Beauty and The Beast

Beauty and The Beast

But what a cute little beast he is, no?

I love this shot … and I’m also fascinated by it, because, unless I’m mistaken, the lovely Ms. Jayna took it. Now, if seeing a great shot like this and realizing a 3-year-old took it isn’t enough reason to go buy yourself a digital SLR camera, I don’t know what is.

And speaking of photographic geekery: Jon Armstrong posted at his website last night a tutorial on using Adobe Lightroom to convert a color photo to grayscale. This reminded me of a lesson I once learned at a Photoshop seminar, during which the instructor showed his recommended method for using PS to convert a color photo to grayscale. He suggested that simply selecting “Grayscale” in the “Image” menu produced sub-par results, and that the results of his method were more similar to actual black-and-white film output. I was going to post the instructions for that method in the comments section of Mr. Armstrong’s tutorial, but he helpfully reminded me that I have my own website, so I am instead posting the information below—which actually works out a lot better, because I included here a bunch of menu screen-captures that I would not have included in the comments over at blurbomat.


So, let’s compare.

Using the color image above as a starting point, let’s convert it to black & white the lazy way:

Grayscale menu



After doing that, what you end up with is this:

Grayscale image



Nice enough. However, the method I was taught goes like this:

I will again start with the color image above, and then go to “Image -> Calculations”:

Image -> Calculations



The following dialog box will open up, and the settings I’ve selected are those I was taught were preferable for the conversion method we’re discussing:

Calculations menu



As you can see, I’ve opted to have the output be sent to a new document, thus leaving the original unscathed. The resulting new document looks like so:

Calculations: Green over Red



I then applied a “Levels” adjustment layer …

Levels adjustment layer



and tweaked the sliders a bit …

Levels sliders



which left me with what I am satisfied to have as a final result:

Calculations: final result



For the sake of comparison, I applied the same exact “Levels” settings to the “Grayscale” image created way back at the beginning of this whole thing, and this is what I ended up with:

Grayscale with same levels applied


Obviously, you could tweak the “Levels” sliders to end up with a more palatable version of the “Grayscale” image, but the point is that the image generated by the “Calculations” operation has a broader range of midtones to mess with.


Here’s a side-by-side look, with the “Grayscale” version on the left and the “Calculations” version on the right:

Side by side

My only real complaint is the loss of detail in the eyes … but those could obviously be isolated and tweaked. That notwithstanding, I do have to say that the “Calculations” version does, in fact, have more of the same depth and warmth you would find in an actual black-and-white print than does the “Grayscale” version. So, I’m convinced. You?

Pin It
This entry was posted in Featured Photo. Bookmark the permalink.
Post a comment

One Comment

  1. Katarina
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, I’ll definitely try that!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge