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10-01-2009, 11:57 PM   #1
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how can you make a photo black and white

how can you make your photo black and white in lightroom? i've tried using greyscale but it cant really make it a black and white compared to some pictures i've seen.

10-02-2009, 12:08 AM   #2
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You can desaturate the photo as a whole or desaturate all the colour individually for more control, and tweak the luminance.
10-02-2009, 12:39 AM   #3
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hi figmental1978, i browse your fllickr. Great pictures! that is a very good example of what i'm trying to say. it really looks b&w and not greyish. howd you make the background go black?
10-02-2009, 03:48 AM   #4
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I won't reveal the secrets to my present technique, however in the beginning I just used the Channel Mixer, in either Photoshop or Gimp.
Then played with the colour balance, brightness and contrast.
Check off the Monochrome box in the Channel Mixer, them play with the sliders until the photo looks right.
Some people say the numbers should add up to 100, while others say otherwise.

I still use this technique the odd time, when my present system doesn't give me the expected results.

10-02-2009, 05:50 AM   #5
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ive tried mixing contrast, brightness and the colors and theres an improvement from the greyscale alone. thx for the help.
10-02-2009, 07:45 AM   #6
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I typically use the CS3 RAW B+W conversion, but a tried and true technique that I used a lot was using a hue/saturation layer sandwiched between a completely desaturated layer on top. I'll have to check my notes, but if you set the hue/saturation layer blend mode to luminance, you can then tweak each individual shade separately for best results.
10-02-2009, 07:53 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rustynail925 Quote
how can you make your photo black and white in lightroom? i've tried using greyscale but it cant really make it a black and white compared to some pictures i've seen.
In Lightroom, I think the key is using the Grayscale option along with the various color sliders. For skin, I'm always lightening the yellow-orange-red sliders while darkening the green-aqua-cyan-blue sliders (season to taste!).

If you're looking for that "luminous" quality of good B&W photos, usually the application of a slight "S" tone curve to brighten the highlight-to-1/4 tone areas while doing the opposite in the 3/4 tone-to-shadow areas can really help a lot. One of the (good) side effects of this is that it's steeping the curve throughout the midtone regions which helps in building "local" contrast and building more "separation" in all the middle grays. The "Clarity" control in LR can help with this as well as it sort of increases "micro" contrast...although I'm typically using negative Clarity for achieving smooth skin tones....and don't be shy with using sharpening which can also help with "local" or "micro" contrast areas. I have a prepress background and have noticed that photographers tend to be very conservative with their sharpening technique...in prepress, we tend to like the sharpness a bit "crunchy" since a lot of sharpness gets lost in the screening process of offset printing....my normal sharpening settings in PS for inkjet printing usually are something like this.....USM: 200% @ .6 pixels....followed up with USM: 20% @ 25 pixels, threshold of 2-4 in both cases.

Later,
Terry
10-02-2009, 08:32 AM   #8
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Part of the "trick" is in knowing what scenes to try to convert to B&W in the first place. Ones in which the values (how light and dark the colors are) are all about the same will indeed come out a pretty flat grey. The solution in those cases is to use the various techniques available to force one color to come out darker than another (channel mixers, etc). But if you've got a scene that even in color has strong light and shadow patterns, then this will be preserved when you convert to B&W without need much if any of those color tweaks.

Of course, you can also use the contrast controls and curves and so forth to alter the contrast.

10-02-2009, 11:40 AM   #9
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Several methods out there...

QuoteOriginally posted by rustynail925 Quote
how can you make your photo black and white in lightroom? i've tried using greyscale but it cant really make it a black and white compared to some pictures i've seen.
Marc's right about "seeing" a good B&W. One way, if you have the K20 or K7, is to set up your in-camera view to monotone and then adjust that for in-camera Contrast etc. This lets you evaluate the image for B&W quality in both Preview and on the LCD, and still have the full spectrum RAW data for post processing as color or B&W.

As for the post processing itself, there are dozens of ways to do it, some better than others, some easier than others. You can build your own conversion technique in Photoshop and others, but that's time consuming and may have a steep learning curve for the software. If you just want to get it done without getting that deeply into the process, and if you are using Photoshop, the two best "ready-made" methods I've used are:
PS3, try New Layer>Adjustments>Channel Mixer>Monochrome and adjust the sliders, then try different Layer Modes and Opacity.
PS4, try Adjustments>Black&White play around with the interactive sliders then try different Layer Modes and Opacity.

One interesting technique I'm playing around with now is to layer the adjusted B&W over the color background, mask areas then just lower the opacity a bit to bring out some very subtle colors. Here's an example:


However, my conversion tool of choice is NIK Silver Efex Pro. It costs a bit (does offer a 15-day free trial) but can operate stand alone or as a PS plug-in, and it does everything PS or the other software does, but does it easier and faster and with better control. Its two advantages are combining localized spot control with extensive film-types.
Good luck,
Brian

Last edited by FHPhotographer; 10-02-2009 at 07:19 PM. Reason: typo
10-02-2009, 01:31 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by rustynail925 Quote
how can you make your photo black and white in lightroom? i've tried using greyscale but it cant really make it a black and white compared to some pictures i've seen.
One question though. Are you going to print these or are you just looking for on screen?
10-02-2009, 02:59 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rustynail925 Quote
how can you make your photo black and white in lightroom? i've tried using greyscale but it cant really make it a black and white compared to some pictures i've seen.
in addition you can just get a plug-in - I guess Nik makes Silver EFex Pro as a "native" LR plug-in
10-03-2009, 06:31 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by graphicgr8s Quote
One question though. Are you going to print these or are you just looking for on screen?
its just for on screen.


Thx all of you guys!
i tried tweaking the controls after i convert to greyscale to make it black. does it work? here it is

from the original, greyscale and tweaking controls respectively
10-03-2009, 06:34 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
As for the post processing itself, there are dozens of ways to do it, some better than others, some easier than others. You can build your own conversion technique in Photoshop and others, but that's time consuming and may have a steep learning curve for the software. If you just want to get it done without getting that deeply into the process, and if you are using Photoshop, the two best "ready-made" methods I've used are:
PS3, try New Layer>Adjustments>Channel Mixer>Monochrome and adjust the sliders, then try different Layer Modes and Opacity.
PS4, try Adjustments>Black&White play around with the interactive sliders then try different Layer Modes and Opacity.
I use lightroom 2.5. I have a photoshop cs4 extended but i find it hard to use.
10-03-2009, 02:17 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rustynail925 Quote
i tried tweaking the controls after i convert to greyscale to make it black. does it work?
Sure, it works! It also makes a good illustration of how one can control the results *before* conversion by paying attention to color. The big obvious difference between the initial conversions and your final version is that the reflected blue on the right side of the building has become much darker. The way you'd do this in a "channel mixer" type of approach is to make sure the blue slider was set to a low value - so anything blue would come out relatively darker in the conversion.
10-04-2009, 03:56 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
The way you'd do this in a "channel mixer" type of approach is to make sure the blue slider was set to a low value - so anything blue would come out relatively darker in the conversion.
Thx Marc! Yeah thats what i did and i also made some tweaking in the tone curve and basic menu. . It makes the grey look black. I prefer the look of it compared to the greyscale only. hope to hear some more feedbacks from you guys if which do you prefer.
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