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One of my favorite features in Camera Raw is its ability to completely customize the way that you can convert a color image to black and white. Unfortunately, if you are in the Basic panel, your first tendency might just be to come down to either the Vibrance or the Saturation slider. But really, you don't have any control other than desaturating the image. So, let's reset that. And instead, we're going to move over to the HSL and Grayscale panel. I can convert this image to grayscale and I get a grayscale mixer.
But first, I do want to point out, when I convert this to grayscale, did you notice that it already looks better? That's because Camera Raw is actually analyzing the image. And if I go to my Preferences here, you can see that the Default image Settings for converting to black and white will apply an auto grayscale mix. So, I definitely want to leave that on. In the Grayscale Mix area, I now have the option to selectively pick a color range and decide how I want that color range converted to a grayscale value.
So, you can see, as I move this to the left, all of the reds in the image get darker. If I move it to the right, the reds get lighter. So I can control how the red paint on the top of the houses gets converted. Likewise, I could go to the oranges. You can see there's a lot of orange in the door and there is a little bit of orange in the background. If I want to darken that down, I can. As for the yellows, I can click left or right and see what I like. I actually like the way that it is lightening up the grass in the foreground.
And I can add to that with the Green slider. There is not a lot of aqua in the image, so moving that slider doesn't do much. Likewise, moving the Blue slider doesn't do a lot, but you can imagine, if you could see the sky in the image, this would have a tremendous impact. There isn't a lot of purple in the image, nor is there a lot of magenta, so moving these sliders isn't going to make that big of a difference. But now, if I tap the P key, we get a preview of before and after. You can see that I have completely customized the way this color image got translated into black and white.
So to review, I would just stay away from simply desaturating your image in the Basic panel, but instead convert it to grayscale using the HSL panel. That way, you have a lot more control over how each individual color range gets converted to black and white.
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