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02-08-2008, 05:51 PM   #1
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Converting Colour photos to B&W ?

Hi all

I was recently invited to take some informal photographs of an engaged couple, so I naturally did the shoot in colour.
They were delighted with the actual pictures, but have asked me if it is possible to convert some of these images into
black & white ones, in order that they can select the nicest shot for inclusion in the wedding invitation card. Having never attempted this B&W process before, I'm seeking advice as to which method would be preferable for achieving the best results.
I currently use Paint Shop Pro V.8, which has a 'Greyscale' option as well as an 'Enhance Photo' 'One Step Photo Fix' mode.
Will this 2-step process yield the best outcome, or are there some other stages to consider ? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated....

Best regards

Last edited by Confused; 02-08-2008 at 06:34 PM.
02-08-2008, 06:03 PM   #2
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I'm using the trial version of Adobe Lightroom & it has greyscale & I think even a few more black & white-type options. Heck, I think even Picasa (free) might do something like this. As to 'the best' results, I'd do a few variances & let your clients pick which ones they like the best.
02-08-2008, 06:06 PM   #3
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I use psp X and photoshop 7, and have used convert to greyscale to make B&W out of color photos. The nice thing about digital is you can experiment to your hearts content until you get the result you want, just remember to save with a different filename before you start playing..
02-08-2008, 06:10 PM   #4
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Hi Glen_S

I have tried using just the greyscale conversion, but because the indoors photos were taken using the K10D's pop-up flash, some of the images look slightly 'washed-out' to my eyes ? The additional 'One Step Fix' tends to make the B&W images more clearly defined IMHO !

Best regards

Last edited by Confused; 02-08-2008 at 06:35 PM.
02-08-2008, 06:12 PM   #5
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can Paint Shop Pro use photoshop plugins?

I would time and again recommend Cybia - Digital Resource Studio for their "B&W Plus" plugin. It mimics the effect traditional color filters used with B&W film photography. (red, yellow, green etc)

And it's free... actually a lot of their stuff is freeware, a few of the plugins you have to pay for - but they have trial versions for the pay ones too. But the B&W Plus is totally freeware.
02-08-2008, 06:13 PM   #6
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Confused - you said you shot them in color mode.

Out of curiousity, can the K10 shoot in B&W mode? I just unwrapped mine last night and haven't had enough play time with it yet to see..
02-08-2008, 06:23 PM   #7
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Hi Glen_S

On P.97 of the instruction manual, there is mention of a B&W Filter. However, the couple naturally assumed the photos would be taken in colour, so the B&W option was an afterthought on their part. I have PSP Photo X2 on my other laptop, so I might investigate the free plug-in you mentioned, if it works with X2. Anyhow, thanks for the suggestion.

Best regards
02-08-2008, 06:47 PM   #8
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Hi Confused,

I've been spending allot of time trying to learn the process of BW conversion from colour.

I am no expert.

But here are some things I have dicovered in the processs:

1. Greyscale conversion is generally considerd the worst way to make a photo black and white
2. Picasa has a BW conversion option that includes the use of filters. So you can do things like add a green filter for a portiat, or use orange or red filters to darken a blue sky.
3. Idimager Lite (free version) has a BW conversion tool that is sort of a preset colour channel based conversion. It can be adjusted for contrast, and generally give the effect of either a orange or red filter. For a fast conversion, it is one of my favorite tools.
4. The people that are really good at BW conversion tend to use the chanel mixer option found in Photoshop, Gimp, Paintshop etc. They (not me yet) will adjust the colour ratios with the mixer set at "mono", they add layers to simulate the look and depth of a silver halide print. I have seen techniques listed with 30+ steps. This is one of those "take it to the next level things"
5. I also use Gimp with a BW film simulator plug in. It tries to replicate the look of a variety of film types and speeds. I use it after a BW conversion with a colour filter. Generally it gives a good effect.
6. There will always be a better way that your don't yet know. I'll be following this thread waiting for one of the "next level" BW converters to post their method.
7. B/W conversion is a difficult topic to search for on this forum due to the four character limit.

Good luck! and I hope this can become a great thread with allot of methodes discussed.


02-08-2008, 07:35 PM   #9
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There are lots of ways to go about it. As KungPOW said, just one-clicking it to grayscale is generally considered to give the worst results. Although a one-click desaturate is just as bad, I think.

I've seen very good results with using the channel mixer, but using it is an art I can't get the hang of. What I typically do is to decompose to RGB layers and then remix the layers in differing blend modes and percentages to achieve what I'm looking for.

Is there some technical reason why the photo must be b&w for the invitations? Or is it just a style preference?
02-08-2008, 07:44 PM   #10
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Hi Mike

Re your point:

Is there some technical reason why the photo must be b&w for the invitations? Or is it just a style preference?
I don't really know yet, but she simply asked if it was possible so the couple must obviously have a good reason for wanting it done that way. I tend to agree that from what I have seen thus far, the greyscale option alone gives a fairly unsatisfactory result.

Best regards
02-08-2008, 08:22 PM   #11
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For me it's always Channel Mixer in CS2. I start out with 30/60/10 and adjust it from there. I've tried a lot of different starting configurations for it, and that one usually gets closest to what I'm drawn to personally.

Then I adjust the curves with the goal of approximating the look of Tri-x (my 135 and 120 film of choice), although it invariably falls short. That's why I still shoot a lot of film.

But it is very much more art than science. Being a scientist an not an artist, it definitely takes some trial and error. Mostly error.
02-08-2008, 09:22 PM   #12
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I don't know if PSP has an option like PS...Image > Adjustments > Black and White...

I try to use a preset or filter for ease, but I will fine tune Levels regardless.
02-08-2008, 09:59 PM   #13
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As mentiooned above, have a look at Picassa 2 (Free) it has a very easy to use conversion to B&W among many other effects. Being free makes it easily accessible.
02-08-2008, 10:23 PM   #14
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Get Photoshop for best results

Converting to greyscale to get B&W images is probably the least recommended method.

Well there are several methods to do B&W conversion using Photoshop. This excludes the many plug-ins or filters.

I'll share it here FREE for the benefit of all.

1) Method 1: Grayscale

One of the simplest ways to achieve a B&W image. Little control and usually needs to be tweaked with other tools for better contrast but noise levels isn't too bad. Much better than desaturating by Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation or Image>Adjustments>Desaturate

2) Method 2: Channel Mixer
Image>Adjustments>Channel Mixer or
New Adjustment Layer>Channel Mixer

Probably the most common and popular hands-on method. With the dialogue box open select the monochrome box on bottom left. Adjust the red, green and blue sliders. Move the sliders right to brighten the particular channel and left to darken them. This method can mimic the effect of traditional B&W filters on film very well.

3) Method 3: Lab Colour or Lightness Channel
Image>Lab Mode.
Then bring up the Channels window visible on the right. Window>Channels. Click on the Lightness Channel to make it active. Then go to Image>Greyscale. Photoshop will prompt to ask if you want to discard the other channels. Click OK and you are left with a grey channel. At this stage you usually find an image that has very smooth tonality but flat. The next step will fix that.

Duplicate the layer (Command-J on Mac/Ctrl-J on PC). In the Layers window, click on the new layer and change the Blend mode to Screen (to lighten it) or Multiply (to darken it). Next adjust the opacity of the layer using the slider to your preference. Flatten and save.

4) Method 4: Calculations Method

In essence this method combines 2 channels to produce a new greyscale image. In the default setting, the dialogue box lists out the Red channel in Source 1 and the Red channel in Source 2. You will need to change one of the channels from either Source 1 or Source 2 to anything other than Red, usually Green or Blue.

Your next step is to select the Blend mode. The default is Multiply (which darkens) or you can switch to Overlay. Adjust the Opacity setting to your preference. Once you're satisfied, you can then click on the Result pull down menu at the bottom. Select New Document. Click OK, then go to Mode>Greyscale.

5) Method 5: Gradient Map
Press D on the keyboard to make the default colour Black/White
Image>Adjustments>Gradient Map or better
New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map

In this method as the name suggests, you're mapping a black and white gradient over a coloured image. Very quick and simple but control can be limited. If you use an adjustment layer you can also desaturate the coloured background layer.

Obviously there are a few more methods but you won't go wrong with the above. Photoshop CS3's new B&W adjustment layer alone is worth the price of the upgrade from Photoshop CS2 as it really makes adjustments dead easy. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom which uses the Photoshop engine is another excellent alternative.

Please go and experiment the above methods and find your preferred one. Cheers.
02-08-2008, 10:59 PM   #15
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No one's mentioned GIMP, it's free and has a Channel Mixer, a de-saturate feature, and several other features.

It's what I usually use while working with my Pentax files.

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