One of the most underexposed topics in black and white photography is color sliders. Some people wonder what to do with these in black and white photography. We’re going to talk a little bit more about it here.
As you can see in the title image Silver Efex, but also other software, has color sliders with the colors red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and violet. There are programs with a little less sliders but the principle is the same. With the slider you see a percentage indication that shows how light or dark the color in black and white is displayed. Positive is lighter, negative is darker. So you can control how light or how dark a certain color is displayed in black and white.
Often certain colors are used to add or remove accents. For example, in a portrait. If you lighten the red, a person’s skin is rendered more evenly. If, on the other hand, you turn it darker then all the character grooves and wrinkles are shown. Blue is used to accentuate the sky in black and white. In many dramatic black and white landscapes the blue is set darker. So it’s not that a particular color is regulated, but how light or how dark it is rendered in the black and white photo.
As an example, the photo above. In addition to the backlight exposure, the blue level has probably been rendered darker. This can be seen in the dark sky. The other colors probably needed little adjustment due to the backlight.
The effects can be very surprising, it pays to experiment with these color levels. You are then really playing with light, the true meaning of photography.