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  #1  
Old 1st February 2008
Ellie Ellie is offline
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Mono pictures

If I convert a colour picture to mono I never seem to get the sharp contrast and almost gritty clarity I see in some people's b/w pictures.

Is there a knack to converting RAW images, or would it be better to take them using in-camera mono settings?
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  #2  
Old 1st February 2008
PeterD
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Re: Mono pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellie View Post
If I convert a colour picture to mono I never seem to get the sharp contrast and almost gritty clarity I see in some people's b/w pictures.

Is there a knack to converting RAW images, or would it be better to take them using in-camera mono settings?
Ellie

Its my understanding that converting colour images to b/w can result in a colour caste which might be what you are concerned with above. Taking images with b/w set in the camera provides a much better result especially with the E3.

Best regards

PeterD
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Old 1st February 2008
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Nick Temple-Fry Nick Temple-Fry is offline
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Re: Mono pictures

It all depends on how you convert to mono - and just ticking greyscale usually works worst of all.

In the old days of film photographers used different films for different effects and then added coloured filters/polarising filters to further amend the image.

With digital if you want to convert to mono then you need to consider how much of each colour channel (Red Green Blue) you want to be converted in the final image, this emulates the effect of using coloured filters. This can be done in post processing or in camera (there is the ability to emphasise red/green in the setting for e-series).

Some packages (GIMP for instance - which is free, but probably Photoshop as well) enable you to split your original colour image into 3 black and white images, one for each colour channel. This can be instructive. Others (and Gimp again) allow you choose the colour balance input into the b/w conversion using sliders.

(Why do I keep talking about colours - well because the conversion of the different colours is more important in b/w than it is in colour photography)

Classic black and white (say 60-70's reportage) often used exposure more creatively than we tend to do - burning out to get the contrast between white and black for instance, digital has got up hung up on technical perfection rather than on image. But even where the camera has got in the way and given a perfect image - playing with contrast and brightness can help.

Nick
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Old 1st February 2008
KEITHBD KEITHBD is offline
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Re: Mono pictures

Ellie,
If you feel you can splash out $49.95, there is a wonderful conversion to black & white with a programe called Photowiz B/W Styler.The plug in does all various things like,paper grades, film types, ND filters, diffusion filters, even adds grain if required. It is also able to do a host of tonings such as selenium, platinum and sepia.
If you are converting to greysacle,try boosting the contrast a little plus a small amount of saturation.
Regarding the final print, I feel there is nothing to beat the K3 Epson inks on the Epson 2400 printer. People at my camera club often remark, "How do you manage to get your B/W prints like that" so I feel that says something.
Keep pressing that shutter button, Keith.
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Old 1st February 2008
Ellie Ellie is offline
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Re: Mono pictures

Can't really splash out on anything at the moment - MOT, Car Tax, TV License, kids! But I'll keep my eye out for that software. Thanks, I'm sure somebody will find it handy.

Thanks for all the tips, I'll have a go at the weekend with some buildings I took today, some of them might be worth trying.

Quote:
Classic black and white (say 60-70's reportage) often used exposure more creatively than we tend to do - burning out to get the contrast between white and black for instance
I wonder if a slightly overexposed or overbright image would convert better than one that's 'properly' exposed for colour?
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Old 1st February 2008
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Re: Mono pictures

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Originally Posted by Ellie View Post
Can't really splash out on anything at the moment - MOT, Car Tax, TV License, kids! But I'll keep my eye out for that software. Thanks, I'm sure somebody will find it handy.

Thanks for all the tips, I'll have a go at the weekend with some buildings I took today, some of them might be worth trying.


I wonder if a slightly overexposed or overbright image would convert better than one that's 'properly' exposed for colour?
Ellie

Have you tried to shoot in B/W using the camera settings?

Kind regards

PeterD
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Old 2nd February 2008
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Re: Mono pictures

As an addition to my previous post - to emphasise the importance of colour in black and white photography.

These are from an acceptable but unremarkable church shot (Ampney Crucis - Holy Rood).

1'st image shows the original, and that original broken down into red, green, blue channels. You will see subtle differences between the three channel images.



2'nd image shows the original again and 3 different conversions to Black and White. The Greyscale and Desaturation were done automatically, the last image took the seperate red/green/blue layers and then manually mixed them, emphasising the blue and red channels. No use has been made of contrast/sharpening or colour/tonal changes.



I'm not presenting these as examples of 'how to do' b/w, just hoping to illustrate the role of colour.

(all manipulation was done in GIMP - a free GNU licensed program)

Peter/Ellie - I enjoy shooting b/w direct from the camera - but you have to spot on with setting up and you lose the ability to tune the image (plus you need to carry lots coloured filters).

Keithbw - There is a plug-in for GIMP as well that emulates the settings for different film types. Have only played with it.

Nick
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Old 3rd February 2008
Ellie Ellie is offline
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Re: Mono pictures

Crikey Nick that's a lot of work and I can see the huge differences between the pictures.

Peter - I tried taking pictures just once using the mono or b/w setting, but I think the weather was against me (dull/overcast) because they looked dreadfully dull and I regretted not using colour.

How could I achieve what you'd done, Nick, with the software I've got. I do have Photoshop (can't remember the number - not CS) but rarely open it because it get me annoyed. I can never seem to find the right control because it's hidden behind a teeny little icon, everything takes too long and all the instructions seem to be written in some foreign jargon that I've never learned. I prefer Photofiltre, which you probably don't know, and which doesn't have layers. I've also got PhaseOne4 for RAW - can I achieve this result using that?
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Old 3rd February 2008
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Re: Mono pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellie View Post
Crikey Nick that's a lot of work and I can see the huge differences between the pictures.

How could I achieve what you'd done, Nick, with the software I've got. I do have Photoshop (can't remember the number - not CS) but rarely open it because it get me annoyed. I can never seem to find the right control because it's hidden behind a teeny little icon, everything takes too long and all the instructions seem to be written in some foreign jargon that I've never learned. I prefer Photofiltre, which you probably don't know, and which doesn't have layers.
Hi Ellie I know you addressed this to Nick and he has already done a good job of explaining ,but thought you would not mind me adding my thoughts.

I looked at the Photofiltre site and I think you will not be able to accomplish what Nick has described with that software. In any of the full versions of Photoshop the channel mixer will be found under Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer.

As by your own admission you are not comfortable with the full Photoshop have you (when funds permit) thought about Photoshop Elements 6 at roughly £50 if you shop about. This is more user friendly and in my experiance has more useful tools than in earler versions of the full Photoshop.

In fact it would give you a complete workflow from Raw to the finished edited image ( most of my images in my gallery have been done in Elements).
It also has a convert to B&W feature that resembles the channel mixer but works a lot better ( I tried to recreate the same effect using the channel mixer in CS2 and its not quite as good, I guess Adobe have done something a little diffferent with it in Elements 6) and I'm not just saying that because I am a beta tester for Elements.

Just a greyscale conversion


Converted in Elements 6 using a extreme colour mix of channels




Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellie View Post
I've also got PhaseOne4 for RAW - can I achieve this result using that?
I have phase one4 and you have choice of only two mono conversion neither of them much different or has the control of the other methods.
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  #10  
Old 3rd February 2008
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Re: Mono pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellie View Post
Crikey Nick that's a lot of work and I can see the huge differences between the pictures.

How could I achieve what you'd done, Nick, with the software I've got. I do have Photoshop (can't remember the number - not CS) but rarely open it because it get me annoyed. I can never seem to find the right control because it's hidden behind a teeny little icon, everything takes too long and all the instructions seem to be written in some foreign jargon that I've never learned. I prefer Photofiltre, which you probably don't know, and which doesn't have layers. I've also got PhaseOne4 for RAW - can I achieve this result using that?
I've no experience of photfiltre - but I notice it supports a plug-in channel mixer

http://photofiltre.free.fr/frames_en.htm (RGB Layers Mixer in the plug-ins menu)

which could be worth investigating.

But why not just download The GIMP

http://www.gimp.org/

It tries to be less 'helpful' than photoshop so it is easier to use/control, but has all the twiddly bits for photo-adjustment either natively or through plug-ins. At the price (free) why worry if you haven't yet mastered all the options, you've not wasted any money on the bits you don't use.

There is a full book on-line

http://gimp-savvy.com/BOOK/

and some easy to follow tutorials

http://www.gimp.org/tutorials/ (look at the photo-editing section).

Nick
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  #11  
Old 3rd February 2008
ndl0071
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Re: Mono pictures

Hi Ellie, I hope you are now getting the hang of B&W conversion, I am sure that you will post a couple of images when you are happy with them.

For a really good read on the subject go to the following link, It has prooved invaluable to me whilst going through the learning curve.

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/a...and-white.html

Hope it helps

Neil

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Old 3rd February 2008
Ellie Ellie is offline
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Re: Mono pictures

Whew, there's lots more reading. Thanks everybody. I'm sure I'm not the only person benefitting from all this help

I'll have a play with some pictures during the week and see what I come up with.
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Old 4th February 2008
emirpprime
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Re: Mono pictures

Another adjustment that I don't think was mentioned unless I missed it is curves/levels adjustment. To get the "gritty" look often means overexposing the highlights and underexposing the shadows to ensure that there is some pure white and pure black in the image. Essentially making it high contrast, but being more selective about it than the Contrast function allows.

Try converting an image to B&W (whether desaturate, greyscale, channel mixer or whatever your preferred method) then opening the Levels dialog. Bring the leftmost and rightmost sliders towards the centre slightly as you see fit. (Make sure show Preview is ticked in the dialog if there is such a thing so that you can see the effect as you make it).
Once you get the idea try using Curves. You will need atleast 3 points on the line, and don't forget you can move the white and black points too.

All the best,
Phil
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Old 4th February 2008
Xpres
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Re: Mono pictures

A little late to jump on this thread but have you tried using Googles Picassa? It's about as simple as it gets but does have a useful couple of tools for converting to B&W quickly and simply - a tint tool and a filtered B&W tool - and it's free.
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Old 4th February 2008
Ellie Ellie is offline
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Re: Mono pictures

OK, thanks.

I'm going to print this thread out, so I can read everything more carefully because there's quite a lot to take in and looking at the screen isn't the best way to read it all.

Does anybody fancy a challenge?

If so, I'll upload a picture and you can have a play with it. I was thinking about the one I put onto the other site for 'Derelict Buildings', I think it might work in mono.
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