You can find it by navigating to Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Black & White. As soon as you select it, Photoshop will create the new adjustment layer and, unlike the Channel Mixer, automatically desaturate the image.
We believe there is a real difference between printing on genuine black and white paper and prints made by other methods, yet in most cases customers are never told how their black and white images are printed.
If you’re armed with some photos to play with and your copy of Photoshop, it’s time to get started. For this tutorial we will be using a photo of our tireless sidekick Medieval Spawn–he’s an ideal model as he never complains, doesn’t mind the scorching sun, and only asks that we occasionally dust him. The above photo is the base image we’re working with. Every technique we use in the various sections of the tutorial will be applied to this base image so that you can see how the different techniques yield different outcomes with a stable frame of reference.
Every digital camera and image editor under the sun has a simple black and white/monochrome setting that simply dumps all the color data from the image. This is the most awful and least elegant way to convert a color image into a black and white one. You have zero control over the output, and as such you’re unable to make any fine adjustments to the process that will yield a vastly superior product.
With that in mind, let’s say that we wanted to really mute the background of our image and place extra focus and emphasis on Spawn. Recall that the background of the original color image was mostly greens and yellows. When we click on the background using the dropper tool those are the channels that blink in response. By adjusting those channels down we end up with the image seen above–the background is understated and the figure stands out.
When you’re venturing beyond using the presets, there are a few important considerations and tricks to keep in mind. First, like the Channel Mixer menu you want to pay attention to your values. You can blow out or underexpose individual colors very easily (pushing the Reds, for example, all the way to 300 or all the way down to 0 will turn all the red values in the picture pure white and pure black, respectively). Unlike the Channel Mixer, however, there isn’t a clean cut formula for making sure you’re not over/underexposing. Depending on the settings you use, the sum of your color values can fall anywhere between 250-650 quite easily and you’ll still have a well balanced image.
For film photographers: We process all types of 35mm and 120 Black and White film, including Ilford, Kodak, Fuji, Lomo and all color process black and white films. We welcome Holga camera users and Lomography enthusiasts. We also offer standard 18mb or hi-res 48mb film scanning of your negatives. Bring to our Signal Hill, California lab, or use our mail order service; just click on the Shipping Labels below for order forms and mailing labels. Most orders are ready for pick-up or shipped from our lab within 24 hours.
Select Opacity in the Layers window and adjust the slider down from 100%. We find that somewhere around 20-30% or less is perfect for most photos. In the case of this particular photo we were happy with 26%. It adds a very pleasing punch to the photo that’s reminiscent of old fashioned high-contrast black and white photos.
In this tutorial, we’ve outlined several techniques for converting color photographs to black and white ones that capture the character of traditional black and white photography. Whether you pick the simplest or the most advanced techniques, we’re confident you’ll be pleased with the results.
Disclaimer: Most of the pages on the internet include affiliate links, including some on this site.
With that in mind, run wild with the manual adjustments. All you need to do to use the Channel Mixer in manual mode is to check the Monochrome box and adjust the sliders until you are satisfied with your image.
How to Convert Your Color Photos to Stunning Black and White Prints
If you have colour photos in your account, but want black and white versions for prints, or to use in a project, you can edit those photos in your online albums. Follow these steps to create black and white copies of your color photos.
Bats are the only flying mammal, all other mammals that appear to fly (such as flying squirrels) merely glide, but cannot actually propel themselves forward in flight.
You can use the Channel Mixer manually or you can use the presets. When Adobe noticed how much people were using the Channel Mixer to recreate the look of black and white photos, they started including presets that automatically tweak the channels to emulate black and white film with an infrared filter and various color filters (like red, green, and yellow). You’ll find all those under the Preset drop down menu.
In addition to the presets we found in the Channel Mixer menu, there are quite a few extra in the Black & White menu, including Neutral Density, Maximum filters, and more.
To use the Channel Mixer navigate to Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Channel Mixer. This will create a new non-destructive adjustment layer over your current image as well as open up the Channel Mixer–as seen in the screenshot above.
When you are tweaking the channel values in the Channel Mixer, in order to maintain the exact exposure value your photo originally had (albeit with different color/tonal values) you need to keep the total sum of the RGB values below 100%. Feel free to experiment with spiking them above or below that level but be aware that doing so will blowout or darken your photo, respectively.
In addition to the extra color channels to play with, the Black & White menu also includes some handy tools. Near the Presets drop down menu, you’ll find a small hand icon and a checkbox labeled Tint. Let’s talk about the hand icon first.
So intense, in fact, that the whites are blown out and the black are quite black. If what you’re going for is a gritty photo with hard light, then you’ve certainly arrived. Most people will want to make one final tweak, though.
If you opt to make manual adjustments to the image, make note of something important from the output of the preset: the total sum of the RGB values is 100%. In the case of the Red Filter, the red value is 100% and the Green and Blue values are 0%.
The other tool of interest here is the Tint tool. If you have a hankering for some old-school toning and tinting, you can add a tint to your photo here without the hassle of making another adjustment layer. If we check Tint, it defaults to a sepia-style tint, but you can easily click on the color swatch to pick a different color.
Once you create the layer, you’ll have a black and white image similar to the one seen above. As far as color to black and white conversions go, it’s not bad (and it’s certainly better than just dumping the color values completely by converting your base image to grayscale). It does, however, lack a certain punchiness. We can remedy that by quickly adding in another layer.
The problem, however, for the modern shutterbug is that there isn’t an immediately accessible way to capture the soul of old school black and white photography with a digital camera.
When shooting with a traditional SLR camera loaded with black and white film and outfitted with a filter or two to emphasize certain light wavelengths, you’re doing more than simply capturing the world without the color data. With that in mind, any digital workflow that seeks to create a vibrant and interesting black and white image needs to be heavily informed by what the old way of doing things was comprised of.
At Fromex Photo and Digital our aim is to enable everyone to enjoy the finest quality black and white prints on real silver gelatin photographic paper.
We mentioned in the previous section how Adobe had started including Black and White filter presets in the Channel Mixer menu for all those black and white enthusiasts. Starting with Photoshop CS3, they went one step further and added in an entire Black and White adjustment layer fine-tuned for creating really fantastic black and white images.
When you have time to tinker, it’s a lot of fun to use the previous two techniques. But let’s say you’re crunched for time and you want to convert some photos quickly to black and white, but at a higher quality than simply desaturating them would provide.
Welcome to Fromex Photo and Digital’s True Black and White Printing
Armed with that knowledge, we can easily predict what will happen when we use the Black and White with Red Filter preset, right? The red detailing on the Spawn figure will be lighter and the blue portions will be significantly darker. Let’s apply the filter and see:
The Fromex True Black & White WebsiteIf you are ordering only Black and White prints, you should use our new TRUE BLACK and WHITE PRINTS website.
For digital photographers: just to go to our X-Wire online ordering instruction page to upload your images direct to our servers. You will be able to order both color and true Black and White prints in the same order. Just look for “Black and White” when selecting your print sizes. It’s fast and easy. Most orders are ready for pick-up or shipped from our lab within 24 hours.
Armed with these tips and tricks, you can take the great photos you’re snapping and turn them into stunning black and white compositions in a flash.
Click MY PHOTOS at the top of the page, and open the album that contains the photos you want to edit. Hover your mouse over the photo you want to edit, and click the gear icon that appears. A menu like shown on the right appears.
Click Edit Photo. Your photo appears on the left with an editing menu on the right (shown below). Click FILTERS at the top. When the FILTERS menu opens (see below), click B & W in the top row, and you will see the photo turn to Black and White.
Click DONE EDITING to save the change to a new copy of the photo. The new black and white version will appear alongside your original colour version in your album.
Right click on the Gradient Map layer we just made and select Duplicate. Your image will become a little more intense as the effect of the Gradient Map is enhanced. It’s fairly subtle, but you might be happy with that tiny bit of extra punch. We’re going to take things step further.
We are able to print from both film or digital files, so however you prefer to shoot your black and white we can still provide true black and white prints with a consistent and neutral image tone that will last a lifetime. We are printing on a Fuji Frontier Silver Edition Black and White Digital Printer using Ilford Express Digital Photographic Paper; these are not inkjet prints, and are not printed on color paper, but rather real Black and White photographs. We offer 4×6, 5×7, 8×10, 10×15 and various other custom sizes of prints in either glossy or pearl finish. Our lab is located in Signal Hill, California for walk-in business anytime; or we can ship to you worldwide.
By clicking the hand icon your cursor will turn into a dropper tool. You can then tap anywhere on the photo and the slider that corresponds to that color/shade will blink. This makes it extremely easy to make fine adjustments to just that color. For example, you may find that in a portrait you’re converting the sky, an expanse of grass, or the shirt the subject is wearing are overpowering the image. You can easily click on whatever portion of the image seems too overbearing and then adjust things accordingly to de-emphasize it.
Black and white photography is a really enjoyable genre of photography that gives you an opportunity to showcase a subject, scene, or other elements of your photo in a, proverbially speaking, new light. Things that we’re used to seeing in full color take on new and interesting characteristics when seen in black and white. Cityscapes and portraits take on a certain intensity and shapes and patterns take precedence over colors.
NEW– WE NOW OFFER FREE SHIPPING TO US, WHEN YOU SEND US YOUR FILM. JUST DOWNLOAD THE SHIPPING LABEL AND AFFIX TO YOUR PACKAGE.
We guarantee our work. If you are dissatisfied for any reason, we will reprint your order or refund your money. No questions and no excuses!
If you have a tip or trick of your own to share (and there’s certainly more than one way to tweak a picture in Photoshop), join in the conversation below to help your fellow readers on their path to photo editing Nirvana.
Although we’ll be using Adobe Photoshop CS6, most of the tools and techniques featured here have been included in Photoshop for years now so feel free to follow along with older editions. Furthermore, the general principles can be easily adapted to Photoshop Elements and other advanced photo editing software tools like GIMP.
In order to have more consistent results with your digital workflow, it’s important to understand the basics of how camera filters work. When you place a red filter, for example, on a camera the resulting image will lighten the color associated with the filter (and adjacent colors on the color spectrum) and darken colors opposite to it on the color spectrum. So a red filter will make red (and to a lesser degree orange, yellow, and magenta) appear lighter while making greens and blues darker.
Converting color photos to black and white images that harken to the golden age of black and white photography is an art form. Read on as we show you how to capture the crisp contrast and mood of vintage photographs with today’s digital tools.
Note: Currently you cannot edit more than one photo at a time and there is no option when ordering prints to convert the photos to black and white.
At the top of the layers window, where it says “Normal” in a drop down menu (next to Opacity), pull the menu down and select “Overlay”. You’ll end up with a very intense black and white image like this:
The overlay-and-opacity trick, by the way, is a great one to apply to just about any black and white photograph you’re working with–we’re huge fans of sneaking a little semi-opaque layer into the photo at the end as a means of really emphasizing the contrast of the photo.
Using the Channel Mixer tool to convert images to black and white is one of the oldest tricks in the Photoshop book. The principal reason it has remained such a well loved technique is that it allows you to easily emulate the way black and white film and the accompanying lens filters reduce or emphasize various color wave lengths.
In such a case, it’s a perfect time to speed up your workflow with a few little shortcuts. The first shortcut is to use the Gradient Map to respectfully dump the color values of your photo while preserving the contrast and richness of your image. To do so, navigate to Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Gradient Map. The default gradient map is black and white (but feel free to poke around in the drop down menu if you’re in the mood for, say, a red and green gradient).