I hate halos!
Halos are the greatest evil in the monochrome world, the arch-enemy of every black&white photographer? Most people know them as thin white lines that are inherent to many (if not all) contrast manipulation computations. They appear around hard and contrasty edges in your photo, especially if you mess with sliders like structure/clarity or whatever they are called in the various apps out there. But they come in all shades and sizes. There are also soft and dark halos which are even more pernicious and much harder to remove. Even though I am continually trying to keep all kinds of negativity out of my life, I openly admit: I hate halos!
A three-year-old problem finally solved
Halos are to blame for not letting me finish a photo I took almost three years ago. It is a simple photo (in terms of subject matter) and maybe this is what I like about it.
When I tried to edit the photo three years ago, I failed utterly because of those nasty halos. Silver Efex is an excellent app for black&white conversions, but it also has its downsides one of which is that it more often than not it is the shortest possible way to Halotopia. In the image above, it created a thin white line around every single leaf in the photo. In the Arcanum, I learned how to remove those white thin line type of halos in Photoshop by creating a new layer, set its blend mode to “Darken” or “Darker Color,” and then removing the white lines with the clone/stamp tool. It’s is a tedious task and as you can imagine by a look at the photo, it is is almost impossible to use this technique here. I tried anyway, and this is what I got.
Horrid, isn’t it?
Avoiding halos using luminosity masking
However, today I tried some new techniques I have picked up over the last three years, most notably those in Robin’s compositing mentorship. The idea is, to not do a monochrome conversion on the image as a whole but the tree and the sky separately. To achieve this, I used three simple techniques:
1. White balance correction
2. Color range selections in PS
3. Luminosity masking.
Even though I knew the image would be black&white in the end, the white balance correction proved to be vital because it prepared the photo for the color range masking later on in Photoshop. It allowed me to get a better mask. With a proper mask of the tree in place, I sent only the tree over to Silver Efex where I know could apply its wonderful magic like film emulation and selective structure sliders without having to worry about halos. In a final step, I used luminosity masks to selectively adjust particular tonal ranges of the photo, most notably the shadows in the leaves and the brightness of the sky in the background.
And here’s the final result.
As you can see, despite the amount of structure I added in Silver Efex, there are no notable halos left. Qapla’!