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Like many photographers I got my start in the black and white wet darkroom. And so there's a certain sense of nostalgia for a black and white image. And every now and then I like to convert a color image into black and white. In Photoshop it's very easy to create a black and white interpretation of a photo. And there's a lot of flexibility available to you as well. My recommended approach is to use a black and white adjustment layer. So I have my image here ready to convert at the bottom of the Layers panel. I'll go ahead and click on the Add Adjustment Layer button.
That's the half black half white circle icon. And from the pop up menu that appears, I'll choose the black and white option, so that I can create a black and white interpretation of my photo. That adds a black and white adjustment layer. But perhaps more importantly, it gives me the black and white controls on the Properties panel. The basic idea here is that we can lighten or darken various areas of the photo, based on their underlying color value. So if I turn off the visibility for my black and white adjustment layer by clicking the eye icon to the left of the layer, you'll see that I have a red lock, and a blue lock, and a sort of greenish lock over here.
There's some areas of red on the other locks, etcetera. Well, I can lighten and darken those areas based on their color. So I can lighten and darken all the reds, and of course that will impact the final black and white version. I'll go ahead and turn on the adjustment layer again. And let's take a look at the reds, for example. I'll drag the red slider to the right, and all areas of the image that had been red are now brightened up. If I drag toward the left, those areas will be darkened. So I can adjust the overall luminance values on a color by color basis. And I don't even need to necessarily know what color objects were in the original. Obviously I can just move the sliders left and right. But if I want to change the luminance values for a particular color, and I don't remember what color that object was in the image. For example, if I'd like to lighten this lock over at the bottom right, I can use the On-Image Adjustment capability.
I'll go ahead and click this On-Image Adjustment button. That's the hand with the double arrows. And when I do so, I can move my mouse out over the image and then click in order to identify which slider is associated with the pixel that I clicked on. So, in this case, you can see that the cyan slider relates to this area of the photo. But even better, I can keep that mouse button held down and drag to the right if I want to lighten the cyans or whichever color had been under my mouse. And I can drag to the left to darken. So I'll go ahead and drag to the right in order to brighten up that lock. I can click on other areas, and lighten or darken, which again will depend upon the actual color value.
So, if I click on a portion of this lock, for example, and drag left and right, you can see that once again I'm adjusting the red values in the image. So I can continue in this way, either working directly on the image with the On-Image Adjustment capability, or adjusting the individual sliders individually and just observing the effect in the photo. So, by being able to adjust the luminance values in the photo, based on the original color values in the image, we're able to create black and white images with tremendous flexibility.
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