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The notion of creating a black and white interpretation of a color photo is reasonably straight forward. We simply map luminous values to black through white in order to create an image with a variety of shades of grey based generally speaking on the original luminesce values in the image. Of course we can also fine tune that interpretation. Based on the original color values but in concept a black and white image is relatively straight forward. We can also use that same basic concept to create an interpretation of the photo that is considerably more dramatic and that calls for using the gradient map adjustment layer.
I'll get started by going to the bottom of Layers panel and clicking 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 Gradient Map. It's important to choose gradient map down toward the bottom of the menu. Not gradient which is found up at the top of the menu. When you choose Gradient Map you'll see that a Gradient Map Adjustment layer is added to the Layers panel and we also have a Gradient option on the Properties panel. For this image I have a white to black gradient which is essentially an inverted black and white image where whatever the dark value were are now white.
Whatever the bright values were are black, and of course all the other tonal values are represented in-between. But we can also use a variety of different presets to change our interpretation of the photo. I'll go ahead and click the pop-up for the gradient, and we can choose a different option. I'll just choose this blue red and yellow option and you can see I get a very dramatic result. But of course there are other options available to me and I can choose any of them from this presets pop-up. And in fact, Photoshop includes additional gradient presets that are not listed here by default, but if you click the button at the top right of this pop-up you can choose from one of the options that are available. For example, I'll choose photographic toning from the list here, and then I'll click the Append button, so that those options are appended to the available list of gradient presets.
I can then click on any of those options in order to apply that preset to the image. And of course, at any time, you can also change to a different preset. So, if I decided this was a good interpretation of the image, but I'd like to see a different interpretation I can turn on the Reverse check box, if I want to simply invert the result. But I can also go back to the gradient pop up and choose a different preset. So you can see, just by using one of the many available gradients that are available with the gradient map adjustment layer, we're able to achieve a variety of different interpretations for any photo.
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