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Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop

Lesson 7 from: Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography

Daniel Gregory

Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop

Lesson 7 from: Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography

Daniel Gregory

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Lesson Info

7. Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Overview of the Alternative Process


Overview of the Digital Negative Process


Working with Black and White Digital: What You Need


Working With Black and White Digital Images: Color Settings


Working with Black and White Digital Images Lightroom


Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop


Working With Black and White Digital Images 3rd Party Plug-ins


Avoiding Key Artifacts


Creating the Step Wedge for Curve Corrections


Organizing Your Adobe® Photoshop® Files and Curves


Setting Up the Printer


Lab Safety and Workspace Set-Up


Setting the Maximum Black Time


Getting the Initial Curve Test Numbers


Correcting the Curve


Printing the Curve


Sharing Curves


Caring for the Digital Negative


Intro to Cyanotypes and Safety


Paper and Brush Types


Coating Process and Cyanotype Chemistry


Making the Cyanotype Print


Washing the Cyanotype Print


Creating Cyanotypes Photograms


Toning Cyanotypes and Cleaning Up the Darkroom


Introduction to Van Dyke Printing


Setting Up the Van Dyke Workstation


Van Dyke Paper and Coating


Van Dyke Exposure and Developing


Van Dyke Troubleshooting and Resources


Van Dyke: Split Toning


Van Dyke: Wash Cycle and Drying


Van Dyke: Clean Up Process


Introduction to Platinum / Palladium Printing


Platinum/Palladium Coating Chemistry and Safety


Platinum/Palladium Paper and Coating Options


Platinum/Palladium Exposure and Development


Platinum/Palladium: Equipment and Supplies


Ink Jet Negative Coating and Exposure


Platinum/Palladium Chemistry Options


Ink Jet Negative Development


Platinum/Palladium Waxing Images


Platinum/Palladium Troubleshooting and Resources


Sharing Your Work Digitally




Matting and Framing Options


Editions and Signing Options


Alternative Processes: Further Exploration


Lesson Info

Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop

Okay, if I grab another image here, and I'm gonna go ahead and edit this image in Photoshop, and I'm gonna show you kind of, oh actually, I'm gonna grab this one 'cause I've shown you this before. So, this image is basically a lot of green, but I wanna print this, and I want it to have a little bit of that contrast separation, so if I just stay here in black and white, I'll come to my little black and white adjustments. My problem is if I move the green slider, I kinda impact everything. And I kinda like that for the background, and I kinda like that for the foreground. You know, and I'm not really sure what I wanna do there, but I want them to be separated. Now, I could work with the brush, try to adjust exposure and things like that, but I'm gonna show you one of my favorite black and white processing tricks to kinda get the look I want. So, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take this image, and I'm gonna edit this as a smart object in Photoshop. So, as I bring this up as a smart object...

in Photoshop, what that's gonna allow me to do is preserve the relationship back to Camera Raw. So, I can now use my Camera Raw tools in Photoshop, because the other thing about the digital negative process is you are going to have to be in Photoshop. You can't do the process alone in Lightroom, so at some point, you're gonna come into Photoshop. So, if I wanna make those edits and preserve those, by opening it as a smart object out of Lightroom, I can hold the edits here. Now I can come in and if I'm like, oh, okay, I wanna make my adjustments to my greens, I can do that. Now, I wanted another layer here that I wanna make an edit for, so I can go on ahead and just create a new layer. Now, if I come in and double click on this, I'm gonna reactivate the smart object, and I'm wanna make the greens darker, 'cause I kinda want that darker background. Now it's affected both images, though, which is not ideally what I wanted. So, I'm gonna undo that. If I right click on the layer and choose New Smart Object via Copy. So, this is a little hook here we want. What this is gonna do is give me two smart objects. It's gonna use this as the original source, make a copy of it so I get all those settings, but they're no longer attached to one another. So I end up with two smart objects now. The top one. And let's go ahead and change the temperature, let's make it really obvious we've done something. Boost the contrast up. And you'll see now that the top and the bottom are no longer tied to one another. So I can now come in, if I'm not great in Photoshop, and I'm not really familiar with the Photoshop editing tools, and I'm not really comfortable, but I wanna continue to work on my black and white image, but I wanna work on two parts independently, I can do that. You're gonna see why I really like this in a second when I talk about healing artifacts. You can use a similar technique to heal some artifacts. But if you're comfortable with Lightroom, you're comfortable with those editing tools, this is a really good way to go, to be able to manipulate the image in multiple different ways, and not have to worry about losing a particular aspect of one part of the photograph. All right, let's close that. If you are, let's grab, say, this one. I usually open up my images as a smart object in Photoshop, even if I'm gonna make the conversion in Photoshop. I actually open them up as smart objects in Photoshop. Okay, there's a myriad of ways to convert into black and white in Photoshop. And probably more ways that I can think of, and demo in a week. So, each one has a subtle different look to the image, a subtle different way of impacting the tones within the image, and I'm gonna walk through a couple of those and talk about why I would choose one option over the other. What you kinda need to do is, if you have an image you're working with, and you're looking for a certain aesthetic and a certain look, knowing five or six different ways to convert can help you sometimes if you're looking for a real subtle, nuanced difference to the look of the image. So, your workflow will be consistent, but knowing that I have an extra tool in the toolbox will give you an opportunity to make a difference on the image. So, one of the easiest ways is to create the black and white adjustment layer, which works very similar to how the black and white adjustments work in Lightroom. One of the nice parts about here is you've got some presets for how filters would've worked, so if you're an analog photographer, and you are used to putting a red filter on, and a filter will lighten its own color and darken the opposite, so if I choose, say, a blue filter, you can see it lightened up the sky, because the blue is gonna lighten up the sky. If I choose a red filter, it's gonna darken that sky a little bit more. So, I've got some pretty quick, easy presets that I can use to kinda get a certain aesthetic look that I would want, and just like it is in Lightroom, I can come in and make an adjustment to the various tones within the image. So, this is a really easy, great way to convert into black and white, with some control here, just like you had in Lightroom. I can get rid of that layer. Another great way, one of my preferred ways of doing this, is if I look at how images are created, if I look at my channels here. You can see, there's my red channel, my green channel, and my blue channel, and they're black and white. That's the luminosity values in each of the different channels that sits in there. And if you click here, you can see I get a different aesthetic and a different look, based on the channel, 'cause right now, all we're looking at is the blue channel's data. If I'm looking at the green, I'm only looking at the data from the green channel. If I'm looking at red, I'm only looking at red. When I look at the RGB composite, it's the blending of all of that data information to give me the color composite. One of my adjustment layers is called the channel mixer. This is one of my favorite ways to make a black and white image, because what I'm really interested in is certain aspects of those three channels. So, in here there's a checkbox for monochrome. So, I check the monochrome, and now I end up with a black and white image. And what it's done is it's taken 40% of the red channel, 40% of the green channel, and 40% of the blue channel to create the composite for the black and white image. But watch what happens if I say, well, what I really wanna do is I want more of that red channel, and I want less of that green channel, and I want more of that blue channel. You can see how I can start to make some changes. Did we look down here at the water? You can see I get some pretty significant changes down there. But if I grab a different image, let's grab one with a lot of color. And let's put a channel mixer on here, go to monochrome. You can see I can make a really big shift into how those tones relate to one another in that image. One of the things to look for is right here, you can see a warning dialogue or warning message that my total is greater than 100%. What it ideally wants for its math is for the three channels to add up to 100%. They don't have to add up to 100%. I still have an image at 600% of my total. I think about 120, 125 will start to artifact somewhere. Depending on where it is, it will stay hidden, but in general, you wanna try to stay around 100, as you're doing the work. This is a great way to come in and subtly make those changes. Now, I also have a mask on there. So I can come in, if I invert my mask, grab a brush here, and I can paint in an aspect of the image there. I can also come in and create a second channel mixer and start to use that. So, I can build multiple channel mixers to create multiple looks of that same black and white image, and then use the masking features within Photoshop to allow myself to bring in. Oh, might wanna actually get the right color brush there, and bring in a different aesthetic and a different look for a different part of the image. So, by using multiple versions of the channel mixer, I can come in and get an appropriate level of black and white. The reason I like to do the multiple one is it lets me progressively push the image and not worry about necessarily trying to get everything done in one fell swoop, and having to end up with a weird calculation of like a 200%, and bringing in some artifacts. So, if there is an area where I really wanna push the red channel, I can push the red channel, mask it off, and then I can use the rest of the data for a different channel. Another method, which I think is a lot of fun, which just kind of gives you some subtle movements, and the great Russel Brown from Adobe created this method, and it's using some hue saturation adjustment layers. And I really like this aesthetic, because I think it does some really interesting things to the image. If I bring up a hue saturation adjustment layer, I change the saturation area, you can see I can get things pretty crazy to the image. Now, which sky tone, if we think back to that flat plant we looked at at the beginning, we were moving those temperature sliders, and the actual color of the image that I liked was pretty garish and not the level that I wanted. So, for all I know, that purple sky gives me the best black and white tone. It may or may not, but I don't know by looking at the color image, how the tonal relationships are gonna develop. So, in Russel's method, what you do is you create one layer for your saturation adjustment, then you're gonna create another hue saturation adjustment layer, and then you're gonna drop the saturation of that down. So, the top layer of the saturation's gone. The bottom one. There we go. I can start to make the shift, based on the saturation values of the image. Bring it back. Oh, gotta change the yellows, there we go. Change the blues, get my color right. We can change our dark and our light in the sky, which is only affecting basically the blues in the image. So, by having that grayscale, the monochrome on top, I'm able to adjust the hues and saturation values underneath to make the adjustment.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Alternative Processing Handout.pdf
Grayscale Percentage to RGB Values.pdf
MSDS Saftey
Bostick Discount Code.pdf
Matt Cutting Cheat Sheet.xlsx
Step Wedge Creation Spreadsheet.xlsx
Alternative Process

Ratings and Reviews


For a long time, I have read, studied and tried alternative processing, mainly Platinum/Palladium printing. I want to create longest lasting prints and may be share the info at Creative Live. But this presentation saved me many a hours. A few minutes into the lecture, I purchased the class and as the class progressed, I was extremely glad. Thank you Creative Live, thank you Daniel Gregory.


Excellent class on Alt Process and fantastic bonus materials included with purchase!!! I have extensive digital printing and darkroom experience but haven't done much alt-process to date. This is perfect timing for me as I have several personal projects that I would like to re-visit using some of these techniques. Thank you Daniel!!!

James H Johnson

I have been making platinum/palladium prints for about 1 year. This is the 3rd workshop that I have attended. The first two were one on one. Daniel has done a fantastic job of covering the material and explained the process it detail and easy to understand. This course is fantastic and highly recommend it.

Student Work