Friday, February 25, 2011

'B&W and Duotones' Actions

This tutorial takes you behind the scenes of 'Pro Photoshop Actions' Black&White and Duotone effects. There are around 18 actions that help you get the most popular tones in Black &White Photography for Fashion, Fine Art and Portraiture, with just a click of a button.

B&W Old Film:

This action is made of multiple layers(edge blur, cloud edges, vignette, grain etc.)  to replicate an old film photograph. All the layers are adjustable individually. Great care has been taken to stay realistic for print quality. Take a look at the details below.

This is one of the action that works well with any photograph from Fashion, Weddings or Portraits. Take a look at another example below.

B&W Classic:

The B&W classic is designed to look like an old Hollywood B&W movie. It is low contrast conversion with slightly high contrast edges. The shadow details hold up very well.

B&W S-Curve:

The B&W S-Curve is a very high contrast conversion and works very well for images shot on a white background. It also gives a nice pop to dull, low contrast and flatly lit images.

B&W Cross:

Yes, Cross Process for B&W. This style is very popular for model books in Fashion and Portrait Photography. It works very well on all kinds of images with good contrast.

B&W Grunge:

One of my favorite actions for B&W portraits. This action after converting to B&W, adds a lot of of shadow details and very fine highlight details. 

These grunge details can easily and individually be toned down to taste.This works amazingly well for portraits and even more on portraits of old men with wrinkles and gray hair/beard. 

Also it brings out great details in B&W Fine Art landscapes and other images. 

B&W Retro:

I have craved this B&W look ever since i started photography. It was not exactly sepia and not fully B&W. It had a dark chocolate tinted mid-tone and high contrast. Magazines like Cosmo, Seventeen etc. used it a lot for Portraits of Musicians, Young Brides, Teenage Lifestyle shoots in the early 90's. It looks even more retro with a medium format film border.

B&W Extreme:

B&W Extreme is slightly softer version of the more powerful B&W S-Curve. The difference is in the highlights. Though the shadows remain dark, there is more details in highlights with the Extreme action. In photographic words, there is more dynamic range with B&W Extreme compared to the S-Curve version.

B&W Red Filter:

B&W Red Filter mimics the use of red filter in black and white photography. For those of you who started with digital, the red filter was used to cut the red frequency and increase the blue frequency of light falling on the B&W negative. In simple words, it was used to darken skies in B&W photography.

In the image below, you can see the blue skies are darker in gray tones than the reds.

B&W Panchromatic:

The B&W Panchromatic has the best tonal conversion of all colors of the image with good contrast. This action works best on all kind of images and the conversion will look exactly the way if you would have shot on B&W Panchromatic film without any filters.

B&W Achromatic:

Achromatic simply means colorless. The B&W Achromatic action is a low contrast version of the B&W Panchromatic.

Silver Gelatin:

The 'Silver Gelatin' duotone action gives your image the look of a silver gelatin print. This trademark look has faded yellowish highlights. The best part is this action can be used with any of the above action. You can convert an image to the 'old film' action followed by the 'silver gelatin' action for a dramatic old B&W image with color and texture.


The 'Platinum' duotone is the most subtle duotone conversion. This look is very good for B&W Fine Art images.


Selenium toned prints are popularly seen on fine art series of famous Fashion Photographers like Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh, Helmut Newton and  Herb Ritts. This action is great for models in swim wear on beaches, nudes, muscles, and human body as an art form. 


Another powerful and classic duotone for B&W is the Sepia. Everyone knows it. This is the other alternative to selenium with a more brownish tint. It can be used for everything the selenium looks good at, plus more.Sepia is used a lot in B&W white ads like Calvin Klein.

Burnt Sienna:

The 'Burnt Sienna' duotone action depicts instant nostalgia of the 1940's Portrait and also brings to mind old 'Wanted' western look. You can use it over the 'Old Film' action for a dramatic old print look.

True Blue:

The 'True Blue' duotone actions have a blue midtone and an off-white highlight. In an artistic language, it gives a night feel to your B&W images.

Only Red:

Like the name suggests, this action masks out all the colors except the red. There is a separate red layer over the B&W layer, and if you wish to increase the intensity of the red, just duplicate the red layer.

Only Blue:

Again, like the name suggests, this action masks out all the colors except the blue. There is a separate blue layer over the B&W layer, and if you wish to increase the intensity of the blue, just duplicate the blue layer. To decrease the blue intensity, just lower the opacity.

You can purchase the complete set of 'Pro Photoshop Actions' right here.

No comments:

Post a Comment