Gorman Conversion

The Gorman conversion method is a Lab L channel based method. It combines L channel conversion with masked solid layer toning and high pass filter sharpening. Because it ignores color information, this method works better on images that have little color to begin with.

After Gorman conversion

Steps in Photoshop

Lab L Channel conversion

    1. Select Image > Mode > Lab Color to convert the image to Lab mode.
Lab Mode
Lab Mode
    1. Go to the Channel palette and select the Lightness channel
L Channel
L Channel
    1. Select Image > Mode > Grayscale to discard the “a” and “b” channels.

Grayscale

    1. While holding the Ctrl key click on the Gray channel. This will select the highlights.
Gray channel
Hold CTRL and click the gray channel
    1. Select Select > Inverse to select the shadows.
Inverse
Inverse
    1. With the shadows selected select Image > Mode > RGB Color to convert back to RGB.
RGB Mode
RGB Mode

Solid Color Layer toning

    1. Go to the Layers Palette.
Layers pallet
Layers pallet
    1. Create a new Solid Color layer.
Solid Color Layer
Solid Color Layer
    1. Select a color from the color chooser.
Solid Color picker
Solid Color picker
    1. Change the Blending Mode of the solid color layer to Multiply
Multiply
Multiply

High Pass Filter sharpening

    1. Hit Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E (Command-Option-Shift-E) to create a new merged layer.
    2. Change the blending mode of the new layer to Overlay. Set opacity to 20%.
New merged layer
New merged layer
    1. Select Filter > Other > High Pass
High pass filter
High pass filter
  1. Set the radius to 50 pixels.

Results

Original color photo
After Gorman conversion

You can pick a different color for the fill layer for your toning.

Named after photographer Greg Gorman, the Gorman method was developed before Photoshop added black and white conversion layers in CS3. Although it’s an older method, it remains popular due to the dramatic contrast it can create. However, there are two drawbacks with Gorman. First, it can’t take advantage of color information to push contrast in a specific direction. For example, you can’t use Gorman to push the sky towards black or trees toward white like you can with the regular black and white conversion layer. Second, images that are already high-contrast won’t benefit from the solid color layer. In fact, it may cause more problems by creating blocked shadows.

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