Converting images to Black & White in Lightroom®
I'll do a portrait for black and white, how's that? I'll do a picture of this surfer, Josh Redman and let me create a virtual copy, here. So, some digital cameras you can actually shoot in black and white mode on the camera. Most of us, we're just shooting color and then it's converted to black and white. So, Josh is a big wave surfer from South Africa. He was on the north shore and he had this giant beard and we had him come over because he was gonna shave it off, like a few hours later, and we wanted to get cool pictures of him with his giant beard and when I say big wave, we're talking, like, 70 giant waves. This guy's pretty tough. So, this is how I started out and you'll see it doesn't look as exciting as it did in black and white, I definitely jazzed it up quite a bit. But you'll also notice, I didn't necessarily go crazy on the retouching. I left lots of stuff in there, because I want, I mean, that's the beauty of my genre, is I want these people looking rough and tough. You kno...
w, for the women, I don't necessarily want that rough, they're tough, trust me. But, you know, for the guys, you know, if they got a five o'clock shadow and they've got mud all over their face, I want that in there, you know. I wanna show them in their element. So let's make sure I'm where I wanna be. Alright, back in the develop module. So I'm gonna go faster now because I'm not gonna explain what's going on in terms of stuff. So, I might just click straight over into black and white, here. With this new grid, I might actually come down here to black and white and let me just zip down and see if some of these starting points are close to, whoa, that's kinda good there. Black and white two, this is totally new, so this is not how I worked up this image. Whoa, that's not the way I'm going, you know. Oh, dang, that's incredibly close to how I worked this up. That's kind of scary good, actually. Alright, well, that saved us some time. I'm loving that feature already from Adobe. So, you know, and what I might do here is i might go in and do a before and after, which, you'll see, because I made a virtual copy, I'm gonna reset this. There we go. Just so it is before and after and somehow, that did not click into black and white mode. Let's make sure that we got this going. I think that was number nine or 12. 12, alright, so. That just saved us so much time. That is pretty phenomenal, actually. I love it that Adobe keeps improving the software, because it just makes our lives easier. So, I mean, I'm like 9/10ths of the way to where I was with this image with one click. So, this guy, and this is a lot simpler. It's also... Like I talked earlier, it relies more on my monitor here, because, you know, if it happens to be brighter over here or darker over here, or vice versa on the monitor, that affects how I'm gonna work this up. When I'm doing black and white, like the, you know, the Zone System from Ansel Adams, a good black and white image typically, this is not a hard and fast rule, this is old school film rules, has some pure black and pure white in it so it's got high contrast. That explains a lot of the old Ansel Adams picture of Yosemite where you see this like black sky and like pretty bright horizon line where the sun came into the clouds or something. That's how they worked it up and they dodged and burned the image to make it that way. It's not how you have to do everything, it's just an option, but you'll see my history and up here it's not touching the sides on either side. So, you know, I think the overall exposure is probably pretty good right now. I might pull the shadows out, just a little bit, for his face, but then I'm also gonna come over here and... Huh, that is interesting. What is going on... With that in terms of it restricting the histogram? I do not know what's going on there. Interesting. Well, this is what happens when you use a preset and you don't know how they arrived at that preset, is that we're getting some weird thing that it's not expanding the tones. I'm just gonna go back to Adobe Standard. So, that didn't help us as much. Go back here and now when I pull these out, I can... Why is that? Huh. Profile amount, oh. I didn't even see that little slider underneath there, so you can actually restrict your histogram or just how much of that profile is being used. So, I'm gonna take it. That's not really doing anything for black and white. So, we might as well go back to just monochrome there and choose that. So, now we have full range of histogram. That's an interesting little thing. I'm still learning, see? Every time I work up an image I feel like I'm learning something about the software and how it works up. So, at this point I can pull this out and I probably want that background to be white. You know, somewhere in there. I don't necessarily want spiking on his head, but I'm gonna pull pure black here and I don't really care if his shirt is pure black or not, but I don't wanna like... Really bludgeon those blacks on his face too hard and again, I might crank the clarity up and here you can see, man, that makes a massive difference and I might even, after I do that, have to pull the shadows up a little bit to get it to where I want. Dehaze, I'm not gonna touch here because I've already set my white and black points and you see here I'm pushing it pretty hard in Lightroom because I want those pure blacks and whites. I may even pull this back a little bit just so I can have more options in Photoshop and saturation, obviously, doesn't do much. I might add a little contrast, here. Just a little touch. Not gonna hit that. I don't really care about noise on this image. This was shot with a DA108514, so you can tell like the eyelashes are sharp. Almost nothing else in the image is sharp. I probably shot 20 images to get this one sharp images, just because the interesting this is, we blame auto focus when we're shooting wide open. Oftentimes, it's not the auto focus. It's that we're human beings. I put a camera to my eye. If you think about it, I'm moving millimeter by millimeter, half a millimeter. They're moving half a millimeter. So, everybody's moving on such a low level that you don't realize it and the auto focus is trying to adjust for that, or you're in a single point auto focus and you lock in the auto focus and then you're both swaying and so that's why you have to take 20 shots because you gotta catch that moment where you're at the same distance that you set the auto focus for. Which is why Sony works great with their face focus and it's continuously focusing and you can do the same thing with a Nikon and probably with a Canon, these days. Little side note there but something to be aware of when you're shooting, like that Hossel Blood at f2.2, half an eyebrow, piece of hair is in focus. I mean, the focus is so narrow, it's ridiculous trying to get a sharp picture because you're just restricting it to such a small depth of field. Anyway, so, I don't really care about the noise in this, it's black and white. I want some noise, you know, I want some texture and I will say, where did that slider go? Grain, you can thank myself and about four or five other people that were Adobe beta testers. I asked for this grain thing for about six or seven years before they put it in because when I first started the switch from digital, or from film to digital, I felt that the digital images looked like somebody took a squeegie to them and just took all the texture out of the image and so I added grain to every single image I sent out to clients for years to give it some of that texture and about the time they put it in is about the time I got used to the digital look and I stopped adding grain, so, but there's still times like this where you might wanna add some grain to your image. You know, and here I don't necessarily think I wanna add a vignette. What I might do is just click on this, click on that. I'll take that out. I might take some of this out. It's a black and white image, so that doesn't really matter too much. What I'm gonna do here is I'm gonna grab this guy down here and create a graduated filter and it just forces his shirt to be a little darker black because I'm not too worried if that clips. So, that's all I do here for black and white and I can, again, if I click done here, go to the before and after, and you can see, you know, if I'm really gonna get in here and use like, say the black and white mix tool, which we haven't done at all, here. What I can do is I can grab the targeted adjustment tool, here, and I can just go in here and I'm gonna get out of the before and after mode, or I'll stay in here so you can see how the sliders are moving but I can grab certain parts of the image and maybe just click on it and then drag up or down and, you know, maybe I want this shirt a little darker. So, we're in there. Little bit more intense, maybe that's a little too dark. You know, so you can quickly go in here and instead of like adjusting sliders, you can visually just work on the image and this is partly why I say Lightroom is super intuitive because this tool does not exist within Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop or Bridge. This is only in Lightroom and this exists in a few different places, so I have to go back and park my tool. It exists here. You can actually, for black and white, this is a great place to come. You can basically adjust the tones in your image just by doing the same thing and this is a really quick way to edit black and white images. You know, maybe that highlight on the forehead, I wanna pull that in, not too much. Somewhere like that and without even thinking about sliders, I'm adjusting my image as I want it to look and, you know, the beautiful thing with black and white, here, is I'm not worried about what's clipping or not. I don't care. I'm just making it look the way I want it to look. So I'm gonna hit done here for that before, or that tool and then click back out of the before and after. So, there's our black and white. So, pretty easy, you know, I'm definitely in Photoshop, gonna go and take out some of these hairs, clean this up a little bit down here, maybe take out the pimple there and a few other things. Typically when I'm retouching, I'm taking out stuff that's not there all the time. So, if they have a pimple or something, you know, I would want that done on my face and with athletes, I'll often ask. I just had to do a photo shoot with a professional ice climber, one of the strongest female ice climbers on the planet. While I was doing shooting portraits with her, I asked. Like, you have a scar here, do you want me to leave that in? She's like, oh yeah, that's me. How would I know, that's part of who I am. I'm an ice climber, you need to show this stuff. You know, and then I say, like, have you had, I'll ask her, have you had other photographers photograph you and what did you think of their portraits, and then she made a pretty bold comment. She was like, man, this one photographer retouched my face so much that it didn't even look like me anymore and I hated it, and I'm like, well, that's a good sign. I'll retouch it a little bit but I won't go crazy. So, you just kinda gauge that and if you're on a celebrity photo shoot, this is a major topic of discussion. This is signed contract stuff. Like, you will not take out my birthmark here because it's an iconic thing of this celebrity or whatever. You know, you will definitely retouch this thing over here or that thing over there. This is all documented and signed before you ever show up on set. You may not be aware of that but that's just the way it is, a lot of times. Not all the time but a lot of times. So, that's a black and white, that's pretty easy. I mean, you know, honestly there's so much stuff on Lightroom and processing raw images that I'm guessing a lot of people know how to do this but doing it well is still tricky. It's still difficult. At least. Let me qualify that statement. Doing it to a high level so that things print really well and, you know, or come across really well is more difficult than people think because even though I got pretty far in that black and white image, you know, that khaki image took a little more love. Some images, I might be going in there with the adjustment brush and really fine tuning the tones of the image in Lightroom and then doing it again in Photoshop.