Shades of Grey
Sandeep Balachandran | 22 June 2010
Shades of Grey
Have you ever wanted to create stunning black and white images? We show you how.
By SANDEEP BALACHANDRAN
Converting pictures into black and white is as easy as clicking “Convert to Greyscale” in an image editor. But will these images even draw a second look? Probably not. We show you the difference between traditional conversion and using a simple plug-in like B/W Styler. While this plug-in will set you back Rs 2,300, it has many options that would otherwise cost a lot more, and it can be used with IrfanView. Before we proceed, here are a few tips to consider when taking pictures.
Choose your subjects: Pictures might appear appealing in color, but may look dull in greyscale, so it's best to keep it simple. Objects and portraits look better if they contain one solid color rather than multiple colors. Include fewer elements in your photographs for better results.
Light and Shadow: Since the picture is devoid of color, use of light and accounting for shadows is vital. Try not to use a flash as it eliminates the effect of shadows. Eliminating shadows in a black and white image will make them look rather flat.
Once you've downloaded and installed the plug-in, run IrfanView. Navigate to 'Image | Effects | Adobe 8BF Filters'. Click on 'Add 8BF filters' and navigate to the folder where it was installed. Select the filter and click 'Start selected filter'. Required filters can be selected from the drop down menu.
Step 1: B/W Filters
Most photographers use colored glass filters to give B/W pictures a different effect. For example, orange filters highlight skin tones, red filters make the sky dark, while yellow filters are ideal outdoors. The Contrast filter allows you to make fine adjustments based on color differences. But too much or too little may cause the image to artifact. When using the Brightness filer, the level of brightness depends on the aspect of the image that you want to highlight.
Step 2: ND Filters
The main effect of a polarizer is to eliminate reflection from various surfaces. Moreover, they also help enhance the overall color of the sky. Depending on the image, you can choose between three types of filters – ND Filters (used to darken the image), ND Grad Filters (gradually darken one half of the image) and Polarizers (used to darken blue areas and brighten yellow areas). So if the sky is what you want to highlight, then the ND Grad filter should do the trick.
Step 3: Diffusion Filters
Diffusion filters are used specifically when the need is to give the picture a very soft and dreamy effect without affecting the overall sharpness and contrast of the image.
It is important to note here that the higher the diffuser value, the darker your picture will be. So make sure you apply the required diffuser depending on the overall contrast of the image.
Step 4: Development Mode
This represents effects that are applied when processing RAW films. The Brighten slider allows you to increase/decrease the overall Exposure Value. For most images, you will only need to make adjustments between -1 and +1. The S-Contrast and H-Contrast sliders allow you to adjust contrast in dark and bright areas. They help to highlight certain aspects of the picture. The Amplify slider can be used with the contrast sliders to make fine adjustments to images.
Step 5: Paper Grade
This basically refers to photographic paper that has a range of contrast levels. Here, different levels provide effects ranging from low contrast (0) to high contrast (5). Since we couldn’t achieve the required effect with the preset values, we chose to change the “Multigrade” value to -1 along with a “Paper density” of 15. What we achieved was a rather dreamy effect that best suits the overall image.
Step 6: Frame
A picture such as this is never complete without composing it in a frame. Framing gives your image added perspective and depth that makes it stand out in the process. Your best bet would be the 'Rect-Black Simple' or the 'Rect-Black Line' frame. The choice of frame is totally up to you.
Once you're satisfied with the overall image quality, click 'OK' to apply the settings. Exit the filter menu and save the image.