How to Turn Your Pictures Into Black & White

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Black and white photographs tend to have a more artistic feel than color photographs. Photographers often shoot in black and white for this reason. Many digital cameras don't shoot black and white natively. They actually take a color shot and convert it to black and white internally, typically with less than appealing results. To fix this, digital photographers often shoot in color and use photo editing software to convert the images to black and white. Learn the tips and techniques that will help you create artistically stunning black and white photographs.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital camera
  • Photo editing software
  • Take your photographs in color and load them onto your computer. Create a folder on your computer where you will keep all of your files. You'll create different versions of the same photo, so it will help you to better keep track of your work if you designate specific folders for each project.

  • Decide which photo editing software you want to use. Adobe Photoshop CS or Elements are good choices. The programs can be expensive, but if you plan to do a lot of black and white photographs, it's worth the investment. Just about any photo editing software will work, to varying degrees. A good free choice is GIMP, which has recently been compared to Photoshop.

  • Open Photoshop and chose the "Image" menu. Select "Adjustments" and "Desaturate." This is a fast way to take a color photo to monochrome, but since you have no control over how the colors are shifted to their black and white state, the end result isn't of the highest quality. To fine tune your black and white images, open the "Channel Mixer" on the same menu and be sure to check the "Monochrome" box. This is a more time consuming method of turning your images into black and white, but since you actually control the levels of red, green and blue with slider bars, you can fine tune the level of each until you get the results you want.

Tips & Warnings

  • When adjusting red, green and blue color channels, try to ensure that the percentages of all the channels add up to around one hundred in the final mix. This will help preserve the integrity of the contrast and brightness levels of the original image.

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