Tuesday, 8 January 2008

An interesting way to process colour images

Cherhill Monument, Wiltshire, December 2007

As I work through the batch of shots for my Wiltshire series, I've been ruminating on whether I should present them in colour, black and white or a mixture. there are merits to each direction.

That's not the point I'm getting to here, however.

I worked up the image above as both a colour and black and white and discovered something interesting.

When I produce a black and white I always start from a finished or near-complete colour image. I find this gives me the best overall results. On this occasion I did the same: completed my colour work in Lightzone then completed the black and white. I then went back to convert to final TIFF output, starting with the black and white, then disabling the stack to convert the colour image.

The thing I found was that some of the local optimizations that I made in black and white also improved the colour, even though I hadn't thought to make the changes when working in colour. I think that maybe this has to do with working purely on tonal balance with the B&W, which is something that can get overlooked with colour. I think I might try this in future with colour images: apply a black and white conversion then check if there are local tonal adjustments required.

Here is the black and white version. I actually intend to hang a large print of this at home but I'm still undecided whether it is colour or black and white that belongs in the series.


  1. I vote for the Black and White! Also, for the Black and White, you have a little white rock that is at the middle of the bottom edge and the white is high enough luminance to be a little distracting. Might want to tone those whites down a little?

  2. Thanks for that. I'm also liking the black and white versions of the other shots in this series, too.

    I also noticed that rock when I took another look at the colour version last night. I'll have to take a closer look & see what to do with it - might just clone it (and the neighbour) out.

  3. I won't vote for B&W or color, but I like the little idea you have about doing image adjustment in B&W that applies to the color version.

    It's a great idea, and even if it is very obvious once it is on the table, I hadn't thought of it before. It makes perfect sense that it can be easier to adjust tonality when you remove the color distractions.


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