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Like this article? We recommend Even More Adjustment Control in Black and White

Even More Adjustment Control in Black and White

While Photoshop CS5 now gives you great ways to be able to create black and white, I think that it’s your ability to selectively work with portions of an image that really adds your fingerprint to the black and white process. One could argue that if you gave this image to several users and told them to use the black and white adjustment layer, they would come close to one another in the processing of it. When you drag a slider, all of the color in that range changes into either black, or white—throughout the image (see Figure 6). But what happens when you only want part of that color to change? How do you take that into account?

Figure 6 Multiple black and white adjustment layers in Photoshop

This is where post black and white adjustments can really help an image. Think of it this way: If you were toning an image in black and white, and you wanted to only take part of the blue sky and make it darker, the black and white adjustment wouldn’t be able to help much. It takes care of things globally. Add to this the fact that you cannot stack black and white effects on top of one another (Its like turning a black and white…black and white. Doesn’t make sense). You can see where this falls short.

Once the black and white process is completed, you can take even further control of the image through adjustment layers like Curves.

Click on the Curves adjustment layer and you’ll notice a Curves dialog box in the panel. On the upper-right portion of the panel, there’s an icon with a finger that allows you to modify the curve by clicking on the image itself (see Figure 7). I’ve dragged the curve higher by clicking on the rocks and moving the adjustment up. This makes it easy to make changes to the image as you don’t have to be all that concerned with learning how to use the Curves themselves.

Figure 7 Using the targeted adjustment icon in Curves

When the curves adjustment was created, a white mask was automatically added to the image—revealing the entire effect across the image. In this instance, I would like to be able to limit this effect to just a portion of the image. I’m going to click on the mask in the adjustment layer, and press Command+I (or Ctrl+I on a PC) to invert the mask to black (see Figure 8). After hiding all of the adjustments, we can apply them back to the image by painting white back onto the mask.

Figure 8 Using the black and white adjustment layer

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