More than just shades of grey

Black and white can be ap­plied in a wide range of styles, so you can use one that best suits your im­age

Digital Camera World - - GET THE LOOK -

Time­less, el­e­gant and truth­ful are just three words that are com­monly used to de­scribe black-and-white pho­tog­ra­phy. These are sub­jec­tive at­tributes, of course, but they cer­tainly pro­vide an in­sight into the way pho­tog­ra­phers feel about monochrome. So pop­u­lar were the re­sults of us­ing black-and-white film that it re­mained pop­u­lar along­side colour film.

These days you can eas­ily ap­ply a black-and-white ef­fect to a colour im­age dur­ing post-pro­cess­ing. Of course, some images will work bet­ter in mono than oth­ers, but with many dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to the style, you may just need to try a new tech­nique to get the best from your images.

Here are four tech­niques that ap­proach the idea of black-and-white in dif­fer­ent ways, for what can only be de­scribed as a unique end re­sult for each. From sub­tle de­sat­u­ra­tion to a pseudo-in­frared look, these cre­ative ap­proaches will help to keep all of your mono images look­ing fresh.

1 50% de­sat­u­ra­tion

A great way to make your images look more moody and mys­te­ri­ous is to re­duce the sat­u­ra­tion, us­ing a tech­nique that cre­ates deep blacks and bright whites. Sim­ply cre­ate two Black & White Ad­just­ment Lay­ers, then set the Blend­ing mode of one to Mul­ti­ply, and the other to Screen. Group the lay­ers by se­lect­ing both and hold­ing down Ctrl/Cmd+G, then re­duce the Opac­ity of the group to 50%.

2 Stan­dard blackand‑white

A great method for a quick and great-look­ing mono con­ver­sion is to ap­ply a Gra­di­ent Map Ad­just­ment Layer. The re­sult is bright and con­trasty with­out the need for ad­di­tional ad­just­ments. Click the Cre­ate Ad­just­ment Layer icon in the Lay­ers panel and choose Gra­di­ent Map. When the di­a­log box opens, click on the gra­di­ent, se­lect the black-to‑white op­tion, and click OK to ap­ply.

3 In­frared look

If you have an im­age with an abun­dance of green, a fake in­frared look can be a highly ef­fec­tive ap­proach. Click the Cre­ate Ad­just­ment Layer icon in the Lay­ers panel and choose Black & White. When the di­a­log box opens, move the Greens and Yel­lows slid­ers to the right to lighten. Take care with the Yel­lows: this chan­nel can be bright­ened too much, and the re­sult will be blown de­tail in grass and fo­liage.

4 Split-tone colour

Split-tone is a classic ef­fect that can be ap­plied to a mono shot. This is where two colours are ap­plied: one for the shad­ows and one for the high­lights. Cre­ate a Gra­di­ent Map Ad­just­ment Layer and click on the gra­di­ent. Se­lect a dark colour for the shad­ows on the left of the gra­di­ent and a lighter colour for the high­lights on the right. Use Opac­ity to con­trol the over­all ef­fect.


James Ab­bott James is a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher. He’s an ad­vanced Pho­to­shop user and has cre­ated hun­dreds of tu­to­ri­als.

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