets that you can quickly scroll through to give you some ideas on where to go with the photo.
  3. Channel Mixer – This is another great tool for evaluating the photo, but not as flexible as the B&W Adjustment tool. Before CS3, I would use this for quite a few of my photos as a starting point.
  4. Hue-Saturation – I don’t typically use this, but it’s pretty quick and easy. It also gives you a bit of control over how each color contributes to the black & white output.
  5. LAB Color – This one is fairly painless, and it just involves duplicating some channel information from a different color mode. It really works well for some photos, but not for others.
  6. Calculations – Most people don’t know about this tool, but it’s there. It gives you control over combining channels and their blending modes.
  7. Gradient Map – Real quick and easy method, but doesn’t offer the amount of control as the previous methods.
  8. Desaturate – One of the simplest methods used, but often creates photos that lack punch.
  9. Grayscale – Another simple method, but also produces poor contrast black & whites.
  10. In Camera – Some cameras offer black & white photos, but I would shy away from this. You’ll have much more control over output if you grab all the colors and work with them on the computer.
  11. Threshold – Some photos can pull this one off, but not many. You’ll end up with black and white only — no grays. Good for abstract work, and creates a very bold image.
  12. Plugins – I don’t use any plugins for conversion, but I know there are a few out there. The strong point for these is that they offer fairly complex conversions with a simple interface.

For the original article: Brian Auer

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