Black & whites

jemmy

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Hi all, was hoping you talented pros :hail: might be able to share with me your own special little secrets to taking a GREAT black and white shot. I have been trying ridiculously hard but find mine looking very grey and unappealing. I love the rich tones but am admittedly struggling to achieve them xx (if it helps, i've posted several bodgey b&w examples in portraits and an example of what i want to achieve is :hail: Elsapets b&w wedding tones?!!) Any advice/ how to's/tricks of the trade are MOST WELCOME :heart:
 

markc

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It sounds like they are low in contrast. You need good a good black point and white point. If you are talking digital, I think learning to use the levels and curves functions in Photoshop is pretty much essential to getting good tones. The same goes for choosing the right contrast filters/papers and developing times in the darkroom.

Also, learning how to convert from color to b&w using the channel mixer. Selective adjustments using masked curves is good too.
 
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jemmy

jemmy

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Thanks mark, i have tried most of your suggestions, bar the "selective adjustments using "masked curves" as i'm not sure how to do this. I do convert using channel mixer, making sure all 3 numbers add to 100? I always muck around with levels, curves and contrast but still cant get that great image... i should perhaps do a course hey?! xx So, the good black & white point is obviously there when you shoot, it's strength(wc?)
depends on how you play in PS is that right? Thanks heaps for your reply. I have so much to learn and am as keen as mustard!!!!!!!! xxx
 

markc

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You use levels to set the black and white points. They determine the range of contrast for the whole image. When you have true black and true white, you have the full contrast range possible. You can then play with the relative contrast between specific areas or within specific tonal ranges using curves.

Levels: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/levels.htm
Curves: http://www.thegoldenmean.com/technique/curves1.html
Masked Layers: http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/pselements/ss/adjustmentlayer.htm

Working with adjustment layers is great, because you can go back and make a change without having to redo everything. Even the color->b&w conversion can be an adjustment layer, so you can go back and try a different color mix without having to redo all the other adjustments (and yeah, the colors usually should add to 100).
 

RoRoCo

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You may want to also try playing with tinted b&w convertions as well just for the hell of it. You would be surprised how much contrast you can pull out by applying a bit of color before converting to B&W...

Applying a bit of red will darken greens in the foliage...blues will darken skin tone...etc...

If you want to see what I mean...download Picasa from google. It is a great free image manager that has a few editing tool. One of them is Tinted B&W.

Let me know what you think....
 

markc

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RoRoCo said:
You may want to also try playing with tinted b&w convertions as well just for the hell of it. You would be surprised how much contrast you can pull out by applying a bit of color before converting to B&W...

Applying a bit of red will darken greens in the foliage...blues will darken skin tone...etc...

If you want to see what I mean...download Picasa from google. It is a great free image manager that has a few editing tool. One of them is Tinted B&W.

Let me know what you think....
That's pretty much the same thing as using the channel mixer. I often use from 80% red and 20% green to full 100% red, which is like using a deep red filter.
 

hobbes28

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I'm another channel mixer user. The easiest way is to just open it up and mess around with the different percentages and see what works for you. Keep in mind that you need to total 100% for the red, green and blue or it will be over/under exposed.
 

Arch

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In my experience the 100% values should be used as a rough guide..... you can go either side of this, depending on the image.......... the effects are similar to using the red, green and blue values as colour filters when using black and white film. ;)
 

danalec99

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While using Channel Mixer, my equation usually is 60-40-0, coupled with the Brightness/Contrast tool.

But I prefer to desaturate and fiddle with the Contrast/Brightness while in the Adobe Camera Raw. After importing the image to Photoshop, I'll fine tune it with Shadow/Highlights and a bit more Brightness/Contrast to get the look that I'm after.

If there are hundreds of images (read weddings) I'd use the Kubota action.
 

markc

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I'd stay away from the Brightness/Contrast tool and use curves instead. From what I've read, B/C can lose data. Curves will usually keep tones distinct from each other, even if they get really close. B/C can make two separate tones become one. Once that happens, you lose the distinction between them. The Curves tool also gives you more control over where in the tonal range the contrast is and how it behaves.
 

Arch

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markc said:
I'd stay away from the Brightness/Contrast tool and use curves instead. From what I've read, B/C can lose data. Curves will usually keep tones distinct from each other, even if they get really close. B/C can make two separate tones become one. Once that happens, you lose the distinction between them. The Curves tool also gives you more control over where in the tonal range the contrast is and how it behaves.


yea i agree with this........ usually a small 'S' shape in the curves adjustment box will give you all the contrast you need...... i used to use B/C alot but dont really touch it nowadays.
 

danalec99

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Archangel said:
usually a small 'S' shape in the curves adjustment box will give you all the contrast you need......
I enjoy the control that I have with B/C than the Curves. However, this is an interesting info. -
markc said:
Curves will usually keep tones distinct from each other, even if they get really close. B/C can make two separate tones become one.
 

markc

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Here's a bit I found on it:
http://www.earthboundlight.com/phototips/photoshop-brightness-contrast.html

I was not able to find anything on losing data, so I must have been misremembering that. I was probably thinking of dodging and burning. My brain does that these days. It looks like the main drawback is that B/C are linear adjustments. You can't affect one part of the tonal range more than another, like just brighten shadow detail a little.

I also found a link of someone who think B/C is just fine.
http://www.arraich.com/ps6_tips_ccontrast1.htm
Though I don't agree with his test method. I didn't go through the whole thing, but it doesn't look like he adjusted his b/w points in the curves example, which it very important.
 

Philip Weir

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Hi "Jemmy"

May I suggest you post an image you've done that you're not happy with, and let us "experts" play around with it, and whatever result you are happy with, ask how the person did it. Everyone has a different idea of how an image should look. I do work for a client who loves contrasty images, but I suppose I've grown up knowing my work has to be printed and accordingly adjust the image quality to the medium it is used for. Remember for the last 100 years, all they had was printing in an enlarger with only contrast and density control. Don't make it too complicated. Philip.

www.philipweirphotography.com
 

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