The subject for January was part one of a two part series on Black and White Photography. Forty-nine pictures were submitted. The assignment is available here. Ed Auger's class presentation is here. All of the pictures are available for review in the Black & White 11-01 album.

Black and White Conversion Demo

At the time of our January meeting I had just started viewing Versace's "Return to Oz: From Oz to Kansas 2.0". The first demonstration was the image below. The thesis was there are many ways to create a grey image. All ways are equally correct . . . or incorrect. The challenge is to pick the way that creates a and white composition that best presents the emotion you had when you took the picture. Depending on the image, Versace uses any method available as well as combining various methods to create the composition he saw when he took the picture.

We need to "think out of the box". When our normal methods don't create the effect we want then we need to explore other avenues.

This is the original image.
Converted straight from RGB to Grey Scale
RGB to Lab to Grey to RGB, looks suspiciously like converting directly to grey above
RGB to Lab, delete the ab color channels, back to grey then RGB
Using the Hue/Saturation layer, take the saturation directly to 0.

Surprise, surprise - there is no color!
Use a gradient map. This is a very flexible method

Image:  Guy Huntley

Camera: Photoshop only

Rolling Wheel

We included this image because it shows how radically an image can change simply by adjusting the color sliders in the B&W conversion panel.

Original Image
This is the submitted image. No notes on the conversion but probably a grey scale conversion
Lightroom adjusted: Red +93, Orange +49, Yellow 0, Green -23, Aqua -87
Lightroom adjusted: Red -16, Orange -22, Yellow -24, Green -39, Aqua +26,
Blue +15, Purple +12, Magenta -5

Photographer:  Ed Auger

1/125 sec @ f / 2.8; 7.43 mm = 28 mm@35mm; ISO 100; no Flash; Minolta DiMage 7

Mountain Lake Reflections

This is a excellent photo for a B&W conversion. There are blues, greens, and a little reds and oranges to work with. The picture itself has a lot of drama with the early morning sun streaming through the canyon on the left.

This is the original image
No grey conversion details provided
Lightroom only: Blue -33, Aqua -2, Yellow -29, Green -14, Point Curve: medium contrast, Brightness: +67, Fill Light: 6, Added graduated filter to darken the upper right corner to highlight the shaft of light.

Photographer:  R.E. (Ron) Marabito

Camera Settings: Canon EOS 5D, Spot metering, Manual exposure, no Flash, ISO: 100,

Babbling Brook

This is another interesting photo from Ron. It was made somewhat more complicated because the accompanying B&W photo was not the same photo, it was made ten minutes later. I would have saved some time if I looked at the EXIF data before trying to make a crop look the same.

This is the original image
This is the accompanying black & white image. In retrospect it is now obviously not the same picture.
This is a straight B&W layer conversion. The problem is the B&W version color adjustments are global. Silver Efex Pro makes local adjustments easier.
This is using Silver Efex Pro. The cliffs were darkened, more structure was added. The green trees and schrubs were darkened to add contrast. The foreground brook was lightened to add drama. The sky was lightened.

Photographer:  R.E. (Ron) Marabito

Camera Settings: EOS 5D, Spot metering, Manual Exposure, no Flash, ISO 100, 0 EV ias, Focal Length: 14 mm, 1/25 sec @ f / 22

Washington Vietnam Way Memorial

This is a very powerful image that lends itself well to black and white. The challenge is: how to treat it. I took some time with this one because it is complicated. Following the rule that the eye is attracted to bright, sharp, colorful subjects. The soldiers are dark in the shade. The background is colorful, bright, and equally well focused.

Fourteen panels are provided below to follow how the final picture was developed. Some may object to the "Terminator" look of the soldiers. Perhaps the soldiers would look better with a bronze pantina. That is easy enough to change with the non-distructive editing available.

Realizing that the fourteen panels below might be a challenge to navigate with a mouse, I took the time to add buttons. It took a couple days to figure out how to make buttons work.

This is the original image
This was the black and white provided. The soldiers are very dark. The eye is attracted to the sky in the background then to the lawn. The background could be masked out and blurred. But the bright sky is still there.
This is the first grey scale conversion. The problems are even more obvious. a Black & White layer added with no mask.
Next a curves layer was added to bring out the contrast in the soldiers. Without a mask the background is really blown out.
So then a mask was created for the soldiers that allowed the back ground to be masked out. The soldiers are not definitely visible. The background is still a challenge but not as bad.
Perhaps a colored background would be interesting. The same mask was applied to the B&W layer. This is more interesting but too much color. The skies are still too right.
An inverted mask of the soldiers was applied to a Hue/Saturation layer and the saturation was reduced.
A levels panel was added to darken the background. This is better but the sky is still too bright. And the soldiers are too dark.
Now the soldiers were too dark. So the Hue/Saturation mask was applied Levels panel. The foreground follage was too dark so a dark to clear gradient filter was added to the foreground.
The sky was still a problem. It needs to be darker to reflect a blue sky. The sky was masked out to see a blue background. This sky is too dark and colorful.
Made it more of a pastel shade to match the desaturated background. The opacity of the Sky Mix was reduced showing the white background until a suitable effect was observed.
This is a mask of the soldiers used in four of the panels.
This is the same mask with the gradient added to mask out the darkening of the foreground follaige in the levels panel.
I hate odd numbers. This 14th panel was added to show the layers and the layer comps.

Photographer:  John Esch

Camera Settings: Not available

Old Stone Cross

This is an interesting picture by Dean Singleton. I thought the dark cross in the B&W rendition would loook better if it wasn't competing with the dark background gravestones, trees, and red flowers. Editing in lightroom provided some relief by lightening up the grass and yellows. But these global adjustments did little for the red folwers, trees, and competing gravestones. The last image was edited in Silver Efex Pro. Local adjustments were made to lighten and soften the compting background elements. Contrast and structure was added to the Old Stone Cross.

This is original color image
This is the B&W image
This was a lightroom adjustment. The objective was to make the dark gravestone stand out against a light background. Lightroom helped but couldn't quite deliver the imageI had in mind. Convert to Black & White, Blue: +36, Orange: +6, Red: +60, Yellow: 66
Silver Efex Pro could selectively lighten and soften the back ground. Contrast and structure was electively added to an already dark cross.

Photographer:  Dean Singleton

Camera Settings: Sony A100, Pattern metering, Normal exposure, no flash, ISO 100, -.7 exposure bias, Focal Length: 50mm / 75mm@35mm, 1/125 sec @ f /6.3