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When you want a black-and-white photo, it's best to shoot the photo in color and then convert it to black and white in elements, using the Convert to Black And White adjustment. That way you get the most tonal information to work with. The Convert to Black And White adjustment is a direct adjustment, so I'm going to start by making a copy of the color photo on the background layer, dragging the background layer down to the Create New layer button at the bottom-left of the Layers panel. With the Background copy layer selected, I'll go upto the Enhance menu and I'll choose Convert to Black And White.
In this large dialog box, I have a live preview of the changes that I'm going to make to the image as I customize this black and white conversion. I could go right down to the Adjust Intensity sliders to make my own custom conversion, but I like to start with one of the preset styles. So I'll click on the first of those styles and you can see the result here in the after box. I'll use the arrows on my keyboard to cycle through the styles and notice how the brightness in different parts of the image changes as I apply different presets.
I'm looking for a preset that like this one, the Scenic Landscape Preset, that gives me detail in the highlights and the shadows and a wide range of gray tones in between. I'm going to go back up to the Scenic Landscape Preset, which I think works well for this particular image, and I'm using the arrow keys on my keyboard to do that. Then I'll go to the Adjust Intensity sliders to tweak that result. This photo started out as an RGB color image. An RGB color image has three channels: the red channel, the green channel and the blue channel, each with different tonal information.
The first three sliders here let me really customize the look of my black and white conversion by separately controlling the brightness information from each of those RGB color channels. You don't have to know the nuances of color channels to use the sliders. You can just drag them to taste. So I'll try dragging the red channel slightly over to the right, I'll drag the green channel to the left and the blue channel to the left. If I do something that I don't like, like this, I can always undo that step by clicking the Undo button, and I can go back the other way by clicking to Redo button.
And if I want to start all over again, I can click the Reset button. There's also a Contrast slider here. If I drag the Contrast slider to the right that increases a contrast, to the left would decrease the contrast. When I like my result I'll click OK, and that takes me back to see the result in the document window. If I ever need to get back to my color photo, I have that on the Background layer. So I could delete the top layer or just make it temporarily invisible to see the color photo, and I'll turn it back on by clicking its Eye icon again.
There are a couple of other ways in the Full Photo Edit workspace to make a color image look black and white. There's a one-click remove color command in the Adjust Color section of the Enhance menu or in the Hue/Saturation dialog box, there's a Saturation slider that will make an image look black and white if you drag it all the way to the left. But those methods are likely to give you a less dramatic black and white conversion, and one that you can't customize as you can using this Convert to Black And White adjustment that I'd showed you here.
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