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There's nothing quite like a great black-and-white image. In this workshop, author and trainer Tim Grey shows you how to create the best possible black-and-white interpretations of color photographs using Adobe Photoshop. From very basic grayscale conversions to advanced multiple-channel blending using layer masks, Tim explores a wide variety of methods that you can use to produce the best black-and-white results. Afterwards, tackle a set of real-world projects that combine a variety of techniques to produce the final image. Note: This course was recorded in Photoshop CS5, but was created with users of both Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS4 in mind.
Sometimes there simply isn't a way to capture in color the impact of a particular scene. In this lesson we'll explore just such an image. This photo of a zen garden in Kyoto, Japan represents a very ethereal and peaceful experience. And yet the full color photo doesn't convey that mood. Let's take a look at how we might achieve the emotion of the experience in the final image. When I think about the experience I was having when I photographed this image, I think the main word that comes to mind is ethereal, and so I wanted to convey something of a more ethereal experience here.
To start with I felt that that required me to remove the color from the image and so the first step here will be to add a new black and white adjustment layer. Now black and white image by itself is certainly interesting but in this particular case I think an infrared interpretation will produce something that's a little bit more dream like and ethereal. So I'll increase the value for the green slider in order to brighten up the foliage. Of course, most foliage contains a lot of yellow so I'll also increase the yellow's slider. Now I'll find tune each of these adjustments so that I don't end up with an image with blown out highlight detail. I just want glowing foliage, but without sacrificing detail in those areas. I can then fine-tune the other sliders to produce a more interesting effect, mostly looking for opportunities to enhance contrast just a little bit. Now if there were a sky in the image, I would also want to further the infrared experience by darkening that sky, reducing the value for cyans and blues as needed.
At this point I think my basic result is looking pretty good so I am ready to move onto the next phase of enhancing this overall appearance. With an infrared and any dream like type of image to me a nice, soft glow really seems to be impactful. So I'm going to create a copy of my background image layer. To do so, I'll simply click and drag that layer onto my create new layer button. The blank sheet of paper icon at the bottom of the layer's panel. This creates a background copy layer which I can adjust as needed. In this case that involves applying a blur.
But I don't want to make the image simply appear out of focus. Rather I just want an ethereal glow. So to start with I'm going to reduce the opacity for the layer down to about 50%. That won't actually change the appearance of the image at the moment because I'm just revealing the same image down below. But this will make it easier to preview the effect I'm about to apply and that is to apply a blur to this layer. So I'll choose filter blur Gaussian blur from the menu which will bring up the Gaussian blur dialog.
I'm going to set this to about ten pixels for the moment just so that we can see the effect. Notice that in the preview for the gaussian blur dialog I'm actually making the image appear out of focus. Focus. But in the actual photo, the effect is more of a halo, a glow to the image. The image still appears to be in sharp focus; it just has a little bit of haziness to it. That's because I'm blurring my background copy layer, but it's at a reduced opacity so I can see the sharp image. Down below. i can continue to fine tune the radius setting to determine how much of a glow and how much apparent detail I want to remain visible.
Generally speaking somewhere around ten pixels works pretty well for most images. I'll go ahead and click OK, and then I can fine tune the opacity in order to adjust how visible that glow will be. At a 100% setting, of course the image will appear out of focus, and at a 0% setting, the image will appear as its original, in crisp focus. I can adjust to taste. Generally speaking, a more subtle effect is good, but you can fine tune based on what you think looks best for the image. Finally I think I'll add a film grain effect to this image. I'll go ahead and hold the alt key on Windows or the option key on Macintosh. And then click on the create new layer button at the bottom of the layers panel. I'll call this layer, film grain and then change the blend mode to hard light. I'll also turn on the check box so that this layer will be filled with 50% gray, which is the neutral color for the hard light blend mode. I'll click OK to create this layer and then I'll choose filter, noise, add noise.
With the monochromatic check-box turned on, and the Gaussian option selected for distribution, Ill adjust the amount to taste. Now in this case of course I'm adjusting the film grain which I'll later tone down a little bit so you need to focus more on the structure of the grain than on the actual effect in the image. This looks pretty good, so I'll click, Okay, and then I'll reduce the opacity for this film grain layer. In this case, I'll take it down very, very low, because I'm really am just trying to add a little bit of texture to the image.
I also think the image would benefit from a little bit more contrast, so I'll click on the topmost layer, which happens to be my black and white layer, and then add a curves adjustment layer, to the stack on the layer's panel. I'll focus more of my attention on the brights here, basically adding an S curve where I'm boosting the highlights more than I'm darkening the shadows. But I'll fine tune as I see fit, trying to produce a nice ethereal effect that isn't too contrasty but still has a little bit of impact to it. It can often be helpful to think about the emotion behind the experience of capturing an image when it comes to interpreting that image in Photoshop.
By thinking about what the original experience was like, you'll be able to interpret that experience and create a meaningful image.
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