Most point and shoot cameras now come with various style settings – black and white, sepia, color burst, etc. Avoid them. Do I say that because I hate black and white photos? Absolutely not. But all of those are things that can be done in post-processing. Know what you can’t do in post-processing? Add color back in. You might set your camera to black and white mode and then take a photo that would look so much better in color but you’re out of luck.
In addition to that, you can produce a much better and more finely tuned conversion via editing than your camera can do internally.
There are many different ways to convert a photo to black and white. Most people start out by simply desaturating the photo, which does remove color but also leaves a rather dull and flat looking photo. The next common step is to move on to Photoshop actions which do the work for you. There are tons of actions available out there, both for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, and Lightroom presets as well. Here are just a couple that I’ve used and liked. Amanda’s Actions, Totally Rad Actions (these are a hefty investment at $149) and Pioneer Woman (free!).
Eventually, most photographers get to a point where they want more control over their b&w conversions and they start doing them themselves. There are various ways to do this – via the Channel Mixer, with a gradient map, or using the Lab Color method. There are tons of tutorials online for each of these methods so I’m not going to detail them all but here’s an article with a brief overview of each method. These days, I tend to mostly use the Channel Mixer method. Sometimes different methods work better for different photos.
(The best time to do selective desaturation – a black and white photo with one portion in color – is never, ever. Really. Even though it’s usually the first Photoshop trick people learn, selective desaturation is the zubaz and giant hairsprayed hair of the photography world – completely outdated. Just say no.)
Today’s Suggested Topic:
Find and capture a pattern.
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