Professional Black and White Photo Conversion

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Before Changes

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After Changes

This tutorial is to help you learn how to decide which source channels you should accent when converting a photo to black and white.  Most people think that there is only one kind of black and white, but in reality there are countless different combinations.  Ok, once you have your picture open in photoshop:

1. In order to find which color source channel would work best for your photo: Select the channels section of the Layers Menu (if the Channels section isn’t shown, select if from the Window Menu), then deselect all the channels except one.

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2. To Start out I tried the Red Channel because it is the most commonly used for black and white conversion.

3. Then try the Green Channel to see if you like it better, (in the photo I used, it made more contrast between the building and the white entrance). Also keep in mind that if you like more than just one channel, you can convert to black and white with a mixture of source channels.

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4. Then try the Blue Channel to see if you like it at all, (in the photo I used, it made the building and door even darker, I think I like the Green and Red channels better for this photo).

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5. Now you have to make a decision which Channel you liked the most, for my photo I decided that I like the Green and Red channel equally so I will now convert the photo to black and white using 50% of each.

6. To convert the photo to black and white using those channels first create a New Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer >Channel Mixer).  Then Select the checkbox next to where it says Monochrome. Then Adjust the Source Channels to what you wanted, for this photo I wanted 50% Red and Green.

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For different photos, the best looking combinations will almost always be different.  Many professional photographers experiment with many source channel combinations and eventually develop their own unique black and white style.

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For Further Black & White Post-Processing Power:

Many consider this program (which also works as a plugin for Photoshop & Lightroom) to be the most versatile conversion tool for B&W enhancement: Topaz Black & White Effects

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One response to “Professional Black and White Photo Conversion”

  1. Swapnaa says:

    Lovely. Simple and very effective instructions. Thank you!

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