Sunday, June 1, 2014

Convert Color To Black & White

There are a variety of ways to convert a color digital image to black & white. There are software packages designed specifically for that purpose, like Nik Silver Efex Pro, and other software that allows the desaturation of color images like Photoshop.

However, my software of choice for now is Lightroom. It allows the image to be rendered in black & white, while not actually taking the color out. You cannot see the color, but it is there. That attribute allows you to tweak the color sliders to control the tones of white, black, and all the shades of gray in between.

While that might sound like smoke and mirrors, it does work and here is how to control it.

Once you have selected an image to work on, find the HSL / COLOR / B&W panel (on the right-hand side of the Lightroom Develop module). Click on the letters “B&W.” That instantly changes the appearance of the image from color to black & white.

Now experiment with moving the color sliders to the left and to the right. You will see that the gray tones change as you move the sliders. Some sliders will not do anything, for example moving the Red slider if you are working on a shot of blue water with green grass. Since there is no red in that image, moving the slider will not affect any shades of gray. But watch what happens when you move the blue slider, or the green slider. The gray tones will get lighter or darker, depending on which way you move the slider.

Adjust each of the color sliders to achieve the tonality you find most pleasing. Doing black & white conversion in this way allows you to achieve rich tones of gray and black, and produces images with a wide range of gray tones.

This early morning shot is very low contrast, but even so it has many shades of gray along with deep blacks and bright whites.

It might take a little practice to get comfortable with this technique, but fairly soon you will find it to be an easy way to create black & white images with a great range of tones and deep richness.

Shutter Speed 1/640 sec.  Aperture f/20.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, set at 70mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY’S QUOTE : “To see in color is a delight for the eye, but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.”  --Andri Cauldwell

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