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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Question about B&W conversion.
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12/26/2013 12:52:03 PM · #1
This next year I want to explore Black and white photography. Although I will dabble a bit with street stuff, small town Utah falls short in providing many opportunities. What we do have around here is landscapes in abundance, (situated between St George and Zion National Park). Tones ranging from black rocks to snow on Utah mountain, with yellows, grays, off white, and several shades of red rock.
The Question. Every time I convert to B&W,( and I have tried several ways) the reds always look horrible, and reds are the predominate colors around here. I have Photoshop CC, and Topaz Detail, and no money for anything else, how do I get the reds to look reasonable?
12/26/2013 01:29:38 PM · #2
Can we see an example of one that has a problem with the reds?

12/26/2013 01:34:03 PM · #3
There are a huge range of possibilities when using the channel mixer in PS. Try it if you haven't already until you can afford Nik Silver Efex. Once you use Nik Silver Efex all your B&W conversion problems will be solved.
12/26/2013 01:34:27 PM · #4
A pity you can't get either Nik silver effex or Topaz b/w - they're excellent in tweaking each color separately during the conversion. But definitely post something here for us to look at. Also, when you say PS CC, is that ONLY PS, no Lightroom?
12/26/2013 01:40:33 PM · #5
If you're serious about learning about B&W conversion, From Oz To Kansas will teach you an amazing amount about the topic. I warn you, however, that he spends seven chapters painfully dissecting the conversion process using Photoshop, then in the last chapter does the same conversions just as well using about 10 steps in Silver Efex.
12/26/2013 01:41:31 PM · #6
SEP2 tutorial

NIK Collection 15 day free trial

Use a RAW file for your conversion

Aperture for Macs. Lightroom for PCs.
12/26/2013 02:01:33 PM · #7
LOL, when I say no money, in this case it's 0. Laid off because I need knee replacement, can't find a decent job because <---.
Ann, I will try to find a place that will host a raw file. If cory checks in I can ask him.
Richard, I will try that 3erd option..Thanks..

Message edited by author 2013-12-26 14:12:45.
12/26/2013 02:21:42 PM · #8
Channel mixer in photoshop. Read up on it. Red channel is often a problem in desert. Work with green and blue and just a small part of red, for your conversion.
12/26/2013 02:27:53 PM · #9
Thanks Robert, I have used Channel mixer, maybe playing with the reds too much, will try your method..
12/26/2013 02:30:22 PM · #10
Methods of Black and White Conversion (DPC Tutorial)

ETA: I sometimes just convert to Grayscale, sometimes I use the Channel Mixer in Monochrome mode, and sometimes I copy one of the channels and paste it into a new Grayscale document -- usually the Green channel if I want smooth tones, or the Blue channel if I want to accentuate the grainy look.

Message edited by author 2013-12-26 14:32:46.
12/26/2013 02:38:01 PM · #11
Ok gonna goof around in channel mixer, slaps hand, leave the red channel alone..:)
12/26/2013 02:42:04 PM · #12
Maybe you could post a JPEG of a typical shot (and the previously unsatisfactory B&W conversion) and we can all try different techniques. It's easier to offer effective advice if we can see the problem(s) you're dealing with.
12/26/2013 03:05:20 PM · #13
I'm headed out here in a few for a new photo, will post on this thread in a bit..
12/26/2013 05:38:00 PM · #14
This is the type of photo I have problems converting.
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No changes, converted from raw, turned into JPEG.
12/26/2013 05:43:08 PM · #15
Originally posted by see:

This is the type of photo I have problems converting.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/65000-69999/68769/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096223.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/65000-69999/68769/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096223.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
No changes, converted from raw, turned into JPEG.


First thing I notice with this image is a lack of contrast. To me, B&W photography is all about the proper contrast. Color can hide contrast issues somewhat, B&W cannot.

So before getting too deep into converting to B&W, first make sure the photo has really nice contrast.
12/26/2013 05:44:50 PM · #16
Originally posted by see:

This is the type of photo I have problems converting.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/65000-69999/68769/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096223.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/65000-69999/68769/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096223.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
No changes, converted from raw, turned into JPEG.

Great -- I'll have a go at it a little later this afternoon.

What type of "look" are you trying to achieve?
12/26/2013 05:51:16 PM · #17
Here's the big JPG run through the raw converter again to get a better tonal range to work with; that's your first step.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30861/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096225.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30861/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096225.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Now I'll do a conversion...
12/26/2013 06:10:46 PM · #18
Standard SEP2 conversion
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/50000-54999/54446/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096229.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/50000-54999/54446/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096229.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
12/26/2013 06:14:14 PM · #19
LOL I was presenting it as close to original as possible.
Paul, I'm trying to get the subtle contrast changes I'm losing when I'm processing.
12/26/2013 06:23:22 PM · #20
And here's a dramatic B/W conversion with PS B/W filter, tweaking the channels, plus levels, contrast, gradients top and bottom, and vignette added :-)

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30861/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096231.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30861/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096231.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I probably should lighten it a little...

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30861/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096232.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30861/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096232.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Message edited by author 2013-12-26 18:27:43.
12/26/2013 06:25:05 PM · #21
Richard, Thats usually what I end up with. I'm not insulting, but I know the grays can be better and thats what I wish to prefect.
12/26/2013 06:29:56 PM · #22
Robert, maybe a little dark, but closer to what I'm looking to do
12/26/2013 06:31:18 PM · #23
Originally posted by giantmike:

Originally posted by see:

This is the type of photo I have problems converting.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/65000-69999/68769/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096223.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/65000-69999/68769/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1096223.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
No changes, converted from raw, turned into JPEG.


First thing I notice with this image is a lack of contrast. To me, B&W photography is all about the proper contrast. Color can hide contrast issues somewhat, B&W cannot.

So before getting too deep into converting to B&W, first make sure the photo has really nice contrast.


I completely agree with what Mike wrote. I saw the original on Bear's monitor a few minutes ago and my first reaction was "but there's almost no contrast"
12/26/2013 06:33:01 PM · #24
Robert your second one is there. I'll start trying to emulate it "somehow" LOL..
12/26/2013 06:34:43 PM · #25
Originally posted by see:

Richard, Thats usually what I end up with. I'm not insulting, but I know the grays can be better and thats what I wish to prefect.

No offense taken. You provided a JPG file. If you use a RAW image, the possibilities become much greater. Converting to JPG discards about 90% of the image data. Bear-Music's effort is commendable.

The other tip I have is to try f/11 for that scene with 78mm lens focal length and Canon 1D. (Rather than f/22)

Message edited by author 2013-12-26 18:43:07.
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