I am not rushing the Christmas shopping season with a Black (and White) Friday blog entry! Gracious, I’m all for waiting until Santa rides down Fifth Avenue in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade before I start the Christmas season.
No, I’m talking about Black and White conversions in Photoshop and Lightroom.
I chose two images from my recent trip to the mountains of North Carolina to play with. I used two methods of converting from color to black and white. The first method was done in Lightroom, with some tweaking and fine tuning in Photoshop, and the second was done in Photoshop. I’ll start with my process in Lightroom.
This is the original color image. I like this look. One reason I wanted to play with black and white treatments for this image is because it is already monochrome (with the exception of the green moss and the sprinkling of leaves).
First, I began by setting the black and white points with the appropriate sliders in the Development menu. I have found that making these two adjustments does more to improve my images than anything else I do. Then I made the adjustments with the Shadows and Highlights sliders. This last bit is simply done “to taste.” Sometimes, I do not mess with these sliders at all. And usually, though, the adjustments are very slight, no more than 7 or –7 in most cases.
Next, I used the Clarity slider and pushed it pretty high. On this image, I think I went up to 70. I left the Vibrance slider alone. Then I went for the conversion. I moved the Saturation slider all the way to zero. My last Lightroom adjustment was to the Curves, and I applied the Strong Contrast preset. Then I imported it into Photoshop for a few minor tweaks to levels and curves and contrast. This is the result.
The next image I used was also the Linville Falls. I am fascinated with the narrowness of this section of the falls and the texture of the rock formations.
Again, I like the color version. Like the previous image, it is also basically monochrome in nature, with a little pop of color from the fallen leaves. I decided to give this one the Photoshop treatment. But first—yes, I made my basic edits in Lightroom—adjusting the black and white points, the shadows and highlights, and the curves. I used the Medium Contrast preset on this one. Then I sent it to Photoshop for the rest of the edits.
I used a Levels adjustment layer to tweak the whites and the blacks by dragging the sliders to the left for whites and to the right for the blacks. Because of the adjustments in Lightroom, I had very little to do with this layer. Then I added an Brightness/Contrast layer and boosted the contrast to about 20 and tweaked the curve in a Curves layer by drawing down the highlights and raising the darker areas. Finally, I added a Hue/Saturation layer and completely desaturated the image. Here is the final result:
The black and white works for both images because the images have a monochromatic feel to begin with. I’m still working on perfecting my black and white conversions.