Barry Huggins shares his Photoshop Retouching Portraits expertise in this issue of DTG!
Creating Black & White from Color
Method 2: Single Channels
In traditional black-and-white photography, color filters are often used over the lens to create dramatic contrast, the reason being that hues that are quite different in real life can merge into one when seen in grayscale. For instance, a strong blue sky with white clouds can appear weak in a black-and-white photograph.
A red filter placed over the lens will darken the blue sky, making the white clouds stand out, because the red filter blocks the blue color waves more effectively than it does colors that are nearer to red. As a result, a red car in the same scene would look lighter. In short, when a color filter is used in black-and-white photography it lightens elements of its own color and darkens elements of its complementary (opposite) color.
We can see this principle in action in Photoshop and use it to create some very different styles of black and white. In this photograph of a mountain stream in the French Alps, the combination of strong contrast and lighting with the sensual curves of the glistening snow makes it an ideal candidate.
1 Go to the Layers palette, click the Channels tab, then click on the Red channel.
The image seen will resemble the result that a red filter over the lens would have generated, with a darkening of the blue-tinted areas that makes for a moody, sophisticated image.
For comparison, click on the Green channel.
The result is similar to the Red channel but less pronounced.
Finally, look at the Blue channel -- it's lighter, since most of the image is blue.
2 Without doing any work, we have three different ready-made black-and-white effects.
All we have to do is choose our preferred option: dark and moody.
Click on the Red channel.
The following keyboard shortcut sequence makes light work of turning it into a new document:
Ctrl/Cmd + A (selects all)
Ctrl/Cmd + C (copies the selection to the clipboard)
Ctrl/Cmd + N (creates a new document of the same proportions as whatever we have on the clipboard. The document will also be a grayscale as we only have one channel selected)
Enter/Return (to confirm the settings. No changes are necessary)
Ctrl/Cmd + V (to paste the contents of the clipboard to a new layer)
That's all there is to it. Use Levels and Curves if you want to fine-tune the result.
(Here's a side-by-side comparison)
- This article is the exclusive property of O'Reilly Publishing and Ilex Press, Limited. © Copyright 2005 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All images are the exclusive property of Barry Huggins. ©Copyright 2005 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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