Pushing the B&W Envelope

With Silver Efex Pro 2

Meadowlark Gardens, Peace Bell

Technical – Nikon D300 RAW, Tokina 16-50 2.8 @ 22mm, 1/5 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV+2, Aperture Priority, spot metering, Cloudy WB, Tripod. High Key Exposure.


  • Nothing special; fill the frame


  1. Capture NX2 (plus Color Efex Pro plug-in) for RAW conversion
  2. B&W Conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2 – Details below

There is Black & White – and there’s BLACK & WHITE. The inspiration for this B&W conversion began with this high key image described in my post two days ago. It seemed like a good starting point for a more extreme B&W conversion – one that looks more like a drawing than a photo. What follows is how I accomplished that in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Click any of the images in the following sequence to enlarge it for a better view of details.
#1. Here is where we begin. Original left and SEP2 default starting point right.

#2. Begin the trek to a B&W “drawing” by using the SEP2 curves adjustment to lighten the high key image even further.


#3. On the left is the result of step #2. Use the film sensitivity sliders for more contrast in the main part of the image (we’re just trying to remove the background, nothing else)


#4. Here we continue with the result of #3, and use a series of selective adjustment control points to further remove the background and improve the contrast of the structure.


#5. Continuing with the #4 result (sorry I failed to copy it to the left of this next pair – compare with the right image in #4 above), Use SEP2’s Global Adjustments to finish the job.


#6. And here’s our before|after comparison.

This same, or similar, effect could have been produced taking several different approaches in SEP2. The one illustrated may not even have been the best but it got the job done. Experiment – whether in SEP2 or the B&W conversion program of your choice. There’s more than one way to accomplish your B&W conversion goal (and there are many alternative visions to pursue).


Finally, here’s what the original looks like when combined via luminosity blending with two different B&W versions – one a line drawing style and the 2nd the SEP2 default conversion.


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