Black and White with Lightroom and Photoshop
Illustration by Richard Downs

Making selective edits


From:

Black and White with Lightroom and Photoshop

with Bryan O'Neil Hughes

Video: Making selective edits

So far, we've focused on making global edits in Lightroom, and making black and white images completely black and white, and just focusing on the whole thing, and it is possible to do some selective editing in Lightroom. I could take, say, the Brush tool here and I can choose a particular size of my brush, and either paint a given area, and then adjust the parameters of that, or paint multiple areas by Shift+clicking, and this is fine, but not only do I have a lot of limitations as far as my control goes, but you'll see if I show the masked area, it isn't really accurate. It's going beyond the eye, and I can tune that up, but there's a lot of guesswork involved here.

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Watch the Online Video Course Black and White with Lightroom and Photoshop
42m 1s Intermediate Apr 15, 2013

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Shoot in color, but think in black and white. In this course, Adobe Photoshop Senior Product Manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes shares his favorite techniques for transforming color photographs into black and white, a technique that provides more creative options than using your camera's black-and-white mode. Learn how to prepare and fine-tune your photographs in Lightroom, and then move them into Photoshop to take advantage of its nondestructive adjustment layers. The course also introduces techniques for using Photoshop to adjust the color of video clips.

Topics include:
  • Why black and white?
  • Shooting with black and white in mind
  • Setting up Lightroom and creating image versions
  • Utilizing presets effectively
  • Creating black-and-white HDR images with Lightroom and Photoshop
  • Taking advantage of black-and-white adjustment layers
  • Adjusting the toning of images
  • Working with the Silver Efex plugin
Subject:
Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Bryan O'Neil Hughes

Making selective edits

So far, we've focused on making global edits in Lightroom, and making black and white images completely black and white, and just focusing on the whole thing, and it is possible to do some selective editing in Lightroom. I could take, say, the Brush tool here and I can choose a particular size of my brush, and either paint a given area, and then adjust the parameters of that, or paint multiple areas by Shift+clicking, and this is fine, but not only do I have a lot of limitations as far as my control goes, but you'll see if I show the masked area, it isn't really accurate. It's going beyond the eye, and I can tune that up, but there's a lot of guesswork involved here.

So, Lightroom has a tremendous number of strengths, but selective editing is really not one of them, it's much better for global edits. So, this is a good time to move over to Photoshop, because that's an area that it really shines. Now, before we do that let's convert this back to color, which is really easy to move between states in Lightroom, because the history lives with the file. So, I can just move back a few steps here to when we adjusted our settings, and we come back to where this was color. So, now we'll back up, and all we need to do to pop over into Photoshop is hit Command+E, and it'll launch Photoshop, and open the file in here.

Now I'm going to double-click on my Zoom tool to move in close, and before we even talk about black and white, let's talk about selective tonal adjustments, because there are some great tools over here. Now, the best way to do it is to duplicate our layer. I'm just going to grab my layer, and duplicate that, because everything I do with a brush, I want to be able to undo it later. And a couple of tools that I want to show you are Dodge and Burn, and Sharpen. So, with Dodge, as long as I have this Protect Tones checkbox checked, which it is by default, I have a tremendous amount of power. I can come in here and brighten the eyes. There's the Midtones; if I were to change that to Shadows, I can brighten that up, and I'm not hurting the areas around it at all.

If I were to come down to a brighter area; let's say, the wood there, just to show you how this works, and I were to burn that, I can burn the Midtones, or even more aggressively, the Highlights, just the very whitest part. I have a lot of power here. I have got Photoshop's really rich, powerful brush engine. I can use Ctrl+Option to drag this side to side, and change the size, or Ctrl+Option up and down to change the hardness, and with those tools, I can get a lot done to very specific areas.

Now, let's say I wanted to do some selective sharpening. Before, when we talked about sharpening, we talked about doing that to the entire image. In Photoshop, we can do that selectively, and so what I'd want to do here is just come over, and grab my Sharpen tool, and again, make sure that Protect Detail is on, which it is by default. And I like to pull the Strength down on this. Again, I'm going to give myself a larger brush, and I can come in here, and do this brush based sharpening, and the way I like to do it is to just slowly build this up, and not only is this an incredibly sophisticated algorithm, it doesn't introduce a lot of artifacts, but I'm able to just precisely apply it to the area I want. So, if I were to toggle my layer, I can see what I've done there.

So, really great stuff to do in Photoshop; selective edits, especially around dodging, burning, and sharpening. Next up, we'll talk about what we can do specific to black and white in Photoshop.

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