CC - Backlighting & B&W

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Joined: 03/15/09
Posts: 576
CC - Backlighting & B&W

Hello, I finally got out inbetween the constant rain we've been having here and took a few shots when we had some sun! I wanted to try the whole "backlighting" thing a bit and give it a go at a B&W conversion. I honestly have no idea what I am doing when it comes to B&W conversions, I just followed Scott Kelby's directions in the photoshop elements book 5. So, please give it to me if you love it, hate it, what I could do differently (it looks dark to me, but couldn't figure out how to change that!). No hurt feelings here, I really want to learn. Smile All color ones are SOOC, sharpened for web. Thanks in advance for any cc you can provide!

1. Original:
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1250)
Aperture: f/2.2
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100

Ava Aug 09 031 web

2. B&W ATTEMPT: :confused: maybe backlighting and B&Ws don't mix?
Ava Aug 09 031 bw web

3. Another backlighting attempt....
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 200

Ava Aug 09 004 web

4. Just cause I have mommy goggles for this one...
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/2000)
Aperture: f/2.2
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Ava Aug 09 013 web

EL2
EL2's picture
Joined: 12/05/07
Posts: 1665

I think these are great. Back lighting is a bit hard. I think you could have added some fill light to maybe brighten her face up a bit.

Your aperture is pretty wide open. I think that's why in some instances her face looks a bit soft.

But I like it!

katetheskate's picture
Joined: 11/24/08
Posts: 49

LOVE the first one.

the sooc is perfect for a backlit image.

you just need to bring her skin up a tad.

i used levels and curves a little before converting. i tried not to brighten the brights anymore, i just brightened the mid tones and darkened the shadows for a little contrast.

here's my play - lemmie know if you want me to remove it

sadieruth's picture
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 6154

I think the photos are good. I really like Katie's play on the b&w. I think it needed to be softer with her precious face!

Joined: 03/16/15
Posts: 53852

Great job! I agree, backlighting is difficult. I think you did a good job capturing it, though, and her sweet little personality. I also like Katie's play. (Oh, and what a cute dress, too!)

Joined: 03/15/09
Posts: 576

Thanks for the cc, I was beginning to think noone was gonna respond. I think the board is a bit dead on weekends, which is my best time to be on when I'm not working Smile

"katetheskate" wrote:

the sooc is perfect for a backlit image.

you just need to bring her skin up a tad.

i used levels and curves a little before converting. i tried not to brighten the brights anymore, i just brightened the mid tones and darkened the shadows for a little contrast.

Thanks so much Katie! I really thought the SOOC image was too dark, thanks for the cc. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your B&W play. Thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to show me how it can look! I'm just logging on at lunch at work for a quick check-in, but I will NEED to try and recreate that tonight (want to get one that I can print without my wm)! I doubt I can though...thanks for the tips to play with levels and curves. I will give it a shot! Smile Stay tuned...

"EL2" wrote:

I think these are great. Back lighting is a bit hard. I think you could have added some fill light to maybe brighten her face up a bit.

Thanks EL, do you mean like fill flash as I was taking it, or pp? I have never been able to get the fill flash right, thats another thing I need to work on.

Joined: 03/15/09
Posts: 576

Okay, I have been playing around with this for hours now. I just cannot get it right! Sad

A few questions for anyone who does B&W conversions. What method do you follow? I use elements 5 and have found these 2 ways to do it...neither of which I can make look like Katies Smile ...but a hint as to which method is better to start with would help me out!

Workflow #1 (this is how scott kelby does it in his elements book)
1. Color curves if needed
2. Adjustment layer - levels
3. Adjustment layer - gradient map
4. Then go back to levels and individually adjust each color channel (red, green, blue)
(for this method, I have no idea how to play with the colors to get them to look "right")

Workflow #2 (found this online in a bunch of elements tutorials on utube & such..)
1. Color curves if needed
2. Adjustment layer - gradient map
3. Then adjust slider in gradient map

Or do you do an entirelly different workflow? Smile

katie, when you said you brightened the midtones and darkened the shadows, were you referring to doing that in levels before you even did the conversion, or did you do this using the gradient map?

Sorry if these are dumb questions (and for the book I just wrote), but I am totally struggling here!

coolmama72's picture
Joined: 10/20/01
Posts: 8185

Jess, I will do my best to look at this tomorrow and reply. I want to reply now but DH is calling and it will take me more than a few minutes to find my words. Smile But I do love that first one.

coolmama72's picture
Joined: 10/20/01
Posts: 8185

okay, DH said I took too long and we're not watching the show. that's fine by me Lol

I just added you as a Flickr friend, hoping you'll do the same so I can hopefully see bigger versions of your pictures.

from what I've read about backlighting, there are times were you really do need the fill flash to make it work. there just isn't enough light on the face. but it's also okay to blow the sunlit parts of hair and the sky too when you're taking these kinds of photos. so you could have brought the SS down just a little so she was better exposed.

as far as the conversion, I usually use a gradient map to do it. I get the photo where I want it to be first, and I usually add more contrast (usually using levels - I edit with PSE7 so I don't have access to curves, not sure about the color curves you're using. maybe it's called something else in version 7).

here's advice I like to follow from Rita (of the CoffeeShop blog) It's about how to do a chocolate conversion, but you could also play with the colors to get a softer B&W conversion.

Oh, this is so easy! Just make a gradient map layer that goes from tan #faebd9 to dark brown #2e2609 and put it at soft light, overlay, or hard light blending mode, 25-100% opacity for the layer (those colors are just suggestions, you can change the colors on the fly and it will work great!). Then click on your background layer and add a black to white gradient map adjustment layer (this will turn your image B&W). The color gradient map must be on top!

Very easy and works in both PSE and PS. You can also make other tinted B&Ws. For a pinkish one, add a dark pink to light pink gradient map layer rather than the tan to brown. Or light blue to dark blue for a bluish image. Play around with the different colors in your tint gradient map layer, it is so fun!

For more fun, lower the opacity of your B&W gradient map layer slightly to get a slight hint of color in your image.

katetheskate's picture
Joined: 11/24/08
Posts: 49

well i do my conversion completely different - probably not the best way, but it works for me. here's what i did exactly

open image Wink
made a levels layer mask
i dragged the middle slider of levels to the left a little and the left slider to the right a little. less is more.
then i masked out the brights blown parts of her hair
the i made a curves layer mask
i put a marker about 75% of the way up the line and left it there. i put a marker about 25% of the way up the line and dragged it down just a tad to darken the shadows a little, then i put a marker in the middle and curved it up a little to brighten the midtones (skin).
the curves was basically to fine tune the levels,. if it doesnt look how i want i go back and slightly adjust the levels a little.

then to convert to b&w
merge your layers
i make a hue/sat layer
turn the sat down all the way
change the blending mode on that layer to "Color"
then i make another hue sat layer and i put it in between the background layer and the other hue sat layer and i play with the hue a little. you'll see it darkens and lightens different parts of the image. i found one i liked (i think it was pulled to the right slightly). if its too strong you can always turn the opactiy of the layer down a little.
then i adjusted the contrast a tad.

the end. Smile

Joined: 03/15/09
Posts: 576

Thanks Gwen and Katie for the details, this will be tonights project after work! Smile You guys are the best!

Gwen - I've added you as a contact in flckr. Thanks!!

Joined: 10/26/01
Posts: 3362

I don't have anything more to add really, but I wanted to say that I just LOVE the expression you caught in the first pic.

TFS,
GiGi

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