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Very often, you might think of your choices about the overall appearance of a photo as being either color, or black and white. But sometimes, you can get an interesting result by going somewhere in between. In theory, you could simply reduce the saturation of colors in the image somewhat significantly, but that doesn't give you much control over the result, and I'm going to show you a quick and effective way of reducing the appearance of color in an image with tremendous control. I'll start off by creating a copy of my background image layer.
I'll go ahead and drag the thumbnail for the background image layer down to the Create New Layer button, the blank sheet of paper icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. I'll then choose Enhance > Convert to black and white and I'll work on this image adjusting the overall effect, so that I produce a nice black and white interpretation. I'll go ahead and go through my styles here to see which one is going to give me the best starting point. I think Vivid Landscapes might be a good starting point, it gives me a nice dramatic effect.
I can fine tune, perhaps reducing the intensity of the reds just a little bit, maybe increasing contrast just a hair, and that looks to be pretty good right there. I'll go ahead and click OK, and you can see I now have a black and white interpretation of my photo, but that black and white interpretation was applied to a background copy. I still have the full color version of my image down below. To reveal some of the original color, I can now reduce the Opacity for my background copy layer.
That will allow the color from the background layer to show through just a little bit. Generally speaking, I'll reduce the Opacity just to about 90% when using this technique. That will give me an effect where the image looks sort of like a black and white photo and yet you can still tell what color the objects were. For example, I see some of the oranges and yellows showing through for the Poppy, and some of the blues showing through for the sky. Once I'm happy with the overall effect, I can chose layer flatten image in order to merge the layers back together, and then save the result, creating a unique interpretation that is somewhere between a black and white and a color photo.
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