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Create Better Black and White Photographs

Lesson 1 of 8

Understanding the Controls

Chris Orwig

Create Better Black and White Photographs

Chris Orwig

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Lesson Info

1. Understanding the Controls
Chris explains how color temperature is linked to saturation and how that impacts your black and white photos.

Lesson Info

Understanding the Controls

What I want to do today is talk about black and whites, and just walked through a few slides initially and talk about what our goals for the cecil, the session and then really get in, and I think you're gonna enjoy what I have planned for u s o jumping in my slides really it's about trying to create better black and white photographs, because the trick is we can all do black and white, but how do we make him better? And then the other thing I think tio think through, is to ask this question, my slides, air hiccup in here, there we go as a question why black and white and I was at a conference recently, and I asked the audience that question. One guy gave me this great answer, so I'm going to repeat what he said, he said, for me, there's, a pureness about black and white, the lack of color encourages me to look beyond the subject matter and experience it in a new way. Can we relate to that? And then he keeps going, he says, so that even a commonplace object commonplace subject can take ...

on added death there's so many layers of texture, shaped pattern and light and contrast that exist in a color photograph, but are sometimes difficult to discern when there's color. And so what I love about black and white is you get beneath the surface of things. So I have a camera up here just to remind us that what we're doing this is about photography. And how do we communicate? Conveyed? How do we kind of get beneath the surface and create stronger black and white photographs? All right, next slide is just a couple pictures. What I find interesting about black and white is there's a stillness and a quiet to those kind of images. Like with these portrait's, a few different friends. Sometimes I think black and white can be more poetic. Poet. Our poem is just a reduction, right? It's a simplification, but it's, not just reductionist it's deepened, and so I think it can have things like that, and I think that black and white can work in so many different types of photographs. And so the goals for this session are for I want you to walk out of this one knowing how to use light room and some of that cake. Adobe camera basic controls learn how to work with selective adjustments to bringing attention to certain areas or or too dark and other areas look at the grayscale controls, batch processing, speed up what we do, and then work with photo shop as well, so those were the goals. These are some of the things that will be doing and just is mohr kind of letting you know we're going to work a lot in light room and some in photo shop and so that's kind of the gist of this one before we begin a couple things, one inspiration is so important. I threw some names up here of a just mix of black and white photographers ansel adams, of course, anton corbin, richard avedon, irving pan earlier or elliott erwitt, sebastian salgado palo reversing rodney smith, a mentor and friend michael ken, amazing landscape photographer. And the reason why I want to want to do that is what happens with black and white. A lot for us is that we tend to convert to black and white no, why black and white we tend to convert because the colors didn't work very well around that happened. Color doesn't work, or you're so frustrated you just get rid of it, which isn't always bad, but wouldn't it be great if we could have more intense? And say, well no I'm trying to do something like this and I want to you know, this is a photographer I really like I like and if you don't know anton corbin he just his blacks are so deep and rich so much contrast and that's refreshing or maybe free because sometimes in digital imaging we say don't do too much contrast you know make sure you have detail in your blacks and your whites but sometimes there's a place that sometimes not so anyway come up with your own list what black and white photography do you like to have something you're going towards so that's really important and then also answer that question why created and then I also have just a couple things my stuff chris or dot com you can find all kinds of things about me and have other tutorials lynda dot com slash chris or we'd all right let's begin and I want to begin with photograph of my daughter anne here and I'm going to just minimize a few things here to set up light room a little bit better and almost there this is a picture isn't she cute? By the way? I wanted to illustrate this idea create a photograph that illustrates the idea that education doesn't only happen in school so there's a field behind her house I brought this old vintage desk out there and she dressed up bart is really fun so this image going black and white to it, and just illustrating a couple things about getting into our tools also know that as I do this stuff, what I tend to do is progressively get a little bit deeper. So I'm not going to start with, like, advanced everything right now, but that's going to come, I want I want to get there. So anyway, with this one what we tend to do and we go black and white as we just remove color. So we d saturate the thing I think most people forget about is that color temperature effects, how that's going to look and we can see this more when I go toe image like this and I'm just going to de saturate and change my temperature notice how, like their reds and the blues and and all that's changes, you have to realize that's connected right color attempt. Why is that so let's? Bring back the saturation watch when it goes toe blue, look at the red it's kind of pale on a little bit lighter, but if I bring it up here, see others more density to that area. So really getting good at black and white is about thinking about these density and also the densities and the relationships, and then there are, of course, other controls so with this image rather than using that slider, I'm just going to reset these double clicking them I'm goingto encourage with everything I have to press the wiki v for victory for better black and whites of wiki goes to black and white, the black and white panel we'll get to that you can also do the same thing just by clicking the treatment button up at the top so again v for victory so I go there and the reason why I'm gonna go there is because I'm going to need a little bit of help with this image first let's crop it, though, are key for crop and composition so important and that's why I want you to look at people's work that you like it isn't just removing color but its crafting images so I crop it I'm trying to get in a little closer, a little more focused on her sitting in this death and the next we obviously will do things like we'll say, well, what about contrast aiken adm or contrast clarity clarity is mid tone contrast its texture and color images. When you bring this up, you lose color and things kind of fall apart and can look to strange black and whites muchmore friendly or what is it? It likes a lot of clarity, so so even with this I'm going to go to one hundred it's not horrible if I were to go one hundred on a color image would be like, oh my gosh, like what you do? You're trying it's trying to be hdr, but it is or I don't know it's confusing. So anyway, with that a little bit of clarity and maybe a touch more than you're comfortable with and and just just some kind of some, you know, adjustments as far as where we're going, and then the next thing that often helps in black and white, as in other places in light room is to work with virtual copies, and I've mentioned this yesterday you guys remember that, but this idea that we can have these virtual copies to have different iterations, so I want to do that with this image. The reason why I want to show that slide is just to illustrate that it doesn't add file size and photo shop when you create new layers, you're adding final size in light room when you create a new quote layer virtual copy you just have this little text file gives you those flexibility. So does anyone remember the shortcut? I love the shortcut to create a virtual copy its command plus apostrophe that's on a map control apostrophe windows want to write that one down it oration and photography is so helpful to find the sweet spot for the image so in this case going down to that black and white panel that we've already really activated with the v for victory what we can do here is say well I want more light on her face and I'll talk more about skin tones and stuff but you can see how what I can dio make it look really bad or I can also make it look really good bring some brightness up there and what happens with black and white some people just use the black and white panel so my students I'm like whoa, you got the basic can on the black and white those two together are the magic even temperatures so I'm gonna go in my temperature side in no time whitening the face here look at that I couldn't I couldn't get all of that if I were just working with the great scale so knowing all these tools bringing them together pretty cool right as the industry so let me show you you know we started here that was our first generation and when I was here at least my first to this image I was pretty proud of myself yes poetic and no color and good contrast but the image needs to be more here for me to actually like it so virtual copies at least help me in my own work flow another image going to keep going landscape photograph on dime just going full screen for a second landscape image with a road so for me, this image is really about this road and the clouds, and this is a raw file, so what I want to do is go black and white, and so I'm thinking, chris said, v for victory, I'm going to try that this approach and just throw that on their v for victory, disappointing and that's, what happens a lot, a lot of black and white conversions, the first step, you have to give yourself some breathing room, just like when you open up your eye images this happens to me where open him up, I'm like, oh, it was so much more vivid when I was there, so much more expressive, but part of work flow is being an artist and saying, I'm going to commit, I'm going to see this image through. So what needs to happen is this there's a balance in brightness, right skies to faint, the four grams too dark and the road is just kind of muddled. So those air that's my strategy. So if I go down ten black and white, and I'm also a fan of the shortcuts to go through the panels, I'm just saying it's, command three or control three goes down to that one command zero through whatever number in any module gets those panels open and close black and white that's important cause I'm going to go back and forth between these two right man one command three command one korean three anyway here I am sky needs to go down I know the sky is blue so a lot times will just reach for that and we'll drop it but what we contend to do is miss something because there may be some aqua in the sky we grabbed the target adjustment tool and position over especially around the horizon can you see my little aqua slider over there? Um just zoom in on it it's a drop that down for me as well and so again this tool just helps us kind of discover colors that we didn't know where their because often even sunsets it's from strange sentence well green in them if you if you look at him closely and so anyway this gives us access to that great so I'm going that direction I got my nice deep dark clouds building up some drama I do want to get too lost here saying in a press command or control one and go back to the basic panel I can't forget about all of these you know, really powerful tools I'm just walking through them doing some basic stuff and then that clarity just adds this definition and pop two photographs like this and I think that's that's better right? We're going in that direction if I wasn't sure about my next steps I would create a virtual copy so I'm thinking I want to brighten the path more I'm not sure if that's going to look good I want to go back and forth between that so I press command apostrophe control posturing on windows command on a mac and I grabbed the adjustment brush the cakey gives us access to the adjustment brush and with this tool I'll choose my exposure effects and just a demo how this works for a second and look at all these controls that we have over here we have our size feather and flow what you're really important in autumn ask so size we can change with the slider or bracket keys right bracket key bigger left bracket key smaller feather low feathers hard edge lot of feathers a soft edge flow is how fast the adjustment is built up so I was like a flow kind of like spray paint you know if it just barely coming out you go back multiple times you building up color if you have a really high flow it just boom there it is it's completely on then auto mass let me show you oughta mask for a second shortcut that's easy remember it's a key so I turned the auto mask off and I'm just going to make an adjustment which I need to exaggerate here so you can act usually see what it is and this will not look good but give me a second when I make that adjustment just everywhere undo that and even on delete my first little part tap the key make the same exact breaststroke and while it is over the top, you can see it's limited to my path, so automatic is a really good job finding edges and areas of contrast so that you can dial that in so this one obviously want lower flow and we want exposure setting, which is going to be lower and I'm just gonna wing it I don't know if that that settings right I'm tapping the left bracket key, but we're going to go back and forth loops little mistake there command z and when you're working with light, I like to kind of move around a little bit, so I'm not pitting one area too hard and I also eventually after I do all of my auto mask work if it weren't a demo, I probably zoom in a little bit more a little more detail, but this is fine for demo after I do that I'm gonna turn auto mask off and then I'm just going to get into the edges because what can happen with autumn ask, especially which with the landscape is it could make the edges look a little bit too crunchy and if the landscape looks crunchy your mind doesn't trust it and so part of black and white is you want to believe it if you ask people photographs and they've done all these studies the color and the black and white version of the image they always believe the black and white mohr even though we know it's just you know it's this weird psychology for some reason in history of images and what those means so anyway, I want to make that believable so all right, so I'm kind of going in my little path there and what's cool about doing a virtual copy is if I go back in time to see my before and after remember the shortcut to do that anyone slash the backslash key right back in time with a virtual copy well, let's go to my first imager here's the first one if I go back in time, I go all the way back to color, right? So I can't really tell is my black and white good let's say I go here and then I decide like why want mohr contrast? I can't see what the contrast was one step four, right? But when you do that virtual copy that that image was born at that state and so when I go back now it just going back to whatever I've done since then and so especially in black and white that's huge right because comparing to color is irrelevant. Color is gone, and color attract arise in different ways. So, anyway, nice little tip there, right? Is faras something so far that we, we've gotten, too.

Class Description

Most people know how to use Photoshop features to create black and white images, but many of these conversions aren't very good. Join instructor Chris Orwig for Create Better Black and White Photographs and make black and white images that are expressive and strong.

You’ll learn how to use Lightroom and Photoshop together in a seamless way to give photographs rich and deep tonal range. Chris will show you how to change the brightness values of specific tones and help you selectively add brightness and darkness to direct the viewer's eye through the image. By working with a wide range of subjects, you’ll explore how to use presets and settings to help you achieve film and analog looks in your digital black and whites.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2014.2.2, Adobe Lightroom 5.4

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Chris Orwig - Create Better BW Photos - Reference Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I LOVED this and loved Chris as a teacher! I get frustrated when the teachers jump around and don't explain things thoroughly. But Chris is great! Lots of new helpful ways to do things. Very informative and very helpful. I have purchased countless Creative Live classes and he is a new favorite! Thank you Chris!!

Rebecca George

one of my very favorite teachers -- love this class and found it SO helpful. Chris is so great about repeating the important stuff in a way that makes it stick. This class gave me the tools to be able to edit more quickly and efficiently. Totally worth the money.