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Black and white in Photoshop

Creating B/W photos in Photoshop is quite easy and straightforward

12th of August 2013. If you are serious about creating black and white photos, the program loved by the pros making Black and White on a regular basis is Silver Efex. Together with the bundle of their other programs, this program is very reasonable.
If Black and white photography is your style you should seriously consider this program.

If you are just starting out with Black and White or just occasionally will create B/W pictures, the instruction below is your first step.

Converting picture to Black and White

I will here show the easiest way of turning a picture into black and white in Photoshop and modifying its brightness and color settings. My example picture is from a store in the city of Paraty in the state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

With the black and white conversion tool your color picture automatically gets converted into a black and white picture and you can afterwards change the luminance for individual colors. The process is non-destructive and you can therefore, by using layers, keep and show the colors in particular areas of the photograph as seen in next paragraph. To access the black and white filter, click on the Black and White tool displayed in Picture below:


After you have clicked for the B/W filter, the menu will look like what is displayed in Picture

Modifying the Black and White filter Options for your picture in Black and White filter. You can here change luminance effect and add effects.
Because all changes are non-destructive you can play around for the best result.

1. You can, if you like, add a filter for a certain effect. I have not found this option to be very useful.
2. Check the box if you'd like the Tint effect. You can afterwards modify the tint color. Next to this option there is also possible to try the "Auto" settings.
3. Modify luminance level of the various colors. Be careful so you do not loose detail by changing these settings too much.
4. As you see the original picture is still untouched as a layer and is located as a color picture in the background. In the black and white layer you can therefore paint over to hide the filter and show parts of the color picture. This option is only partly shown in the example given here, but is an effect that is extremely useful if you'd like to create an emotional effect with your Black and White picture. This is done, as always, by choosing the layer and painting over it with the color black, using a paintbrush.

Picture before BW conversion.
Before BW conversion

Same picture after the BW conversion (with selective colors)
After BW conversion