Posted Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tips for Better Black and White Conversions in iPhoto, and a Photoshop CS2 Book You Must Buy

iPhoto TipsI had a great time speaking at the Apple Store in San Francisco on Tuesday night. I talked mostly about iPhoto 5, but we dipped into iMovie HD and GarageBand, too.

On my drive back to Mendocino, I stopped at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge and snapped a quick panorama: five shots that I later stitched using Photoshop CS'2 PhotoMerge feature. What a gorgeous city. I'm a country boy, but I love spending time in San Francisco.

San Francisco at Sunset

Better Black and White
Now that I have a sublime printer for printing black and white photos, I'm converting more color photos to black and white. iPhoto's B&W button does a good job of the task, but there are techniques you can use that provide more control over the tonality of a black and white conversion.

Here's an excerpt from my book that tells more:

A black and white photo with a deep, rich contrast range and sharp details can be beautiful. (Just ask Ansel Adams.) iPhoto's B&W button does a good job of converting a color photo to black and white, but you can often improve on its efforts: after clicking B&W, adjust the Saturation, Temperature, and Tint sliders in the Adjust panel.


When you drag the color sliders after converting a photo to black and white, iPhoto blends the photo's red, green, and blue color channels in different ways. To make a black-and-white photo appear richer, bump up the saturation after clicking the B&W button. While you're experimenting, drag the Temperature and Tint sliders to see how they alter the photo's tonal values. (For you film fogies, this is the digital equivalent of exposing black-and-white film through color filters.)

After Adjustments

You can also use the color-adjustment sliders to apply a color tint to a black and white photo. After converting the photo to black and white (and improving on it using the previous tip, if you like), save the photo. Then re-open it in edit view and drag the color sliders. In the following example, I dragged the Temperature slider to the left until its value read about -25.

Tinted Version

Use Photoshop CS2? You Need this Book
If you're a Photoshop user, there are additional techniques you can use to do black and white conversions. The best place to learn about them—indeed, the best place to learn everything that Photoshop CS2 provides for photographers—is in a new book: Martin Evening's Photoshop CS2 for Photographers.

I bought this book last week, and I'm having trouble putting it down. Its depth and scope are amazing; every page exudes expertise. Martin is a fashion photographer in London and a renowned Photoshop guru and instructor (disclaimer: he appears in a couple of the Photoshop DVDs my company has produced).

A review of the book on Amazon puts it beautifully: "Many Photoshop books seem to be written by people who are clearly skilled enough to earn their living with Photoshop, but are not photographers. Their books are filled with pictures taken on vacation. This is the real thing; top quality photographs; real world skills."

Photoshop CS2 for Photographers: highly recommended.

And while you're shopping... Pick up a copy of the world's best-selling book on iLife. With The Macintosh iLife '05, you get 345 full-color pages and a two-hour, 43-minute companion instructional DVD—for $23.09 on Amazon (34 percent off).