Did you know a black and white architecture fine art photography isn’t a kind of photography that easy to create and there are hardly any complete tutorials available on the internet? But, there are two options to learn how. By participating in a seminar and by buying a tutorial package on the internet, both are so expensive. So instead of spending money on those things, I just want to show you how to create one. So here is how to create black and white architecture fine art photography.
But if you want to buy those tutorials here are my recommendation (not mine, btw):
Before we begin, I have to say that the following post-processing flows are my own. I never went to a seminar or buy any of those tutorials. Because I’m a cheapass and love free things. This tutorial is created based only on my own experience. So it’s probably kinda different than how it has usually been done. Maybe (I never saw another before).
For this tutorial, I use a simple architecture photo, straightforward architecture photography. Not a complicated composition.
Update: Nik Collection, including Silver Efex Pro 2 software, now has been bought by DxO. The software is available HERE.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC
First, import the photo into Lightroom. It can be done by clicking menu File->import photos and videos (ctrl+shift+i) select the photo and click Import. Or you can just simply drag your photo to the Library Module. And then the photo was added to Lightroom.
Go to Develop Module to begin the editing.
I always begin by going to the Lens Correction box and clicking on Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration box. And then Upright Selection by clicking the few options (I choose auto).
And then I did my basic adjustment. First, convert into Black & White. Then decrease the highlight to the lowest and increase the shadow to the highest. Then adjust the white and black. What I’m looking for is a good balance tone in the entire part of the photo.
Then remove some distractions that you can see in the picture. There I can see a bird and lens dust.
To remove these, use the spot removal (Q) and click on the bird and the lens dust. Then it will be removed automatically.
After that, it’s ready to be edited in Photoshop. You can do that by clicking right on the middle photos->edit in->edit in Adobe Photoshop… (depend on your photoshop version). And then your photo transferred to photoshop.
First, we want to separate the building and the background (the sky). We do this because we gonna make a different adjustment and it is just impossible to do it at the same time. To do it, make the selection around the building by using the pen tool.
After that right-click ->make a selection. Then the make selection box will come out. For me, I usually add my feather radius at 1 pixel. And then click OK.
feather radius: to specify the amount of feathering (softness) we want to apply to the selection edges.
Now the building is selected, create a copy of the background layer by clicking right on the background layer->duplicate a layer or drag the background layer to the new layer icon. After that, click on the copy layer (Background Copy layer) and then click layer mask so these copy layers have a specific selection.
Now there are two layers. One is the complete photo (background). Another is the copy that is masked by building selection (background copy layer). With these layers, we can create different adjustments in Silver Efex Pro 2.
Silver Efex Pro 2
<<Update>> Silver Efex Pro, part of Nik Collection, is no longer free and available for purchase on the DxO website.
First I want to make a background into an almost completely dark-looking sky. To do that I’m gonna use the background layer in the plugin by clicking the menu Plugin->Nik Collection->Silver Efex Pro 2
When Silver Efex Pro 2 is open, there are three main options, brightness, contrast, structure. Since I want to make it dark I reduce the brightness and increase the contrast. I also want to make it look soft, and for that, I reduce the structure. And then click OK.
So here is what the background layers look like:
As you can see the layer is almost completely dark. You can’t even see the building anymore (most of it anyway). And that is why we previously make a second layer of the building.
I’m sure you can see that the photo doesn’t feel right. It’s because there are different tones between the background and the building. And it looks impossible realistically. It looks like you put an image on a black background. Of course, we don’t want that. For that, we have to adjust the building layer to fit the background.
To do that click the building layer and go back to Silver Efex Pro 2 (Filter->Nik Collection->Silver Efex Pro 2).
Just like before we gonna make the building look dark. But not as dark as the background so we can still see the building structure. Then click OK.
Now, this is how it looks like:
Now it looks better. Basically, we’re done. But I feel it’s not enough and I want to add more adjustment.
I add (1) a couple of curve layers to increase the highlight and (2) a clone stamp tool to remove the small distraction.
Save (ctrl+S). And we gonna going back to Adobe Lightroom CC. Just close and go back to Lightroom. The file will be automatically there. Or you can use the Camera Raw Filter.
But for this tutorial, we gonna do it in Lightroom. Because I like it.
Adobe Lightroom CC
Even though it already looks good, there is still more that we can do. What I do is another adjustment. I always want to make my photo look more black to the dark part and look more white to the bright part. To do this I use a radial filter to do dodge & burn.
Before we begin this, we must understand how lights work on this image. Here I can see that the lights come from the upper left corner. From there, we can begin. Increase the brightness of the part of the building which the lights hit directly. Also, in the upper part of the building. I also reduce the brightness on the part that didn’t hit the light. All of that is done in a radial filter.
I also use a gradual filter to decrease the highlight of the lower part of the building.
I also do some basic adjustments. Like before I want to make it darker on the dark part and brighter on the bright part. Then I use the curve to increase the shadow tone and more contrast (a little). and end it with increasing the sharpness.
After that, the photo finishes. Here is the final result:
And that is How to Create a Black and White Architecture Fine Art Photography