Anything Photoshop or Photography

HOW TO GET A SOFT BLACK AND WHITE LANDSCAPE EFFECT

B&W Image of Spanish Cay in the Bahamas
This week I decided to try to create a soft landscape look. A fabulous German photographer named Christian Zieg inspired me to try to achieve a similar effect. Of course there are several ways to do this both in-camera and in Photoshop. In Photoshop any type of filter using the word glow, radiance or diffusion will probably give a good start to creating this look. I tried several different ways, and the following was the best result for this image in my opinion.

This vacant beach on Spanish Cay (as of February it is now open after the devastating Hurricane Dorian) in the Bahamas used two different types of filters to get the final look. Below is how the image looked after a few basic adjustments in Lightroom.

Image of deserted beach on Spanish Cay in the Bahamas

For this image, Skylum’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Luminar 4 was used to get the original soft look. In Luminar these were the “Looks” used: In the Essentials section AI Structure was applied and a Luminar Structure mask was created so only the dead trees were selected. Next in the Creative section the Color Styles (LUT) was applied – the LUT selected was called BW_XInf preset (created by retoucher and photographer Victor Fejes for KelbyOne). By setting the Saturation to -100, the image became a black and white. Next the Glow Look was selected and set to Type: Soft Focus Light, Amount 61, Brightness -18 and in Advanced Settings Smoothness 15 and Warmth 0. The AI Structure layer mask was copied and pasted into the Glow mask,  then set the Density slider to 18% so there is not much effect from the mask. By adjusting the Smoothness slider, a very soft effect can be achieved. The last step was to open the Pro section and choose Advanced Contrast where Highlights Contrast slider was set to 39, Midtones Contrast 13, and Shadows Contrast 19. At this point a preset was created called SJ Dreamy Look so the effect could easily be applied to other images. Below is how the image looked after applying the above plugin. I have to admit I sort of liked just this effect.

Luminar version of Spanish Cay Image

Now using the Luminar plugin is really great for the soft effect, but to get the dark look, a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer is added using the white to black gradient which creates a beautiful black effect with the white showing up for emphasis. Be sure you have white selected as the foreground color and black as the background on the swatch. A clip-art moon was added to the image with a Levels Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to it to adjust the moon tones.

The second filter used is my favorite, Nik Viveza, to adjust the brightness of the different areas in the image and drive the eye to the moonlight. Wanted it to appear as though the moon was lighting up the island and water behind it. Then just a little clean up was done like dodging and burning on a few of the branches so they are correctly lit. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog to do this.) That is all that was done to get this effect and it is a lot of fun to do.

There are other ways to get the nice soft effect, but this one worked best for me. I tried Diffusion and Radiance techniques, but they did not look as good as Luminar’s Glow. The Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was great for switching up the blacks and whites. Will catch everyone later!….. Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Add a Simple Glow Effect to Your Image
How to Add a Darker Background Image for a Darker Background Image for a Different Effect
My Glowing Porch Flowers!
Can You Spot the Photo Bombing Kids?

4 responses

  1. Ann Mackay

    You’ve created a wonderfully mysterious image. I love the ethereal image you had with the SJ Dreamy Look. 🙂

    06/07/2020 at 5:41 am

    • Thanks Ann – felt this need to step outside my photography box and try some new creative techniques. I have always liked a soft look in some images anyway.

      06/08/2020 at 10:22 am

      • Ann Mackay

        I’m feeling the same and I must clear a space so that I can take some still-life pics. 🙂

        06/09/2020 at 5:50 am

  2. That is a cool processing. I might have to try myself. 🙂

    06/10/2020 at 12:32 pm

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