First B&W images, C&C help welcomed.


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Aug 3, 2012
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Mustang Oklahoma
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My local Photo store is doing a B&W photo contest this month. Since I really haven't done any b&w conversions, so I am not entering. But this got me to thinking about how to do a good conversion. Here are two recent photos that I converted using presets but then tweaking them a little. (Sorry about the watermark, I forgot to turn it off.)

Any suggestions on making the conversions better? Do you use presets to start with or what is your process?


untitled-9-2 by Ron_Lane, on Flickr

untitled-9-2 by Ron_Lane, on Flickr


County Line Tracks-2-2 by Ron_Lane, on Flickr
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Those aren't bad at all Ron; #1 might do with a slight contrast boost, but #2 is well done. My process is very simple. I use Tiffen Digital FX to make the initial conversion and then fiddle-f*** around with it in LR, CS, NiK and whatever else until I get it the way I want. I'm pretty sure that I've never done two quite the same way.
I agree; the first one needs a bit of a contrast increase, and the second is pretty good. B&W is so,so dependent upon the scene, the mood desired, and of course, the viewer's desires and tastes. I like some of the Lightroom presets, and think that filter effects are a pretty good way to significantly change images while also maintaining the ability to achieve a modicum of consistency across many images, and across time. I think the first pose is actually a pretty strong portrait.
I like them both Ron. 2 seems a bit over sharpened, but that may be due to the resizing by either this site or your host site.
See what you think of these alterations. I raised the contrast even more but more importantly I lightened just her face a little. Absolutely neutral B&W is too sterile. Give it a hint of color. I gave it a bit more than a hint just to make the point and added an olive brown tint (old Portriga man here).


Hi Ron, I like both of them (I didn't see the first post) (Don't freek BUT) Try adding the dreaded Vignette every so lightly . For me it works in B&W .Especially #1
Ysarex, that is a good edit. Part of me likes the lightened face and part of me likes the original. Your edit seems to have a halo around her. What did you use to do the edit?
I boosted the contrast and replaced the original.

Thank you both for your comments.

I copied it into Photoshop and used Photoshop blending modes to make the changes. Screen to lighten and Soft Light to raise the contrast. Then Hue/Saturation where I clicked Colorize and set the Hue value to 45 and the Saturation to 5.

I think the portrait is great.

If you’d prefer to tinker with the conversion yourself rather than use Black-and-Whitify FX 2000 Pro (or similar), try a channel mixer adjustment layer in Photoshop, and tick the monochrome box. Move the R, G, and B sliders around to adjust the “contributions” of the different channels to the result, being careful to watch for blowing out any of the channels and losing detail (B channel is particularly susceptible to this). Then, on top of that, slap on a curves adjustment layer to fine tune the contrast, and you really have a wide range of possibilities for the final product.

By the way, I’m not knocking the use of plug-ins for this task—the truth is I’ve never tried one myself. I’m just making the point that there are versatile options available natively in Photoshop.
Thank you cynicaster. I know that there are mulitple ways to convert them and want to know multiple options to use. I'll have to play with PSE to try what I can do with the stuff you suggest.
Ron--ah, you're using PSE. I'm not 100% sure channel mixer is available in PSE. :(

In fact, I'm not sure PSE even lets you do adjustment layers. Or am I thinking of GIMP? Crap, I don't know. Wouldn't hurt to have a look.

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