Discover how Nikon Capture NX2 photo editing software can make tonal adjustments based on colour to improve contrast and composition in your images, helping you make stunning black and white conversions.
By converting colour shots into black and white you can remove distracting colour information and draw the viewer’s attention to other features in the scene, such as contrasting shapes and patterns.
However, if you simply desaturate a shot, you run the risk of creating a drab wash of greyscale tones. Here, we’ll show you how to produce more striking monochrome prints using various Capture NX2 tricks and techniques.
Using Capture NX2 to perfect colour and tone
Traditional film photographers would pop coloured filters over the lens when shooting with black and white film. These filters lightened or darkened tones. For example, a red filter would darken blues. This created darker skies in the black and white print, which made white clouds stand out more in contrast.
Capture NX2’s Black and White Conversion command enables us to digitally recreate this approach and use sliders to lighten or darken colours in the mono conversion, so we can choose which areas stand out in contrast to others in the shot.
The Photo Effects command does a similar tone-tweaking job, but also enables you to add a wash of colour to the monochrome conversion. We’ll put both commands through their paces so that you can decide which approach you prefer.
How to convert to black and white with Nikon Capture NX2
Desaturate the image
Go to File > Open Image and browse to our mono_before.NEF shot. In the Adjust panel click New Step. Click Select Adjustment, Color, then Saturation/Warmth. Reduce Saturation to -100 for a monochrome shot. But it lacks contrast.
Black and White Conversion
Click the ‘x’ icon to delete the adjustment. Click New Step, then the Select Adjustment drop-down menu and Black and White Conversion. Experiment by dragging the Filter Hue slider. Setting it at 244 darkens warmer colours.
Reveal the clouds
The sky is a dull grey wash. Drag the Filter Hue slider left to a warmer 61. This darkens colder blues in the sky, making delicate clouds stand out more effectively. Boost the Color Filter Strength to 66 for more cloud and sky contrast.
Reduce the clipping
We’ve clipped the highlights on the woman on the right. Press Shift+H to view the blown highlights as white patches on black. Drag the Contrast slider to -6 to recover the highlights, then press Shift+H again.
Improve the composition
Grab the Crop tool from the top toolbar. Drag the crop handles to lose the distracting foreground detail, then press Enter. The shot is cleaner, and its wider aspect ratio helps enhance the location’s sense of space.
Add contrast and tint
Open sepia_before.NEF. Go to Filter > Photo Effects. In the Adjust panel set the Method to Black and White. Drag Cyan-Red to -83 to make the trees stand out. Boost Brightness to 7. Choose Sepia from the Method menu to add a warm tint.
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