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Black and White Conversion

divmedic4divmedic4 Registered Users Posts: 160 Major grins
edited August 2, 2012 in Finishing School
Hi all. I am looking for some help/ideas on completing B/W conversions. I have a few images I think would look good in B/W but when I try converting them, there doesn't seem to be enough pop compared to most of the images I see here. I have tried using LR presets, the B/W switch in LR and/or desaturating to do the conversions. Below is an example of an image I have tried working with. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.

Edit: If a mod thinks this is more appropriate in the Finishing School forum, please move there.

i-g4QTgtX-L.jpg
Canon 7D, Sigma 17-70, Sigma 70-200 2.8 OS, EF 50 1.8 II, 430EXII

Tom

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    pathfinderpathfinder Super Moderators Posts: 14,698 moderator
    edited July 29, 2012
    This link - http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=114917 - used to be in the sticky threads at the top of this forum. Some of the links are for older software, but are still useful.

    I think one of the secrets of good b&w images is to have a full range of tones in the image from true white 250,250,250 to real printable blacks at 4,4,4 or less.

    Many poor B&W conversions end up looking flat, with gray whites and gray blacks (sometimes).

    I will move this thread to Finishing School as you may get more responses there.

    B&W conversion has been a topic of interest here on dgrin for a very long time,

    Here are a few more links concerning monochrome conversions.

    http://dgrin.smugmug.com/gallery/1134301

    A further understanding of the red, green and blue channels in monochrome conversions.- http://dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=52724
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
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    arodneyarodney Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    Best free video ever on this topic IMHO:

    http://mulita.com/blog/?p=1244
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
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    PeanoPeano Registered Users Posts: 268 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    Can you also post the color original? Hard tell from the B/W what you were working with.
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    mercphotomercphoto Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    Agreed, post a color version. Especially one we can download and play with ourself.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
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    divmedic4divmedic4 Registered Users Posts: 160 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    Thank you all for the replies and reference materials. I am working my way through some of it now. Here is the SOOC original. I know there wasn't a lot of range to work with to begin with.

    i-pWV3DFX-L.jpg
    Canon 7D, Sigma 17-70, Sigma 70-200 2.8 OS, EF 50 1.8 II, 430EXII

    Tom
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    MarkRMarkR Registered Users Posts: 2,099 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    I'd also suggest looking at the tutorial on dgrin: Making your photos POP.

    The primary reason your b&w is flat is that your color image is flat. I am not advocating turning this into an ultra-high contrast, "in your face" image, although you can if that's what floats your boat. Rather, gently stretch out that histogram so that there is some more contrast to draw the eye. Once you have that, turning it into a black and white will be a piece of cake!
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    PeanoPeano Registered Users Posts: 268 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    I used several different B/W adjustment layers with masks for different parts of the image, plus other steps to
    brighten the white foam of the water and darken the foreground sand a bit.

    bwconvert2.jpg

    bwconvert.jpg
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    jmaBayAreajmaBayArea Registered Users Posts: 1 Beginner grinner
    edited July 30, 2012
    Can you tell me what program used for conversion?
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    PeanoPeano Registered Users Posts: 268 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    jmaBayArea wrote: »
    Can you tell me what program used for conversion?

    Photoshop CS5
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    paddler4paddler4 Registered Users Posts: 976 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    Lightroom provides excellent tools for conversion. I usually find that the tonal range is too limited after an initial conversion, even if the original image has more range than your original. So I generally stretch the histogram at the outset, along with any other exposure adjustments. You can then darken different parts differentially based on color, either using sliders or the targeted adjustment tool (which I find easier). That usually gives me a good rough cut, after which I work on contrast and sharpening. These LR tools are usually enough to get me what I like, which is the high-contrast, intense blacks that I used to get with Agfa Brovira paper back in the pre-digital era.
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    divmedic4divmedic4 Registered Users Posts: 160 Major grins
    edited July 30, 2012
    I was going to try to quote and reply to all but let me just say thank you for the amazing responses and guidance on this!
    Canon 7D, Sigma 17-70, Sigma 70-200 2.8 OS, EF 50 1.8 II, 430EXII

    Tom
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    ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,891 moderator
    edited August 1, 2012
    Using the color version as the starting point, I brought the image into PS CS4 and added a BW Adjustment layer. My vision for this image was a man against the ocean, with his thoughts far away but in the direction of the ocean. For me the sky was only a backdrop but I wanted the cresting water to be more dominant.

    I used these settings for the BW conversion:

    i-r7mrZf9.jpg

    To add more pop I used a very strong "High Pass" based sharpening, plus a sharp "S-curve" to increase global contrast. I also used a duplicate layer and "Multiply" blend, tempered with tone blending. All of this really helped to silhouette the subject and the pier, but it made the sandy beach too dark, so I used a history brush to put that back to before the Multiply blend. The sky still had a light patch high up, so I "burned" that portion to make it blend with the rest of the sky. There was a blob of something to the right of the subject and I removed that with the "Clone Stamp".

    i-vjHTHwR.jpg
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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    pathfinderpathfinder Super Moderators Posts: 14,698 moderator
    edited August 1, 2012
    B&W conversions depend on image contrast/luminosity and color tone variation to aid in b&w conversion.

    The image presented has limited contrast, and almost no color variation - mostly pale blues.

    This means there is going to be no simple, straight forward means to create a dynamic monochrome image.

    One can start by adding color, which I did, via Topaz adjust 5. I could have increased the a and b curves in LAB, but some may consider that even farther afield. I then used Image -> Adjustments -> B&W with a red filter to start. I painted back in some lightness and contrast in the surf line, used a high pass sharpening , and them killed some grain by a pass through DeNoise 5. Like I said, no simple strait-forward easy to delineate set of steps. My sky is darker than Ziggy and Peano's by my artistic choice, and the surfer is less of a silhouette.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
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    divmedic4divmedic4 Registered Users Posts: 160 Major grins
    edited August 2, 2012
    Wow! Thank you for spending the time on this all of you, especially Ziggy and Pathfinder. I have definitely learned a lot from the advice, examples and links. The biggest thing I have learned is I need to get a better understanding and do some practice in post. I really can't thank you enough.
    Canon 7D, Sigma 17-70, Sigma 70-200 2.8 OS, EF 50 1.8 II, 430EXII

    Tom
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    PeanoPeano Registered Users Posts: 268 Major grins
    edited August 2, 2012
    divmedic4 wrote: »
    The biggest thing I have learned is I need to get a better understanding and do some practice in post.

    Learn how to use layer masks (Google for tutorials). They will allow you to control tonality
    in different parts of the image, rather than making just global adjustments. With masks you
    can, for example, have light sky against dark sea, or dark sky against light sea.

    bwconvert-2.gif
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