Black & White Conversion in Silver Efex Pro

Some shots are just meant to be converted into black & white and there’s really no better tool than Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom. I’ve tried many different black & white conversion techniques in the past few years and nothing I’ve found works half as good as Silver Efex Pro.

Oldest Presbyterian Church in Texas

Oldest Presbyterian Church in Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted with a Singh-Ray LB Warming circular polarizer filter attached. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/13 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro filter. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Church_Raw_BlogHere’s what the raw file looked like in Lightroom 2 before any processing was done. Not a bad color image but fairly bland given the cloudless sky and dry conditions. Converting this image into black & white added the extra contrast that was needed to give the image a little more vibrance and “pop”.

One thing to keep in mind when converting to black & white using any technique is noise. I always run Lightroom’s or Dfine’s noise reduction before the black & white conversion process. This helps eliminate the artifacts that can occur when high contrast images are converted to black & white.

12 thoughts on “Black & White Conversion in Silver Efex Pro

  1. I really like the way you caught the shadow on the walk at the end of the fence.
    I am sold on Silver Efex Pro and have been running the same workflow as you for it. Dfine is almost a given for the D300 files in some light situations.

    • Hey Ray,

      I used to do all my B&W conversion in PS. It took hours of trial and error to get results that never looked as good as what Silver Efex Pro would produce.


  2. That’s a really good tip and I hadn’t heard it before. Thanks, Jeff. I love Silver Efex Pro and use it all the time myself. No other technique yields as believable results except for one hand-tweaked process in PS that’s very complex and not necessarily worth it compared to the ease and consistent quality of the Nik product.

    • Hey Chris,

      Noise reduction before B&W conversion can make all the difference in the world, especially if you plan to print your final image. I can’t take credit for the discovery however, I learned that trick from Moose Peterson.


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