Help with creating black & white

Susanne

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Hi everyone!
Could you please give me some pointers about creating black and white images? I assume it's not only to make it monochrome and then be happy, I guess there are other things I should do to make it a GOOD black and white image?
I use Photoshop CC and the black and white adjustment layer. I don't really have any experience with black and white so I probably wouldn't be good at seeing if it's good or bad. Any input is welcome!
And in case you wonder, I'm choosing black and white because the colours are still weird also after some fixing in Lightroom and they look really cool in black and white.
 

BosseBe

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The NIK Collection, NIK Silver EFEX is a popular way to do B&W, nowadays it is owned by DxO and version 3 is just out, but I think you can still find the original free one for download.
As far as I know it plugs in to LR or PS.
Edit: Here is a link to the free 2012 version: https://nikcollection.dxo.com/nik-collection-2012/

I use DxO PL4 and the DxO Filmpack to get B&W film emulations, I am not a LR & PS user.
Edit: in DxO Filmpack (at least in the Elite version) there is B&W channel mixer so you can control how different colours look in B&W. PS or LR should have something corresponding.
 
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Susanne

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Thank you, I found the colour channel thing, and I'm fiddling around with it now.
 

Susanne

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I'm so bad at image processing, I never know if what I do is good. 🙈 I think I've been watching too many critique sessions on YouTube.
 

RichardC

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I'm so bad at image processing, I never know if what I do is good. 🙈 I think I've been watching too many critique sessions on YouTube.

You could get a free trial (mine was 1st month free) on linkedin learning (Lynda.com) and look at their structured Photoshop courses (Deke McLelland who wrote the Dummies book has a basic/advanced/expert course). I have posted a few times that I felt they were very helpful.

Although youtube is free, it's not structured.

With Photoshop, leaving the image as RGB and playing with the sliders in a black and white adjustment layer is indeed a good start. Many people make the mistake of simply converting to monochrome.
 

Susanne

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You could get a free trial (mine was 1st month free) on Lynda.com and look at their structured Photoshop courses (Deke McLelland who wrote the Dummies book has a basic/advanced/expert course). I have posted a few times that I felt they were very helpful.

Although youtube is free, it's not structured.

With Photoshop, leaving the image as RGB and playing with the sliders in a black and white adjustment layer is indeed a good start. Many people make the mistake of simply converting to monochrome.

Yes, that's what I've done in the past, but I started a graphic design course on Udemy recently which includes basics of PS, Illustrator and Indesign, and it was there I first learned about these colour adjustments. I haven't been able to do those classes in a while but will continue next week. The only problem (in the photography context, at least) is that they only teach what is relevant for graphic design projects, not pure photography projects. I've been thinking of buying Photoshop courses on Udemy since they still have very good prices, but I've waited with it because during the lockdowns I've bought courses that'll keep me busy for a year or so! But, learning Photoshop decently would help with a lot of things.
 

BosseBe

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I'm so bad at image processing, I never know if what I do is good. 🙈 I think I've been watching too many critique sessions on YouTube.
Trust your own senses, if you think it is good the premier judge (you) has given the verdict! What others think are just their opinion.
Also if you want to learn by doing I can recommend the Post Processing Challenge (https://www.mu-43.com/threads/60-hour-post-processing-challenge-616.110069/ maybe 16 hours to go on this one) that we have on the forum, I have been doing it for a couple of years and I have learned a lot!
You get so many different pictures to play with and see so many entries from others that will tell you how they have done it if you ask, (it says in the rules that we should explain what we have done, but I at least have gotten lazy).
 

Hendrik

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Have a look at this very useful post from The Online Photographer. As with any kind of communication, identify your intended takeaway and develop the piece to achieve that. Beyond that, it's all jazz.
 

RichardC

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Yes, that's what I've done in the past, but I started a graphic design course on Udemy recently which includes basics of PS, Illustrator and Indesign, and it was there I first learned about these colour adjustments. I haven't been able to do those classes in a while but will continue next week. The only problem (in the photography context, at least) is that they only teach what is relevant for graphic design projects, not pure photography projects. I've been thinking of buying Photoshop courses on Udemy since they still have very good prices, but I've waited with it because during the lockdowns I've bought courses that'll keep me busy for a year or so! But, learning Photoshop decently would help with a lot of things.

I haven't seen the udemy courses. I'll take a look - my daughter wants to learn Illustrator - although there is so much Adobe based stuff on linkedin/lynda that my own subscription should keep her busy for a year or so ;)
 

Susanne

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Trust your own senses, if you think it is good the premier judge (you) has given the verdict! What others think are just their opinion.
Also if you want to learn by doing I can recommend the Post Processing Challenge (https://www.mu-43.com/threads/60-hour-post-processing-challenge-616.110069/ maybe 16 hours to go on this one) that we have on the forum, I have been doing it for a couple of years and I have learned a lot!
You get so many different pictures to play with and see so many entries from others that will tell you how they have done it if you ask, (it says in the rules that we should explain what we have done, but I at least have gotten lazy).

That challenge sounds like a lot of fun!! Won't be able to do it this time as I'm busy the next few days but I'll definitely look into it later, could be a good way for me to become friends with image processing 😁
And thanks for your first comment, I need to learn that - to trust my own senses, skill, and "eye".
 

Susanne

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I haven't seen the udemy courses. I'll take a look - my daughter wants to learn Illustrator - although there is so much Adobe based stuff on linkedin/lynda that my own subscription should keep her busy for a year or so ;)

I don't know about Lynda but for everything Adobe on Udemy, I highly recommend everything by Daniel Walter Scott, a teacher from New Zealand living in Ireland, I did his InDesign courses and he's an incredibly inspiring teacher, he does courses in all the Adobe stuff. I've bought several of his other courses, including Illustrator and XD, I really look forward to starting them.
 

AaronE

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A great B&W images starts with the photographer. Its all about the shadows and the highlights. Expose for the highlights so there is no loss of detail in them and let the shadows fall where they may. Get true black in your image. Bright colors make for better B&W images. B&W landscapes need to have clouds in the sky. Find a B&W photo you like and try to recreate it as best you can from capture through post processing. If you shoot in RAW after you have created your B&W conversion try playing with the white balance slider. Does your camera have a B&W setting? If so, try taking photos in B&W to see how they come out. I prefer to take images in color and convert to B&W since like the flexibility of the RAW image. There are many a fantastic B&W photographers out there that only shoot in jpeg. Lightroom has really come a long way in B&W conversion options. Nik is still better, but more complicated, and more steps. Topaz B&W is not bad but I find it more complicated than Nik or Lightroom.

Good luck and have fun.
 

melanieylang

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Hi Susanne,

What are you shooting with? Many mirrorless cameras now have the option to shoot with a monochrome viewfinder, so you can pre-visualise your shot in black and white without committing only to a monochrome image.

As a JPEG-only shooter, I prefer to set up my image style in camera, for example using L Monochrome D photo style in Panasonic, Grainy Black and White Art Filter in Olympus, or Acros film simulation in Fujifilm, and tweaking the custom settings to get me further to my intended result. Then I edit with Snapseed app - I never got my head around Photoshop - the learning curve was simpler for me, and I'm happy with the outcome.

Best wishes on your journey into the dark side!

Cheers,
Melanie
 
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mfturner

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@susannemcom , a lot of the replies relate to the mechanics of how to convert an image to B&W, but I also find it helpful to think about what makes a photo successful in bw vs color. A lot of successful color images can be boring in bw, bw requires a stronger composition imo. I like Peter Forsgard's take on bw, such as here:


I also think some of the digital color image rules don't always translate to bw. For example in this Rob Trek video, he takes many photos comparing bw film to digital bw images of the same subject and view. The differences are subtle, but mostly I like the film images better. Reviewing the video, I think it's partly because the film images are more brightly exposed than the digital images, the years of hearing "don't blow out your highlights" digitally seems to lead to slightly duller black and grey images to me.

 

mumu

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There are tons of useful Youtube videos that show you how to create B&W images in LR. Since you already have LR, I don't think it's worth the effort to export to Photoshop just to create B&W images; LR already has a lot of very useful tools. You should also learn how to make local adjustments which, IMO, is key to boosting your processing abilities.

One of many examples:
 

Susanne

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Hi Susanne,

What are you shooting with? Many mirrorless cameras now have the option to shoot with a monochrome viewfinder, so you can pre-visualise your shot in black and white without committing only to a monochrome image.

I'm sorry I never got back to you, I got busy and didn't do much photography for a while and definitely not black and white. But I shoot with an Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark 2, various lenses. Recently I started fiddling again with my colour disaster gig photos from last winter, because we needed monochrome images for a competition between camera clubs. It's quite fun to fiddle around with it in Lightroom but I'm very much a beginner at it.

I see there are lots of linked videos on this thread that I haven't seen, I haven't used the forum for a while so I have lots to check out here. But I'll also look into my menu to see what monochrome options there are in my camera.
 

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