Some links regarding the Conversion of Color to B&W

pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooterwestern IndianaPosts: 14,341Super Moderators moderator
edited March 4, 2014 in Finishing School
The topic of conversion of color images to B&W in Photoshop is a long, and complex one, that I do not feel is well handled by a simple Action. You can quickly type ctrl-1, or ctrl-2, or ctrl-3 ( cmd-1,2,3 on the Mac) {commands are different in CS4 and can be found here - http://morris-photographics.com/photoshop/shortcuts/downloads/PSCS4_Keyboard_Shortcuts_Mac.pdf } and see the individual red, green or blue channels, and this will give you a start at looking at the individual color channels and their contribution to contrast in the image. Or you can switch to LAB color space, and look at the Lightness channel with ctrl-1.

B&W is ultimately about contrast and shape, since color disappears with conversion.

The reason that an Action doesn't work well, is that color images vary so widely. When you convert from color to B&W, the colors that were present in the original image need to be handled properly in the conversion, or you will get the very same gray tones from markedly different colors. The different colors in color images need to be seen in differing gray tones or the image will lose a lot of its punch.

I Googled -- "B&W conversion technique : dgrin.com"

And found these threads for a start.

Why you need to pay atention to colors when converting to B&W from color by John Ruttenberg - read this!! It is well worth your time.
http://dgrin.smugmug.com/gallery/1134301

A list of the Sticky URLs at the top of Finishing School above
http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=56678

A tute on B&W conversion by Andy Williams the head mod and all around good guy
http://dgrin.smugmug.com/gallery/1126557

Another by Andy
http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?p=217438

A simple way is to shoot B&W and save as a RAW+jpg - not everyone favors this technique, but I wrote a little thread about it here
http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=3605

Some motorcycle engines in B&W ( sorry - sometimes I can't help myself )
http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=20909

My review of Chapter 7 - Keeping the Color in B&W from D Margulis "Professional Photoshop"
http://dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=52724

In all previous versions of Photoshop, most folks agreed that Channel Mixer was the mode most folks who were serious about the B&W conversion tended to use. Since the advent of Photoshop CS3, the new B&W conversion tool found via Image>Adjustments>B&W has really taken over.

I still examine each of my images quickly with cmd-1, cmd-2, and cmd-3 ( cmd-3, cmd-4, cmd-5 for CS4 ) to see just where I have contrast or where I need contrast.

Hang around here awhile, and I am sure there will be another thread on B&W conversion.


Here is one I missed that rutt has offered us This is a very interesting technique worthy of more discussion.

B&W conversion is great fun, and as really come into its own since the digital age.

Here is an Action to convert digital color to Tri-X B&W by dgrin's Artist in Residence B.D. Colen

__________________
Pathfinder
Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin

Comments

  • MissBMissB Major grins Posts: 463Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 28, 2009
    pathfinder wrote:
    This is a repeat of a post I made previously about the conversion of images from color to B&W in Dec 2007

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The topic of conversion of color images to B&W in Photoshop is a long, and complex one, that I do not feel is well handled by a simple Action. You can quickly type ctrl-1, or ctrl-2, or ctrl-3 ( cmd-1,2,3 on the Mac) {commands are different in CS4 and can be found here - http://morris-photographics.com/photoshop/shortcuts/downloads/PSCS4_Keyboard_Shortcuts_Mac.pdf } and see the individual red, green or blue channels, and this will give you a start at looking at the individual color channels and their contribution to contrast in the image. Or you can switch to LAB color space, and look at the Lightness channel with ctrl-1.

    B&W is ultimately about contrast and shape, since color disappears with conversion.

    The reason that an Action doesn't work well, is that color images vary so widely. When you convert from color to B&W, the colors that were present in the original image need to be handled properly in the conversion, or you will get the very same gray tones from markedly different colors. The different colors in color images need to be seen in differing gray tones or the image will lose a lot of its punch.

    I Googled -- "B&W conversion technique : dgrin.com"

    And found these threads for a start.

    Why you need to pay atention to colors when converting to B&W from color by John Ruttenberg - read this!! It is well worth your time.
    http://dgrin.smugmug.com/gallery/1134301

    A list of the Sticky URLs at the top of Finishing School above
    http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=56678

    A tute on B&W conversion by Andy Williams the head mod and all around good guy
    http://dgrin.smugmug.com/gallery/1126557

    Another by Andy
    http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?p=217438

    A simple way is to shoot B&W and save as a RAW+jpg - not everyone favors this technique, but I wrote a little thread about it here
    http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=3605

    Some motorcycle engines in B&W ( sorry - sometimes I can't help myself )
    http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=20909

    My review of Chapter 7 - Keeping the Color in B&W from D Margulis "Professional Photoshop"
    http://dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=52724

    In all previous versions of Photoshop, most folks agreed that Channel Mixer was the mode most folks who were serious about the B&W conversion tended to use. Since the advent of Photoshop CS3, the new B&W conversion tool found via Image>Adjustments>B&W has really taken over.

    I still examine each of my images quickly with cmd-1, cmd-2, and cmd-3 ( cmd-3, cmd-4, cmd-5 for CS4 ) to see just where I have contrast or where I need contrast.

    Hang around here awhile, and I am sure there will be another thread on B&W conversion.

    B&W conversion is great fun, and as really come into its own since the digital age.
    __________________
    Pathfinder

    Okay so the timing for this post could not have been more perfect...I was just loggin in to post the question to this answer...thank you so much! I've been noticing that that my coversions look really grey... I will try some of your links and play with RBG. Thanks again!
    Baby number 4: BUNDLEBOO
    Newest baby: R.Gonzalez PHOTOGRAPHY or HERE
    My rambling addiction: Crunchy Monkeys
    facebook fan page: R.Gonzalez photography
    :ivar
  • StarrToDowlerStarrToDowler Big grins Posts: 57Registered Users Big grins
    edited February 28, 2010
    Something else that's kind of fun to try is virtualPhotographer, a filtering plugin to PS. It's a free download, and gives some very interesting B&W results with just a click.

    http://www.optikvervelabs.com/virtualPhotographer.asp
    There are only 10 kinds of people in the world... those who understand binary, and those who don't.
  • tbrittontbritton The Professor Posts: 2Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited March 7, 2010
    Color to B&W "Pick Six" Action (free download)
    Thanks a million for compiling these resources all together in one place! I'm making tutorial videos for my website, and will "video-fy" some of this information where that works well as a presentation method. I'll keep you all posted as that project progresses.

    I've just improved upon an action I had made for a friend at a non-profit who needed to convert several color photos of flowers and plants to B&W for their printed newsletter (plain paper, lots of dot gain...) that helped her a lot and will hopefully help folks beset with this problem also!

    It creates six varieties of conversion that can be tiled and examined on a single page to select which method gave the most desirable starting point, then you can simply close the other five and work with that one (or combine these by dragging them into layers for opacity blending as normal or other blending modes)

    You can find this action at my site.
    http://terrybritton.com/terrys-color-to-bw-pick-six-photoshop-action

    I ask that you sign up to receive it so I can send any updates along. I'm using a double-opt-in via Aweber, so a confirmation email will be sent that requires you to click on the link therein to verify you are human and actually wanted to do this! I won't be spamming anyone, I promise you, so go get it! :-)

    I've made a quick video that explains installing it and how to use it. This was created using Photoshop CS, but reportedly works in later versions.

    The six varieties of image the action presents are:
    1. Conversion to grayscale mode
    2. Desaturation using Hue-Saturation adjustment layer
    3. Image from the Green channel in RGB
    4. Image from the Lightness channel in L*A*B
    5. Channel Mixer adjustment layer in RGB
    6. Channel Mixer adjustment layer in CMYK
    Let me know here or by email how you like this and what you would do, if anything, to improve on it!

    Terry
  • tbrittontbritton The Professor Posts: 2Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited March 7, 2010
    Something else that's kind of fun to try is virtualPhotographer, a filtering plugin to PS. It's a free download, and gives some very interesting B&W results with just a click.

    http://www.optikvervelabs.com/virtualPhotographer.asp

    Thanks for that. Realizing not everyone owns Photoshop or wants to learn to do things themselves, I wrote a blog post sharing this, thanks to your suggestion. BTW, I don't know if you realized this or not, but they also give away a free stand-alone software item at the same website that will apply not only their virtualPhotographer plugin (Included) but also any other .8bf Photoshop plugins one can find.

    My blog entry is at:

    http://terrybritton.com/i-dont-want-to-learn-photoshop

    Of course, we love doing this stuff ourselves, but not everyone enjoys that.rolleyes1.gif

    Thanks again for the link!

    Terry
  • I SimoniusI Simonius WeatherSealedPhotographer Posts: 1,034Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 23, 2010
    For those that DO have photoshop:

    Just to add a link to my favourite BW conversion site/forum

    This is where I definitely learned to go beyond the Channel Mixer and started to get the results I hankered after
    Veni-Vidi-Snappii
    ...pics..
  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainPosts: 18,660Administrators, Vanilla Admin moderator
    edited July 23, 2010
    I Simonius wrote: »
    For those that DO have photoshop:

    Just to add a link to my favourite BW conversion site/forum

    This is where I definitely learned to go beyond the Channel Mixer and started to get the results I hankered after

    Thanks for posting this link. Martin has posted some outstanding images on Dgrin. I never saw his site before, and it looks like I'm going to be spending some time there. thumb.gif
  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainPosts: 18,660Administrators, Vanilla Admin moderator
    edited February 5, 2014
    Just a quick addition to this thread: If you haven't already tried it, Nik (now Google) Silver Efex Pro 2 is a powerful tool for B&W conversion. I use it with CS5 and it has given me better results than I used to see using PS channel mixing and contrast tweaking while cutting my processing time significantly. It's no longer available as a separate product, but Google is selling the whole Nik bundle for around $US 150, which for me would be a fair price for Silver Efex alone. After using it for three months, I recommend it highly.
  • I SimoniusI Simonius WeatherSealedPhotographer Posts: 1,034Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 5, 2014
    Richard wrote: »
    Just a quick addition to this thread: If you haven't already tried it, Nik (now Google) Silver Efex Pro 2 is a powerful tool for B&W conversion. I use it with CS5 and it has given me better results than I used to see using PS channel mixing and contrast tweaking while cutting my processing time significantly. It's no longer available as a separate product, but Google is selling the whole Nik bundle for around $US 150, which for me would be a fair price for Silver Efex alone. After using it for three months, I recommend it highly.

    must get round to trying SEP
    :)
    Veni-Vidi-Snappii
    ...pics..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,341Super Moderators moderator
    edited March 2, 2014
    Richard wrote: »
    Thanks for posting this link. Martin has posted some outstanding images on Dgrin. I never saw his site before, and it looks like I'm going to be spending some time there. thumb.gif
    Richard wrote: »
    Just a quick addition to this thread: If you haven't already tried it, Nik (now Google) Silver Efex Pro 2 is a powerful tool for B&W conversion. I use it with CS5 and it has given me better results than I used to see using PS channel mixing and contrast tweaking while cutting my processing time significantly. It's no longer available as a separate product, but Google is selling the whole Nik bundle for around $US 150, which for me would be a fair price for Silver Efex alone. After using it for three months, I recommend it highly.


    Richard, I use Silver Efex Pro frequently, but I do find I still sometimes prefer results from Channel Blending, or presets from within Lightroom, or a combination of techniques including Color Effects Pro as well.

    I always did like more than one way to skin a cat.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • I SimoniusI Simonius WeatherSealedPhotographer Posts: 1,034Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 3, 2014
    pathfinder wrote: »
    Richard, I use Silver Efex Pro frequently, but I do find I still sometimes prefer results from Channel Blending, or presets from within Lightroom, or a combination of techniques including Color Effects Pro as well.

    I always did like more than one way to skin a cat.


    could you explain your Channel Blending technique in detail please?
    Veni-Vidi-Snappii
    ...pics..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,341Super Moderators moderator
    edited March 3, 2014
    The links at the top of the page were compiled in 2008 when we did not have all the tools that we have now.

    Today, Photoshop and/or Lightroom offer several different ways to get to a monochrome image. Channel blending is just one of them, in addition to conversion to black and white via Image -> Adjustments -> Black and White which is probably used more today.

    I do not have a specific channel blending technique that I use, but I do tend to look at the image in question, and try to decide where I want the contrast to be, and where I do not want the contrast to be, since in monochrome the colors that distinguish things are all going to disappear. Many different colors will end up the same exact tone of grey, so one wants to control where the contrast is, even if this means starting with a badly colored image.

    Rutenberg's tute is still worthwhile - http://dgrin.smugmug.com/gallery/1134301

    As is B. D.'s Tri X conversion
    Image > Channel Mixer > Red 43 - Green 34 - Blue 23
    Filter > Sharpen > Unsharpen Mask - 15 - 50 - 0
    Curve - you decide.

    Frequently today, I start with an image in Lightroom and explore some presets there, or use the Hue and Saturation sliders to create the monochrome image. If I find exactly what I want, I do not wander into Photoshop. Or I try Silver Efex Pro or Color Effects Pro in Lightrom. But doing thee conversions in Lightroom is an all or none, since there is no layer blending in LR. If I don't find what I want quickly in LR, I will then send a tiff of my image into Photoshop, and begin my exploration there. I may use Silver Efex via Photoshop and then blend that back into my image, or may just use it as a luminosity blend to help kill some of the color in my image. Channel blending allows one to vary the depth of the three color channels in ones image, with control of which colors will have the contrast tones, but is not really that much different from varying the hue and saturation sliders in monochrome in Lightroom these days.

    One tip I would add, is that make sure your image has a full range of tones from 0,0,0 to 255,255,255 if the image supports/needs this tonal range. Many black and white images that are converted from color may not have a full black to white range without re-editing the Curve. Notice in B.D.'s Tri-X conversion that the last step is "Curve to taste". This is an important step in image editing, and one I look at, when I think I am done editing my image, whether it is color or monochrome. There is something about image editing that lets one end up without a full range of tones unless one is vigilant. JMHO But do not over work the contrast either, though, as some images like in fog, do not need the contrast added.

    In the end it all comes down to artistic taste, I think.

    My discussion of chapter 7 in Professional Photoshop covers some aspects of black and white conversion and channel blending - http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=52724
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Posts: 2,005Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 3, 2014
    Absolutely awesome and free video on all kinds of B&W conversion techniques by George Jardine using Photoshop, ACR and Lightroom:
    http://mulita.com/blog/?p=1244
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,341Super Moderators moderator
    edited March 3, 2014
    Nice video from George Jardine covering much of what was described in links at the top of the page, but with a modern emphasis on Lightroom, and HSL controls of tone. I liked that George finished with a brief, but very important point - that you are not done with your image, whether black and white or color, until you have configured your tone curve to optimize the contrasts in your image.

    Well done, and thank you for the link, Andrew!
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • I SimoniusI Simonius WeatherSealedPhotographer Posts: 1,034Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 4, 2014
    thanks Pathfinder - I asked because I was curious to know whether you were using the techniques described in this book :)

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/From-Oz-Kansas-Conversion-Technique/dp/0321794028/ref=cm_cr-mr-title
    Veni-Vidi-Snappii
    ...pics..
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,341Super Moderators moderator
    edited March 4, 2014
    I do have V Versace's "From Oz to Kansas - Almost Every Black and White Conversion Technique Known to Man" on my bookshelf, but the truth is I have not sat down and seriously studied it.

    Thanks for reminding me, I will try again to seriously set down and work it through.

    I find that I cannot just sit down and read them through, but must sit down and work through his books step by step by step, which means a serious dedication of time and effort to absorb them. I will try to do better.

    Is there a specific technique in this book that you are asking about?
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • I SimoniusI Simonius WeatherSealedPhotographer Posts: 1,034Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 4, 2014
    yes there is a specific technique Channel Mixer blending!
    :)

    In fact IMHO it is the only technique that has any potential to offer anything that does anything different to what is already out there.

    As you have mentioned though his techniques require seriouly dedictated study, I have read that chapter twice but have still going to have to go through it very slowly one step at atime if I want to 'get' it.

    I also find that the actions he supplied don't really work unless you really are au fait with the CM techniques he describes, so although he provides them to make things easier, it's no substtute for learning that chapter properly ( sadly)

    I find him too complex and lomng winded - Im just not that patient (that's one of my faults not his)

    I had hoped to come across someone who had mastered that technique ( which I would reiterate is really the only technique in the whole book that appears to offer anything different) so that I can get a precied version

    If you're going to get into the book , Id recommend just heading straight for the CM chapter and wade through that first

    let me know if you get anything from it?
    Veni-Vidi-Snappii
    ...pics..
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