Boost black and white

Ge­orge Cairns uses a shot’s orig­i­nal colours to cre­ate a more effective black-and-white im­age

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

Work with the orig­i­nal colours in a pho­to­graph to cre­ate a more effective blackand-white im­age in Pho­to­shop

Con­vert­ing a colour im­age to mono­chrome al­lows the eye to pay more at­ten­tion to con­trast­ing shapes and tex­tures in the frame. There’s more to it than sim­ply re­mov­ing the colours from a shot, though – and pho­tog­ra­phers have been find­ing ways to al­ter the tones in black-and-white images since the ear­li­est days of the art. When shoot­ing with black-and-white print film, ana­logue pho­tog­ra­phers would place coloured fil­ters over the lens to lighten or darken spe­cific colours in the scene. For ex­am­ple, a red fil­ter would darken skies in black-and-white pho­tos.

You can mimic this tra­di­tional fil­ter tech­nique us­ing Pho­to­shop’s Black & White ad­just­ment layer. This fea­tures coloured slid­ers, which en­able you to tar­get spe­cific colours within a pho­to­graph and lighten or darken them in the mono­chrome con­ver­sion. With just a few tweaks you can turn a flat black-and-white im­age into one with real im­pact.

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