How to Make Black and White Architecture Fine Art Photography

How to Make Black and White Architecture Fine Art Photography

Do you know that a black and white architecture fine art photography is not the kind of photograph that easy to make and there hardly any complete tutorial available on the internet (I did found a 3 hours tutorial on YouTube. But it’s so boring I end up fast asleep). There are two options though, first by participating in a seminar and second by buying a tutorial package on the internet. So instead of spending money on those, I just want to show you how to make one. So here how to make black and white architecture fine art photography.

But if you want to buy those tutorials here my recommendation (not mine, btw): 

Before we begin, I must say that this is a post-processing tutorial is my own style. 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 probably kinda different than how it usually been done…I think (I never saw another before).

For this tutorial, I use a simple architecture photo, a straightforward architecture photography. No complicate composition.

I’m gonna use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC, Adobe Photoshop CC, and Google Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. The post-processing was done on Windows PC.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC

First, import the photo into Lightroom. It can be done by click menu File->import photos and videos (ctrl+shift+i) select the photo and click Import. Or you can just simply drag your photo to Library Module. And then the photo added to Lightroom.

Photo Imported into Lightroom

Go to Develop Module to begin the editing.

I always begin by going to Lens Correction box and click 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.

Basic adjustment

Then remove some distraction that you can see in the picture. There I can see a bird and a lens dust.

See the red circle

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, its ready to edited in photoshop. You can do that by click right on the middle photos->edit in->edit in Adobe Photoshop… (depend on your photoshop version). And then your photo transfer to photoshop.

Adobe 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 just impossible to do it at the same time. To do it, make the selection around the building by using the pen tool.

Building has been selected

After that click right->make selection. Then the make selection box will come out. For me, I usually add my feather radius at 1 pixels. And then click OK.

1 pixels feather radius

feather radius: to specify the amount of feathering (softness) we want to apply to the selection edges.

Now the building is selected. And then create a copy of the background layer by click right on the background layer->duplicate layer or drag the background layer to the new layer icon.

To make a duplicated layer

After that, click on the copy layer (Background Copy layer) and then click layer mask so these copy layers have a specific selection.

Create layer mask for building selection

Now there are two layers. One is the complete photo (background). Another is the copy that masked by building selection (background copy layer). With these layers, we can create each different adjustment in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Silver Efex Pro 2

Reminder: Silver Efex Pro 2 is free post-processing plugin by google

First I want to make a background into an almost completely dark looking sky. To do that I’m gonna use background layer into the plugin by clicking the menu Plugin->Nik Collection->Silver Efex Pro 2

When Silver Efex Pro 2 is open, there are three main option, 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 what the background layers look like:

For background

As you can see the layer 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 because there’s different of tone 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 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 curve layer to increase the highlight and remove the small distraction.

Save (ctrl+S). And we gonna go back to Adobe Lightroom CC. Just close and go back to Lightroom. The file will be automatically there. Or you can use Camera Raw Filter.

Camera Raw Filter
I must say that there’s another way without exiting photoshop. Create new flatten layer (shift+ctrl+alt+e) and then click on menu Filter->Camera Raw Filter (shift+ctrl+A).

camera raw filter

If you explore the the camera raw filter, you can see that it completely the same as the Lightroom Develop module.

But for this tutorial we gonna do in Lightroom. Because I like it.

Adobe Lightroom CC

Even though it already looks good, there 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 radial filter to do dodge & burn.

Before we begin this, we must understand how the light work in this image. Here I can see that the light come from the upper left corner. From that, we can begin. Increase the brightness of the part of the building that the light hit directly. Also on the upper part of the building. I also reduce the brightness on the part that didn’t hit the light. All of that done in a radial filter.

Use of radial filter

I also use gradual filter to decrease the lower part of the building.

use of gradual filter

I also do some basic adjustment. 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.

basic adjustment

After that the photo finishes. Here the final result:


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