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Convert to black & white for impact

Convert to black & white for impact - ePHOTOzine member Rahul shows us how to make the most of budget lighting by shooting and then editing in Photoshop

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Portraits and People

I do not have any modern lighting equipment, but I often try to do something different with the available resources.

For this shot I used:
1. Canon Rebel T1i (EOS 500D)
2. 18-55mm kit lens
3. 1000 watt tungsten light (very old and harsh)
4. Photoshop CS3.

The lens was set to 55mm and the exposure for the shot was f/9 and 1/4se shutter, iso 100

The light I used can not be directed to a particular point and I always try to avoid a cluttered background as far as possible, but it is not 100% possible for me as you can see here I have curtains and a door frame in view. So I reach for Photoshop.

I opened the 16-bit tiff file (after converting from RAW), then duplicated that background layer twice from the layer palette so the layers palette looks like this:

background copy 2
background copy

Then I clicked the eye icon to hide the background layer and selected the  background 2 layer.

With this layer active I went to Image>Adjustments>Levels and set the middle slider to a value of 0.38 (this depends on the image and may change for each one) to darken the image completely and hide the background clutter

Now I used the Eraser tool from the Tool palette with the following settings: soft brush, size 170 and opacity 29. (Again this depends on the image), and erased the portion of the face which is well lit. Then I set the brush size to 715 to erase the table to show slight reflection and once done I used merge visible to merge the visible layers.

Now to convert to black & white.

Again the same method is used, but in a different way. I duplicated the image (not the original one as this is still hidden). The layer palette now looks like this:

background copy 3
background copy 2

In the first step I select the background copy 2 layer. Hide the background copy 3 layer  if you want to see the tones. And go to Image>Adjustment>Channel mixer. Select monochrome from the window that appears and preset black and white with orange filter.

Now I select the background copy 3 layer and again go to image>Adjustment>Channel mixer and select monochrome and preset black and white infrared.

Again I use a soft brush of 715 size, opacity 29, (it will depend on the condition as well as your taste) to erase until I am satisfied.

For portraiture, the main part is the eyes, you can use Burn tool and the Sharpen tool to clearly define the catch light, this can give a better look to your images.

Now I drag the hidden original image (background layer) to the delete layer icon, below the layer palette and use Flatten image and save.

Here's the result:

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Wow... awesome result

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DRicherby 9 269 725 United Kingdom
First and foremost, that's a fantastic photograph. Thanks for sharing that and writing a helpful article. Having read it, I have one photographic suggestion and one writing suggestion. Smile

It would be so much quicker to hang or tape a black cloth behind your subject and then Photoshop out any small imperfections in the background than it is to not use a backdrop and Photoshop out a cluttered background. Since you're already using a big, bulky 1000W lamp, I don't think that a simple backcloth would be a significant invoncenience or financial burden. It's always faster to take the picture right (clean background) and edit to remove imperfections than it is to take it wrong and edit to remove major flaws (cluttered background).

Also, if you plan on writing any more articles (please do!), note that it's not very helpful to give the exact settings for sliders and brushes that you used. The important thing is not that you set the levels slider to 0.38 but the effect that created: darkening enough to lose the background clutter. It would be better to say something like, "... set the middle slider just low enough to make the background clutter invisible," since the reader will have to work out the value appropriate to their photograph. Similarly, saying you used a 500-pixel brush doesn't help much because we don't know how big your original image was. It would be more helpful to relate the size of the brush to the size of things visible in the picture — for example, the boy's nose or his face.

Thanks again for an informative and interesting article.

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