Things to look for when using black and white (monochrome): What are you taking a picture of? E.g Subjects all about colour may lose a lot of impact and will not suit black and white. To contradict myself when an image has too many strong colours black and white can help bring out a subject better.
- Tones – are very important as some colour tones when converted to black and white will become very similar this means detail within the image may be lost.
- Grey Scale – Black and whites are made up of black, white and grey,
- Lighting – Best lighting conditions can be early morning and late evenings providing natural light, back lighting objects within your pictures helps create silhouettes. Converting Night time images to black and white can help to remove different lighting effects from various light sources. (white light, orange street light etc)
- Contrast – Black and white the clue is in the name high contrast huge difference between black and white without much greys. (Ying yang picture). Low contrast pictures with a lot of grey can give your images a dream like feel.
- Format – as with all pictures they can be edited and displayed in the Portrait, Landscape, square etc.
Some ideas for black and white photography landscapes dramatic skies can be great in black and white polarizing and ND filters work great. Architecture with dark buildings and bright sunlight casting shadows etc. Portraits when people are wearing contrasting clothes or bringing detail out in old wrinkled faces. Wildlife photography of less colourful animals.
Note:(Shoot in RAW and use the monochrome setting on your camera will allow you to preview the images on your LCD in black and white.)
HSL/Grey Scale Hue saturation and luminance as I have found is the best tab selection in adobe camera raw to edit and turn your images to black and white, compared to the “convert to grey scale” option.
Hue – allows you to change the colours in your images.
Saturation – allows you to increase or decrease the amount of colours in your images, great for finding cross over in your colours. If colours are stripped away this can help identify tones that are very similar.
Luminance – increase brightness of the tones in your image.
How to convert your images from colour to black and white.
- Open you image with Adobe Camera Raw and Edit the white balance & lens correction. You can open JPG files with adobe camera RAW it does not just have to be a RAW camera format. (Select filter, Adobe camera Raw filter when none RAW file open in photoshop.)2. To convert your image to black and white use the saturation tab first to check for the most dominant colours by removing each colour individually. Stripping the colours away manually instead of choosing the greyscale option helps you understand and pick the colours which will make a difference and the effects you will have when adjusting using the luminance tab.
Note: as you can see the main colours within this image are the: Reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues and purples.
3. Now adjust the Luminance slider to increase the brightness of these tones.
4. Now head back to the first for a final edit your picture and check you are happy with Exposure etc.
5. Head to split toning options tab. highlights balance and shadows press ALT key when on the slider to help view the colour you want to adjust. Don’t push too much when toning keep it low is key. As you can see I have given the image a slightly aged image feel.
6. Fx panel – remove haze or mist effect. Grain effect Grain has no pattern but noise in a picture does. Grain helps to make a picture older, vignette helps darken the edges bringing your focus to the centre.
Final Images Original (left) and final image edited with photoshop (right)
For more Photoshop help you can read my “Understanding Photoshop” page