Friday, September 1, 2006
Shoot Digital For B & W
Discover the monochrome world using your digital camera
Converting To Black-And-White
The two simplest ways to convert an image to black-and-white generally aren't recommended. Converting to grayscale allows the computer to convert the color file to black-and-white by discarding the color data and leaving only luminosity, or black-and-white, information. Reducing saturation, or using the Desaturate command, is also a quick way to produce a black-and-white image, but like grayscale conversion, it hardly provides the flexibility and control that most photographers prefer.
Instead, one of the most effective ways to achieve good black-and-white results is to use the Channel Mixer in Photoshop (Select > Channel Mixer). When the dialog box is opened and the monochrome setting is checked, you adjust the red, green and blue channels to achieve the final look of your photograph.
If you're enhancing an image with strong reds or yellows, work with the red and green sliders to achieve a black-and-white conversion that will allow the reds and yellows to pop. If your image contains a lot of green foliage that you wish to render with strong contrast, begin with the blue slider and then increase the red and green sliders to fine-tune the overall look of the image.
Remember that the "right" combination of channels is entirely dependent on the content of the image. There isn't one hard and fast setting that you'll use every time. Have fun and experiment.
There are other alternative techniques, which include software filters like those found in Nik Color Efex Pro. This easy to-use software provides a variety of tools for converting an image to black-and-white with varying degrees of contrast. Using a simple slider, you can experiment and see the results immediately in the Preview window.
Once you find what works best for you, spend more time shooting and improving the quality of your digital files rather than slaving over the computer. Shooting is always much more fun.
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