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Thread: Black and White Fun

  1. #1
    Boatman's Avatar
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    Black and White Fun

    Being that its been foggy and rainy here for the past few days, I've been amusing myself by going back over some shots from last winter and converting them to black and white. I'm printing these on Red River Aurora Art White paper, which I really like. I'm using an Epson 1400 with the UT-14 ink set, excluding the Ebony Black ink. The results are very good.

    Black and White Fun

    Black and White Fun

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Black and White Fun

    These are definitely better viewed in the Lytebox (click images).

    Hi Homer,

    It is a shame you've lost detail in the sky, were both over exposed? or did that disappear in PP?

    To me, both have slightly odd look on fine detail, especially the first, did something happen in sharpening or LCE (Local Contrast Enhancement)?

    On the first, if I am looking at a river, by brain tells me it needs quite a twist clockwise to straighten, but I may be wrong of course.

    The second has a good 'depth', but no obvious points of interest in some of the distances for the eye to latch onto and hence I find myself wandering aimlessly around the frame - but that could just be me

    Hope that helps,

  3. #3
    Boatman's Avatar
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    Re: Black and White Fun

    Well I wouldn't give myself an 'A' on either one. About a 'B-', best case. But really, I was just trying to see what I could do with the images and if I could get some decent prints. The prints are good, even if the subjects are less than ideal. (I know, what's the point? Well, it's academic - I'm learning.)

    The odd looking detail is something I'm still grappling with. It seems common in high-frequency B+W conversions and I don't know what its cause or correction is. I'm sharpening in the RAW conversion, which takes me to a color image. From there I'm converting to B+W using the Photoshop image-adjustments-black&white tool. I find that any further sharpening once in B+W really distorts things.

    The prints are coming off reasonably reliably. For some image I have to adjust the levels setting from 0-1-255 to 0-1.1-255 which brightens up the image slightly. I find B+W images much fussier than color images.

    I also agree about the lack of a subject in the second image. I re-cropped it and increased the contrast in the sky, really making the sky and the distant mountains the subject. Unfortunately, this is such a deep crop that I don't think I have enough left to make a good print. Looks OK on the screen, though.

    Black and White Fun

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Black and White Fun

    I concur with Dave.

    On the issue of sharpening after B & W conversion I had an issue in the past where, say, I have changed the tones using an adjustment layer and then did my sharpening on a lower layer containing pixels. You can finish up with a distorted image. I now use the PS Stamp facility as my final layer. Hold down Ctrl/Shift/Alt+E and it will give you a composit of all layers below that point and you can sharpen on that. BUT - if you go back and change any layer below the Stamped Layer it will not change the Stamped Layer so you have to delete the Stamped Layer and sharpen again.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Black and White Fun

    Hi Homer,

    When you "sharpen in RAW", what settings are you using?
    In particular, the radius, I think you really need 0.3 px and the minimum in RAW is (or used to be?) 0.5, which is almost twice as much and way too much in my opinion, especially if you have been 'generous' with the amount.

    Once that's been locked into the image, unless you downsize before further sharpening, it will just make things worse.
    I apply the capture sharpening; 0.3 radius via USM in PS as the first step after import to PS rather than do it in ACR.

    Are you using any plug-ins for conversion to B&W?

    Cheers,

  6. #6
    Boatman's Avatar
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    Re: Black and White Fun

    Dave:

    I went back to my .dng and re-opened it to see what I had set my ACR sharpening to. It's not clear. The default is 35/0.5/25/50 but I commonly use 100 or 150/1/30/50. It may have been that high.

    Black and White Fun
    I reopened the image using the default sharpening and full recovery to get back some lost sky highlights. No other changes in ACR. From there I used Jiro's surface blur - overlay technique to brighten up the image. This also sharpens it. (BTW, what is the correct name for this technique? I usually refer to it as 'contrast overlay sharpening', but if there is an official name, I'll adopt it.) I then converted to B+W, adjusting as necessary - a lot of negatives in the red, yellow, cyan and blue channels. A bit more contrast and brightening adjustment and done. I then downsized to 72dpi x 1024 wide and applied 135/0.3/0 sharpening.

    This does seem to remove the problems and the image is much sharper.

    Thank you for your help.

    Black and White Fun
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 27th September 2011 at 05:48 PM. Reason: include original in quote for comparison in Lyte Box

  7. #7
    Boatman's Avatar
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    Re: Black and White Fun

    Black and White Fun
    Here's he other one corrected in the same manner.
    I think the strange sharpening effect you noted is due to using too much of the overlay contrast sharpening. I cut the opacity to 30%. Anything more create halos around the branches that over lap the dunes. I didn't correct the level of the 'river'. It's actually sand. I'm not sure how level it is. I don't think anything in this scene is level!

    Black and White Fun
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 27th September 2011 at 05:49 PM. Reason: include original in quote for comparison in Lyte Box

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Black and White Fun

    Hi Homer,

    I edited your posts to include the originals, this allows comparison in the Lytebox, which is very interesting.

    The latest versions are much darker in the foreground, but less "crinkly" - I suspect it was that 1px radius sharpening that was doing it.

    The sky and distant landscape looks much better in the new versions though.

    This is certainly educational,

  9. #9
    Boatman's Avatar
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    Re: Black and White Fun

    Wow, that's pretty neat Dave. I certainly improves comparing the shots.

    So puzzle me something else. What is the preferred method of selecting areas within a B+W for further work? The method I have been using is to note my settings for the B+W conversion out of the original color image. If I need to adjust an area, the sky in this image for example, I go back to the color layer and select the area I want using the marque tools and color selection tools as need to select a specific area. Then I copy that area to a new layer, sometimes making a spare copy if the cutting out part was tricky. Then I adjust the new layer setting it to the B+W settings of the main B+W image with some adjustments, as needed. I'll further edit it with brightness/contrast adjustment and then finally tune it with the opacity slider. Is it a lot of work - yes. But, I do get the ability to tightly control specific areas. Is there a better way?

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