As I mentioned in my previous blog, I will share how I edited the black and white photo, “Island” posted in the previous blog. First of all, I should talk about B&W conversion software I am using. Many photographers use software to convert a color image to monochrome image. It is very convenient since the software allows adding an effect of the color filter, (such as red filter for darkening sky or green filter for pleasant skin tone), mimicking many different types of B&W film, controlling grain level and adding toning such as sepia or selenium. Currently, I am using following three B&W converters.
Nik Silver Efex is the most popular B&W converter. It has many functions and some parameters can be locally adjusted by NIk’s famous “control points” method. Many types of film are listed for film mimicking. But I see “digital flavor” still remains. I would say It gives contemporary B&W image so I use the Silver Efex predominantly for my portrait works.
Topaz B&W effect doesn’t have film mimicking but is has many fancy toning so I occasionally use the software for toning at the end of process.
TrueGrain is very simple B&W converter; only I can do with the software are selecting a film type, adding an effect of the color filter, and controlling grain level. It allows modifying characteristic contrast curve of the selected film. It doesn’t have local adjustment or toning. Possibly, this is why nobody use (or knows) this software. But its film mimicking is very close to real film; it gives a kind of Lo-fi feel of the film. I use TrueGrain for my landscape photography since I would like keep natural feel to the images.
The original image was taken in foggy morning so the contrast of the entire image is somewhat low for B&W image. I tried the B&W conversion with TrueGrain and I applied red filter but the sky is not dark enough and the “Island”, woods in the center of image was not standing out well. (photo 1)
So I had to apply some preparation to the color image before the conversion. Now I should explain how the color filter works for B&W photography. When a color is mixed with a particular different color, the mixed color will be black (or white but ignore at this point). This is called complementary color. For example, the complementary color of blue is yellow; that is why a yellow filter darkens the sky. On the other hand, when the same color of the filter exists in an image, that part will be brightened. I use this idea to enhance certain parts of the image. This time, I planned using orange filter, complementary color of the orange is between blue and cyan.
First of all, I needed to darken the sky. So I have to select (mask) the sky and change its color to more blue / cyan (photo 2). Please click the image for larger view.
Next, I wanted to add a little more contrast to the trees in the island to enhance the drama and separate the island from its surroundings. Again I applied mask to the trees (Photo 3). Then the color of the trees were change to blue/cyan but the intensity of the change was not as high as the sky since I expected a little more subtle changes of the contrast (photo 4)
At the same time, I felt trunks of the trees needed to be more distinctive, so orange (yellow and red) was added the trunks to lighten them (Photo 4).
Lastly, I brightened the whole island by “Curves” (photo 5).
Now all preparation is done. Save the file as Tiff and convert the image with TrueGrain. I chose Ilford HP5 as film mimicking and applied orange filter. I added grain as well.
So this is the result. Please compare to the photo 1. Now the B&W image has more contrast and drama. Getting closer to the concept when I shot the image at the scene.
Actually, this is not done; real cooking will be done on the B&W image. It will be shared in the next post. Stay tuned.
Related post: Black and white photo – “Island”