Converting your images to black and white | Photography Unfolded

Converting your images to black and white

 In Tips + Tricks

We often talk about black and white and what it can bring to your images. Today, we’ll show you how you can convert images to black and white. We’ll also give you some tips to make your images look great.

We’ll start with black and white conversion in Lightroom (Adobe Camera Raw has the same tools). In the Develop module, you can find the Treatment option in the Basic panel. Simply click on “Black & White”.

While the basic conversion might sometimes be good, most of the time the image comes out “washed out”, mostly because of lack of contrast. The first thing you can do to work on that is to go to the HSL panel. You’ll notice it became the B & W panel and it has a single “Black & White Mix” tool now:

This tool allows you to control the brightness of each of the colors. It’s very useful to add contrast by darkening some colors and brightening others. Don’t go too extreme, especially if you’re working with images that have gradients (like the sky). Below, you can see an example with a colorful image. The middle image is the raw conversion. In the image on the right, the reds were darkened and the blues were brightened, increasing contrast.


If you’re using Photoshop and want to convert to black & white after Camera Raw, you can use the Black & White adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Black & White). It looks very similar to Camera Raw, but it comes as a layer.

In general, with black and white images, we recommend adding contrast, especially if you don’t have a lot of color in your image (the color sliders won’t do much). Another way to make your images “pop” is to play with the Texture and Clarity sliders. Black and white images are a lot more forgiving, so you can be more heavy-handed than usual with these sliders. It’s also important to direct the viewer’s eye since color isn’t here to help. You can also use dodging & burning, or a vignette to help with that. More to come on these topics in an upcoming post.

If you have any tips of your own, share them in the comments! And don’t forget to share your black and white images in our Facebook Group or on Instagram with #photographyunfolded.


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    I don’t like Photoshop’s black & white conversion. I use Exposure X, the best black & white tool IMO.

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