Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Photoshop Corner #021

B&W a la Russell Brown

a note Uwe Steinmueller


There are nearly endless methods to convert color photos to B&W in Photoshop. A very creative method was published by Russell Brown (Creative Director of Adobe) in one of his Photoshop "TIPS & TECHNIQUES" Quicktime movies: "Seeing in Black & White".
We start with some color photo:

Detail shot from the New York Cow Parade (2000)


The first thing we do is to create two Hue/Saturation adjustment layers on top of the color photo.

  • We do not change the Hue/Saturation values at this point (also rename this layer to "Filter")
  • We set the saturation of the top layer to -100% ((also rename this layer to "Film")

Desaturated Adjustment Layer


We have now the following layer layout:


Setting the saturation of the top layer to -100% removes all saturation and as a result we get a grayscale image.

Step 1: Grayscale Image


Before we start changing the B&W filter we have to set the blending mode of the "filter" layer to "Color":

Filter layer with Blending Mode Color

Now we can open the Hue/Saturation dialog of the "Filter" layer and start the Russell Brown B&W experience.

Changing the Hue value for "Master" (global to all colors)

By moving the Hue slider we get a different color filtering and also a different B&W rendering. Also changes to Saturation and Lightness will be reflected in the final B&W photo.
But "there is more" (to phrase Russell Brown):

Make changes to the blue colors only


You can make selective corrections to certain color ranges (e.g. blue shades) and get results like this one:

Finally you can "flatten" the image and save it as a normal TIF file. For some application you might even convert the file to a real grayscale image.
Thanks Russell for letting us cover this interesting technique.
Note: If you want to repeat the same filtering on multiple images you can save the Hue/Saturation settings and recall them later.

For Comments post in our News Group

2000-2007 Digital Outback Photo