Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Black & White Basics

Making black-and-white images is easier than ever, thanks to black-and-white adjustments in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as black-and-white plug-ins like Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro, Perfect B&W from onOne Software and Topaz Labs' B&W Effects.
By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix

Basic #2: Learn about color filters. Understanding the effects of color filters is very important in creating the black-and-white effect that you desire. You'll find many articles online that show you the benefits of filters like red, orange, yellow, green, blue and more. [Editor's Note: See our guide to the effects of color filters for black-and-white at tinyurl.com/black-white-filters.]

After you learn about the effects of filters, click on a filter in your black-and-white software (or adjust that color slider in Lightroom or Photoshop) to see the effect in action. You'll be surprised at how your image changes as you move from filter to filter. I used a red filter in Topaz Labs' B&W Effects to create this black-and-white image. Red is a popular filter for landscape photography, as it makes a blue sky dramatically black. Yellow is popular for people photography, as it adds a smooth look to skin tones.

Basic #3: Consider contrast. This image has strong contrast, one of the elements that contributes to strong black-and-white images. When composing an image for black-and-white, strong contrast is often desired, which is one reason to shoot in the early morning or late afternoon (as I did here) when long and strong shadows add contrast to a scene.

One method for increasing contrast is simply to use the Contrast slider. A better way is to create an "S" curve in Curves, adding and adjusting the anchor points as shown here in this screenshot of the Curves dialog in Photoshop. The point of moving the bottom-most anchor point inward is to protect the shadows. The point of moving the uppermost anchor point inward is to protect the highlights.

Well, my friends, I hope these examples inspire you to create some cool black-and-white images. Experiment and have fun, which is what photography is all about.

Our friend Rick Sammon has been writing for this magazine for more than 10 years. Visit with Rick at ricksammon.com to learn more about digital imaging.

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