I think we can all admit to succumbing to the temptation of restoring color to a small portion of a scene that was processed for black and white, right? Maybe, maybe not. But, I have certainly seen enough examples of it where it just distracts from the overall image. At least it distracts me enough to notice it and that in there lies the rub.
Now, don’t misinterpret my words. I have nothing against selective color. In fact, when used effectively, I think it can be a gorgeous addition to a black and white image. I just think that it requires a soft touch and this is a tip that can be applied to all sorts of life lessons – everything in moderation.
For this image, I initially worked the entire scene in black and white. However, after reviewing the original color image, I realized that I loved the beautiful landscape that was painted on the wall. It really deserved to pop off the screen a bit more, so I masked back a small amount of the vibrant and punchy color, just enough to let it register to the viewer. I also think it contrasts very nicely against the stark, monochromatic sky and lights.
I think what I’m trying to say is that the application of subtlety often times will have a stronger impact than slamming your viewer over the head with blatant changes.
In terms of processing
I initially converted this image to B&W using a custom build effect in Perfect Effects 3 by . I also applied the Lighter effect under the Color & Tone category and selectively masked it onto the overhead lights to make them more pronounced. You will also notice that I masked just outside of the light housings, as well, to give them the appearance that they are glowing.
Next, I returned back to Perfect Layers and used a 10% opacity masking brush to restore some of the original color from the wall. Each stroke was iterative and compounded on itself so I masked in until I was happy with the output.
Finally, I added some contrast and clarity using the Develop Module in Adobe Lightroom 3.
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