© Jan Esmann and Power Retouch. All rights reserved.

Photoshop plug-ins for retouching

Black/White Studio

The Lens Color Filters

These settings will emulate the effect of traditional colored lens filters. Choose any of the seven basic colors or set your own color. Also set the strength of the filter to

Quick introduction

This Photoshop plug-in lets you convert color photos to B/W with the color sensitivity of commercial films as well as with the tools knows to the traditional darkroom, like multigrade. Many more controls are available beyond these and give you total control over the conversion. This is the Black/White Studio’s control panel. Click on the image for a larger view. It works with the following image modes: 8 & 16 bit/channel: RGB, CMYK, Greyscale, Duotone.

Video introducing the Photoshop plug-in

your desired value. The colored rectangle (here yellow) shows both the selected color as well as the intensity (saturation) of it. The following examples show the effect on skin tones of the various color filters at full strength:
As you can understand from the examples, green is a favorite when working with nudes or portraits as it raises the contrast in the skin tones.

Film Spectral Sensitivity

This is the main engine of the plugin. These seven sliders let you determine the sensitivity to the range of light wavelengths centered round the the specified color. The wavelengths specified represent the pure color at the center. Magenta is not a pure wavelength. In color theory one operates with the term "purple line" to handle the purple colors that appear as unique colors to the human eye, but in reality are a mixture of the red and blue ends of the spectrum. Since they are a mixture, there is no wavelength to represent them. We placed magenta at the ultraviolet end of the spectrum since it's more akin to visible violet than invisible infrared.

Film Type Presets

The Film type presets lets you quickly set the seven sliders to an equivalent of a large number of popular professional films. In addition we have added orthochromatic, panchromatic and perceptual luminance. Perceptual luminance is calculated according to the CIE Luv norm and is considered a neutral conversion. Orthochromatic and Panchromatic are based on generic spectral sensitivity charts from Kodak, Ilford etc. In the following examples we filtered it with some of the plug-in's different film presets.
Perceptual luminance
APX 100
Delta 100

The Photoshop plug-ins "Print" controls

Grouped under the heading "Print" you will find all the classic darkroom print techniques such as multigrade, exposure, highlight correction, shadow correction, etc. Plus a few extra. As you will see from the examples below, the multigrade levels and exposure stops are extremely truthful.


If you check this box, the filter does not convert to black and white, but instead let's you see and edit the original color mage. The black & white film emulations do of course not make sense as such in color-mode, but you can still use the film sensitivity sliders to control how bright you want the individual colors.


The plug-in can do all the multigrade levels. Traditional multigrade paper ranges from 00 to 5. The plug-in has these levels and even an extra one in either end. Since the slider can't display 00 (or our extra 000), we have decided to designate 000 as -2 and 00 as -1. Level 2 and 3 are the normal levels suited for most images. In the following examples of how the plug-in does multigrade, we filtered the photo using the neutral method Perceptual Luminance and only changed the multigrade settings. Please observe that both the high degree of tonal variation as well as the delicate grays typical of paper multigrade are preserved throughout, even at the the extreme ends.
-2 (our 000)
-1 (00)
Multigrade 2 is generally considered most true to nature, but depending on the image at hand you might want to experiment with higher or lower levels.


The Exposure slider is carefully calibrated to do the same as regular exposure stops (see examples below). The slider allows from minus 1 1/3 to plus 1 1/3 stops. The exposure slider designates steps of 1/3 with the value 0.33, 2/3 with 0.66 etc. The Fuji chart is mainly concerned with push processing, but third column illustrates normal exposure bracketing and is used for the following. See the full size chart here if you want to verify these examples for yourself. [Scanned from: Fuji Pro-Value, August 2001, vol. 6].
Fuji standard
Fuji's color standards (left) converted to gray with Perceptual Luminance
Normal exposure color photo (see below) corrected with the plug- in
+ 2/3
+ 1/3
Normal exposure
<<< This is the color photo used for our exposure corrections. To distinguish the plug-in converted versions from the "real" versions observe the fold.
- 1/3
- 2/3
- 1


Contrast is somewhat similar to multigrade, but multigrade has more focus on hardness and softness than contrast as such. It's nice to be able to adjust contrast independently of the grade of the paper since combinations of low multigrade with raised contrast (or the reverse) can give nice results. The plug-in lets you adjust darks and lights independently.
Perceptible luminance only
Dark contrast max.
Dark and light contrast max.


Balance changes the ratio between the amount of light and the amount of dark in the image.

Highlights & Shadows

These two sliders let you change the brightness of highlights and/or shadows. These examples were all converted with Perceptual Luminance, -1/3 ev. and cyan filter at full strength. All settings were identical except for the specified single change. Very charming results can be achieved by lowering the shadows and raising the highlights since this will raise contrast and improve modeling, while leaving all the mid tones unchanged.
Highlights +100
Highlights 1100
Shadows +70 See the difference in the hair
Shadows -100 See the difference in the hair

Saturate Blacks & Black Soft Threshold

Saturate blacks is a modified (monochrome adapted) version the Power Retouche Black Definition plug-in. In effect it will darken or brighten the shades darker than Black Soft Threshold.
100 %, threshold 64
100 %, threshold 128
100 %, threshold 192


Selecting the Zones tab will change the control panel. to a page that gives you three selectable zones (A,B and C) like the one shown here. The three zones are independent. You select the eyedropper tool (click on the icon) to pick the zones main value in the preview window. When the zone is selected by clicking in the preview with the eyedropper, the eyedropper tool will revert to the hand, and a colored cross will be placed where you clicked.


You will usually get slightly different results if you filter an RGB image or a CMYK image. This is because we made the B/W Studio take advantage of CMYK's K channel (used for black definition and contrast) to enhance texture and detail. This is particularly useful in portraits, where the texture of the skin plays an important part. But it will be very good in all images of medium saturation. You should be aware, though, that RGB images of high saturation may not look good when converted to CMYK and that this will also influence the result of the B/W Studio. But if your RGB photo is within the range RGB and CMYK have in common (medium saturation), then converting the RGB image to CMYK before using the B/W Studio will really improve the texture and detail of the output.