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Here, I want to share with you a couple of more techniques that you can use when converting your photographs to black and white. In particular, I want to explore how we can effectively use the Hue/Saturation adjustment and also the Channel Mixer adjustment. Well, this particular photograph was captured by one of my former students of our family. Her name is Cara Robbins. She is a great photographer, you should check out her work at cararobbins.com. What I want to do with this picture is I want to convert this to black and white. First, let's look at how we can use Hue/Saturation. We'll click on this icon here to open up our Hue/Saturation dialog, and then just simply desaturate.
Now, when we do this of course, we don't have a lot of control. It just removes color. Well, in order to have more control, we could use another adjustment layer, say like Curves. If we click on the icon for Curves, I could then control my contrast here by darkening the image, and maybe brightening my whites a little bit. We're just changing the overall look and feel of the image. Now, if you want to get to the specific channels like the Red, Green, or Blue channels, and make adjustments, you're going to need to reorder the layers.
Let me show you what I mean. Well, here if I go into the Red channel and if I want to brighten up the reds, well I just get a red color shift. So in order to do that, what we need to do is to drag this layer underneath our Hue/Saturation layer. Once we've done that, you can then go to say the Red channel, and you can click-and-drag in order to change just the reds there, and sometimes this can help you come up with some good black and white conversions. That being said, in my own workflow, I find this a little bit awkward, yet I know others who really love this technique.
Well next, let's take a look at how we can use Channel Mixer. Here, I'll go ahead and select these layers and delete them, and then click on the icon for Channel Mixer. Channel Mixer allows us to combine red, green, and blue together in a way that allows us to eventually come up with some good black and white conversions. You may want to start off with one of your presets. Some of these presets allow you to come up with creative results, while others are just a bit more functional. You can also move the sliders. Yet, that being said, as you move these sliders, you want to make sure that your total typically equals 100.
In other words, if I go ahead and increase my blues, I then need to decrease another slider, and you're going to move these kind of together watching that percentage and also watching the image in order to come up with a nice conversion. By having a total of 100%, that will then ensure that you're not going to overexpose or underexpose the image dramatically. So here we want to make sure we have good tonal range, and again, we can do this by modifying these sliders. Now, there are those who just love Channel Mixer.
Because of the way, you can slide things around and move those colors and tones. And one of the things that you might want to try above and beyond this typical technique is you may want to try experimenting with the constant. Now, I'm going to exaggerate here for demo purposes, but let me show you how you can do this. If I decrease the Constant, the image is incredibly dark. But now what I can do is then use my other sliders to brighten it back up. By doing it, well, I'm creating this really, really high contrast type of a look.
It almost looks like an old film type of an aesthetic, and so sometimes by working with that Constant slider, it can help you come up with some even different results. Now, as you start swinging and moving these sliders, if things just get out of hand, you can either click on the Reset button to bring these back to the default settings, or you can always go back to trying one of your presets. Now, if you don't like the presets, well just click on Monochrome. This will remove the color and give you a default combination here of these three channels.
Then you can go ahead and make any needed adjustments in order to try to come up with something that you think will look good. Again, just keep an eye on that 100% marker down there in order to try to find something that will work for you. In my own experience, I find that working with one of these presets, and then slightly modifying it helps out even a bit more than just trying to do this on my own, because really it's about trying to find just that right combination of these three different channels which will help create a black and white conversion which will draw the viewer in.
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