Exercise 18: Colours into tones 2

The aim in this exercise is to make use of channel adjustment to achieve a specific effect. An effect that reflects the tonal range of monochrome colour scheme. I have choose two options mentioned below to demonstrate the above conditions.

  • A landscape, in which you emphasise the depth (aerial perspective) by strengthening the visual effect of the haze.
  • A portrait in which you lighten the complexion without significantly altering the tones of the rest of the image.

For this, I have selected two images from the achieves and made the virtual copies to process them according to the exercise requirement.


I particularly selected this image, as it can be improved by converting to the black and white, moreover  by working on the tones of the image, probable I could convert an average image in to something more appealing. This image is from the collection of images I had captured during my visit to Rajasthan, India in 2010. I have not used this image on my personal website as I thought it was lacking the punch. However, it is an ideal candidate for this exercise.


The original image was captured with the following settings.

Exposure: 1/800 sec @ f/3.5

ISO: 100

Focal length: 27mm

Default Black and White Conversion with Channel Adjustment
Ex-18-landscape-3.jpg Ex-18-landscape-3-2.jpg

In the above comparison screen, the left image represents default conversion and the right one is done with the channel adjustment. I have adjusted the following channels.


Original Value

Adjusted Value

Red – 11 – 87
Green – 27 – 43
Blue +14 – 65

When I compared the images side by side, the image with channel adjustment had significantly enhanced depth of field. The sky and the details at the horizon level are also more clear and over all the image looks much better compare to a flat black and white conversion that the default settings have produce.


For the portrait, I have selected an image from my archive. I have cropped the image to avoid clutter. Other than that I have not done any other adjustments to the original image.


Exposure: 1/1000 sec @ f/2.8

ISO: 100

Focal length: 105mm

The original image was taken under the shade and it has come bit dark. When converted to the default black and white the image looked very dull, and the skin looked even darker and blotchy. Look at the image comparison below.

Default Black and White Conversion with Channel Adjustment
Ex-18-Portrait-3-2.jpg Ex-18-Portrait-3-3.jpg

After converting the image to black and white, I adjusted red and orange channels to lighten the complexion. Moving these two channels has significantly improved the skin texture. The only other place that got affected with these slider movements was the tree in the background. However, the differences was subtle.


Original Value

Adjusted Value

Red – 11 + 65
Orange – 20 + 60


Definitely the default conversion of black and white is basic and does not do justice in many cases. The channel adjustment gives the option to change the image dramatically. Be it details in the sky or improvement in the skin tone. The adjustments done with the channels are more controlled with better results in most of the cases. I have noticed that at times, the tonal channel control is so effective that it eliminates the need of dodging and burning or curves tool. The softness of the skin is somewhat similar to what the adjustment brush “Soften skin” does. I can see myself using this technique more and more in my future processing.


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