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    Sep 2008
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    Default So you Think you know Black & White?

    One of the first things you probably learned to do in your editing program was how to turn a picture black and white. This is often done with a desaturate command or converting to gray scale. Your software then converts the colors in the picture to corresponding shades of gray. Yup, Gray. NOT black and white. Misleading isn't it. This works great but you may have noticed that some black and white pictures are better than others. Is this just the luck of the colors involved? No! They are simply edited better! Allow me to help you look at black and white differently.

    I'm going to start with this:

    I want to focus on Jaden and Pup so I'm going to crop it down to this:

    I also tweaked it so they weren't so dark in the shadow, but I'll discuss that another time. This picture is pretty good the way it is, but I think it might look cool black & white. We now have a picture to edit!

    So normally you would just hit desaturate right? Okay, if you'd like, make a copy and do that so you have something to compare it to.

    Now, have you seen that channel tab by your layers? (adobe photoshop 7) Here's one way you can use them! Click on that tab.

    You should have three gray scale renditions of your photo and your color one on top. Click on each of the gray ones to see what looks better. You will likely not want to just stick with any of them, but in my case I think the green channel looks better of them all. Now click back on the RGB and you can cliick the tab back to your layers. You should now be in color again.

    Now go to Image - Adjustments - Channel Mixer

    This will bring up your Channel Mixer (probably figured that out huh? Check the monochrome box or change the output to gray.

    I remembered that I thought the green channel looked best so I moved my red to 0% and my green to 100%. Then I slid my sliders around till I got what I like best. Remember every photo is different so this will change every time!

    Helpful hint If your levels on your photo are good then anything over 100% will be overexposed (too light) any thing under will be underexposed (too dark). So while mixing try to make them add up to 100% (Ex. 25% red, 50% green, 25% blue).

    Great! That may be how you like it! But let me add some other options to play with or if you don't have the channel mixing option you can try this. Go to Image - Adjustments - Brightness/Contrast

    Tweak around with these options especially the contrast to get some really stunning results!

    Here's what I ended up with!

    I made the Vignette (blending border) with just a soft (the edges blend) brush. We will learn more on blending another time.

    Now doesn't THAT look better than just a desaturate? If you don't believe me compare for yourself on your own photo!

    One More Thing:
    So why would you want to make a photo black and white?

    This is of course an artistic choice. And as you will hear me say many a time I am NO artist! So I probably don't try this as often as I should. BUT sometimes I absolutely know changing my photo to black and white is a good move!


    Aww what a sweet picture of my newborn boy. Wait, what the...why is my baby purple? I assure you he was breathing. Some times due to lighting the colors in our pictures come out all wrong. Now you can tweak the colors to be right...and I have and will teach you how another time, but it is SO much easier to make it black and white.

    aww now that looks like a sweet healthy baby.

    One more example:
    Using a technique I will teach you later (yup you so all are going to be checking in here every month!) I turned this:

    to this:

    As you can see I was able to bring out the details that were lost in the shadow, but not the color. To make the photo blend together better I'll just make it black and white.

    Okay! There ya have it! The how AND the why! I can't wait to see what you Can do with black and white! Have fun!
    Last edited by GingerScraps; 05-04-2010 at 11:32 PM.

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