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Bell Tower

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  • Bell Tower

    As many of you know, I have discussed black and white conversions here, trying to learn it. I used my posted action to start this one, and then used curves to finish it. There is a slight tritone hue applied that I also gave the recipe for earlier.
    I took this mundane shot a few days ago, just to try this conversion. It is the conversion I ask for your critique on, not the original photo.
    Thanks, Bill
    Here is the original...
    Attached Files

  • #2
    ...and here is the conversion.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      You have certainly devised a better method than grayscaling or even use of Channel Mixing. You have a much wider spread of tones than you would get by just using the Lightness channel or grayscaling, etc. I love the look of a well done black/white. Your image looks like a black/white photo shot with a filter (green, I think -- I always forget how that works) to enhance the foliage.

      It works for me.


      • #4

        that looks great to me. Very nice depth to the image.

        when you say "I used my posted action to start this one...", which action are you referring to? I searched a bit, and couldn't find anything.

        Lance Goins


        • #5
          C. J., thanks. And you are right. The green channel was where I started on the conversion on this image.

          Lance, for the action, try the following thread:

          Don, I had the advantage of working on the 5mb original, so naturally your edges will come out a little rougher and noisier. The blur parts you see were a failed intentional effort (I can see now) to try to add a tad more depth, i.e. sort of a soft out of focus foreground. Because of the size difference of the original versus what you had to work with, comparing ours might be apples and oranges. I tried to maximize definition in the trees and clouds because I thought they made a decent frame. And I tried to maximize contrast between the light and dark parts of the tower. Finished it off with a slight edge burn.

          Thanks, everyone, for the comments. Bill


          • #6
            First off, it's very nice. I like it a lot.
            However, even without trying the action I'm willing to bet this wasn't done with the action alone. The picture itself was free transformed, and I also believe other than curves, the picture was dodged. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

            Nicely done.



            • #7
              Thanks, Mig. You are partially correct. As I said, I use my action just to start the process. The previous thread I referenced and the one that it in turn references give my approach to each detail in an image. I don't use the dodge and burn tools. I prefer to use curves adjustment layers with their built in masks to tweak even tiny areas. I believe it gives far more capability.


              • #8
                Wow Bill... that's an action-and-a-half.

                Maybe we can get Adobe to add in a "b&w variations" preview for Photoshop that does something like this. It's really nice to easily see all the easy-to-get variations together like this, and be able to compare them all quickly to see which has the best results.

                Thanks again,


                • #9

                  Beautiful range and tones. The tree on the right looks mottled, towards the top of the tree areas that have been lightened include shadows that on other parts of the tree are much darker but in these lighter spots have the hazy "black made into grey" look. If you like useing curves mask, maybe load luminunce into the mask, then use the dodge or burn tool on the mask so that you can just affect highlight, midtones or shadows and the work doesn't bleed over ... just brain storming.

                  Good work, Roger


                  • #10
                    Bill says, "I don't use the dodge and burn tools. I prefer to use curves adjustment layers with their built in masks to tweak even tiny areas. I believe it gives far more capability."

                    I agree with you 100%. Many people are not aware of this technique and it is very useful, much better than the dodge and burn tools. If anyone has the time it would be a good addition to the tutorials section. Many people are confused about masks and this is something that would really open people up to a whole new way of looking at how they do things in photoshop. We could also use a tutorial about adjustment layers themselves, as I think many people don't know much about them, and some don't even know they exist.



                    • #11
                      Bill & Mig,

                      When you speak of curves and their "built-in masks", are you referring to adding a layer mask and painting out the areas you don't want to affect (or painting in the areas you do want to affect, depending on how you started)?

                      I just want to make sure there's no obvious or neat-o trick I'm missing out on.

                      I spent almost the whole day yesterday playing around with b&w conversions and actions. Found a nice site that had many actions posted, some for b&w and a few others that might come in handy (url is

                      Also received my sample print of the peizography B&W inks yesterday (my sample is the Warm Neutral). It looks sooooo nice. But I'll have to find some high justification for the investment (new printer, software, inks at $40/bottle...).

                      And tonight I'll be installing my Photoshop 7 upgrade (been using the trial version).

                      so much to do, and so little spare time... but I'm slowly getting closer to possibly making a business out of this. It's the light at the end of my current bureaucratic tunnel


                      • #12
                        Hi, Lance. No, no special trick. I'm talking about Curves Adjustment Layers, which automatically come with a layer mask. Adjustment layers have ALL KINDS of advantages. I eyeball the part of the image I want to effect and play with the curves until I like it, then invert the mask to black (or "hide all" as they call it) and paint with white over the desired area. The advantage to me is the ease of trial and error work with curves and adjustment layers. There are ways to do similar work with dodge and burn, so it's probably a matter of preference.

                        Roger- thanks for the input. Ya know, I think I just got lazy in those trees. Valuable lesson learned. Secondary areas of an image are not invisible. Out of mind, maybe, but not out of sight. After these things are pointed out, they become glaring. Thanks again.



                        • #13
                          Keep in mind too that you can also filter these masks. This comes in really handy, especially for a typical layer mask, where you need to soften what you've done.
                          Play around with this stuff cuz it'll take you into interesting places.



                          • #14
                            I wanted to share a photo I took from a 727 above Colorado in January of 2002. The original is color, and I used Bill's action to convert it to b&w.

                            It was taken with an Olympus C4040 digital camera. I leaned over my son (carseats have to go in a window seat) and took the photo by looking in the lcd display.

                            Yesterday while driving home I found myself looking at the trees and sky and judging them for texture, contrast, and form. Maybe time to start carrying my camera around with me.

                            I have a friend who has a really nice 35mm and mainly shoots with b&w film (he also took the photo of my son that is now my avatar here). Last summer he and another friend took a trip to Alaska. You can check out his shots here:
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              If we were allowed to give kudos here, I'd say great job.
                              p.s. I'm disappointed that the avatar photo is not of you. I thought we might have a prodigy in our midst!


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