Sometimes I’m just finicky. I’m not sold on the color and black and white seems too stark. On those occasions I decide to walk the tightrope and veer into the middle ground. This is the time for color desaturation, which can make your photos take on an antique look.
Step 1 – Defog (Filter -> Sharpen -> Unsharpen Mask 20-60-0)
Step 2 – Curves/Levels Adjustment Layer – big bump in highlights and contrast
Step 3 – Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer – big bump in contrast – erase any areas where the whites get blown and lose detail in both this layer and the curves layer.
Step 4 – Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer – increase overall saturation
Step 5 – Gradient Map (Elements) or Black and White (CS3) Adjustment Layer – reduced opacity (usually around 70%). Use the Bl ack and White method in CS3 if you have it and really saturate the blacks.
Step 6 – Work the magic…tweak, tweak, tweak.
Step 7 – Unsharp mask (80/1/4) and Flatten Layers
Step 7 – Noiseware, if needed.
What you are trying to do here is bump up the saturation of the colors, add a bit of contrast and then reduce the opacity of the black and white layer to have these show through. Not all pictures will look good like this, but work on getting those beautiful warm “tones”. I think pictures that are more heavily shadowed look the best, since with more even lighting you don’t get a lot of contrast. The pictures I shared on Wednesday were taken as the sun was setting so the lighting was already rather warm. As in ORANGE. As in color was just not going to work very well.
On this picture the lighting was cool as we were in the shade in the woods. I added a warm hue/saturation layer at reduced opacity underneath the black and white layer to create that warmth.
These settings are going to be different for every photo depending on the lighting and amount of shadows. I suggest you also look at the skintones. I wanted some of the skin tones to show through so it wasn’t completely gray, but also for it to still be desaturated. It’s a fine line to walk finding that equilibrium of what looks good.
So, play with this a bit and see what works for you. Let me know if you have any questions.
I couldn’t help it…I had to add some wings. This almost looks HDR-ish.