Friday, September 01, 2017

Black and White ~ more image processing approaches

A recent revelation concerning the making of great digital black and white images has bowled me over.  The technique is where you desaturate an image and grab the center of the "curve" and raise it.  This is quick, straightforward and produces some very lovely results.

There are, of course, more than several ways of creating decent black and white images from digital color image files.  In this post I would like to share an alternative and still simple approach.

Capture One, Lightroom, Rawtherapee and many other image processing software applications provide tools that allow you to manipulate the color response in black and white, just as you might when decades ago you applied a colored filter to a lens while shooting black and white film.  Do you remember using a yellow filter to slightly darken the sky?  It's the same principle used here, but is processed after the image is taken, not while you're tripping the shutter.

Take, for example, the following image.

Audelange, Jura, France

Using Capture One I added selected  "Black and White" -> "Color Sensitivity" -> "Enable B&W."  This activates a number of color range selections.  The sliders for each selection allow you to lighten/darken colors individually.  I consider this my infinitely variable and all powerful  black and white "filter pack."

For the above image, using "curves" to raise the mid-tones made the building and the sky too bright.  So, instead, I darkened the blues to manage the sky.  This had the additional effect of making the side of the building reveal more detail.  Next, I moved the green slider around until it revealed the reflection of the building as well as the leaves in the trees and plants around the scene.

Using the "let's play around with this" approach to image processing allowed me to lighten the areas I wanted and to selectively darken certain elements of the scene.  In this way I was able to selectively raise certain mid-tone colors.  The overall effect is subtle, and effective.

You might not be able to fully predict how the sliders will behave, so it's good to play around with the sliders in the "filter pack" until you find something you really like.

I enjoy looking at this image as it reminds me of the sensation of warmth of the late afternoon light I felt on that particular day in the village of Dole in the Jura region of France.