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Santorini in black and white Ornament Jun 17th, 2004

It’s hard to believe Donna and I only have three days left on this amazing island. Sigh. Time doesn’t move slow enough.

Santorini in B&W

For this series of photos, I decided to employ a digital color to black & white conversion technique created by Greg Gorman’s photo retoucher, Rob Carr. Greg is an internationally recognized photographer whom I had the pleasure of working with last year while researching Adobe Lightroom. I’ve added the technique to the end of the article.

I find the black & white versions of these photos give Santorini that classic feel. I hope you enjoy them.

Donna’s Photos

This is a shot of the Astra Hotel in Imerovigli. We very much enjoyed our stay there, and highly recommend it to anyone going to vacation in Santorini. They also have free high-speed internet access in the rooms. Donna and I had Groove Salad from Soma FM playing nearly 24/7 while we hung out on our balcony.

Santorini in B&W

A great shot in Fira, with a classic feel. I might have to retouch the cable out. Donna has a nice eye for composition.

Santorini in B&W

We took a trip to the volcano in the middle of the bay. The place is what one might expect Mars to look like, except of course for the occasional umbrella installed along the hiking trail.

Santorini in B&W

Santorini in B&W

So many weathered doors, painted windows and wrought iron gates, so little time.

Santorini in B&W

Santorini in B&W

Santorini in B&W

Andrei’s Photos

There are a lot of great signs here. Once we go through all of our photos, we might post a collection of nothing but signs.

Santorini in B&W

Donna and I took a short afternoon cruise in the bay with Skye and Paul, who recently joined us on this trip. This composition of ships mast and sails caught my attention.

Santorini in B&W

The landscapes and views in Santorini are spectacular. I don’t think it matters where you are. No matter where you go, there’s a great photo waiting to be captured.

Santorini in B&W

Santorini in B&W

I helped out a traveler while exploring the east side of the island. Her name was Annie Steele, fresh out of school from Brown University, and a native of Houston as well. She’s working in Greece for the season and knows the island. She showed me a spot called Colombo Beach, pictured here, nestled next to a cliff. It’s not on the maps, but it sits between Paradise and Vourvolous Beach. A great find for those of you who visit in the future.

Santorini in B&W

Finally, the town of Oia perched on the cliff just before sunset. This is an amazing town to say the least, filled with wonderful jewelry and art shops. We are staying here for the last three days of our trip, enjoying the sights immensely.

Santorini in B&W

The Rob Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

Now for the conversion technique.

You’ve probably seen a lot of Gorman’s work, whether you realize it or not. Gorman does a lot of work in Hollywood, where much of his photography is found on movie posters, like The Italian Job,The Pirates of the Caribbean, and Pearl Harbor. He also has an amazing collection of photography work focused on celebrities and nudes, many of which you might recognize. I was introduced to Greg through another great photographer and long time friend of mine, Jeff Schewe. Through Schewe, I’ve managed to meet some of the best photographers in the business while working on my project at Adobe. Needless to say, it has been a real pleasure on the job.

Gorman has gone digital in the past few years. Recently, he has been sharing his knowledge with many in the photography world. In this case, as you probably know, digital cameras capture light with red, green and blue sensors. It is impossible to shoot digital in black and white, like it is in film. Gorman had been lamenting this fact over dinner almost a year and a half ago, as most of his favorite work is in black and white. Gorman then got word of this conversion technique through one of the best retouchers in the business, Rob Carr. Carr developed this conversion technique, which in all of my time working on Photoshop is easily the best I’ve seen for creating black and white photos.

You’ll never again use Image » Mode » Grayscale or muck with the Channel Mixer once you see this technique in action.

Here it is:

Open an image in Photoshop, and convert it to 16-bit if you can afford the disk and memory space.

Gorman Color to B&W Conversion Technique

Convert the image to LAB color, using Image » Mode » Lab.

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

In the Channel palette, select the Lightness channel, then convert the image to grayscale using Image » Mode » Grayscale.

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

Cmd+Click (MacOS) or Ctrl+Click (Windows) the thumbnail in the Channels palette to load a selection, then choose Inverse from the Select menu.

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

With the selection still active, convert the image to RGB color, using Image » Mode » RGB.

Gorman Color to B&W Conversion Technique

With the selection still active, create a Solid Color Adjustment layer, and fill it with whatever color you wish, preferably a rich, dark color.

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

Adjust the opacity of the Solid Color adjustment layer and add a Levels or Curves adjustment layer to bump the contrast as needed.

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

Tweak the color of the Solid Color adjustment layer to control various sepia tone looks. This technique produces wonderfully rich black and white photos. I’ve turned the above into a simple action. I recommend you do so as well.

Here’s the color photo.

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

Here’s a straight grayscale version of the photo using the Grayscale mode command

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

Here’s a version of the photo using settings from Channel Mixer. Note the overall darkness to the image, kind of muddy. This could be corrected with some masking work.

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

And here’s the Carr B&W Conversion technique on the photo. Rich tones are created while keeping contrast.

Carr Color to B&W Conversion Technique

God bless Rob and Greg for adding this bit of knowledge to the world of digital photography.



Standards rant

Repeat after me Separator Standards do not block, impede or otherwise hinder innovation. Businessmen, engineers or product managers who only care about how they want to implement technology or only care about their own bottom line are the ones doing the real damage in the larger economic picture.

Design by Fire strives to be as standards compliant as humanly possible in spite of the fact that those in charge of developing the technology, the browsers and the operating systems can't seem to to code to the W3C specification with 100% compliance.

However, even though I'm a firm believer in standards, I'm beyond sick and tired of trying to figure out what works and what does not work according to the W3C specification. So while I make every attempt to do the right thing, occasionally I'll just do what I have to get the thing working. In other words, if you run any Design by Fire URI through a code validator and find invalid markup or css, please don't bother sending me an email.

With that little rant out of the way, here are some good articles about the benefits of web standards.

And of course, there's Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards, which is easily one of the best reads from both a practical and technical point of view on the subject.

All of these sources discuss simplification of code, rapid development, smaller file sizes, faster download times, better accessibility for a larger set of users, easier code maintenance and platform scalability - all benefits of standards at a technological level. There's also some ROI discussion on using standards.

Really Simple Syndication is still a pain in the ass

Here's the RSS feed.

RSS Feed
Design by Fire RSS Feed

You should know the drill by now.

Andrei Michael Herasimchuk

Updated 2010 Separator The quick and dirty summary is that I am largely considered one of the first official interface designers hired by Adobe Systems. That is, the first one hired to do nothing but interface design across the professional product line. I worked personally on the interfaces for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign.


One of these days, I'll convince Adobe's legal eagles to let me write a book about all that I have been through while working on those products. I just doubt they'll agree to it in my lifetime. Until, then you'll have to be satisfied with the History of Photoshop, an article written by a long-time friend of mine, Jeff Schewe.


Director, Design Team bullet Twitter
March 2011 - Present

Sr. Director of Product Design
Applications bullet Yahoo!
September 2009 - March 2011

Chief Design Officer, Co-Founder bullet Involution Studios
July 2004 - September 2009

Project Lead, Adobe Lightroom bullet Adobe Systems
December 2002 - June 2004

Director, User Interface bullet ePeople
April 2001 - December 2002

Director, User Interface bullet Impresse
January 2000 - April 2001

Director, User Interface bullet Mambo.com
August 1999 - January 2000

Senior User Interface Designer bullet Adobe Systems
August 1995 - July 1999

Co-Founding Member, Director bullet Specular Int'l
June 1990 - August 1995


Having the opportunity to work on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom has given me a chance to explore photography in way I would not have had access to otherwise. You can find samples of all my personal work on this web site, and unless otherwise noted, everything here is photographed by me.

For a short period of time, I was exploring a screenwriting career. I had a script optioned by Hyde Park Entertainment (a division of MGM), a studio that has since gone under. I even had an agent in Beverly Hills for a short period of time.

I enjoy playing poker on the side and find the game infinitely fascinating. I have made the final table in a few bigger tournaments. One at The Hall of Fame Poker Classic and the other at the Bay 101 Open, but no World Series of Poker bracelet for me yet. I have had the opportunity to play against some world-class poker professionals and have gotten crushed by them.

In my off time I play bass guitar and far too many video games.

Publications and Awards

Industry Awards bullet 1995-2000
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign have won far too many awards than is possible to list here.

The History of Photoshop bullet February 2000
An article written by Jeff Schewe for Photo Electronic Imaging Magazine. This covers the history and development of Photoshop. A copy of this article can be found here in PDF format. You can also find another copy on Jeff's web site, Schewe Photography.

Design Graphics, Cover Story bullet June 1999, Issue 46
This article covered the work I did on the redesign of the professional product line while at Adobe.

Collage with Photoshop bullet 1994
This book features 14 digital artists using Photoshop and Specular Collage. I'm only mentioned in the prologue, but the book was created to promote Collage and what digital artists were doing with it at the time. I'm still fairly proud about the book and the work produced inside of it.


Amherst College bullet 1989 to 1990
Left Amherst College to start Specular Int'l

The Hill School bullet 1984 to 1988
College preperatory school.


andrei@designbyfire.com bullet To avoid getting tagged by my spam filter, be sure to create a meaningful subject line.

Colophon and other details

Design by Fire v4.0 Separator A quick overview of the design and implementation of DxF for those who care about such details.

Browser Support

If you are viewing Design by Fire in either Firefox or Safari, congratulations! You are experiencing Design by Fire in the manner it was intended. If you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 or less, you have my sympathies as you are getting a version slightly less dynamic. The reason for that is due to Microsoft's lack of support for the CSS property "position: fixed;" plus a few other things.

Get Firefox

Bottom line, Internet Explorer promises to fix these things in version 7, so in the meantime you can either download the beta for IE7 or switch to Firefox.


If you have purchased the Adobe Creative Suite, you should have Helvetica Neue installed in your font library. If so, then you are reading Design by Fire as it was intended to be read. For everyone else, you are either seeing Lucida Grande or Arial.


Clearly, Helvetica Neue is far superior.

As for the logotype of Design by Fire, it's set using the classic Bodoni typeface, complete with ligature for that extra flourish.

Content Management System

This version of Design by Fire is managed using WordPress. So long MovableType.

Copyright Information

Design by Fire is ©copyright by Andrei Michael Herasimchuk. All rights reserved.

You may not use any material, articles, logos, essays, technical illustrations, photos or any content from this site without expressed written permission.

Design articles

This page intentionally left blank Bullet Oct 31st, 2008

Keeping up with the Joneses Bullet Aug 16th, 2007

Introducing Spivot Bullet Mar 5th, 2007

The unfortunate death of Helvetica Bullet Oct 23rd, 2006

An Open letter to John Warnock Bullet Aug 28th, 2006

Convenient Lessons from An Inconvenient Truth Bullet Aug 2nd, 2006

The kids aren’t alright Bullet Jul 17th, 2006

The Culture of Fugly Bullet Jun 25th, 2006

Please make me think! Are high-tech usability priorities backwards? Bullet Oct 10th, 2004

Rebranding the World Wide Web Consortium Bullet Sep 30th, 2004

You say toe – may – toe, I say [expletive] that Bullet Aug 17th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 2 Bullet Jun 20th, 2004

Design Eye for the Usability Guy Bullet May 18th, 2004

Et tu, Brute? Bullet May 6th, 2004

I would RTFM if there was an FM to FR Bullet Apr 30th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 1 Bullet Apr 9th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Redesigning Google’s search results page Bullet Jan 25th, 2004

Lifestyle articles

Welcome to the new school, same as the old school. Bullet Jun 19th, 2006

Bubble Boy at the Bay 101 Shooting Star Bullet Mar 1st, 2004

Beginner’s Tips for Poker Bullet Jan 31st, 2004

Crucial mistakes against Scotty Nguyen Bullet Dec 10th, 2003

Photography articles

Santorini in black and white Bullet Jun 17th, 2004

Santorini in red Bullet Jun 9th, 2004

Santorini in blue Bullet Jun 8th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Party like it’s 1999 Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

An Oakland Rave Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Random favorites from the shoebox Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Portraits of Donna and Alexa Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Politics archive

How terrorism works Bullet Sep 10th, 2004