Whats a good *free* plugin or tutorial for converting color to Black and White?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by GamePlayer No. 1058, Mar 17, 2005.

  1. I'm currently working on my midterm project for my photography class at the
    local Uni. Im trying to convert some color photos into Black and White.
    Most of my efforts look okay to me, but upon critiques from other people
    (whos work I admire and like), Im usually told the tones look muddy.

    Is there a really good tutorial or even a really good plugin for either
    photoshop or paintshop pro that would convert my color photos to black and
    white and have good tone values.

    I dont mind doing it manually myself if I could find a good (easy for the
    layman to understand) tutorial using either of the afore mentioned tutorials
    to guide me through it.

    GamePlayer No. 1058, Mar 17, 2005
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  2. How about posting some of your efforts so we can see for ourselves?

    How have you been doing it?
    I've looked into the same question, and there are a LOT of methods.
    One really simple one is to convert to LAB color, then throw out the
    A and B channels.

    Another is to use the Channel Mixer with monochrome output. Here,
    you choose which channel(s) to use. I recommend emphasizing the
    green channel.

    Afterwards, play with levels or contrast or curves to bring up the
    contrast. Pay close attention to the histogram, so as not to clip
    highlights or shadows -- or at least so that when you do clip, you
    do so advisedly.

    Here are a few images I've made this way:


    In the end, the best images all seem to come from experimentation
    and unique adjustments ... but I'm hoping that as I get better at
    this, I'll find repeatable procedures for good results.

    Ben Rosengart, Mar 17, 2005
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  3. GamePlayer No. 1058

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    Here's my favorite way to do it in Photoshop (I have Elements 2, but
    most other versions should work, too):

    Open a photo in PS. Add an adjustment layer for levels. Leave it alone
    for now (just click OK). Add an adjustment level for hue/saturation.
    Turn saturation down to -100 and leave the rest of the sliders alone.
    This will make the image monochrome.

    Now go back to the levels adjustment layer (double-click on it to get
    the level adjustment dialog) and change the gamma for the different
    colors (R, G, and B). Play around with them. This is where you can
    really tweak whatever problems you're having with 'muddiness.'

    The benefit of this is that it's completely undoable and reversible. If
    you find a setting you like and want to keep it, you can just make it
    invisible and add another levels adjustment layer for further tweaking.
    Paul Mitchum, Mar 18, 2005
  4. GamePlayer No. 1058

    PTRAVEL Guest

    What a great tip! I just tried it and it works wonderfully.

    Thanks for posting it.
    PTRAVEL, Mar 18, 2005
  5. GamePlayer No. 1058

    jfitz Guest

    Try the free Virtual Photography plug-in from optikVerve Labs
    http://www.optikvervelabs.com/ . It offers a variety of black and white
    conversion options that I have found most useful.
    jfitz, Mar 18, 2005
  6. I get best results using the channel mixer in photoshop. Select
    monochrome mode, and then make whatever combination you think works
    well for that picture (which is to say, you're essentially playing
    with color filters over the lens on B&W film after the fact). For
    portraits, I find emphasizing the red channel at 50% or higher is
    often productive.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Mar 18, 2005
  7. GamePlayer No. 1058

    Ken Chandler Guest

    Russell Brown is a god :).

    Towards the bottom of this page: http://www.russellbrown.com/tips_tech.html,
    under Photoshop 7 tips look for "Seeing in Black & White". The tip works
    under CS too.

    I'm sure you'll find something else of interest on the page too.


    Ken Chandler
    Ken Chandler, Mar 18, 2005
  8. GamePlayer No. 1058

    rob polder Guest

    Paul, this is a great tip (for those of us using Photoshop Elements)!
    I find using a slightly different trick does the same, even a bit more
    add an adjustment layer for hue/saturation and leave it alone for now;
    then add adjustment layer for hue/saturation (call it b&w), turn saturation
    down to -100;
    go back to first hue/sat layer, select "color" in menu window, double click,
    select one of the colors and play around with its hue.
    if you do not see anything happening, try again with the two layers made in
    reverse order (I have to try this again and again, can't remember).
    For portraits it works for me with red at about -20 or -30, then shift
    yellow a bit. "best" settings probably depends on a lot of things (lighting
    type, camera, iso etc)
    lots of fun, rob
    some of my pictures treated like this can be seen on (studio 2005)
    rob polder, Mar 18, 2005
  9. GamePlayer No. 1058

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    It's a theme with a lot of variations. The main idea is to use effects
    layers with the topmost one being saturation -100 and then alter the
    color balance in an underlying one. One could even change the color
    balance for different parts of the picture, with complementary layer
    masks on a number of layers, emphasising, say, red in one area and blue
    in another.

    Which is a lot of math just to end up with a black and white picture.
    Paul Mitchum, Mar 18, 2005
  10. I am disappointed to note that this program is for Windows only.
    Ben Rosengart, Mar 19, 2005
  11. I am disappointed to note that this program is for Windows only.
    Ben Rosengart, Mar 19, 2005
  12. Time to upgrade then!

    David J Taylor, Mar 20, 2005
  13. GamePlayer No. 1058

    Newsie Guest

    Newsie, Mar 23, 2005
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