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Trying to convert color pictures to B&W, but not getting the results I want

Discussion in 'Retouching and Post Processing' started by Debbie H, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007
    Hi, I've tried and tried to get better black and white photos. This would be on on people photos. The skin always looks grey. I than will play with curves, levels, and the whole list of color channels with the black and white photo. If you have a great Black and white conversion tutorial I would love to have you explain it to me. Working in PSCS3. Thanks so very much!! :smile:
  2. leahp26


    Apr 28, 2008
    Southern NH
    Hi Debbie

    I am FAR from being any type of PS expert but here are a few things that have worked for me:

    This Tutuki tutorial worked pretty well when I tried it - I got nice bright whites:

    I really like the miabella actions (you have to purchase these but there is some kind of sale at the moment) - the color action and the b/w action are pretty nice in my opinion. Here is the address http://actions.leahprofancik.com/

    Finally, sometimes I'll just make a duplicate layer of the photo, change to "screen" and adjust the opacity - can be just enough to lift the photo.

    Good luck - I'll be interested in seeing the answers from people with more experience!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2008
  3. Depending on skin tones, the red, orange, and yellow sliders are your friends in the convertion process. I can't share all my secrets, but play with those and you will discover your own. ;-)
  4. Debbie can you post an example? I like to use the gradient map, it gives a nice, contrasty B&W, which I then tweak with levels. You can spend hours making B&W, with adjusting individual color channels and such, I don't.
  5. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007
    This picture was taken last year. Good gosh I think that I desaturated it and played with the contrast on it. As I look at it now it is way to dark for starters. I want the skin to look not so grey.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2008
  6. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007

    Thanks Leah! I will check them out. :smile:
  7. Good Evening, there are some good black and
    white actions at Action Central if you know the look you want...

    Also some nice filters for B&W in Virtual Photographer
    which is free, and works in CS3.
  8. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007
    Thanks Johnny I will look at it. Debbie:smile:

    Well Peano I have tried several different conversions. Desaturate and play with the contrast. Grayscale and the same. Channel Mixer and tried one of Scott Kelby's conversions Using the lightness channel. Just never get that look like I have seen that I really like.Thanks!!:smile:

    Thanks Matt!!:smile:

    You know Rodney I have heard a lot about using the Gradient Map but have never found a tutorial on it. I have never actually ever used the Gradient Map for anything:redface: I would like to know more about the Gradient Map. If you know where a tutorial is that would be Great!!! Thanks, Debbie:smile:
  9. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007
    Thanks Slim, I do have Virtual Photographer and I really love it. I'm not so sure but it has been a long time ago that I didn't use it for this picture. I tried so many different conversions for this B&W that I can't remember which one I decided on. Thanks!! Debbie:smile:
  10. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007

    Thanks Peano! Will do!:smile:
  11. I have been trying to learn CS3 on my own this summer.

    Sources that have worked for me:

    -This forum has been very very helpful.

    -Scott Kelby's 7-Point System for CS3

    -You Tube. I have done searches on You Tube and found some good stuff. e.g.,
    This is PhotoShop Mama ..... I used this video to take a color shot to black and white, then turn part of the photo back into color. She uses a Gradient Map to convert to black and white.

    Good luck.
  12. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007
    Thanks!! I just order Kelby's book last night, kind of ironic. I will check out the youtube link. Debbie:smile:

  13. Debbie H

    Debbie H

    Aug 23, 2007
    Thanks so much everyone for all the info. I'm going to have to sign off I have a terrible headache. Can't hardly see the screen. Debbie
  14. Debbie,

    Another thing I do is figure out what people on what forums are real good with PS. Not only good at doing it but also good at explaining how they did what they did.

    Then I search the forum for that persons user name, and then start reading. I often will copy and paste sections into a word document and then save it in my "photo articles" folder.

    An example would be "Peano", this poster is very helpful and very good .... and this poster posts on another forum .... its all good stuff.

    Good luck,
  15. I don't know of any tutorial for gradient map. Image>adjustsments>gradient map, there are lots of choices, the black and white one is I think the third one from the left.
  16. Nacho


    Dec 29, 2007
    Salem, Oregon
    Hi Debbie,

    You've received good pointers already, all I would say is to hang in there. BW does take time, and the joy of practicing it so that in doing it for a while you pick up what you like, what works for you, what look you aim for and what images work best as conversions, etc. That is indeed the other thing, some images are just not so good for BW. I would say the image you posted is probably not the best for BW. Do you have a few others you've been trying to convert?

    I would recommend one of the tried and true conversions like the Diaz one, but then strike out and modify and play and figure out your own style (the Diaz style won't be good for every type of image).

    Here's a good book for starting out:

    Leslie Alsheimer's (with Bryan O'Neil Hughes), Black and White in Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop Lightroom (Focal Press, 2007).

    It has various approaches, and a gives a nice understanding of BW conversion in those programs. Paired with a good book about composition and shooting for Black and White, it will get you up to speed quickly on Photoshop conversion.

    By the way, do continue to explore the channel mixer. It is a great way to explore BW.


  17. Lowolf


    Jan 26, 2006
    duplicate the image set mode to screen which will brighten it lower opacity then create layer mask paint
  18. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    I have one on my blog.
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