Black and white photography is an art in itself which spans the years and retains a prominent place among enthusiasts. Existing cameras allow increasingly more subtle monochrome rendering. But, it is the digital editing tools that allow you greater freedom in treating black and white photographs. Here is a quick overview of the most commonly used software, and of the most recently available option: Silver Efex Pro 2.


Conversion software: Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture

Today, using Photoshop to create black and white images has become a classic. The ‘black and white’ setting* pprovides an accurately rendered image. We can even simulate the use of color filters to change the contrast of the picture. This setting is far preferable to the simple desaturation of the image, accomplished by using the ‘Hue/Saturation’ setting.

Photoshop is widely used and the development of Raw software*,like Lightroom or Aperture, has changed black and white photography processing. With this software, the organization of images and color changes are more powerful and easier to manipulate.

The major difference between Lightroom and Photoshop: Photoshop creates an image file while Lightroom creates virtual calibration summarized in a text file associated with the image. You can create 20 different versions of the same image without filling your hard drive unnecessarily. People who are frequently adjusting their images understand this problem very well.


The ultimate application: Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software

I want to introduce an alternative or a complement rather for photographers who want to push the black and white to its limits. This is the Silver Efex Pro 2 plugin used with Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture.



A tool competing with the darkroom

The advantage of this plugin is that it takes a RAW file and offers adjustments forced into black and white. Silver Efex Pro 2 offers a whole range of different developments, which can be modified at will depending on your needs. U Point technology, specifically Silver Efex, allows you to apply changes on certain very specific areas that you select, without modifying the rest of the image. Selective editing is essential to black and white photography because it allows you to give the image the specific tone and contrast that you want. Silver Efex Pro 2 also supports traditional fine grain which makes it possible to create an image that resembles older black and white photos.







A simple and intuitive application

You open your image in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture, then you open Silver Efex Pro 2 as a plugin. You choose the type of rendering that suits you best and you can change it if necessary with the settings to the right of the screen. Once satisfied, you click ‘Save’ and return automatically to the host software interface.


For more information

>> Nik Software’s website

* The ‘Black and White’ setting is available in Photoshop by following the menu Image’-> Settings ->’ Black & White ‘.
* As a reminder, RAW is a file format that has the advantage of keeping all data received by the sensor without the triggering the camera’s default processing or compression. This format allows one to make changes to the image.



[small_button]English version by Danielle Harrell, English teacher for ArtFx[/small_button]