I'm on an eternal quest to get a perfect black and white image
By perfect, I mean that I’m looking for some damn-foolproof way of getting a decent monochrome shot with a wide range of greyscale. I want something that gives a film-like depth to the image rather than something that just looks flat and lifeless.
In Photoshop, there’s a wide range of techniques for converting an image to black and white. Image->Mode->Grayscale just doesn’t cut it. Most shots end up looking completely flat. It’s a no-go-solution.
My recent favourite technique was to use the Channel Mixer. Go Image->Adjustments->Channel Mixer and set the Red/Green/Blue to 30/60/10 and tick the monochrome box. On my Canon, this has the happy side effect of also reducing the red channel noise too, which results in a less grainy shot. If your camera produces more Green noise, use 60/30/10 instead. Suck it and see.
A podcast from Photoshop TV has revealed a new technique though, and I love the effect. It produces a huge range of gray tones which make the photo really pop out of the screen. I’m going to be using this method extensively from hereon. Here’s how it’s done.
- Image->Mode->Lab Color
- Open up your Channels tab (usually next to Levels)
- Choose the Lightness channel only
- Select All (CTRL-A) then copy (CTRL-C)
- Edit->Convert to Profile
- Select Adobe 1998. The image will revert to a colour RGB
- In Channels, select the Red Channel and paste (CTRL-V)
- Repeat for Green and Blue, pasting the detail from the Lightness Channel into each
- Finally, select RGB from the Channel palette to show all the channels.
It takes a lot longer to explain that it takes to do. Honestly, try it.
Here’s an example before-and-after shot. Click to view large and marvel at all those lovely shades of grey.