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B&W Images – Is There Really Anything Better?

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B&W Gallery

When color is not the subject of your image, consider a monochrome, B&W image.

I have two preferred methods for converting to B&W, it’s not in Lightroom, nor in NIK Silver Efex Pro, nor ON1 Photo 10 Effects nor in Topaz B&W Effects – I use Photoshop.  Why?  It’s all about the targeted control you can achieve in the tonal ranges.

Photoshop has 7 methods to convert to a B&W image as follows:

  1. Generic Gray Scale
  2. Saturation Adjustment Layer
  3. Monochrome Channel Mixer
  4. B&W Adjustment Layer
  5. Adobe Camera Raw
  6. Lab Color Mode
  7. Gradient Map Adjustment Layer (This is the best conversion given its full-range application to the RBG-CMY Color Wheel)

Method 1 – In Photoshop using both a “Hue-Saturation and Gradient Map” Adjustment Layers.

– In the Hue / Saturation Adjustment Layer has one color selector dropdown and three sliders that control the action.  First select one color at a time from the Master dropdown then for the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders adjust to taste and tonal separation.

– Merge the layers and save the image back to Lightroom where additional adjustments and/or B&W plug-ins can be used to taste.  Done.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.32.33 PM

Method 2 – In Photoshop using the Blake Rudis Action Set for “Digital Zone System”.

– As mentioned in a previous post I use the 11 Zones created for film by Ansel Adams and now for digital image processing by Blake Rudis.  Each of the 11 Zones has an Adjustment Curve to fine tune the tonal range for a particular zone.  One can view the zone by either clicking on CMD/CTRL and the layer mask for the “marching ants” or by OPT/ALT and the layer mask for the white highlighted tones for adjustment.

– It’s all to taste and with continued practice the process isn’t lengthy at all.

– Merge the layers and save the image back to Lightroom where additional adjustments and/or B&W plug-ins can be used to taste.  Done.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.38.26 PM

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