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.
 
 

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