Monthly Archives: June 2012

Exercise: Colours into tones 2

The aim of this exercise is to make practical use of channel adjustment to achieve a specific effect. I chose the option of a landscape in which you emphasise the depth (aerial perspective) by strengthening the visual effect of haze.

Original image

Original colour version

This is the channel mixer box after I converted the image to black and white and before I’ve started to adjust the levels.


Black and white conversion

This is the channel mixer after I’ve made the adjustments


Finally I made a default conversion within Photoshop CS6 using the desaturate option.

Desaturation version

After reviewing the three images, the one that I prefer is the black and white adjusted tones as it has more depth in the colours of the grass and sky, and it highlights the different lines and paths more than the colour and the desaturated images.

Exercise: Colours into tones 1

Take or choose an image which contains at least two strong contrasting colours. Using the channel sliders or controls available in your software, create two opposite versions of the image in black and white. In one lighten the grayscale tone of one of the colours and darken the tone of contrasting colour as much as possible.

In the second version, perform the reverse. Ensure that before this process is begun, a default black and white version is made as a reference.

Original image with contrasting blue and orange

Colours in tones original

Default image with straight conversion to black and white with no adjustments

Colours in tones bw

Image 1

For the first image, I opened the black and white image and used the channel slider to increase the blue levels to maximum and the red levels as low as they could go.

Colours in tones strong blue



Image 2

I then reversed this do that the red was the dominant colour and blue was much lower.

Colours in tones strong red



Image 3

I then decided to make an adjustment of the tones that I felt was a more accurate blend of the colour channels.

Colours in tones midway adjustment

Exercise: Strength of interpretation

The removal of the element of colour and with it the implication of reproducing reality, has a useful and interesting effect on processing. You can make much more aggressive changes to the overall brightness and to the contrast than would be reasonable with colour. To demonstrate this, take or choose from images that you already have, two photographs that you think would best suit the following adjustments:

– A strong increase in contrast that will include clipping (loss of detail) in at least the shadow areas.

– Low key or high key treatment, in which the entire brightness range is shifted down or up the scales.

Create these effects, one for each image, but in two versions- in colour and in black and white. For these exercises I used some images that I’d taken previously but hadn’t processed or used and are both in raw.

Image 1- Painted Harley Davidson

Original Image

Contrast original

Increase in contrast

Contrast colour

Black and white version of high contrast image

Contrast bw

I picked this image as it had a mixture of bright colours that I felt needed a bit more of a boost, and that due to the dark background, any adjustments would mean a loss of detail to the shadow areas. I used Photoshop CS6 for this as there wasn’t a curves function within Elements 9. Under adjustments and curves I was able to use the curves for form an ‘s’ shape.

Image 2- Vintage Citroen

This is a high key image with very similar light tones as shown by this histogram.


As its very bright, my option was to use the curves tool to adjust the colours so that they became much darker and therefore low key. I feel that it works much better as its brought some tone into the sky that wasn’t there originally.

When converted to black and white I feel that it really works well, the monochrome suits the vintage age of the car and helps to disguise the modern setting.


Original image

Low key treatment original

After processing

Low key treatment colour

Converted to black and white

Low key treatment bw

Exercise: Black and White

For this exercise, choose a subject, lighting condition or picture situation that you think may look better to you in black and white. Your starting point will probably be colour and the black and white version will be created during processing. Compose and expose for the black and white version paying attention to shape and volume.
Process the image for black and white and write down what effect shooting in black and white had on your choices of subject, framing, details of composition and exposure

For this exercise, I chose an architectural subject as I felt that it would give me clear shapes and angles, important when the colour tones are not there.The subject needed to be strong and clear. There was plenty of colour in the sky and in the differing shades of grey,as it was just these few colours,I thought that it would convert quite well.

As I felt that the exposure was as it should be and didn’t need tweaking, I didn’t at this stage do any processing instead going straight to the conversion. Using the enhance menu in Photoshop elements, and the convert to black and white option.Under this conversion option, there are different styles that cover infrared, newspaper,portraits, scenic landscapes, urban/snapshots and vivid landscapes with sliders to alter the red, green, blue and contrast intensity.

I tried each of the styles, having used these previously, and found that the one I preferred was the infrared effect as it gave the blue sky a really dark, more intense tone. However as the exercise was for black and white and not  infrared,I chose my second favourite option of the vivid landscapes and then just increased the contrast levels to a more halfway point on the scale.

IMG_0285 colour

IMG_0285 B&W

Exercise: Interpretative processing


For this exercise I chose an image I’d taken of some development work happening at the Albert Dock in Liverpool. The new Mann Island development had recently opened and can be seen as the large black glass building in the background contrasting sharply with the old great western railway building in the front.The tones are quite varied with blacks, oranges and blues as well as neutral tones.

Image 1

This is the original raw image processed to my taste so I’ve just upped the contrast by 6 to +31 and saturation from 0 to +16,the blacks have been tweaked slightly to 3.I like this image as its quite a bright and interestingly coloured image with plenty of variety but still looking natural for a sunny day.

IMG_0052 SG mods

Image 2

For this I used the colour variations tab within Photoshop, it offers a number of different alterations that can be applied to the midtones, shadows, highlight and saturation, either individually or stacked on top with the intensity also available for adjustment. I opted for the midtones, decreased the blue level once which gave me a more vintage sepia toned effect on the building with the colour intensity increased more than the default to a more 3/4 level.I then used the saturation option applied on top of this with the less saturation option selected and this gave me a more washed out vintage polaroid look. As I’m just experimenting with toy cameras (and yet to have any printed, working through my first role) I’m quite happy with the modifications that I’ve made.

IMG_0052 Mod 2

Image 3

Thinking about the other options, black and white seemed the natural conversion to make as use it a lot for architectural subjects.
I didn’t want to do a conversion to black and white where I adjust the different tones within it as this comes in later exercises. Instead there is an option to remove colour under the same colour variations and this gave mine a basic black and white image. I quite like it in black and white but would prefer to make some adjustments for my taste.

IMG_0052 Mod 3

Exercise: Managing Colour

For this exercise, find two or three images that have what you judge to be a significant colour cast as the purpose of the exercise is to correct it. For most photography all that is important is that the overall colour looks reasonable and is as expected. Make sure that at least one image contains a surface that is known to be grey e.g. concrete, steel, aluminium, thick clouds etc.

Use your preferred processing software, examine the image and make a judgement on the colour cast and any appropriate actions to rectify this such as using the white balance slider and hue slider.

As I use raw, both the images I’m using for this are in this format and I will use Adobe Photoshop Elements for the processing. The images are two that I’ve taken in May and not yet used but are perfect for this as they’ve not been processed at all.

Image 1- Canal

This image has grey in the column and bridge detail, and there is an overall grey cast to the image with the white balance as it was taken.

If I put the white balance to auto, it keeps the grey of the bridge but gives a more brown tint to the water which was more representative of how it was on the day. I then opened the hue/saturation slider to make some further adjustments. I adjusted the hue to +11 to add some more punch to the details on the bridge, some of the tones in the sky and background as well as the boat and hut in the foreground.

Raw original                                          

IMG_4887 Raw original

With auto smart fix

IMG_4887 Auto smart fix

After smart fix and processing

IMG_4887 After processing

Image 2- Manchester street

This image has a lot of grey tones in the building. I left the white balance as auto and then used the auto smart fix option which just evened up the tones and lightened the building on the right hand side. Although the sky is still whited out, this could be fixed with some time and work within Photoshop.

Original                                              With auto smart fix

IMG_4925 Raw original IMG_4925 auto smart fix

Exercise: Managing Tone


– Set the black point and white point. The normal procedure is to close them in until just short of clipping.

– Assess and if necessary adjust the brightness of the mid tones. The best guide for this is using your own eye

– Assess and if necessary adjust the contrast


Use your chosen raw convertor

– Set the black point and white point by adjusting exposure, activate the shadow clipping and highlight clipping warning

– Assess and make any adjustment required to the brightness of the mid tones.

– Assess and make any changes to the contrast, experiment with contrast and tone curve

For this I used Adobe Elements 9 as it would allow me make adjusts to the jpeg image as well as to open and process the raw image.

I chose an image of a zebra which has black and white as well green tones of the background, the histogram shows that it was an evenly exposed image with no high peaks to the left or right hand side.

Histogram for the Jpeg before



Histogram after I had applied the black and white points. My first reaction was that it had just added some more depth and punch to the colours, especially the black tones.

When viewing the images side by side its quite obvious the difference between the two making the original image look quite washed out. I was happy with the colours so didn’t feel that it need any further adjustments, bearing in mind that if I want to make more specific changes to the image that I should process the raw file.

The histogram for the raw image


I usually process the raw image in the camera raw pop up that comes up when I open an image in Photoshop but as I had processed the jpeg file without this, I’ve replicated the same action here.


After applying the black and white points, I felt that the image was now too bright so I adjusted the white levels from 255 to 223 so the colours are not as artificial.


Jpeg original                                    Jpeg after after processing

Managing tone jpeg originalManaging tone jpeg after

Raw                                                  Raw after processing

Managing tone original rawManaging tone raw after

Exercise: Raw

The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate the processing advantages of raw. Set your camera to record the combination of raw plus the highest quality JPEG so that for each image you take, you will get a raw and a jpeg file.

Open and process each pair of images in your usual image processing software. Any changes made to the jpeg will be post processing as the processing has already been done in camera. Use whatever options are available to make the best of the image.

Compare then two versions of each image paying attention to:-

– Dynamic range

– White balance and colour

What differences do you see between the raw and the jpeg image?


For this exercise I left the jpeg images as they were straight out of the camera, I saved a copy of each raw file and then when I edited the raw image this was then saved as a jpeg with applied changes. I’ve kept the three versions as it shows the difference between jpeg and raw straight from the camera, the camera has the ability to record both at one time so there is no difference in the image, and these can be compared with the edited raw file.

I tend to use raw for the majority of the time for my images as I like to post process them to ensure they meet my personal taste. For all images I’ve just altered the saturation levels, the blacks have been increased and in the artificial light image only, I’ve increased the vibrance slightly.

I haven’t added any extra sharpening as I tend to find that in a lot of cases it takes away more from the image than gives.

Artificial Light

Jpeg                                               Raw                                

Artificial light jpegArtificial light raw

Processed raw

Artificial light raw processed


Natural Light


Daylight jpeg


Daylight Raw

Processed raw

Daylight Raw processed

High Dynamic Range


high dynamic range jpeg


high dynamic range raw

Processed raw

high dynamic range raw processed

When comparing the jpeg version to the raw file, there are a wider range of colours and tones in the raw file, the colours are more warmer and richer straight out of the camera so I feel that I’d have less processing to do with the raw file to get it to be a well balanced image than I would have if I always used jpeg. With the extra processing that I undertook, I noticed more with the high dynamic range image that the histogram went from very high tones on the right hand side of the image showing the high dynamic range to a move even histogram spread evenly across the whole range.

In summary, I will continue to use raw as my preferred way of capturing images but I know how to add jpeg capture at the same time with my camera for cases when I want to have a quick review of the image or don’t have the facility to view and process raw at that time such as holidays.