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Thread: B&W Post Processing, Step-by-step

  1. #1
    abcraghead Guest

    Default B&W Post Processing, Step-by-step

    After hearing contradictory opinions about my post-processing, I've decided to run an experiment. Below are a series of images, all from one photograph taken on my recent outing with Brian. After each major step, I've saved the file, so each change can be seen. All processing undertaken in Photoshop Elements 3.0.

    Input on the process would be appreciated. Would you do it differently? Would you stop at any given point along the route?


    The first image has no alterations from the developer's scan, except for resizing it to a 1024xXXX dimension, and a cloning of a flaw they scanned in.

    Next, I burned in the midtones at the top and bottom of the image, attempting to bring the sky back down into the darks that I remembered.

    Step three, I burned in the shadows in the same places, raising the contrast in these areas in the process. This gave me more detail in the foreground grasses and hopefully gets the sky a bit closer to how it ought to be.

    Four, dodge the highlights, primarily in the train. As with all dodging and burning, I've been using a 2-3% setting on the dodge and burn tools in PS.

    Five. Using the Levels command, I moved the midtones down by to 80%.

    As a result of the previous command, the image has taken on some off color tones, albeit barely discernable. To give it a more united feel, I used the Hue/Sat command and "colorized" it, reducing the saturation to about 5%.

    Lastly, I used the unsharpen mask tool to create the final version of the image.

  2. #2


    How is your scanner programmed, just out of curiosity? For instance, I'm using an Epson 4490 and have it set on "Professional" mode, 16 bit gray scale. I tried scanning black and white in 24 bit color and was not happy with the results.

    Anyways, are you scanning in actual black and white mode, ie, gray scale?

    Martin Burwash

  3. #3
    abcraghead Guest


    I have no clue. I didn't do the scans. All of my stuff for the last 1-2 years has been scanned at the developer. When i first started using that, the scans seemed to be better than what I was doing at home, with more richness to them. A quick "oversaturate" test seemed to indicate they were scanning in color mode off the negs.

    When I used to scan negs at home, I'd use a flatbed and scan in color mode, and reverse, but that was with true B&W negs, not the C41 process Chromogenic stuff.

  4. Default

    ABC - I'm not so sure that colorize operation was a good idea. It's taken on a real cool look, maybe even a bit blue on my calibrated CRT.

    I still haven't found the bulk of my B&W negatives (I'm stating to think they got lost in one of my many moves), so I have minimal experience working on B&W scans in Photoshop. Here's my basic routine with color, and I really don't know how well it would work with B&W, so ignore as you wish.

    (This is all in PS2, so I don't know if all commands are in Elements or not). First step is to open up the levels box and take the tails off of the histogram. The next step is to open curves, and either raise or lower the middle of the curve to taste and then raise the middle between your dot in the middle and the top to taste. At this point you could dodge and burn specific areas, but I've found the steps one and two really can make a big difference in the appearance of a photo. I then sharpen using Fred Miranda's Intellesharpen II tool and resize using his Web Presenter Pro. Then I sharpen very lightly one more time and Save for Web.

    For color photos that have color issues, I may do levels in each color to balance the color out, I may work with selective colors and so on, but for the most part the list above is about all I do.

    Maybe some of this will work for you, maybe none of it will. I dunno.
    Dan Schwanz
    POSTCARDS FROM THE GORGE Website update 12.26.09

  5. Default

    Are you asking about scanning photos and then post processing or digital photos and then post processing them?
    Dan Schwanz
    POSTCARDS FROM THE GORGE Website update 12.26.09

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