When using B&W, or converting to B&W, colored filters make a dramatic impact on the image. Imagine blue-blocker sunglasses and how they block the blues and make the world seem so different. The same has always been true in photography, but digital photography is usually a case where the image is converted to Gray tone (never recommended) or the hue/saturation is dropped to 0 leaving only the black & white image. Some cameras, even digital, can shoot true B&W. The Nikon D200 does. But why bother if you can convert? In fact, you have more tools at your disposal if you don't!
True B&W images when shot with a color filter are just great ways to enhance shots. That's why you see some shots with amazing B&W and some that just look like photocopies. You will have to know how to adjust lighting to get this done even better . . . but for THIS we're going to concentrate on the filter effects.
Here is a shot of my granddaughter, Jenna. She's pouting. She get's anything she wants from me for that and she knows it well . . . just as I know my job is to spoil the living beJesus outta' her.
Here I used an orange filter which usually works VERY well on portraits, brightening one tonal range and accenting the highlights in her beautiful hair.
But there ARE problems with the image, even as great as it is (and even with her ADORABLE expression). Stroller wheels back left . . . a lot of clutter in the BG, even if it is blurred. Too much distraction.
Now comes some Fun with Filters!! Remember, not plug-ins - color filters. An accomplished photographer friend of mine, Rina offered some suggestions which I considered (and a few I tossed) to come up with this second version. The closer crop she suggested went over well with me, as did the vignetting.
I returned to the original RAW image and noted her beautiful blue eyes and - recalling a few people have been asking me about color filters and their use for B&W, I thought this would be a great way to demonstrate an example. Instead of orange, a blue filter has been applied and the tones have been subtly altered . . . darkened in some areas and lightened in others (not by me but by the filter). . . but the closer view here (tighter crop) and the blue filter enhances her eyes (IMO). I also selectively increased the BG blur and darkened it with a huge 150 px feather . . .
So thanks to Rina . . . here is version II.
Notice what the blue filter did to her incredibly blue eyes? Notice the dramatic impact and raw dynamic power in the image is enhanced when the BG virtually disappears? Same shot, but different editing and different impacts.
Rina's comment after I reworked the image: "Ohhhh... this is raw. The expression becomes all the more gripping when everything else fades away. Nothing but this child staring directly into your soul... You did good Doyle, real good. Yeah, every now and then I say something useful eh? ;P But it's easy when the images are already great to begin with. You don't really need my suggestions, but I'm flattered you took some on board *blush* "
She's right to be complimented. I rarely take "style" advice since I want the image I wanted to convey, not the image someone else thinks might be conveyed. But her advice was SO in line with what I wanted to do. Even here on gather, my baybay Gayle made comments about the BG.
Now in any PS (including elements), this can be done easily. On the palette menu, add an adjustment layer . . . hue/saturation. Click OK and don't change a thing. On the drop down, turn it off the "normal" and select "overlay". You can change the name of this layer to "Filter". Now add ANOTHER hue/saturation adjustment layer. This time slide the saturation all the way left, eliminating all traces of color. This Layer can be called "B&W". Now click the first layer "Filter", that you put on overlay. You can slide the hue indicator left or right and SEE what the various color filters will do to your images.
Work the B&W like a pro . . . and NEVER use grayscale.
Any questions or thoughts?