365 Challenge #265 - Black & White Conversions

I'm still working my way through Scott Kelby's book, The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers. It's so helpful! I've been reading about HDR, and all manner of retouching in Photoshop. There are a few pages dedicated to the conversion of raw files to black and white, and I'm really liking Mr Kelby's step by step style.

As I've realised recently, there are about a million shades of gray, which is what you're dealing with in a black and white photo. It's all about the contrasts between variations of gray.

What I love about Kelby's books, is their simplicity - he uses a lot of words to get across each concept, but ultimately, the books are really easy to follow, particularly when you're using your own photos to work through the steps.

The image(s) above are an example of converting a RAW image to black and white, using one of Scott Kelby's "recipes".

Basically, he does much of his processing in Camera Raw, because it's easy to do there. Gotta love that!

Basically, the steps he goes through to achieve a high contrast B/W conversion like this one are as follows:
  • Click on the HSL/Grayscale icon (the 4th icon on the left in the main Camera Raw menu).
  • Go back to the first Camera Raw editing tab and crank up to your exposure as high as it will go just until you start clipping the highlights (the book gives pictures here, which make it much easier to follow).
  • Crank up the blacks, by dragging the Blacks slider to the right until it looks really contrasty.
  • Go to the Tone Panel Curve and choose Strong Contrast from the pop up menu - or otherwise, just drag the Contrast slider to the right until the image looks really contrasty.
  • Then, increase the Clarity to about 75 (or 25 for a portrait, or 0 for a baby, says Kelby)
  • And that should be that!
Ok, so it might be a bit too high contrasty for your liking, but for a day where the skies were completely blown out and blah (like in my image), I reckon blow them out and focus on the detail elsewhere in the image.

What's your favourite black & white conversion technique?

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