Now that the world of Digital Photography is upon us, many photographers, hobbyists and professionals alike, are utilizing Photoshop for their photo processing. Think of Photoshop as your digital dark room. For the past few years, even when I was still working in film, I have regularly taken advantage of Adobe’s acclaimed photo editing software, Photoshop. It can be expensive, but but it’s well worth the money for serious photographers.
Meanwhile, as great as Photoshop is, converting a color photo to black-and-white properly is more than a simple procedure. Sure, you can simply change the mode of your image to grayscale, but you will miss some of the detailing necessary to make a proper transition. There is a solution, however: Cybia’s Fotomatic Plug-in Filters for Photoshop.
Now, before I go on, I need to explain one caveat. Photoshop Filters are sometimes frowned upon by professionals. The reason is simple: They’re not perfect. Even the best photoshop filters are not a complete solution in and of themselves. You will still want to tweak things a little bit after using one of these filters. Now that I have that off my chest, lets continue. Below, I would like to hilight the benefits of some of these filters and explain why they may be useful to you.
[Editor’s Note, June 1, 2010 – the following plugins appear to be no longer available in their previous form. However, Cybia has a number of other free plugins that appear to combine the purpose of these plugins into other plugins. We have not evaluated any of these as of yet, but Cybia offers a number of great free plugins that may serve your needs.]
Hi-Spot – Editor’s Note – Do you know what really makes a great black and white photograph? It’s the contrast. Getting contrast in your converted photos takes finesse. This is what Hi-Spot is for. This filter makes developing high contrast photos a lot easier. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great starting place.
[singlepic=92,320,240,,right]G-Force – One of the things that we have lost when we put down our film cameras is grain. Of course grain is a matter of preference, but many photographers and photography fans (myself included) still love the appearance of grain in a black and white photographs. Photoshop’s native Add noise filter is one solution, but the grain doesn’t look like film grain. The trained eye will notice that something is wrong. You can also take advantage of the High ISO trick on your camera to get a grain, but it’s likely going to have a color tint to it, which won’t look good even after you convert to black and white. G-Force, on the other hand, produces a very realistic film grain on your photos during the conversion process.
BW-Plus – Editor’s Note – BW-Plus is my favorite of the Cybia filters. BW-Plus is a conversion tool that will help you to convert your color photos into black and white photos. As part of the process, you get to select what color lens filter you want to use. I have actually grown to prefer this over using physical filters for my lenses simply because I can color correct and tweak my levels before I even apply the filter. I feel that I get a much better result with this post-process filter than I do with a physical one. Filter options include green, yellow, red, magenta and more. This is a must-have plug-in for any landscape photographer. Tip: Try boosting specific color levels before using a filter, and you’ll get some results that are next to impossible with a physical filter.
There are other filters from Cybia, and many are worth looking into. These mentioned above are definately the cream of the crop. They’re free, so it’s worth checking them out. I’ve used these for years with a great deal of satisfaction. I am sure they will be a great assett to your toolbox.
Side note: For those of you who can’t afford the full $650 (USD) version of Photoshop, you can get Elements for about $100 (USD). There is also a version made specifically for photography, Photoshop Lightroom, which you can get for about $300 (USD).