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Help with B/W portrait

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  #1  
Old 09-07-2006, 12:22 PM
ProAc_Fan ProAc_Fan is offline
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Help with B/W portrait

I shot a portrait and need to create a B/W print. I've tried various methods using Photoshop CS ( channel mixer, calculations, gradient etc..) but am not really happy with any of the results. To my eye they all seem to be too light especially when as it relates to their skin tone. They have almost a halo effect to the skin. Now being relatively a youngster, B/W images are really foreign to me so I have no point of reference as to what the old B/W film images really looked like. Do I need to fiddle around with the contrast? Or perhaps underexpose the image at the very start of PP? These were shot in RAW so playing with the exposure is not a problem.

Any tips,advice would be greatly appreciated.


MikePhoto

Last edited by ProAc_Fan; 09-07-2006 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 09-07-2006, 02:17 PM
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solitear solitear is offline
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Hi ProAc_Fan,

I did a little adjusting of the mid-tones using levels to darken their skin, did an unsharp mask at amount: 20 radius 60 and threshold 4. I then ran some fun actions using optikVerve Labs Virtual Photographer which you can download for free here http://www.optikvervelabs.com/

The colorized versions I've attached were done using Virtual Photographer.

This may not be the sort of info. you were interested in but might be worth trying if you haven't already.

Beth
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File Type: jpg ShadesOfGray.jpg (99.9 KB, 86 views)
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  #3  
Old 09-08-2006, 01:20 AM
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roger_ele roger_ele is offline
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Hi Mike,

I love black and white, always have! I ran and printed in a custom b&w lab for 14 years ... now the darkroom is digital so here you go ...

Photoshop does something that people don't normally talk about - they should, but I havn't a clue why not. To demonstrate what I am saying, take a image in Photoshop and add a hue/saturation adjustment layer - pump up saturation a lot - too garrish levels. Now change the adjustment layer from normal to color to normal ... it changes ... it shouldn't because all you changed is saturation ... but it does. What this demonstrates is that even though you only changed saturation, Photoshop does this by changing the individual channels that make up the image - it does not do it perfectly so you get a change in luminosity (bightness) also.

The lesson is never assume Photoshop is only changing what it says it is changing. Allways change the blending mode to be sure. I don't think the Photoshop programmers think twice about this, because of course, you can always change the blending mode ...

Use a hue/saturation adjustment layer where you only want to change the saturation? - change blending mode to color or saturation. Do a curve adjustment where you don't want increased saturation when you increase contrast? Change the blending mode to luminosity.

All sorts of fancy methods are used to convert to black & white, I think to compensate for this side affect. I don't care how you convert to black & white, it will look the same and be pretty if you change the blend mode to color (it is the color grey that you want throughout your image). Then use a curves adjustment layer on top to make it pretty.

To demonstrate, create a solid color adjustment layer, set it's color to black, change the blending mode of this adjustment layer to color.

If you have any questions, post a photo ...

Regards,
Roger
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Old 09-08-2006, 06:14 AM
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Flora Flora is offline
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Hi ProAc_Fan,

welcome to RP!!

You might find this Tutorial on converting to B&W also useful...
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Old 09-08-2006, 07:47 AM
ProAc_Fan ProAc_Fan is offline
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I tried that OptikVerve plug-in and was very impressed with it. After running that plug-in and picking an image I was fairly happy with I adjusted the shadows/highlights concentrating on the skin tones. Here's the final result. Any criticism or advice gladly appreciated.


Photo 2


Mike
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Old 09-08-2006, 08:04 AM
ProAc_Fan ProAc_Fan is offline
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Oh and Roger thanks for the info about changing the blend modes in PS to undo the unwanted changes PS causes to the photo. I must admit the only blend modes I normally use are multiply and screen. Now I have even more tricks up my sleeve.


Mike
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  #7  
Old 09-08-2006, 11:12 AM
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roger_ele roger_ele is offline
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Mike,

You are welcome, It can make a huge difference, and makes a lot of the fancy color to b&w tricks obsolete.

I looked at you photo. I am on a laptop so it is hard to judge but my first impression is too blocked up in the highlights and shadows. A lot of people print this way too though so like anything it is to taste.

If you want just for fun, post the color photo and I will do a adjustment on a calibrated monitor and zip / email the layered psd file to you, see what you think.

Roger
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:39 AM
ProAc_Fan ProAc_Fan is offline
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Sounds like a plan Roger. Here's the colour jpeg.

Large Original Image

Thanks Mike
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:06 PM
Mig Mig is offline
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Roger had some really interesting things to say about the blend mode changes, and while I haven't used that in quite this context, it is a rather peculiar thing about photoshop. What Roger had to say is also an interesting technique to boost saturation to, as he says, really garish levels, but almost camouflaging the destructiveness of a big boost in hue/saturation. This way, in a colour picture, you could really boost hue/sat in a colour pic but without much of the destructive garbage that will come along with that boost, by changing the blend mode of the hue/sat adjustmenet layer to Saturation, (but as I noted, colour blend mode may protect against the same things as saturation seems to, but I don't know for sure).

In regards to the b&w issue, there are many ways to go about changing a pic to b&w to get great results. A very common strategy is to use channel mixer. That's what I use, and I seem to get good results. However, channel mixer alone may not be good enough.

After you've changed it to b&w with channel mixer (or whatever method you used), you could then use a couple of fake dodge & burn layers. You do this making a selection of the whole picture (select all), then adding an adjustment layer using - in this case - curves or levels, and darkening the picture fairly considerably. (It should look overly dark.) Then invert the adjustment layer and the effect of the adjustment will temporarily disappear. It's still there, only now it's hidden, or masked. Then, with this adjustment layer still active, set your colours to default black & white (with white as your foreground colour), and with either the paint brush or gradient tool (with the gradient tool set to fade to transparent), paint back in the areas that you want darkened. As you paint on this inverted adjustment layer you'll notice the adjustment layer will reappear in the places where you are painting on this, revealing what was once hidden. This way you don't have to make any complicated selections or masks. You only make one selection, and that's of the whole picture - and that's as easy as it gets - and then make an adjustment layer of any kind since it will work with any type of adjustment layer, and then invert the adjustment layer to remove the effect, and then paint the effect back into areas of a picture you feel need it.

If you look at the pic attached, for example, I did this with the hedges in the background, some of their eyes, and some of their clothing.

I also did the same thing with another adjustment layer, only this time dealing with the highlights (dodging), by making another adjustment layer with curves, but now making the picture appear overly bright. Then go through the same steps, of inverting the layer to remove the effect, and then painting back in the highlights where I wanted them, which are identical steps used to deal with the darks of the picture, only now it's dealing with the lights.

A nice thing about this approach is that you can get good results without too many steps. This pic was done with one channel mixer to convert to b&w, then two adjustment layers, one for darks, one for lights. And that's all. A nice benefit of doing as much as can with as few steps as you can, is that it reduces the likelihood that you'll accidentally destroy the picture in your attempt to fix it, since the more steps you use, the more degraded the pic will become.

I hope this helps. It might be a little confusing at first. If anyone has any other strategies for b&w I'd love to know them since I enjoy b&w and am always looking for interesting methods.

Mig
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File Type: jpg fam.jpg (92.2 KB, 44 views)

Last edited by Mig; 09-08-2006 at 01:20 PM.
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  #10  
Old 09-12-2006, 10:19 PM
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roger_ele roger_ele is offline
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Hi Mike,

Here it is, 4 megabites seemed big to email, so here is the link;

www.eleakis.com/Mike-retouchpro-91486735-L.zip

I just did everything I would normally do to the imge.

I also threw on top the method we use to toning (should be in color blend mode), this way we can easily redo it by the numbers and the coloring affects the mid tones more than the whites and blacks. We sometimes even put one color in the highlights and a different color in the shadows to get a cross toned affect.

Let me know when you have it so I can delete it from the server ... I will leave it up for a couple of weeks for anyone interestyed who is following this thread ;-)

Thanks,
Roger

Last edited by roger_ele; 09-13-2006 at 12:50 AM.
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