Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...
Digital post-process manipulation is a great way to fix any problems with the
actual picture as well as to improve an already existing shot. Color can be
changed within seconds, as opposed to minutes and hours in a conventional
I found digital manipulation to be a great way to learn the basics of color
and contrast as well as saturation. Digital was perfect in my eyes until they
were opened to the lack of black and white options. I was not happy with shooting
black and white from my digital camera by turning it to grayscale mode. This
worked but then left me stuck. I finally did some research and found that I could
make a color image black and white. All description below are done from
The Wrong Way
I started to create black and white by going to
image>adjustments>desaturate. This did make the image into black and white,
but gave me no control. I couldn't decide whether the reds became black, gray, or
white. This technique was not for me. I needed control.
After a little more searching I discovered that each Red, Green, and Blue
channel created a grayscale image when isolated and each image portrayed the
color differently. I decided then that I had to learn how to use this knowledge
to control the color to grayscale conversion. I soon realized that I could do
this in the channel mixer.
Here's how I do it.
Getting An Idea
This step can be skipped but I find it to be useful.
Before you decide to change an image you should look at each individual
channel representation of the image. To do this go to the "channels" palette,
located with the "layers"
Click on each channel and see how it looks. See the images below for an
With this particular image I like the look of the red channel. On some photos
I like the green and the blue but hate the red. Make sure you take note of the
channel you like.
The Actual Conversion
At this point you select the RGB channel in the palette. You should also make
a snapshot so that you can revert back if you change your mind. If you want you
can make an
adjustment layer instead of the snapshot.
With RGB selected go to image>adjustments>Channel Mixer. In the
channel mixer select "monochrome" and start moving the channels. The trick is
that you must adjust the channel sliders to what you want but they must add up
to 100 if you do not want to change the lightness of the image. When I do
this I usually adjust it until I like it and the exposure looks about right
then I do the math and make small changes.
I generally just do 100% of a channel I picked earlier when I was getting an
idea but sometimes I would take 70% green and 30% blue if I liked the green more
than the blue channel but still liked the blue channel effect. This is up to you.
Below is how I chose to do this photo.
Move your mouse over the photo to see it in
I chose these setting because I hated the way the green channel made the
flowers black and I liked the red channel. I didn't see any reason to mess with
the blue in this particular case. This image is easy to convert because it has a
many colors and each channel looks drastically different. Some images do not look
very different. In this case I just play around until I like it.
In Photoshop adjustment layers are just layers which do the same as the
regular control but make it a removable effect in the form of a layer. There
isn't much more to say about them except that they are good if you tone images in
RGB color mode with Color Balance because it allows you to change the intensity
(opacity). A few people swear by them because you can remove what you did
without going back in the history palette and losing work up to the
To create an adjustment layer go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer and select
the type you want. It is very simple!
I did this in Photoshop 7.0. I don't know about being able to see the
different channels ahead of time in other editors, but most any photo
editor has a channels mixer. I know both PSP (Paint Shop Pro) and PWP
(Picture Window Pro) have the option.
I would highly suggest making copies of images in Photoshop and playing
around. Its the best way to get practice.