Colours into Tones in Black and White

The final exercise of the colour module had the intention of looking how we can use colour to affect black and white images.

Had I been using a film camera, this would have required the use of 4 different coloured filters and black and white film. The images would have been taken and then analysed to see how the filter impacted the images.

With digital, the process is much easier (atleast it is for me). Using Lightroom, I’ve been able to take a single colour image, convert it to black and white using the Adobe algorithm and then adjust the standard settings to mimic the affect of applying the filters.

The results are below:

Colour Image and the Adobe Standard Black and White Conversion



Applying a Red Filter


Applying a Yellow Filter


Applying a Green Filter


Applying a Blue Filter



This simple exercise shows how filtering light, or imitating the filtration of light, can effect the tones of a black and white image. Because I was performing the exercise using digital software, I’ve been able to control the tone effect in a much more precise way than if I was using actual filters with film. Had I been using film with filters, as the filter appeared to raise the tone of the colour of the filter, it would have reduced the tone of the complement to that colour.

Although this exercise seems very simplistic and maybe not quite so relevant when we’re using digital tools, it is still good to know that there is tonal control after we’ve used the Adobe preset for black and white conversion. The relationship between the complementary colours may also be useful when thinking about these conversions.

Finally, a good resource showing some more in-depth and practical examples of light filtration for Black and White can be seen here.


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