While originally scouting for Grizzly bears in Glacier National Park, professional photographer Joe Reardon noticed this scene in the “Many Glacier” section of the park. Having made the conversion from film to digital photography last June, this photo was shot with a Nikon D800 with a 70mm zoom lens. The image is comprised of 15 separate images that were pano stitched together in Photoshop.

Prior to the release of B&W Effects, Joe either worked very long in Photoshop or ended up in the wet darkroom. He claims that neither method provided the look he was after. “Your plugin is just so intuitive and instant that I am able to experiment with different looks in a very short order. I have tried other vendors’ offerings and found them quite lacking in both features and ease of use.”

Starting with the original image, Joe Reardon has included a list of steps he used to transform this photo into a stunning black and white image using Topaz B&W Effects 2.1 and Photoshop.

Original_ImageStep 1:

  • Open the original image in Photoshop
  • Duplicate the layer (ctrl/cmd J); rename it B&W Efex
  • Activate B&W Effects

Starting Image

Step 2:

  • View the image in side by side mode

Side By Side - No Edits


  • Select ‘Platinum

platinumMake Adjustments to Platinum:

  • Basic exposure: adjust “Boost Whites to +.05”

Adaptive Exposure:

  • Adaptive Exposure ’30’
  • Regions ’48’
  • Detail- Default ‘1.00’

Color Filter

  • Hue= 60
  • Strength= 0.11

Color Sensitivity

  • Red= -0.027
  • Yellow= -0.27
  • Green= -0.21
  • Cyan= -0.14
  • Blue= +0.14
  • Magenta= 0.0


Local Adjustments:

With the Dodge Tool, shadow the side of the mountain range and make these adjustments:

  • Opacity = 0.05
  • Hardness= 0.0
  • Edge Aware = 1.00

Silver and Paper Tone:

  • Tonal Strength = 0.39
  • Balance= -0.48
  • Silver Hue= 0.0
  • Silver Tonal Strength= 0.39
  • Paper Hue= 15.0
  • Paper Tonal Strength= 0.27

Quad Tone:

  • Color 1 Region= 7.46
  • Color 2 Region= 83.34
  • Color 3 Region= 164.2
  • Color 4 Region= 245.0

Edge Exposure:

  • Edge Size= 10 (All)
  • Edge Exposure= 0.05 (All)
  • Edge Transition= 0.20 (All)


End result:

final in B&W Efex

Back in Photoshop:

Create a Luminosity Masking:

1. With the Photoshop layers open, select the channel tab

2. While holding the control key down select the RGB channel. This will produce the “Marching Ants” on the screen. This will be all of the “highlights” of your photo

Luminosity Hihlights

3. From there select a curves layer (tiny half-black & half-white circle at the bottom) and adjust your curves to suit the photo. (Make sure to select “Luminosity”) as your blend mode

Highlight Mask Curve Layer:

Luminosity Mask Higlights
4. For your midtones repeat the process to create the “Marching Ants”
5. From there create a new curves layer and then select then new mask and press control I. This will invert your curves mask and you can adjust your luminosity midtone mask to suit your needs

Midtone Mask Curve Layer:

Luminosity Mask Midtones


6. From there flatten the image and save

glacier_pan2_B&W Efex 2.1

Optional: Convert the file to grayscale (Image->Mode->Grayscale) and save as a new name:

glacier_pan2_B&W Efex 2_greyscale

About the Photographer:

Joe Reardon is a freelance photographer from southern New Hampshire. Joe’s work is represented by galleries in New Hampshire and in Massachusetts. Joe’s images are also in private collections across the USA and in Europe. His photo website can be found here.



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