Today most images are made with digital cameras and all of them in color. Even when you set your camera to B&W mode, it won’t affect the RAW file, which will still be in color. That’s a good thing.
This image has been converted to B&W using two of Photoshop’s B&W filters and a mask, one filter “High Contrast Red” and the other “Maximum White”, The mask on one filter determining where the other takes over.
It still didn’t look as I had imagined. I wanted a darker sky and a feeling of warm afternoon sun in the dome, but without burning out highlights, and without drowning the lower part of the image in black.
What I did was the following: I copied the original layer and took it to Topaz Detail, where I used a garish filter called “Blue Sky”, that I rarely use at all. I vaguely remember having used it once and to great advantage, but I can’t remember the image. Anyway. What this filter does, is lightening greens, shifting them strongly into the yellows and darkening the blues. The idea seems to have been to use it on landscapes to give them a sunny, polarized look, but you can’t ever use it on landscapes at all, so bad does it look. Here in a technical, architectural image, it gave me a stronger contrast between the yellowish panels and the blue sky. Of course now the panels were so bright, that they would burn out in B&W, with the additional saturation that I had applied below the B&W layers. Removing the saturation would not give me the desired look, thus I doubled the “Blue Sky” layer, applied one in “Multiply” mode blended in the highlights, and the other in “Soft Light” mode, blended in the shadows. Finally I toned down the light reflex on the wall, sharpened the image slightly, added a silver tone and this is it.
It wouldn’t have been possible to take this image on film, regardless of what filters I’d have used. It could only be made in digital post-processing. And still, it looks perfectly natural. Digital photography has given us a lot more choices, and it’s our’s to make them.
The Song of the Day is “Roy’s Choice” from the 2001 De-Phazz album “Death by Chocolate”. If you’re going to buy only one De-Phazz album, this must be it. If you’re in the US, I have to recommend plastic, because the album is only available as CD import for a steep price – and it’s worth every cent of it. But hear yourself on YouTube.