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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.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Change the magnification of your image to 100%. Go to Filter > Other > High Pass. The preview checkbox won’t work to preview the sharpening. We can work around this by using the Undo keyboard shortcut Command Z. As of this writing, there’s a bug in CS5 (Mac version) that causes Command Z not to work initially. If you’re using CS5, move the slider for the Radius amount with the mouse first before continuing. Start by typing 0.1 in the Radius. Select the 0.1 with your mouse and type in 3 (Fig. 12a and 12b).

Using this workaround, to preview the sharpening, hold down the Command key and press Z. This is the keyboard shortcut for Undo. The first time you press the Z, the 3 changes to 0.1; pressing the Z again reverts it back to 3. The value 0.1 is, in effect, the “before” view. When the radius has 0.1 in it, the image has no visible sharpening (Fig. 13).

Looking at the image at 100% magnification, increase the Radius by 0.5 until it looks sharp. Use Command Z to preview. Once we’re happy with the sharpening on the screen, press OK. We’re sharpening for output to an inkjet printer. When you look at this image at 100%, it should look coarse and oversharpened. Use the Opacity of the Sharpen layer
to reduce the amount of sharpening.

Final Toned Image Ready For Printing
Our final step is to add dimension to the Sharpen layer. A Luminosity mask varies the amount of sharpening based on the tonality of the image. We want more sharpening in the dark tones and midtones and less in the lighter tones. In the Channels palette, hold down the Command key and click on the RGB channel. This loads the channel as a selection (Fig. 14a).

With the Sharpen layer selected, we want to add a layer mask. Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide Selection. As you can see, the mask is an inverted black-and-white version of the image (Fig. 14b).

I finished the image with some toning (Fig. 15). I used a Solid Color adjustment layer with the color settings of R:111, G:102 and B:54; keep in mind that my working color space is ProPhoto (Fig. 16). You should find a tone that works well with your images. I set the Blending mode of my Solid Color layer to Soft Light and created a Luminosity mask on the Solid Color layer.

In no way is this the only workflow for black-and-white images on their way to be printed, but I’ve found that it works well. Please take from this what makes sense for your own workflow.

Ming Tshing is an educator, a photographer and a digital-imaging specialist. He has been photographing in the United States and Asia since age 16. You can find Photoshop Actions dealing with the Midtone Contrast and Sharpening adjustments covered here at the link files.me.com/mtshing/dvkrg1 E-mail Tshing directly at mingtshing@gmail.com.


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