Jennifer in Saint-Denis France

Portrait of Jennifer – Saint-Denis France

Last year my wife and I spent a long weekend in Paris and hopped on the Metro out to Saint-Denis for a few hours sightseeing and I grabbed this shot walking down a side street. While it was a nice travel snap in color, I wanted to see if I could improve it and pull of a black and white version. Working in black and white is not simply dropping out all color, that doesn’t really provide a B&W image, but rather a grayscale image. I wanted to try some techniques in On1 to push the blacks and whites, while not blowing out the histogram at the same time.

You can also vote for this photo in a ViewBug contest – Sunglasses

Short-cut: n. Longest distance between two points

The steps I took to get here were fairly convoluted, but the process was along the lines of:

  • Export the photo from Lightroom to On1 Effects
  • Add a Texture Enhancer layer to pump up some of the textures in the street, walls, etc.
  • Insert a Color Enhancer layer to add more contrast in the photo and create more depth of color differences
  • Add a Black & White layer, masked out my wife (she was not amused seeing the red masking overlay – thought I was being funny)
  • Insert a Blur layer, copy the mask from the prior layer and muck around with the look till I liked it (some tilt shift, some motion, some bokeh)
  • Add a new B&W layer, pasted the same mask as above, inverted it and used a different B&W treatment on my wife (softer, no blur, etc.)
  • Throw in a Vignette layer, center on face, soft dark
  • Drink copious amounts of Teeling Irish Whiskey and curse mightily while the app crashed about 1/2 way through the above, wash rinse repeat
  • Save back to Lightroom – tweak a bit and re-open said bottle of Teeling and celebrate

Creating a black and white image from a color photo is not a straight forward, easy task. There is no magic preset nor saturation slider that will work right and it takes time, persistance patience and apparently, a good amount of fine Irish Whiskey 😉

One of these days, I plan to record a tutorial, but I am still tweaking things and I don’t think I’m ready for Prime Time just quite yet…


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