BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Tammy J. Russotto
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/19/2007

How To Convert From Color To B&W

I've tried several different ways to convert color images to black and white but the image always looks flat and blah! I want to make the image pop and look nice.
Any suggestions? Thank you!!!

To love this question, log in above
6/11/2009 10:36:23 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
  Hello Tammy,
Even though you have converted the original to B&W, the colors are still affecting the look of the image.
I use Photoshop and use the "convert to B&W" tool. I then will play with the color sliders and see how they affect the look of the photo. Contrast and the correct white balance will also affect the look as well as levels and curves.
Hope this helps!

To love this comment, log in above
6/11/2009 10:47:53 PM

Tammy J. Russotto
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/19/2007
  Thanks, Carlton. I'll try your suggestions.


To love this comment, log in above
6/11/2009 10:50:59 PM

Jesse C. Plummer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/2/2007
  Don't know if it makes a lot of difference, but before I convert, I run an action for enhancing the colors and also adjust for better saturation using the Variance tool or Curves. Then I convert. I feel like it gets the tones better represented and the contrasts and details more enhanced.

To love this comment, log in above
6/13/2009 8:46:25 PM

Stanley Joel Schretter
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/16/2007
  While Photoshop is certainly my 'swiss army' knife of post processing, I find that the Nik Silver Efex Pro add- on software provides more ease of use and greater flexibility to generate B&Ws. This software will now work directly with other programs such as Aperture or Lightroom, thus not requiring Photoshop.

Cheers, Stan

To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2009 3:49:23 AM

Sam Britt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/11/2006
  Hi Tammy, My favorite way to convert images to Black & White is using a Black & White Adjustment Layer in Adobe CS3. It has presets, but I prefer using the Custom setting, working with each color until I get contrast I want.

To love this comment, log in above
6/16/2009 8:38:30 AM

Rainer and Simone Hoffmann   Hi Tammy,

are you familiar with layer masks in Photoshop? With respect to black & white they are the equivalent of dodging and burning in the darkroom. My workflow usually is like this:

1. Adjustment layer "Black & White"
2. Adjustment layer "Curves"
3. Any number of adjustment layers "Curves" with layer masks for areas that need enhancement

If you are not familiar with layer masks then it's definitely worth learning about them.

Hope this helps.


To love this comment, log in above
6/23/2009 1:43:06 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.