Black and white images can be very dramatic and in some instances can actually reveal a lot more about a subject than a color image can.  With film photography you generally had to make a decision between black and white or color when loading your film.  Yet another advantage of digital photography comes from not being bound to one or the other.

I rarely ever switch the settings on my DSLR to shoot images in black and white.  That is not because I do not like black and white photography.  Rather, the process to convert an image into black and white (or grayscale) in photo editing software such as Photoshop is so simple that I leave the camera alone and only convert those that I want in post processing.

Here are the simple steps for one method of converting a color image to black and white using Adobe Photoshop.  Note that I said “one method.”  That is because there are multiple ways to accomplish this.  I feel this is the simplest and most basic method, but you can do multiple other things such as channel mixing and color desaturation as well.  Also you are not stuck if you do not have Photoshop.  There are plenty of other photo editing software programs that allow you to do something similar.  My post from a while back on 5 free online photo editors is a good reference if you don’t have Photoshop.

Don’t blink, this is pretty quick:

Step 1: Open your color image in Photoshop

Step 2: From the Image>Mode menu select “Grayscale.”

And there you have it, two simple steps.

Color to black and white conversion

If you want to do a little more adjusting there are a lot of options for tweaking your new black and white image.  Here are a couple you can play with after you have completed the two step process above.

1) Shadow/Highlight – from the Image menu select Adjustments>Shadow/Highlight.  This feature gives you several options for adjusting your black and white image to get the effect you are going after.  Experiment with different levels to get the shadows and highlights just right for your image.

2) Gradient Map – Again from the Image menu select Adjustments>Gradient Map.  Select a black and white gradient and using the sliders you can adjust your black and white values.  Make it a little more black or a little more white or varying gradients in between.

With digital photography you don’t have to shoot the images in black and white necessarily.  The post processing options available allow for a wide range of creativity with your images.

Leave a comment

Name: (Required)

E-mail: (Required)