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A Simple Black and White Conversion In Photoshop And Elements

Black and White photographs have a special place in our hearts - discarding distracting colour, they focus attention on the subject, composition, texture and light.

There's loads of different ways of converting to Black and White, but here's a really simple way that'll work in Elements and Photoshop.

Here's my usual before and after:

Fire up Elements or Photoshop, load your photo, then add two adjustment layers (click the small circle at the bottom of the layers palette) - first a hue / saturation, then a levels. Just press OK when the dialogue boxes appear, we'll be playing with them in a minute:

Now double click on the Hue / Saturation Adjustments Layers Icon, to bring up the dialogue box.

In the drop-down menu, make sure "Master" is selected, then drag the "Saturation" slider all the way to the left. Click "OK".

Now double click on the icon in the top levels adjustment layer. When the dialogue box appears, use the black, mid and white-point sliders to make the image look a bit more dynamic. Slide the black level to the right, the mid to the right a little, and move the white point slider to the left a little.

That's an OK Black and White adjustment, but we can tweak it a little.

Double click on the Hue / Saturation Adjust Layer Icon, and this time select "Blue" from the drop-down menu. Slide the "Lightness" control to the left, to darken the blues. The sky will have darkened:

So what we can do with the Hue / Saturation Adjustment Layer is select the different colour channels in the drop-down box to lighten or darken elements of our image:

Now this method doesn't give you the control of the Channel Mixer or Black and White Adjustment Layer in Photoshop - but it's a quick and easy way of slightly tweaking your Black and White Conversion.

Once you're happy, double click on the levels adjustment layer (at the top of the layers palette) and give that a tweak. Why not experiment and change the blend-mode of that top layer?

You don't have to, but I'm rather partial to the odd Sepia Tone - so bring up the Layer Styles Palette - press "Window" at the top of the screen, make sure "Layer Styles" is ticked. In the Layer Styles Palettes select "Photographic Effects" from the drop-down menu.

Click and drag the Sepia style across to the top Layer in the Layers Palette, and drop it on the Icon. Done!

I hope you enjoyed this simple black and white conversion technique - pretty soon you'll be investigating the more advanced methods!

Thanks, Rob.

Reader Comments (2)

great stuff - luv yr finepix shots - an addition to this basic method is to simply place a gradient map as a top adjustment layer - set to "luminosity" blending mode

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercraw

Great tip, I'll give it a go, thanks, Rob.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

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