Convert your black & white photos with DxO FilmPack 4
In collaboration with Christophe Gressin
In this tutorial, we will explain how to use DxO FilmPack 4 to automatically convert your color photos to black & white by using predefined renderings, and we will show you how to customize your renderings by using the many settings and effects offered.
To follow this tutorial, you will need:
• DxO FilmPack 4 (Expert Edition for certain effects).
• Photos in either JPEG or TIFF format.
• You can download our demo images HERE (they are also included in the application in the “My Images” folder in Windows or in your “Pictures” folder in Mac).
1- Black & white and DxO FilmPack 4
DxO FilmPack 4 includes many different creative tools for converting your photos into black & white.
The Presets pane offers predefined renderings, or “presets,” on which you can base your customized renderings. They were created to let you apply to your digital photos the kinds of looks and styles you would have achieved by shooting with certain analog films.
You can also use an expanded range of tools in the Controls palette to create your own renderings. The Settings tab lets you work on the exposure, the colors, and the contrast in your image; here we will be presenting you with tips about using the Channel mixer in particular, a very powerful tool for selectively adjusting the luminosity of each color channel. The Effects tab includes palettes that let you apply such creative effects as a choice of film grains, vignetting, and texture.
2- Converting to black & white in a few clicks
In this section we will show you how you can obtain a black & white rendering in a single click, thanks to the numerous presets included in the application.
2.1 – Check out the included rendering presets
In the Presets pane, select the Black and white film tab to see the list of available renderings.
You can scroll through the list of presets using the horizontal scroll bar on the bottom of the pane, or with your mouse wheel, track pad, or left and right arrow keys . Each preset thumbnail provides a preview of its effects on your photo (you can enlarge the Presets pane to better see the preview results).
2.2 – Choose your black & white film
Click on a thumbnail to apply the preset to your image.
As soon as you choose the black & white preset from the Presets pane, your photo is converted to black & white and two effects are applied to it: the Film rendering and the Film grain.
The Film rendering simulates the look of the corresponding analog film type by reproducing its characteristics. The Film grainreproduces the type of grain characteristic of the film type. You can try out several different renderings by clicking on the various thumbnails so as to best see the differences between film types and how they look when applied to your photo.
If you know the film you’re looking for, or at least the brand, the name, or its ISO, you can enter this information in the field to easily find it.
Here are a few examples of the preset renderings that you can obtain in just a single click!
You will also find some monochrome renderings among the designer presets. In addition to the Film rendering and Film grain settings, these presets also include other predefined settings and additional effects (toning, creative blur vignetting, frames, etc.).
3- Manually converting to black & white
We are now going to show you how to customize a black & white rendering so you can obtain a unique result. (Note that some corrections are available only in the Expert edition of DxO FilmPack, such as the Rollei IR™ 400 rendering and access to the Channel mixer). We will use a new image for this example.
3.1 – Convert your photo to black & white
To convert your image to black & white, first select the Black and White button (the first button in the Controls palette).
We advise you not to convert your image to black & white by setting the Saturation slider in the Basic settings palette to –100: the results are not as good as those you can achieve by using the control button, which also adjusts the contrast according to the content of the image. Further, after you’ve gone into Black and white mode in the Controls palette, you will have access to effects that are uniquely designed for black & white conversion, such as the Channel mixer, for example.
3.2 – Choose your film rendering
In the Film rendering palette, the Default B&W rendering is applied at the moment of conversion. You can choose another rendering from the drop-down menu.
Since the Black and White mode is activated, only the black & white film presets are shown in the list. After testing several presets, we have decided to use the Rollei IR™ 400 rendering because of its strong contrast.
If you had selected this rendering from the Presets pane, the grain from the selected film would also have been applied to the image. Instead, we’ve applied it here from the Film rendering palette.
3.3 – Add a film grain
Go to the drop-down menu in the Film grain palette to see the list of available film grains. Note that you can apply not just the grain of black & white films, but also the grains of color films, even for a black & white rendering.
Choosing Current film rendering lets you apply the grain of the film that you selected in the previous step.
For our example, we’ve chosen the soft grain of an Agfa Ultra Color™ 100 film, which we will make even softer by reducing the value of the Intensity slider to 60.
3.4 – Add a filter
Because of the rendering we selected, certain details in the image were lost, notably in the sky and the upper part of the sea. We will correct this by applying a color filter.
Since our original image had a strong red cast, we will use a red filter to bring out the information in the corresponding areas.
In the Filter palette, choose the Red filter in the drop-down menu.
To maintain a sharp contrast, we will diminish the effect of the filter by setting the Intensity slider to 60.
3.5 – Setting the tones
We will now adjust the color tones in the image — the contrast, brightness, and so on. These features are grouped in the Settingstab.
We will start by recovering more of the details in the sky by using the Channel mixer. Comparable to the Hue-Saturation-Luminance palette available for color, the Channel mixer lets you adjust the brightness of each channel that corresponds to the available color in the original photo.
Now that your image has been converted to black & white, select the Side-by-side view (by clicking on this button in the toolbar) to compare it with the original color version.
Depending on the format of your photo, click on the icon to switch from viewing the two images side-by-side to viewing them one on top of the other.
To enhance the constrast in the sky, we will reduce the brightness of both Yellow and Red to –10 and –15, respectively.
Finally, we will compensate for the reduction in overall contrast and brightness in the photo by adjusting the Contrast and Exposure sliders in the Basic settings palette, which you should set to +40 and +0.2, respectively.
Here, then, is the final result of your customized black & white rendering:
DxO Optics Pro 8, DxO Labs’ RAW conversion software, provides advanced tools to help you take advantage of the flexibility of working in RAW format.
DxO FilmPack 4 is advantageously integrated into DxO Optics Pro 8 so that you can use its creative tools without having to interrupt your workflow.
If you would like to know more about using DxO Optics Pro 8 to convert color photos to black & white, click here.
You can also use DxO FilmPack as a plugin for Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe® Photoshop® Elements®, Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom®, and Apple Aperture® software.
Photos credits : Benoit Courti, Jens Schlenker