BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005

Black and white portraits

I'm trying to understand black and white conversions in Photoshop. I was wondering what a good ratio would be when using the channel mixer, and if you should use all three channels. I am trying to get tones that would look pleasing for babies and small children. I'm also not sure if I should add a colour balance adjustment layer? I would really appreciate any help!

To love this question, log in above
10/19/2006 4:14:57 AM

Robert E. Gaughan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  Betsy... you can look here... I googled " black and white in photoshop" and got this link

just type that link in your prowser and look at it.. looks like what you need...

good luck

To love this comment, log in above
11/27/2006 7:42:29 PM

Todd Morrison   Betsy,

If you want to create nice BW conversions of children you do not have to use Channel Mixer or the Hue Saturation technique. Both of those tecchniques involve color in the image dictating value placements and contrast. They are very good techniques for Landscapes and other images. They can also work well for portraits but it is certainly not the only way to create high quality BW conversions. One of my favorite ways to quickly convert to BW involves the Desaturate command (shift control U). Immediately after performing the desaturate, select Fade Desaturate from the Edit menu. Now change the Mode to Color.

This will give you a good starting point for your BW and it is easy and fast.

I would recommend that you shoot Raw and convert your image to a 16 bit tiff before performing this operation. You will have more information to work with in the 16 bit mode.

After the conversion you can adjust the levels to provide a high contrast. The 16 bit file will not fall apart as quickly when heavily tweaking the contrast with levels.

After completing your work, remember to convert to 8-bit mode before printing!

Good Luck!!

Todd Morrison

To love this comment, log in above
11/28/2006 8:57:28 PM

Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  Thank you so much for your input Robert and Todd. When I posted this question, I accidentally posted it twice, the other was discussed: The latest pics in my gallery were converted using the method I mentioned in the above thread. The method that nobody tried :-) I think it seems like too much work. I am still learning, so I really appreciate your comments.

I tried your conversion method Todd. I do shoot in RAW. I use Photoshop 7. After desaturating and fade desaturate I'm not sure I understand the next step. The mode of the image to start is RGB Colour? When I go to Image, Mode, then it is already RGB Colour.

To love this comment, log in above
11/28/2006 11:55:21 PM

Todd Morrison   Betsy,

When you select the Fade option from the Edit menu, at the bottom of the pop-up menu you will see the word Mode. To the right of this word will be a drop down box with Normal set as default.

This gives you the option of applying a Blend Mode to the Desaturate Command.

Select the Mode of Color at the bottom of the list.

This will provide you with a much purer BW Conversion, very similar to a Lab mode conversion method without all of the fuss.



To love this comment, log in above
11/29/2006 6:55:30 AM

Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  Thank you Todd!! I tried it and it works so well. It will be my new favorite method, and definately a lot quicker than what I was doing! I think this is a good method for anyone starting out with b&w. Thanks :-)

To love this comment, log in above
11/29/2006 8:04:50 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.