Creating a Better Black & White Photograph | Topaz B&W Effects

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UPDATE: The offer in this post has expired, but you can use coupon code “angandrieux” to get 15% off all Topaz Labs software anytime!


So. Many. Options.

When it comes to black and white digital photography, there are many ways to go about achieving your goal. Some choose the monochrome setting inside their camera (I don’t suggest this, especially for those who shoot RAW), and others use their primary software (such as Lightroom, Photoshop, iPhoto, etc.) to make the conversion.

While the all-inclusive software tools can do a good job, it often takes a bit more time and effort that just clicking a “black and white” or “grayscale” button. Those options often come out flat and generally unappealing and it takes a bit more knowledge of your software to deliver a stunning monochrome image.

Enter: The black & white plug-in

This is where plug-ins come in handy. Most offer hundreds of presets that immediately look better than the default conversion. Additionally each of the available plug-ins offers tools to customize your result to get exactly the look you desire.

There are many software plug-in options for converting your photographs from color to black and white. I’ve tried most of them, and while each has their strong points, today I’m going to dive into Topaz B&W Effects (which happens to be on sale this month, read on for the coupon code).

Tall Ships | Festival of Sail | San Diego, CA | Processed with Topaz B&W Effects
Tall Ships | Festival of Sail | San Diego, CA

Topaz B&W Effects

Topaz B&W Effects has been around for a while. If you’ve used any other Topaz software, you’ll recognize similar controls and shared elements with their other plug-ins. Topaz makes awesome photography software, and their black and white converter is no exception.

Zone System View

One of the unique features of Topaz B&W Effects is that it puts Ansel Adams’ Zone System to work. The Zone System View helps you quickly see which areas of your photograph fall into the shadows (zones 0-3), midtones, (zones 4-7), and highlights (zones 8-10). As you make adjustments to your exposure, contrast, etc. the zones will update allowing you to see exactly how your changes are affecting the different areas of the image.

Harbor Drive Suspension Bridge | San Diego, CA | Processed with Topaz B&W Effects
Harbor Drive Suspension Bridge | San Diego, CA

Smart Brushes

Another great feature in Topaz B&W Effects are the Smart Brushes which allow for selective adjustments, giving the photographer complete creative control over the look and feel of the final image.

Color and Toning

These days, black and white software doesn’t ignore of color. Topaz B&W Effects has options for traditional toning (such as sepia or cyanotype), duo-tone, selective color, and even a master opacity slider allowing you to bring back a little (or a lot) of the color in your original image.

Hughes Administration Center | University of San Diego | Processed with Topaz B&W Effects
Hughes Administration Center | University of San Diego

Topaz B&W Effects 33% off March 2015

If you’d like to check out Topaz B&W Effects, now is a great time! You can get $20 off using coupon code MARBW from March 10-31, 2015. They also offer free trials of their software so you can try it out. Just remember to purchase by March 31, 2015 for this great discount!

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