When it comes to making Black and White photos, do I prefer Camera Raw over Photoshop Black & White conversion adjustment layer. There is several reasons why I never really liked Photoshop Black & White conversion adjustment layer. One obvious reason is the disadvantage of being destructive towards the image information but more that the results from using it is far below what I can get from Camera Raw, which isn’t only a heck of a lot better, but also a lot faster to use. Before the Light Room people starts wobbling, lets all agree that its equally great, at it is a smart wrapping of Camera Raw combined with Bridge.
To illustrate my workflow, I have chosen this photo of my niece. It has a lot of interesting details to it, has heaps of texture, It has good contrast between the light and dark areas, all qualities which makes up for a interesting Black and White. The bokeh of the image might be pleasing, but in this color edition it is not coming to its right to its full extend, with bobbles and squalling yielding to the expression
Converting from color to black and white is a one click operation in Camera Raw. The function moved In the latest edition of the program to a more logical location, but its still the same as in the elder versions. Flip the switch and we are already a good deal on the way with the expression that we want. To my opinion, did the first conversion do a fairly good job, but its still somewhat flat. This is not something to worry about as it is easily corrected in the following steps.
Do be careful on the color slicers, not that they are totally useless, but more that they are really difficult and often can be a walk in the blind. Even though the HCL sliders is better in CameraRaw compared to Photoshop (has two more color ranges to adjust) I still prefer using the standard Adobe Monochrome filters. For me they are much easier when it comes to controlling the effect on the picture.
I am going to use a orange filter for this photo, while it darkens blue and green objects and also produces flattering look by reducing freckles and skin blemishes.
Because the Black and White conversion can come over somewhat flat, is my next step to increase contrast. I tend to like Black and White photos with high contrast, it might sound complicated, but its really not, all you want to do is making the whites whiter and the blacks blacker.
The steps is easy, I start by dragging the Exposure slider as far over to the right as you can without clipping the highlights, if it becomes a little to light, I reverse this just slightly. Then onto the Blacks slider, I am looking for high contrast. White can counter should the areas get too dark.
The last step, is to increase the contrast in the Tone Curve Panel, how much is a matter of taste, personally I love some Whizz-bang by going for strong contrast. If I need some midt tone contrast, then Clarity is the mean to achieve this