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There are as many ways to convert a color image to B&W as there are to capture the picture in the first place. In this podcast, I explain two of my favorite methods using Photoshop CS or Elements.

You may wonder why I pick these two "traditional" methods of B&W conversion when there are new tools available in Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and the beta version of Photoshop CS3. Well, quite honestly, many photographers aren't using those new applications yet, but almost everyone has some version of Photoshop. So, we'll start with the basics, then revisit this topic again with new techniques up the road. Today, let's start with one of my favorite methods using adjustment layers.

Black & White photo of Derrick Story taken by George Jardine in Iceland.

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers

If you've never worked with Layers before in Photoshop, this will be a terrific introduction to their power. I like this method for B&W conversion, because once you have it set up, all you have to do is move a slider back and forth until you get just the right tonal look. It's really cool. This method works both in Photoshop CS and Elements. Here are the steps.

  1. Open the image you want to convert, and display the Layers palette (Window > Layers).
  2. Create a new Hue/ Saturation Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation). Name it "Hue" and select "Normal" from the Mode popup menu.
  3. Create another new Hue/ Saturation Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation). Name it "Saturation" and select "Color" from the Mode popup menu.
  4. In the Saturation menu, move the "Saturation" slider all the way to -100. Click "OK."

  5. Now, go back to your Layers palette and click once on the "Hue" layer to select it, then double-click on the adjustment icon to open its dialog box. Move the "Hue" slider back and forth until you get eactly the right look you want. Click "OK."

  6. If you want to make any final tonal adjustments, click once on the background layer to select it, then open the "Levels" dialog box for final highlight, shadow, and midtone correction.
  7. Select "Save As" and give your file a new name, and save as a Photoshop file with Layers perserved. That way you can always come back and readjust the image.

  8. If you want to make a Jpeg copy of your B&W converted photo, choose "Save As" again, select "Jpeg" from the Format popup menu, and give your file another unique name. Photoshop will flatten your layers for you and convert the image to Jpeg. You're set!

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Layers Window in Photoshop Elements for above technique: Make sure the "Saturation" layer is on top of the "Hue" layer for this technique to work properly.

Monochrome Mixer

The second method works in Photoshop CS using the Channel Mixer. This method is a bit simplier. All you have to do is open the Channel Mixer (Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer...). Then click the "Monochrome" box. Set the sliders to Red=30, Green=60, Blue=10 as your starting point. Adjust to taste from there, keeping in mind that you want the total of your sliders to add up to 100. Then finish off your adjustments using "Levels," and Save As a B&W version of the image. Simple!

Feb. Photo Assignment

I also mention the February 2007 photo assignment, "Texture." Deadline for submission is Feb. 28. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Convert to B&W." You can download the podcast here (28 minutes).

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There's no greater satisfaction than having packed the perfect camera kit for the assignment at hand. In this podcast, I discuss what was in my camera bag as I ventured out to shoot an indoor basketball game. After covering all the items in the picture above, I then solicit readers for what's in their camera bags.

Feb. Photo Assignment

I also mention the February 2007 photo assignment, "Texture." Deadline for submission is Feb. 28. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "What's in my Camera Bag." You can download the podcast here (28 minutes).

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Sponsor Notes...

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

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Many photographers hate the flash because they haven't learned how to tame it. But you can employ your strobe to create interesting, and yes even natural looking images... if you know just a few secrets.

Modifiers that redistribute the light have some value, such as the Gary Fong Lightsphere. But there's much you can do with just your flash and good technique. In this podcast I review some of my favorite flash tips to help you get more natural looking pictures.

Feb. Photo Assignment

I also mention the February 2007 photo assignment, "Texture." Deadline for submission is Feb. 28. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "More Flash Techniques." You can download the podcast here (29 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.

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After more than half million downloads of the beta version, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is complete and ready for action. In this podcast, I cover some of the details of the upcoming launch in February, plus I look at a few of my favorite features of this new photo management tool.

The 1.0 version of Lightroom will be available on Feb. 19, 2007 for both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Early adopters who purchase the application before April 30 can do so for $199 US. After April 30, Lightroom will cost you $299. Adobe is also providing a free trial download of the 1.0 version on Feb. 19. Current users of the beta version of Lightroom will have to decide what to do by Feb. 28, because that's when the current beta expires.

Feb. Photo Assignment

I also mention the February 2007 photo assignment, "Texture." Deadline for submission is Feb. 28. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Lightroom 1.0." You can download the podcast here (28 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.

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Cameras don't see the world as we do. Our eyes can pick out the shadow detail of a shaded tree trunk and the subtleties in a bright sky at the same time. A camera can't. At the root of this discrepancy is something called dynamic range, the ratio of the lightest point in the scene to the darkest. On a bright day, most people can easily see 50,000 subtle variations in tone. A typical 8-bit photo captured by a digital camera picks up a mere 256 variations.

In Photoshop CS2, Adobe added a Merge To HDR (High Dynamic Range) command that automates the process of combining pictures with different exposures. The result is closer to what you see with your eyes. In this podcast I explain how HDR works, how to capture your images for proper processing, and what to do with them once they're on the computer.

You might also be interested my article, Extend your dynamic range that I wrote for Macworld Magazine.

Jan. Photo Assignment

I also mention the January 2007 photo assignment, "Glimmer." You can use this theme literally -- shine faintly with a wavering of light... such as glimmer off water. Or you can go figuratively such as a glimmer of hope. There's lots to work with here. Deadline for submission is Jan. 31. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "High Dynamic Range." You can download the podcast here (26 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

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Have you ever wondered about signing a book deal? If so, I have the interview for you. I sat down with the incredible Colleen Wheeler to discuss her work as an editor for O'Reilly Media. Colleen gives us an inside look at the publishing world and tells us a little bit about her projects with famous photographers such as Stephen Johnson, Mikkel Aaland, Eddie Tapp and more. It's a terrific conversation that I'm sure you'll enjoy. She also has some pointers for those thinking about trying to get a publishing contract.

Photo caption: Colleen Wheeler and Mikkel Aaland taking their first peek at Mikkel's "Photoshop CS2 Raw" book at PMA 2006. Photo by Derrick Story

Jan. Photo Assignment

I also mention the January 2007 photo assignment, "Glimmer." You can use this theme literally -- shine faintly with a wavering of light... such as glimmer off water. Or you can go figuratively such as a glimmer of hope. There's lots to work with here. Deadline for submission is Jan. 31. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Photography Book Publishing." You can download the podcast here (32 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

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Many of us have decisions to make about software in 2007. Are we going to continue with an existing Photoshop-based workflow and upgrade to CS3, make the switch to Lightroom, get serious with Aperture, or explore the new features in iPhoto? The tools available for photo management are better than ever. And the real trick now is finding the right match for you.

In this podcast, I take a look at the four leading contenders for your digital shoebox dollars, touch on their possible release dates, and help you figure out what's the best application for your images.

Jan. Photo Assignment

I also mention the January 2007 photo assignment, "Glimmer." You can use this theme literally -- shine faintly with a wavering of light... such as glimmer off water. Or you can go figuratively such as a glimmer of hope. There's lots to work with here. Deadline for submission is Jan. 31. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Software for 2007." You can download the podcast here (29 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

Memory Cards

Listeners have submitted some of the things they have learned the hard way. In this episode, I tell the stories shared by Landon Michaelson, Brian Reilly, Kevin Miller, and Arnold Prasent. Their experiences hold valuable information for all of us to help us protect our images and improve our photography. It's an entertaining and informative podcast.

Jan. Photo Assignment

I also mention the January 2007 photo assignment, "Glimmer." You can use this theme literally -- shine faintly with a wavering of light... such as glimmer off water. Or you can go figuratively such as a glimmer of hope. There's lots to work with here. Deadline for submission is Jan. 31. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "More Things I Learned the Hard Way." You can download the podcast here (29 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

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Indoor sports photography offers great opportunity to take pictures without having to venture out into the snow, rain, and cold. This type of shooting is also good practice for using your custom white balance setting, playing with ISO, and breaking out any fast glass you may have available.

In this podcast, I talk about a recent shoot inside a high school gymnasium where I use my Canon 5D, a 70-300mm IS zoom, and one of my favorite lenses, the 85mm f-1.8 Canon USM. I pulled out my ExpoDisc to help me tame the indoor lighting, and pushed the ISO to 800 or 1600 depending on which lens I had mounted.

I had lots of fun and came away with some good shots. Hopefully this show will inspire you to find some indoor sports in your neighborhood and do a little shooting yourself.

Photo by Derrick Story. Canon 5D, 70-300mm IS lens at 120mm, ISO 1600, f-5.6, 1/125th second, Raw format, Custom White Balance.

Dec. Photo Assignment

I also mention the December photo assignment, "Pool of Light." I originally got the idea for this assignment by looking at some of Steve Simon's existing light pictures when he composed the main subject in a pool of light and let everything else live in the shadows. I think this is very effective.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Indoor Sports." You can download the podcast here (26 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

Typical Scene Modes

Scene modes serve as a shortcut for a combination of camera settings tailored for a specific shooting situation, such as a night portrait where you want to retain some of the background information. When you go to a scene mode, your camera sets the shutter speed, aperture, white balance, drive mode, and sometimes even adjusts exposure compensation or metering pattern.

The trick is to learn which scene modes are useful for you, then know how to switch to them quickly when you encounter the appropriate lighting situation. In this podcast, I cover the most common scene modes available, and talk a bit about what's going on behind the "scenes" when you use them.

Dec. Photo Assignment

I also mention the December photo assignment, "Pool of Light." I originally got the idea for this assignment by looking at some of Steve Simon's existing light pictures when he composed the main subject in a pool of light and let everything else live in the shadows. I think this is very effective.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Scene Modes." You can download the podcast here (29 minutes).

Technorati Tags: , ,


Sponsor Note...

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.