Golden Gate in Black and White

We’ve been working on the section of The Photoshop Darkroom that treats black and white imagery, so how fitting that a client should ask for black and white images of the Golden Gate Bridge. I always love these projects out of the blue because they lead me in new directions.

Golden Gate Span

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Without getting into specifics (you’ll have to wait for the book for them), the ideas behind black and white imagery in Photoshop are pretty straigthforward. There are a number of ways of converting the RGB file created in a camera to monochrome—as Phyllis puts it, some good, some bad, and some just plain ugly—but here are the important concepts that transcend the technique specifics:

  • Don’t set your camera to take black and white photos. The only thing in-camera black & whites are good for is pre-visualization. You don’t want to drop the color information yet.
  • Pick images that work in monochrome. Usually, color isn’t really important to these images and they have a strong and graphic compositional sense. Often, these are high contrast photos with obvious directional light sources.
  • Use the tools of the creative Photoshop darkroom to add value to the image in color before beginning conversion.
  • Pick a black and white conversion technique that allows you to use the color information in the image as part of the conversion. Simply dropping the color channels is an awful idea. The Channel mixer and/or black and white adjustment layers work well.
  • Plan to use layers and masking to process different portions of the image differently. This increases tonal range, and allows you to have very black blacks and extremely white whites.

Here are some more black and white Golden Gate Bridge images.


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Sunset on the Bay

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Golden Gate Crossing

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Golden Gate Clouds

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Sailing on the Bay

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Bridge Angle

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Golden Gate Shadow

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Related story: Nautilus in Black and White.

This entry was posted in Monochrome, Photography, Photoshop Techniques.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Breaking Wave | Photoblog 2.0 on May 10, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    […] been on a black & white conversion kick lately, and this one struck me as a good candidate for monchrome. The conversion took eleven separate […]

  2. By Absence of Color | Photoblog 2.0 on May 16, 2009 at 7:19 am

    […] Related stories: Breaking Wave; Golden Gate in Black and White. […]

  3. By Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary on May 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    […] out Golden Gate in Black & White and On My Way to Visit Katie Rose, the story I wrote about making the Golden Gate Span image: […]

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