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Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image editing application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements 8, along with its companion program, Bridge CS4, to organize and edit photos, build projects like web galleries and photo collages, and share photos with family and friends. Jan dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
When you want a black and white photograph, it's best to shoot the photograph in color, and then convert it later to black and white in Elements Full Edit Workspace. That's because a color image has much more tonal information to work with, than does a grayscale image that comes straight out of the camera. I'm going to convert this color photo to black and white by going up to the Enhance menu in the Full Edit Workspace and choosing Convert to Black and White. That opens this big Convert to Black and White dialog box. I am going to click its Title bar and move it over to the right, so I can see a preview of the image over here, with the settings in this dialog box.
There's also a preview over here on the right side of the dialog box, labeled After, and this shows how the image will look with whatever settings are set down here at the bottom of the dialog box. And then there is also before a Before view, which shows the original color photo. In this dialog box, I would like to start with one of the Preset Styles. So, I'll usually go right up to the top of this menu and click on each style looking at the After view to see if I like the results.
I think, I'm going to start with the Newspaper preset, and then I'm going to tweak that preset to get just the result that I want in the black and white conversion. I can tweak the preset using the sliders over here in the Adjust Intensity area of the dialog box. There is a Red, Green and Blue slider, one for each of the three colors in this RGB Color mode image and then there is also a Contrast slider. If I move the Red slider to the right, keep your eye on the After image or on the preview over here and you'll see that the red parts of the image get lighter.
Now that's way too much. So I'm going to take that back maybe to about there. There isn't much green in this image, so I'll skip that slider, but there's plenty of blue. If I drag the blue slider to the left, then the blue parts of the image get dark in the black and white conversion. I am actually going to drag that to the right, until I like the result. And finally, there is a Contrast slider. Dragging the Contrast slider to the right increases the Contrast, dragging to the left decreases Contrast.
As with most images, increasing Contrast a bit can make the image pop in the black and white conversion. So there is no right or wrong to these results, except that I try to keep detail in the bright areas, the dark areas and the mid tones. Notice that there's an Undo button here. If I click the Undo button, it takes me back just before the last thing that I did in this dialog box. So keep your eye on the Contrast slider. When I click this Undo button, you'll see the Contrast slider move, but all of the other sliders stay where they were. And then there's a Redo button, to move forward one step, like this.
To put the Contrast slider back. And there's also a Reset button. If I were to click that, and I'm not going to do that now, it would reset all of the sliders to their original positions. I can cancel out of the dialog box without making any change to the original color image, or if I'm happy with the black and white conversion, I'll click OK. And in the main Document Window, I see the image in black and white. I would save this image with a different filename, maybe I would call it floatsbw.jpg, so that I don't save over the original color image.
So, I like converting to black and white this way, rather than say, adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and just desaturating, because with this method, I get to decide exactly how the primary colors in the image are going to be converted to black and white.
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