Post by John McWilliams Post by Clyde Post by BD
I have some color photos I want to convert to B&W.
My first attempt would be to change to Greyscale mode, but I've been
told that this is an extremely 'brutal' way to do it, and is very
I also tried the Saturation slider, in hopes of retaining more detail.
Are there any strong opinions as to the best way to convert to B&W and
still retain all the image fidelity possible?
One fellow I spoke to mentioned something about adjusting each color
channel separately, but I've not seen any specifics on this process.
http://www.russellbrown.com/tips_tech.html Scroll down to the "Seeing
in Black & White" in the Photoshop 7 area.
I've been using and like that method, too, but I now need to see if
there's a way to do mass B+W conversions for a newspaper that publishes
only B+W. I made an action that sets up the filters, and for processing
a large number of similar files the same way, it's easy enough to set
all the parameters and have the action applied and then flattened.
But for a large number of disparate images from a wide variety of
sources, is there a preferred way to convert to B+W?
I DO use this method for a large number of pictures at a time. I'm a
part-time wedding photographer. I shoot all digital and give all final
pictures to the bride and groom in both color and B&W.
I have Dr. Brown's method in an action that creates the two adjustment
layers. After all the color editing is done, I then go through a few of
the pictures to get a nice average on the Hue that works best. My keys
are to get the skin tones and the bride's dress looking their best in
B&W. That stays pretty consistent throughout a wedding. Actually it
stays pretty much at -100 for all weddings.
I have that action stop so I can manually adjust the layer if I want to.
I have a second action that flattens, converts to Grayscale, and then
converts to Duotone. Well, I have worked out a Tritone that I like with
my wedding pictures; brides seem to like it too.
When I'm happy with it. I make an action that I call Batch. It has
nothing in it but the references to the above two actions. Then I let
File Browser (now Bridge) run that action on the hundreds of pictures in
that wedding. Minutes later I have lovely B&W versions of all the
pictures. It's very simple, quick, and lovely.
I have been know to go back and manually redo a few of the pictures. I
still have the two actions that I can do with that pause for adjusting
the Hue in the middle and the Duotone at the end. It's still fast and easy.
If all your pictures have complete different lighting, colors, and
contrast this might be a bit difficult. However, I doubt that really is
the case. Look for the key items for your conversion. If skin and
clothes are the key, forget everything else. If the green of the trees
and the sky are the keys, pay no attention to the result of the flowers.
You could also break your workflow up into groups. This group is all the
inside shots of the story with another batch for all the outside shots
of the story. Then you would only have a single adjustment of the Hue in
your action between batch runs.
The big difference between an amateur photographer using Photoshop and a
professional photographer using Photoshop is the workflow. As a pro you
HAVE to automate and make it all go as fast as you can and still get the
top quality. Of course, it is a quality that is needed for the customer
not the theoretical "top" quality. I did a few weddings where I adjusted
the Hue and Duotone nicely fit the mood of small groups of pictures. The
brides didn't notice and it took a lot of work. I do the whole wedding
the same now and the brides love it.
I can't imagine that large groups of pictures for a newspaper couldn't
use my workflow. The final output demands much less "quality" that
wedding photos. I'm sure you could find a Hue that would work good
enough for large batches and no one would notice a thing in the paper
itself. i.e. Don't spend time adjusting the fine gradations of B&W if it
won't show on the newsprint.