View Full Version : Converting to black and white
Any recommendations on good plugins for photoshop to convert color to black and white?
One I have seen reviewed is Convert to B+W Pro:
I find using the LAB colorspace does all that I need. See if your local library has The Canyon Conundrum, lots of useful info.
I think the NIK plug-ins has a very good one. it comes bundled with other filters.
I don't think you need a plug in to make good B&W conversions.
Make 2 seperate Hue/sat layers
ON the top sat. layer slide the sat. slider all the way to the left
on the sat layer that would be between the top sat. layer and the background layer
slide the sat. slider to the right at about 50
set the blending mode to soft light on this layer
now use the hue slider and slide either left or right until the desired effect
use some curve layers to fine tune
Hope this makes sense this assumes you have photoshop.
The best---and least expensive (free)--I have used is from TLR (The Lights Right Studio). Google the name and go to the site--full of great photoshop scripts and actions. I use thier pro sharpener with great results.
Hope this helps.
You don't really need a plugin at all, you can do very simple and yet very effective conversion yourself:
1. Create an empty layer above the image
2. Fill it with pure black
3. Change blending mode to "Color"
4. Create a "Hue and Saturation" adjustment layer between that layer and the image
5. Adjust tonality by using Hue slider on this layer.
5a. As a variation, you can try checking "Colorize" box on.
5b. As another variation, you can also play with Saturation slider
That's all to it, no more complicated than learning how to use a plug-in. :)
Once that is done, you can do the following:
1. Convert to Grayscale
2. Convert to Duotone and pick the duo/quadtone you like
3. Convert back to RGB
4. Adjust saturation - usually in the range of -15 to -30, but this is entirely optional and a matter of taste and of selected duo/quadtone.
Amund BLix Aaeng
I sometimes have to convert color to B&W for clients, and the best plugin I`ve found is B/W-styler. Works with familiar darkroom terms.
I have a good PS action from Caponigro. It is what he describes in his book. Email me if anyone wants it.
Lots of options here for sure. However, if you are used to working in a traditional B&W darkroom I feel you will find Convert to B&W Pro a very useful tool:
You choose lens filtration color and strength; then choose your film color response (several presets to match Tri-X, FP4, Delta, etc or you can create your own); then you adjust negative exposure, paper exposure and contrast; then you can tone the final result if desired. All of this is done on the active layer, so it is easy to blend/mask different versions done on different layers for maximum control over the final result.
By the way this conversion action is 87 steps long. I own most all the plug=ins, Convert to B&W Pro, Fred Miranda's etc and this action is the best, quick and it gives you maximum possible easily. As someone who spent twenty years shooting nothing but Tri-X and the next ten shooting T-Max, I found Convert to B&W Pro to not even come close to appoximating those films and really no conversion program will. It is an entirely separate medium.
The key to dramatic conversions is saturation. For instance the more saturated a blue sky is the darker you can render it in B&W.
If you asked for and didn't get the action already, email me again. So many people asked for it that I may have missed a couple.
I think I'm naive about this, never having used color film to make a black and white image. Why is it more complicated than using the channel mixer (if you want to do color filtration, which is something I almost never do in b+w anyhow) and then using curves to get the tonal scale you want?
I just sent it to you. Try it and report back.
Russell Preston Brown, photoshop guru has a downloadable action on his site that will convert to black and white with mutliple processes. Then, you can go through and select the one that makes the most pleasing conversion to black and white.
I'll give it a try when I have a chance.
you can get several photoshop actions for converting to grayscale at the adobe website:
limit the search to photoshop and actions and use "grayscale" as the search keyword.
the "6 grays" action is useful because it will show you that the best technique is 100% dependant on the image being converted. i.e. no single technique will give optimum results for all images which means a hands on approach will give you the best results.
That reminds me. Caponigro's PDF for the action is on the Adobe site too. This is a must read.
I'm still in the dark ages - using photoshop 7 - anuone know if the action workls with this?
I'd try it, but I can't get to the PC with photoshop :(
If anyone has any before and after examples to show, I would love to see them.
Gee I never ever bothered to use anything other than channel mixer, curves, and layers with layer masks and blending modes. I never thought there was a free lunch to any of this, I like seeing what is in each channel and picking where I want things to go...
When I teach PS I try to talk students out of being dependent on "canned" solutions and trusting their eyes.
Well FWIW, I used channel mixer for over a year and it is a very good but does not give the total control over the image that C2B&WPro does. Kirk was kind enough to send me a copy of his PC action, and while it appears to do a nice job, again and IMO only, it does not give the ultimate control that C2B&WPro does. Finally, I tried the all black color blend layer method. This one is alos good and a slightly different paradigm to use, but shows some poterizations with extreme hue changes.
In the end, I think you can make good B&W conversions from any/all of these, it's just that for myself I find the UI of C2B&WPro very intutitve for somebody who already knows traditional B&W capture and darkroom methodologies.
My .02 only and YMMV,
At the VC conference in Monterey, George de Wolfe said during his presentation: "I just drag the saturation slider to 0".
Finally, I tried the all black color blend layer method. This one is alos good and a slightly different paradigm to use, but shows some poterizations with extreme hue changes.
The posterization you are seeing is the consequence of using the hue/saturation control, which itself is not the most efficient or capable tool for the job, it is just the simplest one.
The beauty of this method is that it is very flexible. You don't have to fill the layer with black, you can fill it with any shade of gray. You can also fill it with any color. You don't even have to use an empty layer filled with color, you can copy the existing layer, apply High Pass filter of 0.1 (the smallest possible amount) and then change mode to Color.
Consequently, you can use Levels or Curves instead of Hue/Saturation. Or you can combine them with Photo Filter. All of these as Adjustment Layers, of course. Or you can use the Fill Layers, either solid or gradient.
The beauty of Photoshop lays in the fact that there are almost as many different ways to accomplish certain goal as there are practitioners.
So, yes, you are right, this method is not very intuitive if you are not already accustomed to Photoshop logic. But then again, you should be if you are using it, or your results will suffer.
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