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Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is an essential course for any digital photographer who wants to master the software's vast array of image enhancement techniques. Professional photographer and instructor Chris Orwig uses his own compelling images to demonstrate how the power of Photoshop can make photographers more passionate about their work. He covers many aspects of the application, such as working with RAW images, using curves and levels, making images snap, and enhancing bland photographs by converting them to black and white. Exercise files accompany this course.
All right, well now that we know a little about black and white conversion, let's put some of our skills to the test. We are going to work on this father-daughter portrait of my cousin John and his daughter Kelsey. Let's go ahead and open this one up in Photoshop, and as you can tell my cousin John has a great sense of humor. All right, well, what I'm going to do here is go ahead and click on the Option to choose convert to black and white or I'm going to select one of my Black and White presets. Now, we have a couple of different presets, which are pretty interesting. I can choose Blue Filter. Now, that gives me somewhat interesting option. I can go to Darker Filter, I can choose Green Filter, and I have a number of different filters here, which would be worthwhile to look at because you can't come up with some pretty creative results including this infrared Black and White conversion.
Well, enough on that, enough talking about these presets. Let's go back to the Default and let's just say, we go to Default. How then, can we further customize this conversion? And the Default looks pretty good. I like it. It's snappy, it's pretty strong. Well, here is what I can do, I can click on my Target Adjustment tool and hover over the roof or the grass because I know those both had moss on them. There is lots of greens in the background. And click and drag. I want to bring those tones down. I want to bring down those yellows and those greens. So I'm going to go ahead and do that making that much darker in the background. Well next, I'm going to click over his shirt because it's the only blue thing in the shirt. If I drag to the left, it becomes darker or I can brighten it up and have it nice bright and white. Now it really depends on the mood, right. If it's darker, it's a little bit less about the shirt, if it's brighter, the overall image feels a little bit like it has a little bit more of a high contrast level.
Okay. Now, my skin is going to be basically the Reds channel. So I don't even need to use a Target Adjustment tool to know that here is a nice bright red and there is a dark red. So one of the things I'm seeing is that when it goes dark, I see more blemishes. So I don't necessarily want that to be super bright, but I also don't want it to be super dark, somewhere right in there, I think looks pretty good. Here is our overall before and after. Now, the only other thing that I may want to do is press Q to enter Quick Mask mode, select my Brush tool and then paint a selection around the areas of the eyes. Now, it can be okay if this selection isn't perfect because we are going to smoothen this out even further. Press Q again, that will then exit Quick Mask mode. Go to select Inverse, so that we just have the eyes selected, and now here, I'll click on the Adjustment Layer icon and choose Curves.
What I'm interested in doing is just brightening these eyes up, just a touch here. So here is our before and after on that; it's a little bit too strong. So I'm going to take this down just a little bit of brightening to those eyes, bring in some Detail into the eyes. I like that. Again, our overall before, wow, and our after, really interesting and we have learned a couple of things here. One is we have learned that we can use that Black and White adjustment layer in order to target specific areas of our image. We also talked briefly about these presets. These presets are actually quite fascinating. You'll want to experiment with these because you can come up with some really interesting results.
Keep in mind that a lot of times when you use a preset, what you are going to do is select one of the presets and then you are just going to use that as a starting point. Now, in my case with this image, I liked it best by just going to the Default settings and then modifying those. Although, sometimes it's helpful to go there to see what some other conversions look like. Now, before I leave this image, I just want to brighten up the skin just a little bit more. Now, that I'm looking at this, I think that should go just up a little bit and then, for my Curves adjustment layer, I'm going to lower the opacity of this just to pull that back a little bit, make that even more subtle, and you know what, that wraps up our Black and White conversion on this beautiful portrait of this father and his daughter.
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