Thursday, January 25, 2007
A Classic Method Goes Digital
Easy ways to achieve beautiful digital black-and-white prints
Plug-Ins: Easy And Effective. Plug-ins offer a simple way to transform your color image into black-and-white. Digital Film Tools 55mm is a relatively inexpensive plug-in, which includes conversion tools that act like traditional lens filters for black-and-white film. Another plug-in that works well at this conversion is nik Color Efex Pro, which allows you to control the color of filtration by simply adjusting a slider in the interface window. As you move the slider, you can watch the effect, make complementary adjustments and click OK when you're happy with what you see.
Check Your Image
Once you have your black-and-white image, take a look at the overall tonal range and contrast. Check to see how saturated your blacks are and if there's detail in the shadow areas. You may want to perform some Curves or Levels adjustments to increase contrast as well as dodging and burning effects to perfect your image.
A huge advantage to working in the digital darkroom is the ability to see the work you're doing and make necessary adjustments right away. I like to make a background copy and make adjustments to it. This allows me to compare the changes to the original image and correct any mistakes.
Color Channels: Quick And Accurate. With an image open, click on your Channel palette. You'll see four layers: the color image labeled RGB; the other three layers show the red, green and blue channels as black-and-white images. Click on each channel individually so you can see the differences. Each one gives an idea of what a traditional lens filter of those colors would do to black-and-white film. Choose the channel that you think renders the best black-and-white, then go to Image > Mode > Grayscale (this will discard the color information).
Channel Mixer: More Control. The channel mixer is another way to convert your image, but provides you with more immediate control over tonalities, much like the plug-ins mentioned previously. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Channel Mixer and follow these steps:
• Click the Monochrome checkbox at the bottom of the dialog box.
• The image converts to black-and-white.
• Experiment by dragging the different sliders of red, green and blue to change how colors are affected in contrast and tones.
• Use the Constant slider to adjust overall brightness.
• Click OK.
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