More Black and White tips

I love black and white, so I thought you might too – in which case you might be interested in the following Quick Tips:

  1. Use B&W when the image is too grainy. In B&W pictures, grain can add, rather than detract – or at least it is less distracting.
  2. Set your camera to B&W – even if you shoot RAW. It will not have any effect on the RAW image (at least, no permanent effect), but you will see what you are getting on your LCD display.
  3. If you shot JPG, shoot in Adobe colour, and convert to B&W later.
  4. Use Lightroom rather than other software to convert. Use the Lightroom Develop module’s HSL/Color/Grayscale tool.
  5. In this tool clock on Grayscale and adjust. Lightroom has a great way of doing the standard conversion.
  6. And now, still in that tool, adjust to taste. Add to the “red” and “orange” slider in order to make skin better. Use other controls as needed to add contrast between your subject and the background.

As an illustration, here is an image converted automatically:


Here, I have butchered it (and me – ouch) by dragging ‘orange’ and ‘yellow’ down:


Here, I have done more of an appropriate conversion:


See what I mean? This is equivalent to the old red-yellow-green filters. Except much more interactive and much simpler.

0 thoughts on “More Black and White tips

  1. Well… Adobe has the biggest colour space – meaning it can represent more colours. Cheap monitors and printers cannot represent it well. But you can also go back FROM Adobe TO sRGB. Not the reverse. So the best strategy is to shoot at the highest quality, and then to downgrade to sRGB if you need to show an image in a web browser, on a PC, or print it on a cheap printer. Adobe looks dull, on these platforms.

    If you shoot RAW, none of this matters!

  2. I think that’s an excellent point for lazy photographers like me who often take pictures in JPG rather than RAW: set the camera to use Adobe RGB. That will capture the biggest range of colours.

    Lightroom prefers to convert pictures to Pro Photo RGB upon import. If your picture is shot using sRGB then you’re not using Pro Photo’s full “gamut”.

    Of course if I am even lazier and use one of Canon’s shooting modes like Landscape, Closeup or Action then I think the camera uses sRGB with no choice.

    I wonder if Canon will cooperate with Adobe and support Pro Photo in addition to Adobe RGB on-camera? But if you shoot RAW it does not matter.

  3. If you shoot JPG only and want color (not for the B/W conversion) and shoot in AdobeRGB and later convert to sRGB, then you will loose color information, compared to shooting sRGB right away.

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