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Let's take a look at how we can create dynamic and dramatic black and white conversions with our photographs. We'll be working with this image here, and let's open it in Camera Raw by using the shortcut. The shortcut is Command+R in a Mac or Ctrl+R on Windows. One of the ways that we could convert this to grayscale or black and white is by simply decreasing the saturation. If we drag this to the left, we can remove the color, yet it doesn't really look very good.
There isn't much drama here. So a better way to convert to black and white is to use another panel. In order to reset the saturation slider, you can double-click it. And this is true with any slider. Once you've adjusted it to reset it, again, just double-click that little tab, and it'll take it back to the default setting. The panel that we want to go to is the HSL panel. This panel allows us to control Hue, Saturation, Luminosity, and also Grayscale. Here, we are going to choose Convert to Grayscale.
Once again, the starting point, well, it isn't amazing. Yet what you can do is use these sliders in order to change the brightness or luminance value of different areas of your image. For example, we know that the sky, it was blue. So here, if we darken up the sky, you can see that we can really create some nice drama. There also probably was a little bit of the aquas in the sky, so we'll bring that down as well. Well, already this image, it's just looking much better. Another color or tone we have here were Greens.
We had all of these grasses, and so I could modify that. You can see I am darkening up these grasses a little bit. Yellows, well, we had a lot of Yellows in the field, and so we could control the brightness of the field there. And here, what I want to do is just bring those down a little bit. Now these controls are so powerful that many times people think, "Well, I am done. That's it." Yet there are so much more that can be done. After having use these controls, let's go back to the Basic panel. Here, in the Basic panel, I want to increase my Clarity.
This will add nice texture and midtone contrast to the image. I also want to build up or increase the contrast. I can control my blacks here by darkening or brightening those. In other words, I can really fine tune the image, and by using these controls together, well, now I'm really starting to like this image. Well, the next thing that I want to do with this photograph is I want to paint in an adjustment to a specific area. I want to brighten up this path even more.
To do that, we can use a tool which is called the Adjustment brush, and you can use this tool for so many different reasons. You'll find it in the Tools panel above. Let's go ahead and click on it. When you click on it, all of a sudden, you have all of these new options over here. You can paint in Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Clarity, Sharpness, Noise Reduction. Again, you have a lot of options. Yet what I want to do here is just increase my exposure and contrast a little bit, and so I'll then scroll down and change my brush size.
I am going to make this a smaller brush with a nice Feather edge, and I'll decrease the Flow a little bit. The Flow controls the intensity of the brush stroke. In other words, with a lower flow, you have to paint back and forth multiple times. With a higher Flow amount, you just have to paint once or twice. Next, I want to turn on Auto Mask. Auto Mask limits this adjustment to a specific area. In other words, I want to limit my adjustment to the path.
So here, I'll just go ahead and click and drag crosses this path, making sure that the crosshairs on my icon is really right on that path there. As I do this, you can see how this is starting to come to life and how this is brightening up this part of the image. After I painted this in, I can modify this after the fact as well. Let's say, for example, that we don't like this adjustment. Well, you could go back to your sliders, your Exposure, and you can see how I can change this. I could darken the path, or I could brighten it.
In my case, I'm going to brighten it back up because I think that looks pretty good, and I'll add a little bit of contrast and also some clarity. I'll add a bit more texture to that area of the picture. If we click on the Preview icon here, we can see that before and after. Here's before, previously when we thought the path looked good, and now here's after, where it's looking even better. It's a little bit over the top there, so I am just going to bring this back just a touch more. But here, you can see you can use these controls to create some incredibly powerful and dynamic black and white conversion.
Once you're done with your Adjustment brush, all that you have to do is to select another tool in order to bring back the other panels. Well, just to reiterate, what we did here was rather than start off in the Basic panel, we went all the way over to the HSL controls and we clicked on Convert to Grayscale. Next, we dragged these sliders in order to change the brightness values of the different colors in our image. After having accomplished that, we then went to the Basic panel and we really finished this photograph off using some of these different adjustments in order to make the image snap and come to life.
And then, finally, we explored how we could use the Adjustment brush in order to paint in adjustments to specific areas in our photograph. And by using all of these techniques together, well, they altogether helped us to create a really dynamic and interesting to black and white conversion.
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