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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!


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10/19/2006 4:18:30 AM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  Maybe I should make my question clearer..Should I be adding the most red or green when using the channel mixer. I know this sounds like a crazy question, but I really don't have an eye for it.


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10/19/2006 9:18:48 AM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Without suggesting any criticism in you, the fact that you're using Channel Mixer first is a problem.

Why not just decolorize? You'll see what the B&W image will look like in fairly rudimentary "terms."

When you use Channel Mixer, simply check Monochrome. This has the same effect as simple decolorization.

Using the RGB sliders is a great way to simulate infrared effects, but there have to be lots of green, chlorophyll laden leaves or grasses in the picture to get the maximum effect. Frankly, I can't imaging why you'd need the sliders for pictures of kids.

But, once you decolorize, you'll probably have to play with the Contrast and Unsharp Mask Tools.

There are really no good ratios as each photo is different as is each photographer. What you like is what's best.


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10/19/2006 10:01:28 AM

 
A C
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  "the fact that you're using Channel Mixer first is a problem"

Sorry but I completely disagree! Channel Mixer works very well and many people find it usefull. Desaturating images results in flat images that contrast adjustments can't fix.

The latest issue of Photoshop User has an entire article on Black and White conversion (I highly recommend you pick up this issue). Three techniques that are recommended are Single
Channel Conversion, Channel Mixer, and Calculations. There is one other technique mentioned but it really wouldn't make sense unless you picked up the magazine and read through it yourself.

When working with pictures of people I usually do more with the red channel than the others.


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10/19/2006 10:53:30 AM

 
A C
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  A thread about black and white conversion has been discussed in great detail here:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=23415

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and here is something helpful that can do the conversion for you with excellent results:

go to http://www.photo-plugins.com/ and download the free black and white conversion plug-in


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10/19/2006 10:56:13 AM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Cherylann -

Thou dost prtest too harshly. I never said Channel Mixer didn't work, or work well. Isaid it probably isn't need for images that are low in greens.

I've successfully decolorized and desaturated with Elements 1.0 and, now, with 4.0. I use Photoshop 7.0 to achieve the infrared simulation, 'cause it still isn't infrared one gets with infrared film and a red 25A filter.

It's all what you do with your specific image. Like anything else, there are no hard and fast rules; nor are the set RGB ratios.


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10/19/2006 11:05:41 AM

 
A C
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  Very true that there are no hard and fast rules. There are about a billion ways to achieve different things in PS. It is just my experience that desaturating images is more often than not a poor method. But it doesn't hurt to try it first to see what you get.

And Betsy, if you think you don't have an eye for the conversion, get familiar with the histogram. I sometimes use it as my eye to let me know if there is a good balance of dark, midtones, and light.


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10/19/2006 11:16:47 AM

 
Robyn Gwilt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/15/2005
  Betsy, if you can get hold of What Digital Camera Mag (Oct 2006) - I got mine at CNA - there's a whole 30 pages of 'Marvellous Mono Technique & Inspiration" which includes different PS techniques. If you can't find it,let me know, and I'll look on my side of town, or copy it. (Its got one of those awful nnnnnnnNik....on camera's on the front!!) and a Panasonic Lumix. This is the website, http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/ I'm
sure that if you play around and search or contact them, you'll find the artcile. They did comparisons using the same pic, and then converting it via, Calculations, Channel Mixer, Hue & Sat, Channels & Converted Channels - all with very diffrent B/W results - all nice - just depends on what you're looking for!


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10/19/2006 11:22:46 AM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  Thank you for all the responses.

Cherylann, I did read the threads that you're referring to, they did help a lot. I have been looking at b&w for quite a while, and just can't get it. There are so many different looks that you can give a picture, I'm getting more and more confused as I go along :-) I was hoping that someone would say; 'Use red 30, green 60, blue 10'. I suppose there are no hard rules. I did read in one of your threads about the lightness channel method of converting. I tried it once and liked it. Now when I try using it, it keeps converting back to colour. I'm selecting the channels and clicking on the lightness channel, as soon as I do the next step I'm back to colour. Do you perhaps know what I'm doing wrong?

Robyn, I will look for the magazine tomorrow! Have you seen Photoshop User Robyn, is it available in SA?


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10/19/2006 11:44:19 AM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  I'm going to try and post an example of my "best attempt" so far, maybe someone can give me some insight on what I'm doing wrong. I've used the channel mixer method, red-60, green-10, blue-30, then adjusted colours seperate in layers and added quite a bit of contrast. Does it look scary? I'm supposed to print some tomorrow for a customer!


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10/19/2006 12:30:53 PM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
 
 
 
I'm going to try and post an example of my "best attempt" so far, maybe someone can give me some insight on what I'm doing wrong. I've used the channel mixer method, red-60, green-10, blue-30, then adjusted colours seperate in layers and added quite a bit of contrast. Does it look scary? I'm supposed to print some tomorrow for a customer!


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10/19/2006 12:31:00 PM

 
Robyn Gwilt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/15/2005
  Yes, I've seen Photoshop User (i think its the one you're talking about - not cheap!) I also use Hue/Sat and Levels a lot. Off to bed, and Dullstroom tomorrow arvy, so will try to check again before work :) Good luck!


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10/19/2006 12:39:13 PM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  Thanks Robyn. I can't seem to get the picture uploaded, it's the first one in my gallery.


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10/19/2006 1:01:20 PM

 
A C
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  I'm not sure why the picture keeps going back to color. I haven't used that method in a while.

I would recommend The article that Robyn is referring to first. In fact I just my need to look it up myself!

-----------------------------------

About your photo, I think you're off to a great start. The highlights are a little too blown out for my taste. Try using the free plugin that I suggested. If you need more help it might help us out if you could post the original (in color). I'll be at the computer for a good part of the evening and can help you out before you do your printing tomorrow.


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10/19/2006 5:36:12 PM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  Cherylann,

Sorry, I only saw your post now. We're about 6-7 hours ahead of you in South Africa, I was sleeping when you posted.

I've loaded some more to my gallery, the original & using the converter. Thanks


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10/19/2006 10:37:52 PM

 
A C
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  I like it better! I'm shooting some files your way to your email. Expect 'em in just a minute or two.


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10/19/2006 10:50:33 PM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  Thanks Cherylann, I'm glad you think that it does! I suppose if I keep looking at it I will learn what it is that I should try and get.


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10/20/2006 1:17:07 AM

 
Jagadeesh Andrew Owens   A good rule of thumb to use with the channel mixer (which is one of THE 3 best ways to digitally get b&w, the other being calculations, and the other being channel mixer + duotone)is to adjust the sliders until they total 100. This is not hard and fast - just a starting point. I adjust by using my EYE! If it's people I'm adjusting, I take the red WAY down, and adjust the blue and green sliders to the plus side. A good way to know which one to adjust (as the lowest level) is to look at your different channels in PSCS or PSCS2 and see which one has the most contrast. Once that is determined, make that corresponding color the one that has the lowest value, then adjust the other two accordingly. Hope this helps.


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10/23/2006 12:30:46 PM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  Thanks for the info! I will definately start using the channel mixer, I'm just still a bit intimidated by it at the moment!

I did read up a bit over the weekend and made my own combination of methods that seem to work quite well. There are no colour adjustments like with the channel mixer. I would love it if some of you guys that have responded to this thread would try it and tell me what you think. Here goes: Convert picture to LAB Colour. Select lightness channel from channels window. Select all (Ctrl+A) and copy. Convert back to RGB colour. Open the channel window, select the red channel, and paste the lightness channel that you copied. Then select the green channel and paste, and the blue channel and paste. Reselect the top channel to make all channels visible.
It will still look a little flat, so duplicate the layer twice. Select one duplicate layer and change the screen mode to colour burn, reduce the opacity to between 5-15%. Select the other duplicate layer and change the screen mode to soft light. Set opacity between 5 and 30%. Please let me know what you think.


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10/23/2006 2:31:15 PM

 
Betsy Labuschagne
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  I know it seems like a lot of steps, but really goes quick once you've done it a couple of times :-)


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10/23/2006 2:34:24 PM

 
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