HDR Color to HDR Black & White

Above is an example of a black and white HDR image that I’ll show you how to create from an original color image.

HDR images can look really good if they’re done right. Some HDR images look great when they’re converted to black and white. I don’t think it works for all HDR images so you’ll have to experiment. Experimenting can be a lot of fun.

Here’s an example of the Croton Dam in Westchester, NY. Some people I know like the color version better and others like it in black and white. It’s all a matter of taste. If you like your end results, then that’s what matters.

This is how I did the black and white conversion in Photoshop CS3. First bring the image into Photoshop. Then go to Image / Adjustments / Black & White.

Here the Black and White dialog box opens up. There are red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta sliders. Slide the sliders back and forth to see how it will affect your image. Every image is different and it’s up to your taste how you want the end result. When I decide that I’m happy with the results, I click OK.

These are the settings I used for this image:

I’m not finished yet. At this point I like to go to the Image / Adjustments / Brightness/Contrast settings:

I don’t touch the brightness slider. I just bring up the contrast to about +20, depending on the image.

Here’s the end result:

Here’s another example with a different image. Instead of leaving this image as a black and white, I gave it a sepia “tint”. In the Black and White dialog box, there’s a check box at the bottom that says “Tint”. Click that check box on, then click OK.

Here are the images from color, to black and white, to sepia tint:

Here’s one more example of color to black and white:

HDR – Tone Mapping vs. Details Enhancer

Above, I have the five images I’m going to put into Photomatix.

Here are the images blended together in Photomatix before processing. First I’ll click on Tone Mapping which will open up the processing box. Here you can choose between the tone compressor and the details enhancer:

Here I picked the Details Enhancer for my first example. I worked the sliders to my liking. Every image is different so you’ll have to adjust your images to your tastes.

The detail enhancer opens up the shadow areas, and can give the image a surreal look. Depending on how you maneuver the sliders you can also get a painterly or realistic and natural effect. It’s all a matter of taste.

For more details on the sliders you can go to the Photomatix website:

Here I took the same image and put it into the Tone Compressor. The tone compressor gives the image a more traditional and realistic look. It preserves the shadows with good control of tonal range. Sometimes shadows play an important role in creating a mood. This is a very good reason to use the tone compressor over the details enhancement:

Here I have the two images side by side. You can see the difference between them. In both images the end result depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want a surreal look or a realistic look or perhaps something in-between? I prefer the in-between look for some of my images and other images I find that getting crazy is a lot of fun. As long as you’re happy with the results then life is good:


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