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Black and white conversion methods with Photoshop

Most photo-editing probably has a desaturate button, or maybe even a grayscale mode. These remove the color and also the life from a photo. Photoshop had a wonderful conversion method in the Channel Mixer: you’d add an adjustment layer, tick the monochrome box, and slide your green and blue sliders up to total about 100. Red would stay down around 0 so that you wouldn’t be adding unwanted noise to your print. Here’s what you’d get:

would become…

Not too bad, but still kind of dull.

The new Black and White dialog box is used in an adjustment layer. Here’s how it works:

1. Open your image and duplicate it.

2. Click the Adjustment Layer icon and select Black & White. Click on the auto settings. It’s already better than what I did using the Channel Mixer!! But it can be tweaked quite a bit more.

3. You can play with the sliders by color if you want, but here’s the really fun part: click and hold right on the image itself in any area you want to adjust and you’ll get a scrubby slider. You can make your adjustments much more intuitively this way. If you don’t like what you’ve done, the alt key will turn the Cancel button into “Reset”.

4. There is also a tint checkbox which will allow you to add sepia or other toning right in the same step. There’s a time-saver!

5. Click the Adjustment Layer icon again and select Curves. Place a point to preserve your shadows, lower the highlight point if needed, and tweak the curves until you’re happy.

I lost the mid-ground trees using this method. I’m sure I could recover them if I cared, but the contrast and life in the print is so much better than any other method that I’ve tried…I just need to play with it some more. What a pleasure that will be!

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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