Week 11/52 ~ B & W Conversion Immersion

by Heidi Egerman March. 16, 2019 700 views

This week I am scrambling to pull together a post so I can spend the weekend in the garden. Next week we'll hit 67 degrees and things are starting to grow. So far I see rhubarb and lots of weeds. My bare root strawberries came today and need get them in the ground. Work. Work. Work.

This week I have been studying and evaluating conversion methods. Photo editing can be an endless task and I expect this work to pay off down the road. Since I don't want to spend all of my time editing, I want to find solutions that work best in the least amount of time and trouble.

The image I was working with is not remarkable. It needed a Photoshop levels adjustment before I started the conversions. You can see this original color image at the end of this post.

I converted each image using a different method.
1) Adobe Camera Raw
2) Gradient map layer in Photoshop
3) Nix Silver Efex

I was pretty happy with the results. The Nix Silver Efex (3) shows more contrast. I may have been able to get more contrast in the other conversion, but it was fast and easy with this plugin. This image has more detail and definitely a different look than the others.

I started this exercise to see how the gradient map conversion method stacked up to the others. The gradient map image (2) was surprisingly good and I like it better than the image converted in ACR (1). I see very little difference between the two. The caveat here is that the original image was a jpg file and not a raw file. I know that I would have been able to improve the ACR image had I been converting a 16-bit, or even an 8-bit raw file. I will experiment in the future with more raw files.

A note about Adobe Camera Raw
In Photoshop you can open any jpg image in camera raw from Adobe Bridge (if you use it). Or by selecting the Camera Raw filter from the filters dropdown menu. If you are familiar with Adobe Camera Raw it may be worth your time to make this conversion to check the results.

One photo editing video I watched this week recommended you start in ACR regardless of how you convert your image to black and white. A raw file has more information to work with when it comes to adjusting highlights and shadows. He also recommended that you saturate the color a bit more than you generally would. This separates the color more which is an advantage when converting to monochrome. You can do this by using the 'clarity' or the 'saturation' slider. This means that even if you were converting the image using the Nix plugin, you should first edit in ACR. Camera Raw has additional features that are handy, especially if you are not using Nix. Like the targeted adjustment tool. I will go further into black and white adjustments in ACR when I have more experience with it.

Before I wrap this up, I want to mention that this is not over. I will continue to work through these conversion and probably a few others. It is likely that I will change my mind a few times in the meantime. Stay tuned and feel free to offer comments and opinions.

I have posted larger images of these conversions below.

ACR Conversion

Gradient Map Conversion

NIX Collection Silver Efex Pro 2

Used the 011 Push Process filter

Used the 011 Push Process filter

Original image with minor levels adjustments

Luminosity Masks

I finally joined the local camera clubs. This week we had a presentation on luminosity masks. The presenter showed us three different vendor's solutions. A few posts ago, Kevin Wenning suggested that I check out ADP Pro Luminosity Masks. I have to investigate these. This next week I plan to check the "Art of Black & White Editing Video Series". These luminosity masks intrigue me a lot. More about this in a future post.

Have you used luminosity masks? What vendors solution did you use? What is your experience and do you use these often?

Have a great week. I'm headed out to the garden to dig in the dirt.

Join the conversation
There are 5 comments , add yours!
Laurie Madsen 2 years, 3 months ago

I think #2 looks like the background rendered smoother. That's something I watch for if I edit, most programs make the background look noisy, even if the original isn't.
I also like the look of the flower in #1 best, a more delicate rendering for a flower.
Hope that helps.
I haven't tried luminosity masks, but have a feeling you'll get me too when you post your article!
Keep on experimenting, it will pay off.
Also, I don't know if you know this, but you can save your actions in most editing programs and create your own. I used to dabble in that a lot and have a bunch saved that I like, it would probably take me hours to reconstruct them if I hadn't saved them. (some programs call them scripts)

2 years, 3 months ago Edited
Heidi Egerman Replied to Laurie Madsen 2 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Laurie. Yes, since this is a flower the softer contrast is more appealing. I do know about actions and will likely (eventually) find them useful. I am trying not to jump around too much. I get distracted and sometimes I don’t get back to my plan. Ha ha! So much to learn, so little time. Especially with the garden calling me. 

Thanks for checking in. I always appreciate your insight. Have a great week.

2 years, 3 months ago Edited
Laurie Madsen Replied to Heidi Egerman 2 years, 3 months ago

You're welcome Heidi!
I thoroughly enjoy your posts!
May I suggest that while you experiment, you record your actions, then save them if you find one you know will be useful in the future?
They are super hard to replicate if you have a short term memory problem like myself!
Occassionally, I accidentally stumbled on amazing things just goofing around! When I wasn't recording actions, I would waste a bunch of time trying to replicate the results.
Happy gardening!

2 years, 3 months ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 2 years, 3 months ago

As much as I like strong contrast, I would go with the second one. This week I am shooting more straight in monochrome and work from there. They are a bit softer than a colorconversion. For the program I use, Photoscape a free simple program. Keep them coming and I hope you find your own style.

2 years, 3 months ago Edited
Heidi Egerman Replied to Berckmans Peter 2 years, 3 months ago

I think I agree. In this case, it takes away from the nice soft flow of the flower. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work in straight monochrome. I'm sure I'll find my style, eventually. Thanks for checking in.

2 years, 3 months ago Edited
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