Black and White Conversion Techniques

7 Black and White Photoshop Conversion Techniques

Park Links

Friends of Santa Teresa Park

Santa Teresa Park

Santa Clara County Parks

Santa Teresa Park Pictures

Santa Teresa Park Wildflowers, Spring 2002

Mine, Fortini, Stile Ranch Wildflowers, 4/11/08

Coyote Peak, Rocky Ridge Wildflowers, Feb-Apr. '08

Bernal Hill wildflowers and views, Feb-Apr. '08 Part 1, Part 2

Coyote Peak, Rocky Ridge, Feb-April '08

Mother's Day Walk, Fortini-Stile, 5/4/08

Outdoor Photography Class/Wildflower Walk, Bernal Ranch/Hill 4/4/09

Geocaching Class, Fortini-Mine-Stile Ranch Trail, 4/11/09

Pre-Mother's Day Walk, Fortini-Mine-Stile Ranch Trail, 5/3/09

Healthy Trails Hike, Fortini, Mine, Stile Ranch Trails, 5/9/09

Santa Teresa Sunset Pictures 2/7/10

Norred Trail Workday, 3/13/10

Pre-Mother's Day Walk, Fortini-Mine-Stile Ranch Trail, 5/2/10

Family Fandango 8/21/10

Spider Night, Bernal Ranch, 10/30/10

REI Stile Ranch Trail Workday, 11/16/10

Family Fandango, 8/13/11

REI Stile Ranch Trail Workday 11/5/11

Stile Ranch Trail Sunset 1/29/11

Pictures of Other Parks

Coyote Ridge Wildflowers, 4/13/08

Almaden Quicksilver Wildflowers and Views, Spring 2008, Part 2

Uvas Canyon Healthy Trails Hike, 2/21/09

Harvey Bear Ranch-Coyote Lake Pictures, 3/10/07, 3/21-21/09, 4/18/09

Healthy Trails Walk, Almaden Quicksilver 3/28/09

Calero Healthy Trails Hike, 4/25/09

Blair Ranch Hike, 5/9/09

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, 5/16/09

Palassou Ridge 6/6/09

Mt. Madonna Geocaching Class, 7/11/09

Hellyer HDR Pictures 1/10/10

Almaden Quicksilver Wood Road Geocaching Class 1/16/10

Uvas Canyon HDR Pictures 1/23/10

Joseph D. Grant County Park, 1/31/10

Uvas Canyon Hike, 2/13/10

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, Mayfair Ranch Trail, 3/14/10

Blair Ranch Hike 3/28/10

POST Rancho San Vicente Hike, April 10, 2010

Rancho San Vicente Photography, Widlflower Hike, April 17, 2010

Coyote Ridge, 4/18/10

Mummy Mountain Trail Day and Hike, Coyote Lake, 4/24/10

Geocaching Class, Coyote Lake, 5/15/10

Hellyer Festival in the Park, 6/26/10

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, Boccardo Trail, 8/14/10

New Almaden Day, Junp-In Parade, 9/11/10

Almaden Quicksilver Pioneer Day, Casa Grande 11/13/10

High-Dynamic Range Photography

HDR Experiments -1

HDR Experiments -2

HDR Hellyer Sunset

HDR Uvas Canyon Waterfalls

Grant Ranch, 1/31/10

Santa Teresa Park HDR Sunset Pictures, Pueblo Area, 2/7/10

Almaden Quicksilver, 2/27/10

Santa Teresa Park HDR Sunset Pictures, Norred Trail 5/21-27/10

Alviso Marina Sunset Pictures, 11/27/10

Sunset Pictures, Stile Ranch Trail, 1/29/11

Sun, Clouds, and Rainbows, Santa Teresa, 1/30/11

Outdoor Photography

Ron Horii's Outdoor Photography Pages

Outdoor Photo Gallery

Photo Class, Wildflower Walk, Santa Teresa Park, 4/4/09

Rancho San Vicente Photo Class Hike 4/17/10

Outdoor Photography Class, Bernal Ranch, 10/2/10

Outdoor Photography Hike, Mummy Mountain Trail, Coyote Lake, 4/23/11

Outdoor Photography Hike, Mummy Mountain Trail, Coyote Lake, 4/7/12

HDR Experiments
Black and White Conversion
Santa Teresa County Park

East Barn at the Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch

In the early days of photography, all photographs were black and white. In later years, color photography was invented, but it was an expensive process and too complicated to be done at home. Many amateurs and even professionals chose to stay with black and white, even while color photography became more mainstream. Some of the greatest photographs ever made, by such masters as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, were done in black and white. With the increased popularity of quick and low-cost color processing, it became easier than ever to produce color photographs, and black and white photography became a specialty field, used only by enthusiasts and some professionals. With the advent of digital photography, where color is built into the camera, color became ubiquitous. Ironically, digital photography makes it easier than ever to create black and white pictures. Color photos can be quickly converted to black and white, either in the camera or by post-processing.

Why create black and white pictures? When color is removed, other characteristics of a scene are emphasized, such as lighting, shadows, tonality, contrast, shape, pattern, and texture. Since the real world is in color, black and white pictures are by definition an abstract representation of reality. They can create a different mood and emotional impact than a more realistic color picture. They can allow more artistic freedom to alter the look of a scene before becoming unacceptably unreal.

One advantage of black and white photography over color photography is that tonality can be altered by using colored filters. For example, in order to darken a blue sky, a yellow, orange, or red filter can be used, resulting in increasing darkening, respectively. The only way to darken a sky relative to the clouds with color photography is to use a polarizing filter. However, polarizing filters are sensitive to the angle of the camera relative to the sun, and can result in skies with varying darkness using wide angle lenses. With a colored filter and black and white photography, the effect is independent of the angle of the shot relative to the sun. Other filters can similarly affect other colors. A green filter can be used to lighten green foliage. A blue filter can be used to make blue skies brighter and red objects darker.

Black and white photography with film faced the same limitation as color digital photography today: dynamic range. Photographers like Ansel Adams found that some of the most dramatic photographs had wide ranges of darkness and light that were difficult to capture with film and photographic paper. They developed techniques to deal with this problem. The most common was dodging and burning while printing. Dodging involved using a small moving shape over specific areas of a picture to block light over them while printing to reduce their exposure time, thus making them lighter. Burning involved using cards with holes in them to give certain areas of a picture more exposure time to make them darker. This was time-consuming work and required much trial and error and skill to get it right. It also meant that each print was unique and difficult to reproduce exactly. Digital processing and HDR techniques makes it much easier to capture scenes with wide dynamic range and reproduce them.

Certain types of scenes benefit from black and white conversion, particular landscape photographs with blue sky and clouds. I looked through HDR pictures of Santa Teresa Park that fit this criteria. These pictures started out as color photographs. They were all high-dynamic range images, made from 3 or more shots, taken at different exposures to capture the wide range of light and shadow. They were combined together using Photomatix Pro, then edited with Photoshop Elements 9. I experimented using black and white conversion with Photoshop Elements. It was done in 2 steps. One was to remove all color by using a hue/saturation adjustment layer in normal mode and setting the saturation to -100. The other was to simulate colored filters by adding another hue/saturation adjustment layer, setting the mode to color, and adjusting the hue. (See the link at the top left, technique #8.) After that, I adjusted the contrast and brightness with level controls.These are the results:

Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch

Santa Teresa Spring.

View from the Joice Trail, looking towards Communications Hill and downtown San Jose.

View looking up the Joice Trail towards Bernal Hill.

View looking along the Santa Teresa Hills from the Norred Trail.

View from the Norred Trail.

Another view from farther along the Norred Trail.

View of the Mine Trail, looking towards Rancho San Vicente.

Coyote Peak as seen from the Mine Trail by Bernal Road.

Looking towards Bernal Hill from the Pueblo Area.

View of Santa Teresa Golf Course and the Ohlone Trail from the Hidden Springs Trail.

The Hidden Springs Trail, looking towards Coyote Peak.

This is exactly the same source picture as the previous picture, but a different color filtering setting was used by adjusting the hue control, so the grayscale is different for different parts of the scene.

View of the Hidden Springs Trail from the start of the Ridge Trail, with the Pueblo Area and Bernal Hill in the background.

View from the Ridge Trail looking towards Bernal Hill.

  Another view from the Ridge Trail looking towards Bernal Hill.

View looking towards downtown San Jose from the Hidden Springs Trail, Coyote Peak Trail junction.

View from Coyote Peak looking along the Santa Teresa Hills towards the Bay.

Hikers going down the Coyote Peak Trail.

Page created by Ron Horii, 7/19/12