January Assignment: conversions

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January Assignment: conversions

Happy New Year everyone!

With the new year comes a time for renewal - including (for me) a renewed interest in my camera and in growing my skills. With that in mind, we start this years' monthly assignments with 'conversions.'

There are so many different methods for converting your color photos to something else - black and white, chocolate, sepia, muted tones ... the list goes on. As you work your way through your holiday shots, revisit some old favorites, or jump in with 2012 material, take some time to consider your conversion process and share it with us here!

As with all of the monthly assignment threads - you may post as often as you wish (unlike the challenges which are limited to 1 submission). So jump in and let's get this year started with a bang!

Best,
GiGi

Ladybugsteph's picture
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2977

Great assignment! I've actually been working on my conversions lately. Something else to consider when you're converting an image, that I've been seeing a lot on ILP, is that a converted image will look pretty flat and boring if there isn't directional lighting or a decent amount of contrast. I'd experiment with different photos, and take a look at which ones you think look like good conversions and which ones you think are less than great. Take note of the lighting and contrast that you see in them.

Here are a couple of my recent conversions. I've been using a gradient map, per GiGi's recommendation, and I really like the way they turn out.

This one was last month, but I didn't think you'd mind me sharing Wink

Joined: 10/26/01
Posts: 3421

awesome shares, Stephanie! The gradient map is still my go-to method for conversions at the moment. But from time to time, I will use one of the Pioneer Woman actions (when I'm in a hurry and the image will not be used for print usually).

Smile

GiGi

rlcummings1223's picture
Joined: 09/19/11
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caught my daughter in a little snow flurry the other day. Not spectacular pics but i was in PJs and i knew the snow would be quick. I just loved how the snow hung on her hair and lashes Smile

snow duo by Prima Luce Photography, on Flickr

Ladybugsteph's picture
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Just as snap as I was playing around with lighting in the house from right before Christmas.

TracyF's picture
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Great shares, everyone!

"acarbo99" wrote:

The gradient map is still my go-to method for conversions at the moment.

Is there somewhere I can read up on this? I did a quick try yesterday in GIMP, but the results were just so-so. I'd like to read some tips and "proper" instructions for doing this method.

Ladybugsteph's picture
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I will also mess around with a levels layer as well, Tracy. I don't have curves, or else I'd probably be playing around with that. I've also played around inside the gradient map. So many different ways to go about doing it.

connorsmum's picture
Joined: 11/29/02
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Great shares everyone! I love conversions, especially B&W. I admit to mostly using Lemondrops basic/airy/perfect BW actions and tweaking

Joined: 10/26/01
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Wow guys! Kerry ... did you use that action on all of these conversions? I might have to look into that one as these are AWESOME! That last one is so striking. Really shows how much impact a good b&w conversion can have.

WOW!

GiGi

sadieruth's picture
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 6186

I stink at conversions. I usually use Coffee Shop's creamy b&w b/c it works in Elements. When I was using the school's mac, I downloaded the airy b&w from lemondrops and LOVE it! Wish I could get it in Elements! One thing I like to do, is add a light purple and a light blue (by light I mean almost white) layer and lower the opacity to 10 or so. I like the look it gives and I do that before my B&Ws and sometimes on my regular pics.

EL2
EL2's picture
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"connorsmum" wrote:

OMG Kerry! You posted about that GUY again. I have such a BIG crush on him, lol. Don't tell my DH. He reminds me so much of Edward Norton.

Your little boy is such a cuttie pie by the way!

EL2
EL2's picture
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I did a corvette shoot for a friend not too long ago. This is more the artistic shot:

connorsmum's picture
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"acarbo99" wrote:

Wow guys! Kerry ... did you use that action on all of these conversions? I might have to look into that one as these are AWESOME! That last one is so striking. Really shows how much impact a good b&w conversion can have.

WOW!

GiGi

I'm pretty sure I did GiGi. It took me a lot of trial and error to find the few B&W actions that I think work well and are easy to tweak. I may have used a B&W action by Stacie Turner on the angel shot but it also has a really low opacity texture over it. I really should take the time to learn to do my own conversions, some of it is laziness on my part, some of it is that I can never get mine to look as good as Lemondrops, lol! I did learn pretty quickly that good lighting is key to a good B&W image.

Joined: 10/26/01
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El! Those are awesome car shots! I especially like the last one. What method did you use for conversion?

GiGi

connorsmum's picture
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"EL2" wrote:

OMG Kerry! You posted about that GUY again. I have such a BIG crush on him, lol. Don't tell my DH. He reminds me so much of Edward Norton.

Your little boy is such a cuttie pie by the way!

LOL! I know you have a soft spot for him, I did too! So gorgeous! I have some of him smiling too, keep an eye out for him soon on flickr as I've been going back through the archives.

I love your car shots! I really like the conversion on the second one as I like the warmth of it. What did you use?

EL2
EL2's picture
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I think I used David H, from ILP's BW conversion and tweaked it to my liking. I do the gradient sometimes. But for the most part I like the result I get from David's bw action.

Kerry - I will be stalking your flickr... lol

daniellec.parker's picture
Joined: 09/06/09
Posts: 895

These are awesome ladies! But I must say I'm lost-- can someone tell me what you mean by Lemondrops, and the other ones? I'm really not good at conversions at all, but these are the best I've ever done.

PC178398b&w_filtered-2

DSCN0103-2_filtered

PC148217_filteredb&w

sadieruth's picture
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Lemondrops is someone on I Love Photography or ILP. She makes her own actions and shares them on the "Share a Square" forum. I just wish there was more out there for Elements

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
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Amazing conversions, everyone! I wish I had PS, Elements or otherwise, because there's not much out there for GIMP. Oh well.

I haven't done many conversions lately and am not very good at them, but here's one I did the other day. My kids were hoping for rain, to use their new umbrellas. It wasn't raining, but they insisted on taking them for a walk anyway!

Waiting for Rain

Ladybugsteph's picture
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This time, I did a gradient map, then played with curves.

Amy_&_Eva's picture
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I haven't been able to be as "deep into" my photography in the past month as I am used to Sad but I definitely want to get in on this assignment. I have had a couple "successful" conversions here & there but really want to try it more.

isisgoddess_1's picture
Joined: 03/29/08
Posts: 1220

I am really new to photography and this conversation is a little confusing to me. What is GIMP? I have a program that came with the camera but I dont know the name of it. I know I can change the pic to b&w, but what do you mean by the process?

daniellec.parker's picture
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"isisgoddess_1" wrote:

I am really new to photography and this conversation is a little confusing to me. What is GIMP? I have a program that came with the camera but I dont know the name of it. I know I can change the pic to b&w, but what do you mean by the process?

GIMP is a photo editing software similar to Adobe Photoshop. I don't know enough about conversions myself to give a detailed explanation, but I know the concept. There are several ways to convert a color image into b&w. The simple way is to use the built-in conversion method in your software. However there are other ways. Extract channels, curve adjusting, & tweaking contrast are all examples of things you can do to the image to make the b&w more powerful- whiter whites and blacker blacks... HTH.

momof5sweeties's picture
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I'm new to conversions too. For this one, I followed Scott Kelby's Favorite High-Contrast B&W Technique from his cs5 book.

StateChick's picture
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I love looking at all of these! I need to work on this so much!!!My conversions usually are pretty bad.

I think I used the gradient map method for this one..it is from this past summer, but about the best I have. I think her cheeks are blown though... Beee

eta: El, LOVE those car photos! The conversions look great!

connorsmum's picture
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Yesterday I was practicing backlighting and using a reflector and got this image. I am really not sure aout my light and airy B&W's as I usually go for a more moody feel. Does this look ok?

StateChick's picture
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I think that looks great, Kerry! I like it!

As a side note, however, it makes me realize how FLAT my image looks! :eek:

Joined: 10/26/01
Posts: 3421

Awesome examples folks!!! We used to have an AWESOME tutorial on using the gradient map for b&w conversions written by a former poster (& now amazing professional photographer), but that seems to have died with the latest upgrade/conversion. I spent a good deal of yesterday trying to track it down w/ no luck.

But ... I did do some searches and found this site: http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/color-black-and-white.php

It has links to a number of different methods for converting to b&w.

Personally, I tend to use the gradient map w/ often a levels and/or curves adjustment to tweak it until I am happy with it. I tend to lean toward really high contrast b&w photos, but that is truly a personal preference.

Kerry ... your latest 'bright and airy' b&w is AMAZING! I love the feel it evokes and it so matches your adorable little one!

Everyone, thanks for sharing! I am enjoying following along as often as I can.

Best,
GiGi

TracyF's picture
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Kerry, that's cool!

"StateChick" wrote:

As a side note, however, it makes me realize how FLAT my image looks! :eek:

I find that my conversions look really flat unless I play with curves. I'm still not very good at them, but playing with curves is the best thing for making them pop a bit more!

Here's a couple I did today, though the first one, I think her face is too dark... should probably re-do:
I need a helping hand! BW

Abstract fence

Amy_&_Eva's picture
Joined: 08/23/07
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I totally agree that many times when I am converting an image that is already "correct", once it becomes B&W it often needs a significant boost in curves/levels/etc. to make it look good...even though in color the levels looked fine.

Muddee's picture
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I am loving everyone's conversions i have one of my dog I want to do I should really just do it. I've done Sepia and B&W before but never a Chocolate, anyone have a link to a tutorial for it?

TracyF's picture
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I did a couple of high-key images of my son's dress shoes today and converted them. There wasn't much of a challenge converting them, since they were black shoes on a white background, but I like how they turned out so thought I'd share anyway:
Little Man Shoes

Little Man Shoes 2

Muddee's picture
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A post bath shot of my puppy Sadie, this is just a quick conversion going to have to play around a bit more.

TracyF's picture
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That's a cute one of Sadie!

I did one today, with just the teensiest bit of selective colouring on his eyes -- didn't want them to look unnatural, so they're so slightly blue that you can hardly tell. (I don't really like SC, but sometimes I hate making his beautiful blue eyes B&W!)

This is just from a snap of him "napping" on the stairs. My husband calls this his GQ-picking-his-nose pose??!!
Resting on the Stairs

Muddee's picture
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Any advice on making my dog seem whiter and the background a little darker without completely losing any details in her eyes. (this is what I am struggling with) I can post the colour picture if you ladies need it.

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"Muddee" wrote:

Any advice on making my dog seem whiter and the background a little darker without completely losing any details in her eyes. (this is what I am struggling with) I can post the colour picture if you ladies need it.

I am not an expert, so hopefully someone else will answer... but what I do is use the lasso tool to select the area of an image that I want to modify, feather the edges and copy it to a new layer, and modify the curves/colour/whatever you want to change in the new layer. I know there are masking techniques that are better than what I do, but I struggle with some of that stuff. If you search for masking in photoshop, you will get a lot of results that will probably be helpful.

Joined: 10/20/07
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I still use a basic LAB conversion (made it into an action) and then tweak curves and levels a bit

Joined: 10/26/01
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Beth ... that is such a striking photo of your daughter! I'm not familiar with the LAB conversion process. Would you mind sharing the basic principles?

You guys are all doing such a fantastic job!

Here's one from me (I used the gradient method and then a slight curves bump):

Best,
GiGi

Amy_&_Eva's picture
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Amanda, here is a quick edit I did of your doggie pic, it's private in Flickr....I used curves, raising the midtones first and then just slightly raised highlights and slightly deepened darks. This looks better to me but I am not an expert---does anyone else have cc?

6704023965_76cf70475e

Ladybugsteph's picture
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Here's my newest one:

TracyF's picture
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Here's one from today:
Lollipop, Lollipop

Muddee's picture
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Amy - What you did to my doggie is great! I'll have to give it a try myself, thanks for the advice.

Tracy - Love today's pic, her expression is adorable.

Muddee's picture
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Found a quick overview that shows a couple of methods of doing B&W conversions in Gimp. It is using an older version of Gimp so you'll have to play around to find the settings in a newer one but I guarantee they are there (I used them).

http://nathanculpepper.wordpress.com/2007/11/26/converting-a-color-image-to-black-white-in-gimp-2/

Muddee's picture
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One of Natalie I converted today.

TracyF's picture
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Cute, Amanda, love her pigtails!

Muddee's picture
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Looking for conversion methods, though it doesn't directly tell you how to convert I do think it has some useful information.
http://www.blackandwhitedigital.com/Convert/index.html

Muddee's picture
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Here is another conversion of my dog, my focus here was on her nose (which is why the eyes are slightly OOF) but I think the overall shot worked out.

TracyF's picture
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That's a really cute one, Amanda! Thanks for the link to the conversion info, too.

Here's a couple I'm kind of pleased with, shots I took during a light snowfall the other morning.
What Lies Beyond

The Lond Road (B&W)

Joined: 10/26/01
Posts: 3421

Great job, guys! All of you!

And thank you all for getting the assignments off to a roaring start this year!

I am about to 'unstick' this thread to make room for a new topic, but feel free to keep adding to this as you find yourself doing any conversions in the weeks/months to come.

Best,
GiGi

Joined: 01/18/06
Posts: 402

Here's one I just finished playing around with. It's actually a shot that I took to test the light before starting an infant shoot about a year ago. Tyler isn't the most cooperative of models, but he allowed me to get a few in before he resumed bouncing off the walls! I hope it's okay. I need to practice conversions more. The one thing I don't dig is that dark shadow on his shoulder. I might play around with it more in the future.

--the actual picture has about an inch more of Tyler's shirt on the right. No idea why it cropped when I pasted to Pg.org.