Awake – An Exercise in Black and White Conversion

BW created in NIK Silver Efex – click to embiggen

One of the cession 5 Awake classes  was Black and White conversions and we were taken through ways NOT to do this in PS and also a couple of ways TO do it in PS.

I found this very interesting as I fell in love with NIK Silver Efex around the same time Google bought it and released it for a fraction of the previous price and have been a user ever since.  Not being shown how to do BW in PS before, I had never used it and there are some nifty tricks.

One of the clever ones is how you create a BW Adjustment layer and blend that back with the original image for interesting effects – I found the blend modes you would normally use seemed to work in reverse for this which was unexpected.

BW Adjustment layer blended back into original colour image – click to embiggen

This is what I created blending the two layers, and it feels like a realistic representation of the day – it was very dull and dark and overcast and raining.

BW image created using PS Adjustment Layer – click to embiggen

Above is my first BW image created using the BW Adjustment Layer function in PS – it was actually quite easy – this is Intense Red Filter with some tweaks – started to get some pixelation in the clouds if the sliders got pushed a bit far.

Its interesting to compare this to the NIK version at the top – the NIK one has more contrast and drama and energy and typing this I realise I forgot to go in and tweak the levels and the contrast in PS!

That kind of summarises my experience with doing a BW conversion – there are many different programs and ways of doing it – we got a look at the Topaz and the On One programs as well and both had some neat features.  What I like most about Silver Efex is that I can do everything I need in the one program, it has lots of presets to get you started and lots of ways to edit globally and locally without having to remember to do this step and that step.

While it is really useful to know how to do this in PS, I am glad that Silver Efex is in my toolbox and will happily continue using it 🙂

Here is the original image after I edited it in LR6, aiming for a realistic interpretation of the day – it looks rather a lot like the blended image above which I find quite interesting 🙂

Original image edited in LR6 – click to embiggen

Do you do Black and White?

What tools do you like to use and why?

Any handy tips to share?

All feedback and comments welcome!


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
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14 Responses to Awake – An Exercise in Black and White Conversion

  1. Joanne says:

    Yet something else for me to explore when I finally take the “plunge” into PhotoShop – am so looking forward to it! 🙂

    • lensaddiction says:

      Everyday I learn something new – bear in mind that the stuff in the Awake course is in more detail and more advanced than the Photoshop Artistry course 🙂

      • Joanne says:

        I know my head is going to explode once I seriously sit down to learn all there is know about Photoshop but I’m really looking forward to it!

  2. Sue says:

    I love Silver Efex! I find there are plenty of adjustments within that programme to keep me happy….

  3. I tend to use Lightroom for my monochrome images – it seems to suit my style. I do love the Silver Efex – the details are more pronounced. Nice work

    • lensaddiction says:

      Lightroom does do BW and there are LOTS of great presets you can get for it too. One of the things I like about Silver Efex is that you can use it within LR so the image opens up in SEfex but when you save it it brings you back into LR which is very handy for keeping everything in one place

  4. leecleland says:

    Interesting to see the difference in processing and thanks for the link to Robin Whalley, looks like his ebooks are what I’ve been looking for to explain how to use all those extra bits in Nik

    • lensaddiction says:

      His books are excellent and very good value for the volume of useful information you get – I need to go and reread and remind myself of the useful tidbits again – I have the Silver and the Colour Efex books and a couple of his general photography books.

  5. i really like the blended version, I too really like the Nik Efex Color and silverefex as well

  6. katieprior says:

    I prefer the Silver Efex version, it has that something extra, more depth. I tend to use LR for my conversions and recently have been working on improving dodging and burning techniques, which are super useful in LR. I’ve not really tried PS properly to do mono yet, but intrigued (and a little scared) that there is a “wrong” way! Great to see your different versions for comparison, an interesting post Stacey!

Love to hear your thoughts on my post!

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