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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Software For B&W Image Control

To get the most out of your black-and-white images, try these software packages

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Apple Aperture
The controls offered by Apple Aperture (www.apple.com) for black-and-white conversion are less robust compared to what’s available with other software. The only options for an actual black-and-white conversion include the ability to apply a color filter effect that alters contrast and to adjust the luminosity of the individual red, green and blue color channels. Beyond that, the only available controls for fine-tuning the effect are the general tonal adjustments that can be applied to any image, including color photos. So, while Aperture is a powerful tool for image management, it really isn’t a professional-level tool for creating and controlling black-and-white images.

Auto FX Mystical Tint Tone Color
The Mystical Tint Tone Color package from Auto FX Software (www.autofx.com) is aimed at providing a wide variety of interesting effects to your images, including black-and-white images. The software doesn’t overwhelm you with too many controls, and the controls that are available enable you to apply a creative black-and-white conversion and exercise a decent amount of fine-tuning to the image.

Once you’ve selected a preset to use as the basis of your adjustment, you can go about fine-tuning the controls that affect the black-and-white conversion. The Enrich and Deepen controls are of particular benefit, allowing you to add density to the darkest areas of the image in order to improve the richness of the overall effect, while at the same time preserving fine details in those areas.

Mystical Tint Tone Color also allows you to add multiple layers in order to stack effects onto the image, in addition to utilizing masks to apply your adjustments to specific areas of the image.

Nik Software Silver Efex Pro
Silver Efex Pro from Nik Software (www.niksoftware.com) is a powerful tool for creating and manipulating black-and-white images. The software’s only mission is black-and-white. To get you started quickly, there’s a series of styles included. These style presets go beyond the more pedestrian options, mimicking the effect of a black-and-white film capture using a Holga camera, the effect of a pinhole camera, solarized effects, film push-processing and much more.

Silver Efex Pro offers tremendous control over fine details of the black-and-white conversion. For example, the Structure control allows you to increase or decrease local contrast within the image to enhance or suppress fine details, respectively. You also can refine settings to help preserve details in the extreme highlights or shadows so those areas will be protected from any aggressive adjustments you may apply.

The Color Filter controls will be particularly appreciated by photographers who have worked with colored filters, either with black-and-white film captures or when printing in the wet darkroom. Not only can you apply a red filter to enhance contrast, for example, but you also can select a specific hue and strength for the filter, providing considerably more flexibility than was ever possible with black-and-white film photography.


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