Monday, June 25, 2012

Classic B&W Portraits without Photoshop

Also in this issue:
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  • MyPublisher Books
  • Least likely place to license an image

Classic B&W without Photoshop

Once upon a time, back in the 1940’s, there was a “classic” way to shoot black-and-white portraits.  The Caucasian face was almost a pure white, like these pictures of Gretta Garbo and Shirley MacLaine above.  To get this effect, the photographer would shoot B&W film and place a red filter over the lens, light the subject well, and overexpose a tad.  (And of course makeup helped complete the look.)

You can’t get that look just by shooting in color and “desaturating” the image in Photoshop – the face will come out grey and look much less impressive.  Instead you have to use a Photoshop function called the “channel mixer”, where you can choose which original colors get highlighted in the conversion to B&W.  Below are some examples of color portraits converted to B&W by desaturation, and then by the Channel Mixer method.  Which conversion do you like better?  (Click on any photo to make it bigger.)