Tone Splitting

Because I’m working on a limited workstation/software this week, I’ve selected a fun topic that requires little explanation if your processing software does it for you, but if done manually in Photo Shop can be quite complex.  It’s called “tone splitting” and what you’re doing is simply changing the tones/color of certain color channels for a certain effect.

Tone Splitting

Images from digital cameras are in color.  With film you can select black and white or color film/transparencies.  Most people don’t realize that black and white emulsions (film) have much more resolution than does color film, and carry tones very well.  Color film has roughly 1/3 the resolution of black and white film.  Digital images are all in color with the exception of certain Kodak SLRs made 4-6 years ago which were special purpose cameras.

Tone Splitting

Tone Splitting

To achieve black and white, sepia, or any of the many “toned” images we manipulate the image data in a process called “tone splitting” which is a simple alteration of the color channels.  Unfortunately digital color images and digital black and white images have the same resolution.

Tone Splitting

Most image processing software has settings to turn your image to black and white or sepia.  Some have many other pre-sets that allow different effects/tones, and some like Lightroom allow you to generate/customize a certain tone and then save those settings as a preset to use at another time.

Tone Splitting

In Photoshop there are two common methods for generating black and white images.  You can either take the color slider and de-saturate the colors until all you have left is blacks, whites and grays, or you can use the “gradient” feature which offers far more preservation of tones and contrasts and is the preferred method.

Tone Splitting

All of the sample photos have been toned to present an “aged” look, a look common with silver emulsion plates used over a 100 years ago.  tone splitting images can be a lot of fun and done properly are very popular for weddings (a whitish sepia) and black and white images are still as appealing as ever.  Give it a try!

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