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Here we're going to take a look at how we can convert the color photographs to black-and-white, and then also how we can effectively add grain or noise to the picture in order to add some texture or to change the mood or the feeling of the image. Well to do this, we'll start off with a typical technique of using our black-and-white adjustment layer. So, let's go ahead and click on that in order to convert this image to black-and-white. Next, we might want to change these controls just to change the overall way that this image is displayed and appears.
Well after having done that, what you want to do is navigate back to the Background layer. With this image, I want this photograph to have more contrast and more texture. Yet, I'm going to add that in this step as I add the noise or the film grain. Now in order to do that, we can either convert this layer to a Smart Filter layer or we can just duplicate it, because we will be talking about smart filters later, here I'll go ahead and just duplicate it by pressing Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on Windows.
Let's name that layer grain. Next, we're going to navigate to the Filter pulldown menu, we'll go down to Noise, and we're to select Add Noise. This dialog allows us to bring in some noise. As we increase the amount, you can see there's more noise. We want this to be Monochromatic, we also want Gaussian, so choose both of those options. And then in regards to the noise amount, you want typically a little bit more noise than you're comfortable with, and the reason is, is because we're going to use a blending mode in order to add contrast and to blend this noise into the image, so that the noise isn't sitting on top of the photograph, but rather really kind of embedded into the different tonal values in the picture.
So again, choose a noise amount that's a little higher than you're happy with, and in this case, I think somewhere right around there looks pretty good for this photograph. Next step, click OK. Then the final step here in this process is to change our blending mode for this layer. We'll go ahead and navigate to the Blending mode pulldown menu and choose Soft Light. Soft Light allows us to blend this grain or texture into the image. Let me zoom in a little bit closer, so that you can see this more clearly.
Here's the difference. Here we have that normal blending mode, doesn't look very good; then when we take this to soft light, all right, now we're talking right, all of a sudden this texture, it's really part of the image. It's not sitting on top of it, it's somehow blended into it. Now as you do this, you do have to be aware that you're boosting or increasing contrast. So typically, you want to add contrast here rather than before this step. The other thing that I almost always point out right is that you can always lower your opacity and find the sweet spot for your image, so that you can have just the right amount of noise and contrast and whatnot that has brought in this layer.
If we click this on and off, we can see that before here it is without any noise or extra contrast, and then after, this image to me has more presence, mood, and feeling. And so as you start to convert your own photographs to black-and-white with these techniques, this is another technique that you might want to consider. It doesn't work with all photographs, but with certain pictures this can really help your black-and-white conversions have a different mood or feeling.
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