Here is a quick synopsis of this evening’s presentation on converting color photographs to B&W:
- This was a program on converting color photographs to B&W not about B&W photography in general, so some subjects were intentionally left out
- The human visual system is very complex, very capable, with flaws that ironically help us make sense out of the world that surround us. The main factors that influence our vision, color perception, and tonal structure are:
- Color constancy
- Tonal constancy
- Simultaneous contrast
- We perceive colors with the influence of the factors above. Therefore, not every color photograph will not necessarily convert to B&W well. We have to accept that and learn to live with that
- The tools for B&W conversion mentioned, although there were many more, were (1-4 in Photoshop):
- Look at the channels, RGB, Lab, CMYK. If a channel has acceptable B& image, copy the channel and paste it as a layer
- Use Channel Mixer adjustment layer, click on Monochrome check box and mix the channels according to image content and taste
- Add HS adjustment layer, change its blend mode to Hue. Above this add another HS layer and reduce saturation to zero. Now on the first HS layer you can pick the channels and move the hue slider for different effects. (I was clicking on the wrong blend mode during the presentation, that’s why it did not work.)
- Add B&W conversion adjustment layer and use the color channel sliders to change the luminosity of color channels. Remember that is a global adjustment unless you use layer masks (a different lesson session)
- In Lightroom HSL panel, reduce the saturation of each color channel to zero and adjust the luminosity of each channel according to image content and desired results. Tweak with the saturation and vibrance sliders as well as the color temperature and tint sliders. Make additinal tonal adjustments with the curves if necessary
- Use Split Toning panel to add toning effects if desired. Use the Hue for highlights and shadows and adjust the saturation for the desired results. The warm tone I indicated I used often were Hue=40 Saturation=10 for highlights and shadows
- If you wanted to apply real split toning with different hue for highlights and shadows, experiment with cool and warm hues for highlights and shadows. Remember, a little goes a long way.
In all digital editing the result should not scream “Photoshopped!” Photoshop or Lightroom are tools just like your lenses and cameras. What matters in the end is your photograph not the tools or techniques you used.
Also note that there are quite a few more B&W conversion tools and toning methods. I tried to cover those that are easy to replicate. In a longer workshop I may cover more detail and include different tools, if there is interest that is.
One Web site that you will find interesting to visit is http://www.webexhibits.org/ . There I used pages from their Color Vision and Art content, although other sections are quite interesting. You will learn plenty there about photography although the content does not specifically refer to it.