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A Modern Black and White Photography Post-Processing Workflow

Lesson 3 of 6

Raw End To End Process In Adobe Lightroom


A Modern Black and White Photography Post-Processing Workflow

Lesson 3 of 6

Raw End To End Process In Adobe Lightroom


Lesson Info

Raw End To End Process In Adobe Lightroom

I'm gonna turn the lights back on by hitting the Elke a couple times, and what I want to do is I want a walk, an image start to finish into a black and white conversion using light room. And in doing that, I think that you'll see that it's very similar to a color workflow for two reasons. We're gonna work the image in color for as long as we can, and we're going to do that so that we have as much visual information as possible. We want to see all of the stuff we're editing. I want to be aware of all of it. The other reason is, somewhere along the line we might decide that it's a better color image than black and white image. So one of my sort of underlying, strong guiding principles to you guys right up there with make sure it's stabilized if it can shoot raw shoot raw, make sure the lenses clean is editing color for as long as you can stay in color as long as you can. OK, so I'm going to use this image here. My wife makes incredible handmade jewelry. I guess that sounds like a shamele...

ss plug, but I'm not sharing our website or anything. Um, and what I wanted to do is document her making the jewelry. And it was sort of this contrast between the clean, bright, beautiful finished work and the sort of, you know, dark industrial, dirty, sometimes bleeding process of creating it. And I wanted this to be really sort of crunchy and have a totally different look. The image that you get off the camera, especially with her having a fluorescent light over her hands and a halogen light over her head and a little bit of daily coming in the window is a nightmare to retouch. And so I decided early on, we're going to the finished work clean and color, and we're gonna do the making of gritty and black and white. So I'm gonna build this up into a gritty and black and white image, and I'll take you through the whole process. It's admittedly ah, lousy capture their spy. There's blur in there, which I wanted to get the motion of the file. There's a lot of things wrong with it. We're going to start in color in the develop module on the left hand side. As with everywhere, you have a number of different presets now the most useful of these Not that the ones that we ship with aren't interesting, but are your own user defined presets? I'm a really, really big fan of taking your work and either saving it is a preset so that you can apply it on import where that you can apply it with other images. I see people again and again, working very similar images top to bottom, one after another after another. What? I'd like you to dio its work on one image and sink that image with the other images. So we're done with this. I'm gonna show you how we can quickly and easily share what we did with another file. That's a really important modern way of ultimately getting you back in the field. Because what I want for you guys is to make the editing experience so fast and so pleasant that you get out and shoot more. I don't think any of us got into photography so that we could sit behind this device and stare into a bright light all night. So even though we've got presets, we're not going to use those right now, we're going to start over here on the right hand side and I'm gonna turn on these little disclosure triangles right here just to show you how they work, You might notice there's a little bit of blue here. And what that shows me is that the shadow detail is clipping. And just to show you a little bit more of that, I make it even darker. It's gonna go blue. If I open it up, it's gonna go away. Same thing what happened with the highlights? If I were to blow those out or pull those back in, you're gonna see eating more with exposure. If I start bumping that way up, eventually you're going to see Red, which means that that's clipped. Okay, so that's a It's a visual guide. It's helpful if you're printing, it's especially helpful, but I'm gonna turn it off, and I'm gonna advocate that you season to taste. You do what looks good to you, but I do want to remind you that a modern raw file, whether it's coming off of a phone which we can now shoot or a traditional camera, has tremendous latitude. So we can recover a Thanh of information. So even though this image doesn't look like anything hot right now, we're gonna make it look a lot better. And I'm going to start with white balance. Wait Balances, Justus. Important in a color color. Images of black white image because I want to correct the colors. I don't have a lot of neutral content here. Um ah, lot of the time when people think white balance, they look for a white area of the image. That's pretty dangerous because a lot of the time that area is blown out. What I want you to do is find something neutral. Uh, this is gray. And immediately upon clicking that you see that the flesh tones no longer look green, the wood looks like wood. And this other area that I imagine would be gray also is that one change fixed my image by setting the white balance. I adjusted the temperature and the tint. If you watch the prior class. You heard me talking about Hugh. Adjusting tint is a lot like adjusting, Hugh, You can make the image look weird really quickly. Okay, so I've done that. Uh, this next step aside you guys know I'm a big fan of auto. One of things I want to do is dispel the myth that auto is something that only a newbie user would use. All of you should be thinking about that as a starting point. Now that is way, way too hot. Here s so I'm gonna hit command Z toe, undo auto, and I'm gonna show you my manual workflow. But I am a big fan of starting off with that exposure is a sledgehammer. And by that I mean, it's really heavy handed. The only time I use exposure is when I leave exposure compensation on I like toe under expose most of my images in the camera, and sometimes I'll set it to two stops under. And then I'll come in here and I'll realize, Oh, boy, I left that on two stops under. I need to recover that. Luckily, with raw file, you could do that. In the old days of slides, you are stuck. You had about 1/3 of a stop of exposure, and that's all you had to work with. So all use exposure to recover the image, but in this case, it's pretty decent the way it is. I actually gonna go for this crunchy contrast the image. So if anything off the adding contrast, But I'm gonna pull in the highlights and that's gonna give me the detail in the fingernails and it's gonna give me just a little bit more grit to that. This is a much hotter example on screen. I'm gonna try toe. Be mindful of that as I open up the shadows a little bit because what I want is actually very different than what you guys are looking at. I might compress the black areas. I want those shadows to fall away. For this one. I'm gonna use quite a bit of clarity. I poked fun at clarity earlier. Clarity is amplifying mid tone contrast, but I want that here wanted to be gritty. And so I'm gonna dial that way up. I want that band aid the pop I wanted Toe, toe, look, industrial. There's a lot of different ways to do the black and white conversion. Some people will just de saturate it. We're not going to do that. We are going to change it to black and white at some point, but we're not going to do that. Yet I want to get a little more into tone curve, which I talked about briefly before, because all of the people who encounter this think it's not as powerful as they initially thought. When they look at it, they think that what happens here is that the highlights lighter Onley effects at brightest area and that the shadow area only effects that area. I'm gonna double click those and show you a way to Tunis for the way you want to use it. If you look carefully at the bottom, you'll notice that we've carved the hissed a gram into quadrants. And so if I grab one of these and pull it to the left or pull it to the right now we've trained those sliders. Onley affect the extreme edge of the highlights 10% in the extreme edge of the shadows, so you can really find Tune that now if you want to, you can do traditional photo shop curve editing, which is wrangling a diagonal line to get a proper exposure. I'm not gonna advocate that workflow because, um, it's an old way of doing it, and it's it's not easy to use it is powerful, but it's just not necessary here. So that's how I would do Ah, tone curve adjustment here. Okay, now a couple things to talk about before we jump into the conversion to black and White, which is pretty straightforward, although there'll be some changes you want to think about detail in here. We talked a little bit about this before. One thing that's different with black and white, black and white, for me is a slower process. It's something where I do still interact with Photoshopped quite a bit. I might do a little bit of sharpening here, but any sort of localized sharpening I'm gonna do over and Photoshopped. So if I need to do just some blanket sharpening what'll usually dio because I'll take my little target. Place it where I know my focus was, and I purposely shot this slow so that I could get movement. But that's about where my focus is so I can use the trick that I used, which is, instead of just pulling these sliders, I'm gonna hold the option, are all key. It's gonna give me a couple of things. It's gonna allow me toe. See this image in black and white, which immediately I find more pleasing. But it's also going allow me to visualize my sharpening a little bit and I'm gonna use that trick I love which is building a sharpening mask here so that I can have it on just the area that I want again. I'm only gonna apply a little bit of sharpening here if I want to do a lot of sharpening. If I want to attempt to recover some detail, I'm gonna do that in photo shop. Now, just to be upfront about sharpening, sharpening is essentially an optical illusion. All we're really doing is we're magnifying contrast to trick your eye. We're not recovering focus. We're not taking something that was blurry and making it more focused. We're just tricking your eye by increasing the contrast of it. Noise reduction is something that I'd also zoom in and do. I don't have a lot of noise in this image. It is pretty well lit and it's a fairly low I s o with black and white. I don't care as much about noise. I don't care as much about shooting high I s o because grain is pleasing to the eye. It's not as big of a deal I mentioned before when I talked about lens correction, the importance of applying these profiles. This is a Zeiss 50 millimeter lands a 50 isn't wide and it isn't telephoto. It's the most similar to what our ICI's. And so it has the least distortion. And yet you'll notice that as I toggle this, there is some distortion in it on the edges. There's also some vignette ing. This is a great example of a really high end lens that does have some problems in it. So no matter what you're shooting black and white or color, I really encourage you to use these lens correction profiles as well. So let's come back up and that this is the part where I do go a little out of order, and at this point we're going to convert toe black and white. There's two different ways to do that. You can do it right here, or you can do it back at the top of the image. At this point, I would consider if you think you might want an image to also be in color, because at this point, if I'm on the fence. I'm gonna hit G to take me back to the grid. I'm gonna control Click, and I'm gonna choose to make a virtual copy of this image that's going to duplicate the file. It's just gonna create another DMG file. It's right at the state that I left it so I can always go back. But now I'm just gonna move on to this other image and I'm gonna make that black and white. Now, I have the same flexibility without doing that, but it's going to allow me to see side by side color and black and white. So this point gonna make that one black and white and I like it. It's starting to get that that texture that I like. You'll notice that when I converted to black and white, there's this nice sort of s shape between the channels and what we're doing there is we're establishing contrast between them so we don't get that weird thing we had before where I talked about the green T shirt and blue jeans where it all muddies together. We've introduced a little bit of contrast between the tones. You can try to guess how they work and pull these sliders. Or you can use this targeted adjustment tool right here. And that's a really powerful way to interact with the individual colors. You'll notice that as I move around the image, it's highlighting different ones. I grabbed this band Aid and start pulling that up or down. You'll notice a couple things. One all the tones in the image of being adjusted. But the other one that's really cool is the orange and yellow sliders are moving together at different breaks. And so this targeted adjustment tool is actually doing things you couldn't do as a user. You can't use two sliders the same time and certainly can't move them a different rates. So one of the benefits of using that is being able to, uh, quickly and easily move multiple sliders. So I like to do that right there. I'm gonna make this image darker for the screen we're looking at, and the room here looks a little dark on my monitor, but it looks good on the screen there. And then what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna give it some toning. Not because I ultimately want this image to be split tone but I want to show you how easy this is to do now. This is one of those things where when I initially try this, I got really frustrated because I thought that if I wanted to make this see Peotone, I needed to come in here and I needed to choose what I thought was a C p a tone and then bump up the saturation and then say No, it's more like that tone. Pull that down. That's that. Don't worry about any of that. The way that you want to do this, it's the one keyboard shortcut that I advocate, which is option or all hold the option, are all key and pull the hue slider and you're gonna get a temporary 100% preview of that effect. And so what I can dio is I can really quickly and easily find the tone that I want. And then I can slowly build up the saturation, and that's a much nicer way to do that, Um, option and all. It's great for sharpening, and it's certainly great for pulling that slider as well. The whole split tone thing that was I feel like that was fashionable a few years ago where you could have a cool shadow on a warm highlight beyond demonstration. I don't find myself doing that much. I'm gonna leave it there with that one. The last thing that will do, um, is we'll add a vignette now, like clarity. Vignettes are overused. We just talked about removing one by applying lens correction. And now we're gonna go ahead. We're gonna throw one back in. They could be used for good reasons that could be used to bring your eye into the center. They could be used to hide things out in the periphery. The way I do it is I laid it on really heavy so that I can then see the shape of it in the mid point. I can adjust the roundness of it. I can feather it And then what I'll dio is all back down the effect. So just to reset that and show you my workflow, what I do is I laid it on really heavy. I just my midpoint. That way I can see the shape of it and last all feather it. I'm kind of over doing it for the screen. This is one of those things that people tend or do a little bit, but it certainly has its merits. One of the things about doing Vignette in here is that if I do want to crop this, gonna take my crop tool now and I'm going to hit the okey to give different overlays. This is a nice way of visualizing different overlays. The even yet is a post crop than yet. So if I pull in a little on the rings, actually pretty well centered in the 1st 1 But if I come in just a little bit and I pull the top down just a little, I'm not going to have to reapply the vignette. It's applied post Crop, so that's pretty handy. Okay, so at this point, there's a couple things I would do with this. Like, let's say I'm shooting a bunch of this stuff for my wife and I want consistency. Uh, even though my capture might not be totally consistent, my content, my lighting, are consistent, and so I'm gonna want to reuse this later, and it's really important to know how to do that. So it's a couple different ways to do it. One I hit the geeky and I come back here, I could really easily take another common image. Let's just say the color images similar but different. And if I select those and I come over here and say sync settings were going to synchronize everything from one image with the other, that's a really easy way to do it. I'm gonna undo that now. And maybe I want to take the settings from this image and apply them to this one and this one. You can select them out of order. Same thing. Sync settings. I wouldn't I wouldn't apply on any sort crop because those are different. But other than that really easy to sink those with it, that's one way to do it. The other way to do it is when you're in develop, and I think this is a much better way to go at a preset. Let's call it BW creativelive. I'm gonna put that in my user presets, and I'm gonna go ahead and create that now. What's great about that is, and this is something that I teach this a lot, but I haven't seen a ton of people taking advantage of it, and it's really It's really important if I'm gonna import my photos later. Okay? If I come in here to import a photo from wherever I'm going, one of the great things I can do here is I could come down to user presets and I come in here to be W creativelive. I can apply that preset on the weight in sinking presets is great. Applying a preset to multiple images is great, but if I just shot images of my wife working, and I just want to immediately visualize what that looks like, choosing that preset and loading the images in is gonna give me that effect immediately. Think beyond black and white if any of you are shooting in the studio. If any of you are shooting and controlled lighting, if any of you are shooting any sort of volume. What I just showed you will give you back many, many, many hours in your in your workflow. It will save you a ton of time. It's a very important thing to be thinking about, and it's it's flexible. I think a lot of people enjoy the benefits of late room without completely understanding exactly how it works. So just to explain it, um, you're using There's just a little text file that describes how the sliders move. And so the great thing about light room is we always have this safety net. Everything that we dio. We always have this great safety net underneath. The images were always able to undo anything that we've done. All right, so it really it really is that simple in light. Now let's talk about a couple of other things that we would do here. We talked about HDR before and I have, ah, haven't hdr example. That's actually pretty rotten. It's not a very good AM image in any way, but I want to show it because I think it's it's important, especially when you're looking to get the most out of these guys here and, uh, these air from the phone. I just did the thing that I described earlier, which is I captured a few different images way overexposed, middle of the range and under exposed. We've got the highlights. I've got the shadows, and I've got sort of in between a chair could be great for black and white again, forgive the terrible content. What I'm gonna do is I'm going to select these and I'm going to convert those to an HDR. I used to do this in Photoshopped up until a year ago. A year and 1/2 ago, this was a photo shop workflow. This is another one of those things that I just do here in light room. Now go ahead and combine those. It's automatically going to tone them. I'm gonna get a nice balance exposure again. Forgive the content. It's not a very good image, but the benefit there and I'll work through this part really quickly is that the file it creates is going to give me considerably more latitude than anything else. So if you're looking to get that sort of Ansel Adams deep, dark sky, red filter kind of look and HDR converted to black and white is actually a really great way to do that. Here's our image. It made a DMG on. I'll just show you how much more information there is. Even in a kind of shoddy capture like this, we can pull down the highlights. We can bump open the shadows. We can convert that to black and white, and we have the full tonal range of that image there. There's a lot more information than there would be otherwise. If you're shooting landscape, if you're shooting sky, if you're shooting anything Ah, where you've got a wide dynamic range I do encourage you to take multiple exposures, especially if you're gonna make them black and white. They're gonna look a lot better. So this is a good example. I'm just gonna really hustle through this as we bridge sort of to something we would do in Photoshopped. These images, like took years ago thes air down rest J pegs. You want to work with raw files anytime you can. It was this incredible day where there were, like, four seasons in a five mile drive. It was there was snow, there was ice, there was rain. And then there was ultimately a 90 degree desert and the sky this is straight off the camera really did look insane. So just to show what the workflow would look like and this is going to give us ah little bridge over to the Photoshopped workflow if I want to make it black and white, What I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna work on one image. I'm just gonna grab this image here. When I go to develop, I'm gonna do this really quickly for you guys. I'm gonna hit auto. Just gonna open everything up. I'm gonna recover some highlights. I'm gonna add some clarity. This is a crazy looking image, and I want that to be reflected in the outcome. I'm gonna come down here and I'm actually at this point, maybe, You know, maybe I'll open up foreground a little bit more. I'm going to a graduated filter. I'm in a shift click to pull that down on the top of that zero. That out. So we see what it looks like. The only thing is I'm gonna do here are De Hayes to cut through some of that craft there. And I might pull down the exposure a little bit. I might choose to do another one by shift, clicking on the foreground. And in this one, I'm gonna open up the shadows and maybe I'll go Negative clarity. Soften it a little bit. Click done. I'll make this one black and white all confirm. Okay, that looks how I want it to look. Looks like there might be some weird toning on that and make sure that's all off, which is okay, That looks the way I wanted to know. What I'm gonna do is just select the other images and sink them share on my work, right? Just just work on one image and sink it with the other ones. Then I'm going to ask light room to assemble them into a panorama again. That's something I would do in photo shop in the past. But at this point, I would do that. What's going to happen is we're gonna get this image right. Pretty, pretty wild from here. I could tune it. I can continue editing it if I wanted Teoh. It is still a raw file. Even though I worked off of J pegs its converted to a DMG.

Class Description

Are you exploring the world of black and white photography and wondering how to best handle the workflow and processing? Join Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Adobe Photoshop Hall of Famer, as he shows you how to begin thinking in black and white. You’ll learn: 

  • The importance of raw 
  • End-to-end processing in Adobe Lightroom CC 
  • Localized editing in Adobe Photoshop CC 
Bryan will also explain how you can use Adobe Portfolio to display your creative work. By the end of this class, you’ll have a good understanding of how you can use black and white photography to add to your existing color images.

Software Used: Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.2 - 2015.3  


creativelive student

He is a great teacher, but I resent the confusion over the wonders of producing and sharing photos and videos with apps and mobile devices, vs. producing fine art or high quality specialized portrait or landscape or wildlife, etc. Standards have not gone down just because so many people have great access to producing good things. Great literature is still great literature, no matter how many people write good things. Same is true for the visual arts. Short cutting the methods that produce great work, including producing great black and white and great prints, doesn't produce greatness. I love his idea, I follow them, but that is no reason to negate the traditional greatness that still has no shortcuts.

JIll C.

Bryan lays out a comprehensive, yet efficient approach to converting images to black and white and included many examples in this course. It's more than just clicking the "black and white" buttons in Lightroom or Photoshop. I especially like the suggestion to make Presets of the various B&W conversions I've used so they can easily be applied during import. Bryan also covered very quickly various other very useful and fun Adobe products including Adobe Spark Post and Portfolio, and I even made a Spark Post during class and posted it to my facebook page. Lots of interesting content in this class, which I'm definitely going to watch again!

Margaret Lovell

I wanted to learn more about creating a black and white workflow. I'm just starting out, and so far, my attempts have been fine. I want to get better at it. Bryan's course made the whole process seem easy and didn't rely on cheap outs in creating them. I learned how to better use Lightroom when it comes to creating black and white photos.

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