I took this shot early in the morning near Moraine Lake in Banff National Park (Alberta, Canada). When I set out to create a black and white photo, I usually know what I’m looking for… but producing a finished product that matches my plan isn’t always easy. Maybe you’ve used plugins like Nik’s Silver Efex Pro. It’s my favorite option for black and white conversion, but I don’t usually just stick with the presets. Because I know what I want to create, I often start with a preset and then tweak it. And I sometimes use a second preset as well… blending the two in PS afterward. Here’s an example of how I might create a finished image by blending two presets.
I start with one of my favorite presets. This one is the “Overexposed EV+1” preset, with some minor adjustments to enhance the contrast slightly. I hit the OK button when I’m done making adjustments to open it in Photoshop. And then I open my original color photo in Silver Efex again. I’m going to use this conversion for contrast and depth, but I want a slight bluish tone for this foggy shot. Of course, I could continue to adjust the settings in Silver Efex – and I’ve shown how I do that sometimes in another blog post – to get exactly the photo I want, but I want to keep this image as a base layer.
The second time, I choose the Cool Tones 2 preset – but I remove the border and enhance the blue a little more. Then I open that conversion in Photoshop as well. I want the blue tones from the top layer – but the contrast from the lower layer. So, I choose “Color” mode option in the Layers palette. This is a quick and easy way to keep the color from the top layer, while letting the contrast from the lower layer take over.
The next step is a little bit of targeted contrast adjustment. I brighten up the base of the tree just slightly, and darken the foreground without losing contrast there. Then I zoom in to check the details. In this case, I needed to reduce the noise a little bit for a smooth finished shot.
This is just one example of how I use Photoshop and Silver Efex Pro to produce the results I want.