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Converting to black and white in Camera Raw

From: Foundations of Photography: Black and White

Video: Converting to black and white in Camera Raw

Earlier, I spent some time haranguing you about shooting in RAW instead of JPEG because RAW has a number of advantages over JPEG, as we discussed: highlight recovery, white balance adjustment--which we don't really need as black-and-white shooters--the ability to preserve 16 bits' worth of data instead of merely 8 bits, like you get in JPEG. It's also possible to do your black-and- white conversion in RAW, and we're going to look at that right now. I've got this RAW file opened. This is an exercise file that you can download. And you can see I've got some blues, some reds, some greens, a bunch of gray. This is the basic controls for adjusting tone and whatnot.

Converting to black and white in Camera Raw

Earlier, I spent some time haranguing you about shooting in RAW instead of JPEG because RAW has a number of advantages over JPEG, as we discussed: highlight recovery, white balance adjustment--which we don't really need as black-and-white shooters--the ability to preserve 16 bits' worth of data instead of merely 8 bits, like you get in JPEG. It's also possible to do your black-and- white conversion in RAW, and we're going to look at that right now. I've got this RAW file opened. This is an exercise file that you can download. And you can see I've got some blues, some reds, some greens, a bunch of gray. This is the basic controls for adjusting tone and whatnot.

But if I go over to here, HSL/ Grayscale, this gives me Hue, Saturation and Luminous controls and I've got this check box here that says Convert to Grayscale. If I do that, again I get a default black-and-white conversion recipe. And basically, this works just the same way that the Black and White dialog in Photoshop does. I've got all these different color sliders. In fact, I have more color sliders, and as I adjust them, those colors in my image will change. So let's go again back to the color image. I've got a blue sky and green grass here.

So I am going to drag the Blues to be darker and sure enough, that darkens up the sky. I am going to drag the Greens to be lighter and sure enough, that lightens the grass. Maybe I'll try darkening the grass. So this is working just like the Black & White control in Photoshop. You may be thinking, "Yeah, but in Photoshop, I've got that ability to just mouse over my image and click on things and drag left to right, and I really like that." Well, you get that in RAW also, if you go up here and choose the Targeted Adjustment tool. Now for this to work, you have to already be in HSL/Grayscale tab, because Targeted Adjustment does different things depending on which one of these tabs you have selected.

So I've got Targeted Adjustment with HSL/Grayscale selected. I can now click on a color. I am going to click on one of the red tiles up here on the roof, and now I can drag left and right, and if you look over there under the Grayscale Mix stuff-- all of the stuff over here--you can see that my Reds and Oranges are changing. So when should I do adjustments here in Camera RAW, and when should I do them in Photoshop? Well, to a degree it's six of one, half dozen of another in terms of what your final output is going to be. Both of them provide very good control. Both of them do an excellent job of skewing the tones around.

I've got a little more granularity here because I've got more sliders in addition to Reds. I've got Reds and Oranges, and as you saw, it was automatically adjusting both of those simultaneously. Similarly, I've got Blues and Aquas, Purples and Magentas, Greens and Yellows. If you think about these colors, you will probably recognize that each pair of sliders sits right next to each other on the color wheel. Reds turn into orange; yellows turn into green; aquas into blue; purples into magentas. They are all very closely related. On the one hand, it's nice having that extra granularity. On the other hand, it can maybe sometimes get a little confusing because it will adjust maybe only the Purple range and not the Magentas and you wanted both.

The Black & White tool in Photoshop, because it has fewer sliders, there is a better chance it's going to grab the entire range of colors that you want. Nevertheless, you can pretty much make the same edits in both. However, there is one very important difference, which is, once I have made these adjustments in here, when I open my image, now I've got a black-and-white image. I don't have the ability to go back and alter those parameters, unless I do something called opening that RAW file as a Smart Object that gives me discrete access back to the RAW parameters.

I am not going to go into Smart Objects in this course. I am going to recommend that for the time being you just keep using the Black & White adjustment layer. Then you've got your adjustments right there. You've got access to them at any time without having to go back to Camera RAW as a Smart Object or that kind of thing. So for now, I would say stick with the Black & White adjustment layer. If you really like the idea of making your adjustments in RAW, and one of the advantages in making adjustments in RAW is your RAW edits are then stored in the RAW conversion data that's socked away in that XMP sidecar file that goes with your RAW file, your black-and-white edits are stored in there which is nice, but for the most part I think you are going to have an easier time just keeping all of your black- and-white conversions here in Photoshop.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Black and White
Foundations of Photography: Black and White

39 video lessons · 22935 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 8m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 24s
    2. Why black and white?
      5m 12s
    3. Suggested prerequisites
      53s
    4. Using the exercise files
      56s
  2. 19m 43s
    1. Is it really black and white?
      1m 9s
    2. How gray corresponds to color
      4m 38s
    3. The medium of black and white
      3m 5s
    4. The vocabulary of black and white
      4m 46s
    5. The physiology of black and white
      2m 22s
    6. How a camera's image sensor captures an image
      3m 43s
  3. 32m 46s
    1. Preparing the camera
      3m 34s
    2. Light revisited
      6m 3s
    3. Seeing in black and white
      2m 21s
    4. Taking a black-and-white expedition
      1m 17s
    5. Finding and shooting a black-and-white image
      11m 14s
    6. Shooting a tone-based subject
      2m 0s
    7. Exposing for black and white
      6m 17s
  4. 1h 38m
    1. The nature of grayscale images
      3m 33s
    2. Converting to black and white using Photoshop CS4 or CS5
      6m 17s
    3. More about the Black & White dialog box
      3m 19s
    4. Converting to black and white using Black & White adjustment layers
      3m 55s
    5. Converting to black and white in Camera Raw
      4m 5s
    6. Making an advanced tonal correction
      17m 33s
    7. Doing more tonal corrections
      14m 6s
    8. Calming down highlights
      10m 4s
    9. Vignetting
      8m 58s
    10. The trestle images
      2m 39s
    11. Handling tricky skies
      2m 43s
    12. Doing a selective black-and-white conversion
      2m 23s
    13. Toning
      1m 19s
    14. Split-toning
      2m 19s
    15. High-key and low-key images
      2m 32s
    16. Diffusion
      4m 40s
    17. Using Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in
      7m 46s
  5. 24m 14s
    1. Selecting a printer
      5m 17s
    2. Preparing the image for print
      8m 30s
    3. Configuring the Print dialog
      5m 9s
    4. Evaluating a print
      5m 18s
  6. 43s
    1. Goodbye
      43s

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