So, here's how such a shot might look, straight from the camera or the above RAW conversion. Yes, you can set your camera's parameters to provide more in-camera contrast, saturation, and sharpening, and your result might be very different - but I prefer to work all of that in post, myself, rather than letting the camera do it for me. Set properly, most digicams, prosumer EVFs, and DSLRs can produce JPGs out of camera that have near-final color, contrast, and pop.
OK here's my dead-simple B&W conversion recipe. Is it the best? Hardly. But it's easy, and nearly anyone can do it. In photoshop, new adjustment layer>channel mixer. Choose values of 50, 50, 0 and check the monochrome box.
We're on now to step two, boosting the contrast via a curves adjustment layer. What you're going to do is very simple. Layer>New adjustment layer>Curves. Then choose the black eyedropper in the curves dialog box. Find a shadow area to sample and click in it. Don't like the adjustment? Simple, hold the Option key (PC; alt), and the Cancel option will change to Reset. Try various shadow areas until you find one that you're happy with. Once settled (I chose the shadow under his collar), you'll now have more contrast - and much more tonal range in your image. See the two histograms I've placed above the curves dialog, and notice that the values are spread further towards each end. Great B&Ws come from having as much tonal range as you can squeeze from your image! Your eyes will know the difference.
Here you can see a little animation of the subtle difference that the Shadow Highlight adjustment makes.
You can be done now, if you wish. Or you can take some advanced moves. Read on for "pumping up the blacks" and "luminosity toning!"
Sometimes, I take one additional step, to really kick it up a notch: New adjustment layer>Selective Color. Choose the blacks. Up the blacks by 8-15, to taste. You'll see the difference. Do it on a layer mask, and you can brush away the areas you don't want the effect!
Extra credit: Use the magnetic lasso, and select the eyes. Cmd-J (PC - Control-J) and you've now got the eyes on a new layer. Cmd-L (PC - Control-L) and you've popped up a levels dialog. Drag the right and middle sliders to the left a bit, and the eyes will pop a bit.
Same with the teeth: Use the magnetic lasso, and select the teeth. Cmd-J (PC - Control-J) and you've now got them on a new layer. Cmd-L (PC - Control-L) and you've popped up a levels dialog. Drag the right and middle sliders to the left a bit, and the teeth will pop a bit.
There are many, many ways of converting to b/w. In this tutorial, I've shown one. In this photo here is another technique, made popular by one of my favorite photographers, Greg Gorman. While you're there, check out his work - stunning.
OK - so you've learned a bit and are now a mastah. Can't this be sped up a bit? Sure - you can create your own recipe, and save it as an action!
Another great BW technique by Petteri Sulonen is really, really good.
Discuss Black and White Conversions at Dgrin Forum.