So many thoughts. So little time.

Tag Archives: tutorial

Terry’s Color-to-B&W Converter Photoshop Action “Pick Six”

This was inspired by a friend’s need to convert several color photographs to
black and white
for printing in their non-profit organization’s plain-paper newsletter, and also by the excellent book Mastering Black and White Digital Photography by Michael Freeman.
(ISBN 1-57990-707-5).

Below I’ve included the download link for the fr’ee “Color-To-B&W Pick Six” action
that converts a color image to black and white using several Photoshop techniques.

It is quite useful for quickly applying the six basic methods for
creating a Black and White image for use in printing applications.

(80% of printed images are still Black and White images, but
cameras are mostly color, so this becomes a very handy little tool!)

Additionally, adjustment layers are created for every version produced so
you can tweak the best outputted versions even more to your liking or loving!

This is still being improved upon, so I want to make sure you are “in the loop” to know when I make improvements, both by my own discoveries and as a result of comments and suggestions by people using it.

Terrys B&W Actions Download

Watch the video below to understand what it does, how to install it and how to use it.
(You might have to refresh the page again to get the video to show up.)
Best viewed in 720 HD quality at full screen!

This Photoshop Action works on all versions of Photoshop since CS.

Sneak Peek – L*A*B Color Mode
Image Improvement Techniques

I’m busy working on a series of articles and videos I’ll release here soon on using the LAB mode for improving images (or L*A*B mode as some prefer to write it, myself included!)

A friend, Fred Vaughan, has agreed to allow me to use his beautiful photographs taken in Colorado and elsewhere in the western U.S. as my subjects.

Below is a sample done using just some fairly simple curves – all work being performed in the L*A*B color space!

By increasing color contrast (not merely by increasing saturation), we can bring out the natural coloration that the light presented to our eyes, and restore that which is lost by the static interpretation of the camera lens.

Before (Click image for full-screen versions – you can load both into separate tabs to A/B compare them):

Fred Vaughan Image - original

And after having the curves shown beneath the image applied (Click image for full-screen version):

Note how the vibrancy of the full daylight is restored from the above version where the camera had “flattened out” the color’s dynamic range.

Watch this space for some nice full tutorials soon! But in the meantime, please try some L*A*B mode moves on your own!

Fred Vaughan image - with LAB Curves

Lightness Channel – I added some brightness to the lower-mids to open up the dark trees in the middle background, adjusting the top to allow the light to appear to “shine through” the leaves
“A” channel – the lower part is made “steeper” to bring out the darker greens in the mountainside
“B” channel – the odd “hook” in the lower section removes some blue haze obscuring the mountain’s features

Rutt at Dgrin offers another gem – Dan Margulis Portrait Action

I mentioned a very prolific poster at DigitalGrin.com naming himself “rutt” (I believe John is his real name). He is a follower, as I am, of Dan Margulis. rutt has offered up his own “DanMargulisPortrait.atn” (link is often dead – see below) — a Photoshop action — in the thread  of the Chapter 16 of the Photoshop Lab Color book discussion thread on page 12 (!) of the thread posts. That chapter was the final chapter in Dan’s excellent book, and gave a neat “recipe” for optimizing portraits and any face shots you might have. Rutt’s photoshop action automates the process by stepping you through that same recipe’s moves.

The above is his link to the action from that thread. I’ve also put up a safety backup link on my server – “backup of DanMargulisPortrait.atn“, mostly in response to the fact that this link has died in the past!

As that link is pretty buried in there (I mean, page 12 – yikes!), I wanted to create at least a couple back-links pointing to the post  so Google might find it easier!

Read the thread and you will see some pretty nice results demonstrated there from using this technique!

That’s all – I really just wanted to share this with you quickly! Enjoy!

Black and White discussion at Dgrin turns up nice PS action!

So… I’m reading this great tutorial by rutt over at Dgrin (Digital Grin, folks!) called “B&W Conversion Workflow“, and I’m reading through it and see he has included a little Photoshop Action set. As rutt puts it:

“I have an action which aides to to getting to this point. Pick it up here.”

Brief and to the point.

So… I go and download this thing and put it in my Photoshop Actions folder, and load it into my actions pallette with Photoshop running to try it out it on a color photo.

And, lo and behold, this baby not only contains rutt’s two little actions, it also possesses a complete “realization” by Robin L. Holden, Sr. of Greg Gorman and Mac Holbert’s quite innovative B&W conversion action (… as described in the only PDF that exists in Greg’s “Learn” section — titled “Black and White Conversion Tutorial” — find that PDF at http://www.gormanphotography.com/Duotone.html – at his site under the “Learn” section.)

BTW – That’s THE Greg Gorman – one of the most amazing B&W photographers of all time presenting a how-to tutorial at his website on building a Photoshop Action to be used to create B&W shots from color ones!!!

And Who is this Mac Holbert, you ask?

Well! Just another one of the greats in B&W photography!

Interesting collaboration to produce a Photoshop Action, eh? Especially one converting color photos to black and white ones. I’d qualify these two as being pretty “picky” when it comes to quality assessments of B&W from Color conversions!

That rutt includes this “realization” action along with his own technique is a very generous offer. His own and the Gorman/Holbert techniques BOTH produce very nice results, and leave the adjustment layers there for finer tweaking after the actions are run.

I suggest you take a look at rutt’s post and at the PDF at gormanphotography.com, download the action set, and give both approaches a try! (Here’s an alternate download link at my server in case that link above breaks in the future: B&W Action DeLuxe!

CamStudio Settings to Keep Audio and Video in Sync

I just created this video after a bit of trial and error (and research!) that demonstrates how to set up:

CamStudio 2.6 Beta (official download link)

so that the audio and video stay in synchronization throughout the length of the video.
(Or download the Most Stable Camstudio 2.0 release)
Getting CamStudio to synchronize the video to the audio requires that
the “Playback Rate” in Video Options divides evenly into 1000 milliseconds,
with the result being placed in the entry that goes in the box above it, “Capture Frames Every”. This must be a whole number (no fractions).

This basically means that you have five options for playback rate/frames per second
(as CamStudio does not allow fractional entries in the “Capture Frames Every” box).

You must use, therefore, 40 milliseconds with 25 frames/sec, or
50 milliseconds with 20 frames/sec, or 100 milliseconds with 10 frames per second,
or, if you are a mad scientist, 20 milliseconds with 50 frames/sec or 25 milliseconds with 40 frames/sec.
The first two settings mentioned are plenty adequate for 90% of applications, though.

Any other settings will cause a lag to develop in the audio that will get worse and worse as time passes.

This helpful information came from the following two links as sources:
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Screencasting_with_CamStudio
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Creating_Screencasts

Though I’ve seen it often stated that you can use 15 fps with a
“Capture Frames Every” setting of 66, that still sums to 990 (15 X 66), as does 30 fps and 33 (30 X 33).

Those settings will slowly cause lagging to occur.

I haven’t tested whether it will matter sufficiently in a 10-minute-MAX
YouTube video yet, but it probably will be a problem even at that length.

The settings that multiply to equal 1000 are the best optimized ones,
as 1000 milliseconds is equal to 1 second, but 990 milliseconds is clearly not!

I hope people find that helpful, and try to create their own screencasts.

[Edit: 03/23/10] Although these settings keep the sound and video in sync, they are not the only important ones. It is important to also set your video display settings in Windows so that “Hardware Acceleration” is turned completely off to avoid mouse jitter issues and other problems. Open the Display Settings control panel (right-click on the desktop background and select “Properties”), then select the “Settings” tab. From there, select the “Advanced” button. Once in there, select the “Troubleshoot” tab, where you will find the “Hardware Acceleration” slider. Slide that all the way to the left and hit the “Apply” button. Don’t forget to set this back again when you are done screen recording. For recording Games and such, you may have to try setting the slider at higher settings for game functionality to be adequate.

Later, from a request in a comment at YouTube, I recorded this how-to describing how to get sound from the “Stereo Mix”, so you can record what you hear on your speakers (as well as the microphone if you have one!) I had the settings a little hot for this microphone, so pardon the occasional distortion…

For people using Realtek HD Audio Input and a few other audio cards, you will need to allow the stereo mix to appear (enable it) and then make it the active input:

1. Enter the Sounds and Audio Devices control panel.

2. Click on the “Audio” Tab at the top.
Click the Sound Recording “Volume” button.


You can also get to the this panel from the CamStudio
Options/Audio Options/Audio Options for Microphone “Volume” button:

3. In the Recording Controls panel, drop down the “Options” menu and select “Properties”


4. Make sure “Stereo Mix” is checked and click ok.

5. Then, in the “Record” Section look for “Stereo Mix” and select it as your input:

Keep the volume level on Stereo Mix pretty low so it doesn’t clip.(distort)

6. You now can use the regular Master Volume sliders to control the mix.
Remember, the Mic input here in the “Master Volume” control is usually muted by default, so if you are using the mic input, be certain to un-mute it! BTW – the sound from your media players, browsers, etc. is coming through the “Wave” input slider.

If you have trouble with this, there are excellent videos on the subject at YouTube.