Go mono with Lay­ers

Kirk Sch­warz walks you through the Black & White Ad­just­ment Layer to cre­ate stun­ning monochrome re­sults.

Practical Photography (UK) - - Contents - File>Save As.

Achieve stun­ning de­tail with the Black & White Ad­just­ment Layer in Pho­to­shop.

SOME OF THE MOST iconic im­ages of the 20th cen­tury have seen peo­ple forego the lux­ury of colour, in­stead opt­ing to con­cen­trate their fo­cus on per­fect­ing the con­trast and tonal range. Whether you want to cre­ate gritty por­traits, con­vey a feel­ing of to­tal lone­li­ness or even evoke an ethe­real other-worldly qual­ity in your shots, monochrome is usu­ally the best way to go.

Of course, you could just set your cam­era to use its built-in black & white photo mode, but this will mean you’re lim­ited to shoot­ing in the JPEG for­mat, and it will also dis­card all colour in­for­ma­tion, mean­ing it’s not pos­si­ble to re­trieve a colour ver­sion of the image at a later stage, or work up your mono con­ver­sion in a dif­fer­ent way if you don’t like the in-cam­era re­sults. In­stead, we rec­om­mend you shoot in colour and then process the image with a black & white treat­ment to get it ex­actly how you want it in Pho­to­shop. Counter-in­tu­itively, colour is ac­tu­ally very use­ful for black & white con­ver­sions, and we’ll show you how to use the Black & White Ad­just­ment Layer in Pho­to­shop to con­trol the con­trast of every colour chan­nel in your pic­ture in­di­vid­u­ally for a bal­anced, char­ac­ter­ful mono re­sult.

You can achieve sim­i­lar ef­fects from a RAW file, and you can find more about this in our Light­room guide to mono on page 68. But for this tech­nique we’ll be work­ing on a JPEG image in Pho­to­shop and adding an Ad­just­ment Layer that we’ll fine-tune to get the best mono con­ver­sion from our orig­i­nal colour image. Just re­mem­ber to save your edit un­der a new file­name so you don’t over­write the orig­i­nal colour ver­sion. Let’s see how it works...

1 Open your image in Pho­to­shop

To open your image, click File>Open. Now choose the image you want to con­vert to black & white. Click it and then hit Open. If you shot in RAW, make a colour con­ver­sion in Light­room or Adobe Cam­era Raw (ACR). Once you’ve got the shot open in Pho­to­shop, head to the Lay­ers panel (Win­dow>Lay­ers).

2 Cre­ate a Black & White Ad­just­ment Layer

Click the Cre­ate New Fill or Ad­just­ment Layer icon, at the bot­tom of the Lay­ers panel and click Black & White. This will de­sat­u­rate your image and bring up a di­a­logue box with in­di­vid­ual colour slid­ers, such as Red, Yel­low and Blue. Us­ing these slid­ers, you can en­tirely change the mono con­trast.

3 Ad­just your slid­ers for best re­sults

Each slider con­trols the bright­ness of its colour chan­nel. Red is most of­ten found in skin tones, Yel­low and Green are usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with grass and trees, though Yel­low can also be found in skin tones, and Blue and Cyan are most of­ten found in the sky. Watch out, how­ever, as Blue can also al­ter un­der­ex­posed whites and wa­ter. Start with the Red slider and move it un­til the skin tone is bright, but hasn’t lost de­tail in the high­lights – for us that’s 10. Next move the Yel­low slider to see if it af­fects skin. We’ve set ours to 100, which gives an even tone. Now check the Green slider. We don’t have any greens in our shot, so we’re leav­ing this alone. Blue and Cyan af­fect the sky and model’s sleeve, so we’re set­ting these to -125 and -120 re­spec­tively. To change ex­act colours, use the eye drop­per by click­ing the fin­ger be­tween two ar­rows icon. With this you can click on any part of the image and drag left or right to al­ter the spe­cific colour. But be care­ful as this will ap­ply the ef­fect wher­ever that colour is found.

4 En­hance con­trast with Curves

Cre­ate a Curves Ad­just­ment Layer. Now click and drag on the curve to make an ‘S’ shape, as seen above. This will add more con­trast to your scene. Make sure that you don’t pull up too far on the right of the curve, which may blow out high­lights, or too far down on the left, which is re­spon­si­ble for shad­ows.

5 Add a hint of sil­ver with Colour Fill

Click on the Colour Fill Ad­just­ment Layer. Choose a mid blue, as above, and click OK. Now set the Blend­ing mode to Color and change Opac­ity to 2%. This gives your shot a clas­sic sil­ver sheen. Once happy, right click in the Lay­ers panel, click Flat­ten Image and save by go­ing to

Left With three sim­ple Ad­just­ment Lay­ers, we’ve turned our in­ter­est­ing colour por­trait into a stylish high con­trast black & white image. Above Although great in colour, con­vert­ing to black & white re­ally gives it some much needed im­pact and brings out the tex­ture.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.