Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Your Perfect B&W Print
Ansel Adams called the print “The Performance.” OP shows you, in-depth, how to use Photoshop to get your image ready for the best performance possible.
Contrast is the framework of black-and-white imagery. A proper black point provides a solid base for your image. Like all workflows, it’s important to get started on the right path. Setting a black point and a white point is the process where we tell Photoshop which areas of our image should be black and which areas should be white. This is crucial when dealing with the overall contrast of your image.
Every image is unique. Technically, setting the black point is finding the darkest pixels of the image and setting that to a value of 0, and setting the white point is finding the lightest pixels of your image and setting that value to 255. The technical approach is rarely the appropriate one, however. It’s important to establish what I call a meaningful black point. You must visually identify the area of your image that you want to be black and then set that to be a black point. Very often you end up sacrificing unimportant shadow details in other areas of the image. Keeping some detail in the lighter areas of the image is important; giving up detail here leaves these areas printing with no information, essentially, allowing the paper color (paper white) to show through.
Most images will benefit from setting a meaningful black point and a meaningful white point. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions. For example, finding a black point and white point in a foggy landscape may not be appropriate. Doing so will increase the contrast of the image and render an unnatural atmospheric look.
Shadows/Highlights is an adjustment tool that’s often overlooked, yet it’s an invaluable tool when you want to establish the full tonal range of an image.
Shadows/Highlights is a recovery adjustment, used to recover information from the shadow and highlight areas.
Shadows/Highlights isn’t an adjustment layer, and without utilizing Smart Objects, any application is a permanent change to your image. Thus, it’s a tool that should be used with an exit strategy in mind. A good workflow incorporates duplicating your layer for the Shadows/Highlights adjustment.
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