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Making it POP! Black and White Style

Copyright Josh Bradley

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest post by Josh Bradley

Black and White is a style that I have more and more fallen in love with over the past few months. To throw fuel on the fire of that obsession is my favorite B&W conversion program Niks Silver Efex Pro. It is my main stay for all conversions into B&W and will stay that way for a long time to come. The image you see of Tony Llanes of Big Electric Cat, was taken at Alan Hess and Scott Diussas Real World Concert Photography Pre-con. The shot in color really did nothing for me it just didn’t pop. Some of the lighting washed over Tony and the rest of the image and just made it a shot for me. But, I started to think what would it look like in B&W with a bunch of punch to it? The result is what you see here.

I should note that before I dove into Silver Efex Pro I dropped the image into Dfine 2.0 to eliminate the bit of noise I had from shooting at 2200 ISO on my D700.

Copyright Josh Bradley

Using Silver Efex Pro is an easy painless process if you have never used it, and if you haven’t I highly suggest you try. To finish this image once inside Silver Efex was literally a matter of seconds. A quick word of advice when using Silver Efex Pro is to check the Presets that Silver Efexs gives you when you open up your image inside of it. Seeing the different effects already applied to your image can help spur some creative juices, and speed you on your way to finishing.

So to finish this image I did a couple of things. After looking at the presets I liked how the high contrast look effected the image. It gave it some pop on the brighter areas and darkened out some of the background and areas that had less detail, so adjusting the Contrast Slider up to 30% took care of the first part. Next I played with the Brightness slider to help drop out the back ground even more. I settled on -5% on Brightness. Next up I played with the Structure Slider to get some hard edges in the lit areas. Set the Structure slider to 20% to finish that portion off.

At this point some people would stop and call it good, but I really wanted this image to pop so I dove into the Color FIlters to see if that last bit of pop I wanted could be found there. I cycled through the filters and had to choose between the Red and Yellow filters. Both filters provided similar effects on the skin tones, but the Red filter on the clothes just didn’t pop very much, so I chose the Yellow filter for the High Key effect that it had on the skin and the extra touch of highlights on the clothes. I set the Yellow filter strength slider up to 106%, hit OK, and the image is ready to go.

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