Conversions to B&W . . .

Friday Night Photography Quote:

36 satisfactory exposures on a roll means a photographer is not
trying anything new.

— Freeman Patterson

There is a question posted in one of the Photography Groups with a follow up discussion “If anyone is still interested in B&W Photography”? In the discussion someone had posted a comment about De-saturating the image to be able to control and change the exposure on the Color Image to help in the preparation for the B&W conversion. I believe there are other ways to do this to create better Contrast and to control the highlights. But I feel by even mentioning De-saturating the image might lead someone in trying this for the full Conversion. That Is Just Wrong! It creates a very bad Tonality and Contrast. This is just or almost as bad as setting Our Cameras for Shooting B&W! Don’t do that either! Grey Tones and Contrast will be very “Off”!

The simplest and easy way is to shoot and create a Raw Image. Then in your Raw Converter/Editor Use the Color Channels to control the different “Zones” for your purpose. But that again might not be the best Method. Using one of the many Photoshop Plug-Ins can help in creating an Absolutely Wonderful B&W Conversion.
The Google Nik Silver Efex Pro is the first to come to mind. It Is Free along with the whole Google Nik Collection. Let me see if it will come up in a search:

OK got it.

Google Nik Collection on search results

I just want to make a fast mention about “The Zone System” here.
Back in the Old Wet Film Days we had a Lot of problems trying to keep our Full Grey Tones pleasing to the eye. When we got the results back from the Lab the images were muddy and terrible at best. That’s why most of us ended up in our Own B&W Darkrooms to see if we could of course do it better ourselves. We found it extremely difficult. But it was at least better than what the Labs were sending back. In our search remember I’m also talking before the Internet here. We found something that actually is still in use today. Now it’s used in our Digital Darkroom in both Light Room and Photoshop. It’s called “The Zone System”. It was created by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer as a way to help control the differing tones and make them stand out to give us the amazing results that we were hunting for.

Black & White still has it’s place as an Art Form. It lends to the creative mind in exaggerating the mood and less concentrating on the colors.

I’m showing 3 images as examples of what can be done. I used the Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 on all 3. The image of the Arno River was also edited in the Nik HDR as well as the Nik Analog Efex Pro 2.

Like Photography itself. All you have to do is let your mind Explore….

Have a great weekend everyone. Don’t forget to check out my Portrait page.

Thanks for stopping by. If you like my discussions. Please leave a message.




  1. Very good advice on converting to B&W. I recently converted some graduation photos (I did shoot in RAW) to black and white. I did it in lightroom and it definitely helps get the tones right using the zone system. I don’t do B&W’s very often, (so I’m no expert), but using the various tools available to target certain tones, definitely helps produce an image that looks the way you want it to.

  2. Thank you very much. It was Announced the other day that Google will No Longer be supporting the Nik Collection. Meaning no more Updates for Operating Systems or Newer Versions of Photoshop or LightRoom. Very Upsetting for everyone who uses these great plug-ins.

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