An even better b&w combining VitaminBW 2 and Shape

by | Jul 15, 2019

About this tutorial


This is the very first tutorial of the new instructional and training system with a mix of text, images, and quick video contents for an effective learning experience.

In black & white photography, the contrast is of paramount importance. As you probably know Vitamin creates its contrast in two steps. First, with and excellent b&w conversion and by using color filtering, second by enhancing contrast using a smart algorithm. But if you need a more refined control of the contrast enhancement you can put together the top of the B&W conversion (Vitamin BW2) with the flexibility and quality of the top of the contrast enhancement (Shape). Learn how.

The combined use of VitaminBW 2 and Shape

3.1 VitaminBW 2 is a two steps black and white conversion


The plugin first converts a color file in a smooth, high-quality black and white, then enhances its contrast and local contrast. We call this second step, “Vitaminize”.
By default, you get the final result as a single layer, so you will see only the final result.

VitaminBW 2 layered Single Tone buttonBy using the single tone button, you get a folder containing the two layers (three if you are adding a color hue) that allows better understand how VitaminBW 2 works.

The importance of contrast in Black & White


Black and white photography misses the contrast given by the colors and can only use the luminosity contrast. It seems a trivial statement but it’s the starting point to have the right approach to black and white conversion.

Before applying the contrast enhancement VitaminBW 2 allows to dramatically improve the contrast by using color filtering. In the jet image for example it’s evident that a simple contrast enhancement is not be able to get the same result given by the tonal “re-allocation” of the red color filter.

Jet Raptor F22 converted by VitaminBW using red filter

3.2 Improving tonal contrast by using color filtering


As seen, before boosting the contrast Vitamin BW2 offers many color filtering options to re-allocate the tonal values and start with a better result.

An exclusive tool is “Triple Tone” that, with one click serves you on a silver tray three tonal versions to choose from or blend. A full range of color filters is available, including the red filter, the “wild horse”.

More info and download links

Jet Raptor: Public Domain from Wikipedia. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gustavo Gonzalez.
Download

These two are copyrighted images of Roberto Bigano. Feel free to download, use as a test and share wherever you like. No editorial or commercial use allowed.
Download Fire on The Mincio Valley
Download Church after the quake

3.3 Using the VitaminBW built-in contrast enhancement


Once converted in black and white, VitaminBW 2 adds its contrast enhancement. It’s incredibly performing and easy to use, but its strength is sometimes also its weakness. Why? The algorithm applies a radius that depends on the file size: large file large radius, small file small radius. No way to control its strength.

You still have some options to increase or reduce contrast. Increase by using the “Boost” option in the contrast menu. Reduce by choosing the layered version and by tweaking the opacity of the conversion layer.

More info and download links

This is a copyrighted image of Roberto Bigano. Feel free to download, use as a test and share wherever you like. No editorial or commercial use allowed without written permission.
Download raw file of Seaside House at Urk. The Netherlands
Suggested settings: VitaminBW [Orange, Normal, Neutral] – Shape (45, 15) P(20, 20) F(3, 15, 60) CB00 applied on the Vitamin Flat layer as shown in the tutorial.
This DNG file is exported from DxO with default settings, then opened as an advanced object from Camera Raw and default settings only removing USM.

About halos


VitaminBW 2 like other popular tools like NEXT works by creating micro, small, medium or large halos; they are responsible for the contrast improvement creating a multitude of small light/dark transitions. However, sometimes the halos can be disappointing, especially if you are working on an image with a uniform texture.

For example, micro, small and medium halos have significantly improved this image.
Large halos instead, were a problem in the flat background an needed to be fixed by removing the unwanted parts in the layer mask. Watch the videos 3.3 and 3.4.

3.4 Using the Shape contrast enhancement


Start by comparing the VitaminBW conversions using different color filtering.
If for instance, you like the blue version relaunch the blue, using the “Single Tone” button. You will get two separate layers. You can now deactivate the “conversion” layer.

You are now ready to launch Shape. To start, try the two presets: Global and Local, then tweak strength, sharpening, and highlights and shadows protection taking benefit of the advanced setting, using preferences.
Welcome in the kingdom of the customizable contrast enhancement.

More info and download links

This is a copyrighted image of Roberto Bigano. Feel free to download, use as a test and share wherever you like. No editorial or commercial use allowed without written permission.
Download raw file of Mannequin
Suggested settings:
VitaminBW VitaminBW [None, Normal, Cool]
Shape (41, 21) P(20, 29) F(3, 15, 60) CB0 applied on the Vitamin Flat layer as shown in the tutorial.

€32 – Multi-licenses available

Full functions with watermark

€32 – Multi-licenses available

Full functions  with watermark

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