Written by guest photographer: Ron Martinsen


Bored with Color Images?
Spice them up with B&W Effects


(Final Image using Topaz Adjust and BW Effects)
One of the hot trends in photo editing a few years back was to take a single color channel (which appears visually as a black and white image in Photoshop) and apply it to a color image at a reduced opacity to give an image more mid-tone oomph. This evolved into the addition of the Apply Image feature in Photoshop which allows you to do the same thing much faster. Here’s an example of this technique using the Blue Channel and a Soft Light blend mode with 50% Opacity:
(Apply Image using the Blue Channel and a Soft Light blend mode with 50% Opacity)
Here’s the dialog from Photoshop that shows how I did this:


(Photoshop: Applied Image Settings)
This was a pretty neat discovery and is a technique used by many fashion and automotive photographers today. One day while I was experimenting with BW Effects it dawned on me that I could apply this same methodology to get a whole new look that was much more exciting than Apply Image could do. The reason why is that not only could I get more interesting tones in my shadows from BW Effects, I could also get color tints that could enhance my image even more.

While in this article, I’ll use the Antiqued Sepia II preset, it’s very important to remember that you can use ANY BW effect that gives you a look that you like and then do what I show you here to make your color image have more dimension and depth. Here’s what my original image looks like, followed by what it looks like with the Antiqued Sepia II preset from BW Effects:


(Original Image)

(BW Effects Antiqued Sepia II preset)
Now when I set the blend mode in Photoshop to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 50% I get much of the benefit I get from Apply Image but I also get some color to warm Alessandra’s skin:


(BW Effects Layer with Soft Light Blend Mode and 50% Opacity)
This is an exciting new look that only took seconds to create thanks to BW Effects and the magic of Photoshop’s Blend Modes and Opacity feature.

Lately I’ve become a big fan of using Topaz Adjust’s Spicify preset on my images using the same technique, so here’s what my original image looks like with Spicify on a layer with Soft Light Blend Mode and 50% Opacity:


(Adjust Spicify Preset with Soft Light Blend Mode and 50% Opacity)
In case you are wondering, the blend mode and opacity I chose are based on personal preference and vary from image to image. Most often I find myself using the Soft Light blend mode, but sometimes I’ll use Overlay as well. My opacities typically vary from as little as 20% to as much as 70%, so experiment and don’t just always use the values I have here in this article.

Now that I’ve showed you my spicify trick, if you go back to the top of this article you’ll see my final image where I actually did the spicify layer first, then I did the BW effects layer (but this time with 20% opacity) to create the final image.

About the Image
This image was lit with an Elinchrom Quadra Ringflash to create the unique lighting and intentional body shadow. I used my Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens set to f/9 and 47mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 100.

About the Author
Ron Martinsen is a well-known international photography and photo editing blogger at http://ronmartblog.com. While his images are featured in magazines and trade shows around the world, his real passion is photography and photo editing education. His blog has enjoyed over 1,200,000 visitors with topics ranging from gear, plug-ins, and book reviews. His special discounts on the hottest products in the industry have saved his readers well over $1,000,000 USD!

Ron is the author of Printing 101 Notebook: An Introduction to Fine Art Photography Printing, as well as two other best-selling books. He has been awarded multiple patents and has several patents pending. Ron has worked alongside Bryan Peterson at his Seattle Workshops, he has been featured on numerous blogs from industry leaders like Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Trey Ratcliff, John Paul Caponigro and more.

You can see more of Ron’s work on his portfolio site at http://ronmartinsen.com

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