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I once heard a photographer jokingly say, "well I wanted to be a serious photographer, so I converted all of my images to black-and-white." While I thought that was kind of funny, there was a little bit of a hint of truth to that. There is something powerful and poignant about black-and-white images. There is something that happens when we remove color, somehow we can create images that at times are more believable or can be even more engaging or can tap into our senses in a different and unique way. Because of that let's spend a movie here, taking a look at how we can deconstruct, how we can convert to black-and-white.
Now a lot of people who are new to Photoshop will simply maybe go over to Hue/Saturation and then they will desaturate. Well when I desaturate these different colors in this little color wheel, we notice that there isn't much differentiation. In other words, it's just kind of a little bit of a mucky grey. So what we want to do is come up with some different techniques that we can use in order to have more control. I am going to delete Hue/Saturation here by pressing the Delete key or Backspace. A great tool for converting to black -and-white is obviously the Black & White Adjustment panel.
Now even by default when I select this, you'll notice that there's a little bit more variety here and even more what I can do is I can target particular tones in order to brighten or to darken those tones, and I can control the density of different areas of my photograph. And here you can see I'm doing that as I'm modifying these sliders one way or another. Now of course whenever we modify one slider, we are going to effect other related areas in this color range or this color wheel here.
Let's reset this by clicking on the Reset button and take a look at another way we can have even more accuracy. If you click on the On Adjustment tool, what you can do then is target a particular area like these reds and click and drag to the left or to the right to work on that area, or you can go to any other area of your photograph in order to have some real specific control. Now the other thing that we can do is we can actually work on this in another way. For example, I am going to go ahead and click on the Adjustment Layer icon and choose Curves.
Now what we know about curves is that we can make an adjustment, which affects the entirety of the photograph, here adding more contrast. We can see that what we can do is convert to black-and-white and then on top of that add a Curves adjustment, which exaggerates or extends that black-and-white conversion. We can also, let's reset this, go into the different channels, for example, the Red channel. So I am going to go ahead and brighten up my reds or add more red to the image. Now as I do that currently we can see that it's adding a tone. Well, how about if we want to make an adjustment that doesn't affect tone, but does affect luminosity? Well, what you can do is take this layer blending mode to Luminosity.
Here what's going to happen is this red adjustment is only going to effect the luminance value of the photograph. So what we can do is we can use these different layers in combination in order to target or work on specific areas and perhaps this is a little bit confusing. The whole point is that what we can do is we can take this Black & White adjustment layer or for that matter a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, and then we can combine some of the other things that we know about color and tone. We can use some other adjustments like Curves or for that matter if we want to add a little bit of a hue, we could click on our Adjustment Layer icon, and we could use something like Color Balance and we could add a little bit of reds perhaps and a little bit of yellows, and we could do this in order to add perhaps a little bit of a sepia toning, and we could then build up this different effect in order to come up with a compelling black-and-white conversion.
Now of course how you convert to black -and-white is going to be completely dependent upon your own style and your own flavor and your own taste. So one of the things that you're going to want to do is experiment with some of these techniques, so that you can come up with the best results that help you achieve what you like best about black-and-white photography.
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