Black and White Photography in Photoshop
There has been a challenge going around on Facebook these days. People post a black and white photo of their daily life for seven consecutive days, without people in it and without explanation. And every day they challenge one of their Facebook friends to do the same.
Sooner or later, of course, it was my turn. And it’s a real challenge for me. Photos without people, that’s no problem; on most of my photos, I’m already trying to avoid people. But with black and white, I actually had hardly any experience at all. After all, the world is in color and therefore I’ve always liked color images better.
Take the picture below, made at the Brediuspark in Woerden, the Netherlands. Those fall colors and the blue of the sky, ain’t it beautiful? It’s not that easy to keep that beauty when converting the image to grayscale.
But as John F. Kennedy once said, we don’t do it because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. He was talking about travelling to the moon, but the statement is equally true when referring to black and white photography. And to many other things in life that take some effort.
There are several possibilities in Photoshop to convert a color photo to black and white. This tutorial even shows seven different methods.
One simple way is to use the Hue and Saturation window, in which you shift the Saturation slider all the way to the left. This removes all color information from the photo in one motion. That works fine in some cases, but not always.
To have much more control on the final result, better use Image> Adjustments> Black and White. This brings up the window below, which allows you to determine the brightness of each color tone.
What’s also very useful about this option: there are a number of presets that you can easily browse through to see if there is one you like.
After trying out all of those presets, I decided that the green filter in this case yielded the best result. But that is of course very subjective.
It becomes even more interesting, if you check the tint box. This adds a single tint to the entire image. By default, it’s a kind of sepia, but by moving the Hue slider, you can travel all over the spectrum in a simple way. I’m afraid, though, that the purites will say it’s not really black and white anymore.