Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Converting to black and white using Photoshop CS4 or CS5

From: Foundations of Photography: Black and White

Video: Converting to black and white using Photoshop CS4 or CS5

At long last we are ready to convert a color image to black and white. We've gone through the theory. We've gone through the shooting. I've got a color image open up here, and I'm ready to do my conversion. Now, there are many ways to convert a color image to black and white. There are lots of different pieces of software you can use. Most image editors have a way of converting color to black and white, and within any image editor there might be multiple methods of doing the conversion. I'm here in Photoshop CS5. In Photoshop, I can list for you 16 different ways to convert a color image to black and white, and if you look in magazine articles and books and web pages, you'll find lots of people listing lots of different methods, and it used to be that knowing the three or four different conversion methods was not a bad idea, because you got very different results from each.

Converting to black and white using Photoshop CS4 or CS5

At long last we are ready to convert a color image to black and white. We've gone through the theory. We've gone through the shooting. I've got a color image open up here, and I'm ready to do my conversion. Now, there are many ways to convert a color image to black and white. There are lots of different pieces of software you can use. Most image editors have a way of converting color to black and white, and within any image editor there might be multiple methods of doing the conversion. I'm here in Photoshop CS5. In Photoshop, I can list for you 16 different ways to convert a color image to black and white, and if you look in magazine articles and books and web pages, you'll find lots of people listing lots of different methods, and it used to be that knowing the three or four different conversion methods was not a bad idea, because you got very different results from each.

But starting with Photoshop CS3, Adobe introduced a new black-and-white conversion feature that is almost the end- all be-all black-and-white conversion tool. To my mind, you don't need to clutter your brain with other techniques anymore. Just learn this one. It does everything you need and does it with some really nice flair that can be very useful. So that's what we're going to be using mostly in this course. I may at one point or another take a look at one or two other methods, but probably not, and I will give you some brief ideas of how to do grayscale conversions in some other applications.

But if you're in Photoshop CS3 or later, then this is what you're going to be using. Image > Adjustments > Black & White takes me to Photoshop's black-and- white conversion tool. When that happens, the first thing I see is a grayscale version of my image. This is a default grayscale recipe. Now the problem with default grayscale recipes very often is that they're just not right for your image. They're not what you had in mind and so you want the ability to alter that recipe to get a more custom grayscale conversion. And that's what's really nice about this feature is it gives me tremendous control.

This is why this feature scores over so many other grayscale conversion methods, and it's why we are, for the most part, ignoring all those other grayscale conversion methods. So this Black and White dialog box has these color sliders, and I've got Reds, Yellows, Greens, Cyans, Blues, and Magentas, and these correspond to colors in the image. I'm going an unchecked my Preview box here, so that we can see the original color image, and let's just take note of a couple of things. I've got blue up here in the sky. I've got blue down here on this video rental store. I'm going to turn Preview back on so that I can see my grayscale conversion.

I'm going to take the Blues slider and drag it to the left. When I do that, anything in the image that is blue gets darker, so my sky is gotten darker and the video store has gotten darker. If I slide to the right, anything in the image that is blue gets lighter, so now I'm lightening the sky and with it goes to the video store. It is not understanding that I'm trying to lighten a particular thing, it's just lightening anything in the image that's blue. So I'm going put that back to where it was. Let's look at the color image again. I've got some reds back here and some greens.

So if I drag the Reds slider, let's just think for a minute about what's going to happen. This tree back here and this truck should get lighter as I drag the Reds to the right, and sure enough, they are. And the sign has gotten lighter, and I've gotten a little bit lightening in a couple of other places, because there's reds up here in the brick--there's even just a light red stain here. There are some red down here. So even these slight red tones are getting altered as I move the Reds slider. So what's really nice about this is I can say, well, I know that I want the sky darker so that it's more contrasty against the foreground here.

For the moment, I'm not going to worry about the fact that this is darkening, but actually now that it is, it kind of like it. It's set off against this white building. And to create further contrast, maybe I should lighten the green trees. So I'm going to drag the Greens slider up to lighten them. Well, maybe I don't like that so much. I like that this bits lighter than this bit, but maybe they should be darkened so that they really stand out against the sky. That's looking pretty good. Now, let's crank the red so that that tree stands out. There we go. Now we're getting somewhere. Obviously, these other tones are getting messed up, maybe in ways that I like, maybe in ways I don't.

We'll look later at how to control those. At the moment, I just want to you to understand what this box is doing. I'm going to put this back to kind of their default positions here and look at something else. Let's say that I want to fiddle with this truck, but I'm not really sure what color it is. If I just mouse over here into my image, my cursor turns into an eyedropper. Now if I left-click, I get this weird little cursor. It's a finger pointer with some arrows on it. If I drag it to the left, Photoshop automatically identifies--look over there on the right in the Black and White dialog box, the Reds slider is moving-- it has automatically identified the color that I clicked on and is adjusting the appropriate slider.

I'm going to undo that now with Command+Z. To do the edit that I did a minute ago, which I did manually using these sliders, I can also just come up here and use the eyedropper. I can say I want darken the sky. I don't want to go that far. I want to darken these trees, and I want to lighten this tree by dragging to the right. So drag to left to darken, drag to the right to lighten, just like you would on the sliders. So this is nice. I don't even have to deal with the sliders if I don't want to. This is what I'm talking about, about having great control over your grayscale conversion.

It's really like being in a darkroom, if you ever did that, and it's like I am selectively dodging and burning. This Presets menu contains some predefined kind of recipe alterations here that are designed to simulate how you used to shoot black-and-white film. It used to be you would shoot black-and- white film through colored filters to do a type of toning that we're doing here. So if you're used to thinking that way, this can be very nice. If I choose the Red filter, my sky gets darker, which is traditionally how you made darker skies. Here's an Infrared simulator, which kind of works.

It's thrown my green trees into white. This is going to cut out a lot of light and generally lighten my whole image. This is going to give me an extra contrast kick, in addition to a Red filter. These are often nice places to start. I typically just start with the default settings and begin toning on my own. Those are the basics of the Black and White dialog box. We're going to be coming back to this throughout the course and looking at it in more detail as we go on. For now though, fiddle around with it and try to get comfortable with how the sliders correspond to colors in your image.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Black and White
Foundations of Photography: Black and White

39 video lessons · 23903 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 8m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 24s
    2. Why black and white?
      5m 12s
    3. Suggested prerequisites
      53s
    4. Using the exercise files
      56s
  2. 19m 43s
    1. Is it really black and white?
      1m 9s
    2. How gray corresponds to color
      4m 38s
    3. The medium of black and white
      3m 5s
    4. The vocabulary of black and white
      4m 46s
    5. The physiology of black and white
      2m 22s
    6. How a camera's image sensor captures an image
      3m 43s
  3. 32m 46s
    1. Preparing the camera
      3m 34s
    2. Light revisited
      6m 3s
    3. Seeing in black and white
      2m 21s
    4. Taking a black-and-white expedition
      1m 17s
    5. Finding and shooting a black-and-white image
      11m 14s
    6. Shooting a tone-based subject
      2m 0s
    7. Exposing for black and white
      6m 17s
  4. 1h 38m
    1. The nature of grayscale images
      3m 33s
    2. Converting to black and white using Photoshop CS4 or CS5
      6m 17s
    3. More about the Black & White dialog box
      3m 19s
    4. Converting to black and white using Black & White adjustment layers
      3m 55s
    5. Converting to black and white in Camera Raw
      4m 5s
    6. Making an advanced tonal correction
      17m 33s
    7. Doing more tonal corrections
      14m 6s
    8. Calming down highlights
      10m 4s
    9. Vignetting
      8m 58s
    10. The trestle images
      2m 39s
    11. Handling tricky skies
      2m 43s
    12. Doing a selective black-and-white conversion
      2m 23s
    13. Toning
      1m 19s
    14. Split-toning
      2m 19s
    15. High-key and low-key images
      2m 32s
    16. Diffusion
      4m 40s
    17. Using Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in
      7m 46s
  5. 24m 14s
    1. Selecting a printer
      5m 17s
    2. Preparing the image for print
      8m 30s
    3. Configuring the Print dialog
      5m 9s
    4. Evaluating a print
      5m 18s
  6. 43s
    1. Goodbye
      43s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Foundations of Photography: Black and White.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your lynda.com subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.