Saturday, April 1, 2006

A free program for creating black and white effects


By David Gewirtz

We regularly talk about using Photoshop and even the far less expensive Photoshop Elements products to manipulate and tweak your photos. But reader Marjani Adanna asks:

What about those of us who can't afford to buy photo software? We just had a kid, so there's no budget for us to go out and buy photo editing toys. I'd like to create fun effects of my child, but I also have a Pampers habit you wouldn't believe. One thing I'd really like to do is create a picture of my boy that makes it look like it was taken years ago.

Marjani, one of the wonderful things about the world of software is that there are often free ways to accomplish what you want without spending money. Certainly, some of the commercial products might give you more control and options, but they're often harder to use as well.

For black and white effects, one cool program you might want to take a look at is BWorks for Digital Cameras. This is a slick little two-pane program that provides a variety of digital photo effects.

Because you mentioned your son, we pulled the image in Figure A from our trusty clip art collection.


Awwww...he's so cute! (click for larger image)

We launched BWorks, shown in Figure B, and clicked the Load button, selecting our original image.


BWorks will perform a variety of effects on your image. (click for larger image)

We then selected Inverse Duotone from the list of conversion options, resulting in the image on the right. As you can see in Figure C, it's a pretty nice effect.


The picture looks somewhat aged. (click for larger image)

You might also like the sepia effect, shown in Figure D.


And now, a picture that's older still. (click for larger image)

It's that simple, and it's totally free. You can't beat that with a stick!