How To Manage And Save Selections – A Black And White Photography Tutorial – Beginners Level
Step 1: Copy The Original
If you are familiar, or trying to get familiar, with my black and white processing workflow then you will see that I always start with the creations of selections first, before I start the real and more interesting part of the black and white photography conversion. But before I even start with creating selections I always first create a duplicate of the original file. Let’s say I am working on an image of the Pantheon (Rome, Italy). I open my original file “Pantheon.tif” and save it as “Pantheon – selections.tif”. I choose that name because I use that file primarily to save my selections in. You, of course, can choose whatever name you like. I very rarely save the selections in the black and white versions in progress since that will take up a lot of disk space and will also affect the performance of the computer processing. I prefer to create them from the original colour image and save them separately in the colour image only. This applies to both so called ‘hard selections’ (selections created with a selection tool like the quick selection tool) and the luminosity mask selections. When working on the actual Black and white post processing I simply load the selections from the original colour file. Which means you have to open the original colour file too in Photoshop while working on the black and white photos.
(Click to enlarge)
So, the first step is to save a duplicate of the original. Give it a convenient name, like “Pantheon – Selections.tif” .
Step 2: Saving A Selection In Photoshop
Once you have created a copy, open that duplicate and start working on your selections in that file. The first thing I do when creating a selection, is to start with a very quick and rough selection. My preferred tool for this is the Quick Selection Tool. You literally create a selection in seconds. Once you have done this, save the selection. Go to Select –> Save Selection. Give the selection a proper name, so that you will know what the selection is about. I have been selecting the sky, so I will call this selection “Sky”. Again, you are free to call it whatever you like, but if you are working with a dozen selections at the same time, proper naming will keep things organised.
Also make sure to save the entire document. If Photoshop crashes you will loose your progress on the selection, even if you have saved the selection. So always make sure to save the document too after you have saved the selection.
Step 3: Adjusting The Selection And Saving Your Progress
Your selection is probably not done yet. It can actually take quite a while before your selection is finished, depending on the tools you use and the complexity of the subject. This means you will have to adjust the selection. The thing is, when you adjust a selection it will not automatically save the changes you have made to that selection. You will need to overwrite these changes manually. Let’s say I have refined the selection a bit (by first loading the saved selection and then adjust it, please refer to my previous tutorials on selections) and I want to save the progress. Simply go to “Select” –> “Save Selection” and choose the selection you wish to overwrite under the “Channel” menu.
Step 4: Creating And Saving Another Selection
After you have finished a selection, you might want to work on another one. Before you start working on a new selection, make sure no current selections are active. Go to “Select” –> “Deselect”. Now you can start with a fresh selection.
To save a new selection, just follow the previous steps. After you have made the initial rough selection go to “Select” –> “Save Selection”.
Step 5: Switching Between Selections
If you have multiple selections and you want to adjust a certain selection, go to “Select” –> “Load Selection”. This will prompt a new window. Under “Channel” choose the selection you want to work on.
Step 6: Adjusting A Selection Under Channels
Another way to work with a selection is by using the “Channels” panel. You can usually find this panel on the right side of your screen next to the “Layers” panel. Click on the tab “Channels” to access this panel.
The same process of managing selections can be used for the so called luminosity mask selections. The creation of luminosity mask selections will be discussed in a separate tutorial and both hard selections and luminosity mask selections play a very important part in my Black and white photography post processing workflow. The most important thing when working with selections is to save often. Always save the document too after you have saved the selection. In order to keep things easy also be sure to give convenient names to your selection. This way you will not get confused when you are working with multiple selections.
More info on my black and white photography post processing method can be found in the The 424 pages eBook From Basics to Fine Art – black and white photography, architecture and beyond, written by me and co-author Julia Anna Gospodarou or in my 2.5 hour B&W long exposure masterclass video tutorial with an extensive explanation on my iSGM (iterative Selective Gradient Masking) black and white photography processing method.
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