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So why in a title on color would I have a black-and-white image? Well, the reason is that it's important for us to remember that sometimes the best color is no color at all and of course, this is entirely subjective but for me, if a certain image's color can actually detract from the image, take away the color and the image becomes about shape and form and texture and I think that's the case with this image. If we take a look at the color original, I am not going to split my screen.
On the right is the color original and it's a fairly boring picture of Yosemite. On the left, I converted it to black-and -white, done some work with it, I have done some dodging and burning, some sharpening, adjusting the contrast, but it's a whole new image. It wasn't really much I could do and in fact, I almost overlooked the color original because it was saying nothing to me but when we work with the gray values of the black-and-white version, it's something else entirely.
So I just want to quickly run you through what I did and it's all nondestructive, so I can come and Alt+ click or Option+click on the background layer and we are back to our starting point. I do have my Smart Filters turned on, so I have converted this for Smart Filters and then I have applied some sharpening first of all. Let's take a look at what that does. I am just going to zoom in; we need to see this at 100% to evaluate the sharpening.
If I turn that off, there is before the sharpening, there is after the sharpening, I applied this much an Amount of 147 a Radius of 1. I then converted it to a black-and- white image using the Black & White adjustment layer right there. When we click on that and we go to the Adjustments panel, we can see what values are used. So I have increased the brightness on the magentas, I have decreased it on the blues and the cyans and I am doing this mainly using the Targeted Adjustment tool.
We'll go back to a Fit in Window view and I am using the Targeted Adjustment tool, I am coming down here and I am saying I want it to be brighter in this area. So I am dragging that to the right. You can see that as I do that, the green slider starts moving over to the right. The yellow slider has already been moved out to the right quite a lot. The next slider, I need some more contrast. So I added a Levels adjustment layer. I am going to tear off my Layers panel so that we can see it side-by-side with my adjustments.
On this Levels adjustment layer, I have moved the black-and-white points in towards the middle and I am actually clipping some contents. So there are areas in this image that are 100% black and there are areas that are completely white. Areas that formally had some detail, but that's okay, I like it this way, I like the high contrast of it. I have then added a curve adjustment. Now this curve adjustment, if I turn that off, it is adding more contrast, but you can see it's only adding more contrast to the top portion of the image and that's because I have combined this curve adjustment, you can see I have moved the curve down somewhat.
I have combined it with a layer mask, and that layer mask is a gradient from white to blacks and where it's white, the curve adjustment is affecting the image and where it's black, it's not affecting the image. Then I have a layer of Dodge and Burn. Now I am going to turn on this layer all by itself by Alt and clicking on it and you can see, it's nothing more than that. It is a gray layer filled with neutral gray. This is how I got it, come and choose New Layer and as you do so, hold down the Option or the Alt key and you will get these options.
I want the New layer to have the Overlay blend mode to be filled with overlaying neutral color. It gives me a layer of solid gray. So that was my starting point and in the Overlay blend mode, Overlay neutralizes gray, in the same way as Multiply neutralizes white and Screen neutralizes black. So then I can paint at a very reduced percentage on that layer in white to dodge to lighten areas and in black to burn to darken areas.
Here is the overall effect of this Dodge and Burn layer. If I turn it off, there is the before, there is the after. So what I am trying to do with this is really bring out the lighten shade in this image. So I want to accentuate the difference between the bright areas and the dark areas and then I have an additional levels adjustment. Why do I have this? I can't quite remember, let's see what it does. It doesn't do anything. Not sure why we even have it.
Let's throw it away and at the very top, the finishing touch is a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. I just felt it needed something a little bit extra. So I have applied this, I have increased the Brightness, I have increased the Contrast, and I am only doing it in the bottom half of the image because as you can see, this adjustment layer has a layer mask attached to it. It looks like that. So it's another of those gradient masks applied to the adjustment layer.
And we will just compare the two again and I am just going to come back here and choose Match Zoom, so that we see them both at Fit-in Window view, and I hope you will agree with me that the image on the left, the one where I am pretending that I am Ansel Adams is a whole lot better than the one on the right which is nothing more than a snapshot.
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