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Photoshop Elements >

Color to B&W >


This section discusses color and black-and-white.

The second section uses the Convert to Black and White feature.

The third section uses an alternative method.

Learning to See in B&W

What looks great using your color vision, may not look as great as a black-and-white photograph.

The reverse may be true, as well.

A so-so color scene may become stunning as a black-and-white photograph.

Back in the film era, beginning black-and-white photographers learned to see with black-and-white vision by using two cameras at once—one with color film—and the other with black-and-white film.

Physically encumbered with two cameras, the photographer was also mentally encumbered.

He or she had to ask three questions before selecting which camera to use:

1) Is this a color picture?

2) Is it black-and-white?

3) Could the picture work as either color or black-and-white?

Today, you can ask yourself the same questions in the field.

And, when you're before your computer, you can compare color and black-and-white versions of the same photograph side-by-side.

Use Your Computer—Not Your Camera

Convert color photographs to black-and-white with your computer.

Don't set your camera to monochrome.

There are two reasons why using Photoshop Elements is better than your camera for black-and-white conversion.

Reason #1 - Processing Power

Your desktop computer software is better, and processing power is much greater, than your camera.

Reason #2 - Changing the Colors

Changes the Grays

You can change the shades of gray in a color photograph converted to black-and-white—by changing the colors in the photograph.

Let's say there's a blue sky in your color photograph.

You convert it to black-and-white.

The blue sky is now gray.

You can change the gray sky by adjusting blue.

You can see an example with the clown photograph below.

Note how the clowns yellow hair, can be made into different shades of gray.

Experiment with a photograph that has expanses of various colors, like the clown photograph.

Photograph 2 is a straight conversion.

Compare it to photograph 3, in which the decrease in the yellow hue made the clown's hair lighter.

While I don't like any of these clown photographs (!), I prefer photograph 3 over the straight conversion.

q q q q

1 - Original

2 - Converted to black-and-white

3 - Decreased Yellow (-75)

4 - Increased Yellow (+75)

Let's look at several methods for converting color to black-and-white.