There are a number of methods that can be used to produce a black-and-white photo in Photoshop. Hands down, the best is the Black and White Adjustment Layer.
It’s found in the Adjustments Layer panel:
It can also be accessed at the bottom of the layers palette when you click on the half dark/half light circle. A list of adjustment layers will appear. Drag the cursor to Black and White and click.
A Properties panel will appear with the sliders set to their defaults.
The converted image will look predominately gray and lack contrast. Note the first image that appears flat.
At the top of the Properties panel, note the Preset pull-down menu that should say, DEFAULT. Click the down arrow and toggle your way through each filter option. Watch how the sliders change commensurate with the changes made to the image. Study the changes to learn how different filters impact the colors in the original file. Use one of the filter presets as a base line and tweak the sliders to produce the look you desire.
Magic occurs when you move the color sliders to the right to lighten a specific color or to the left to darken the given color. Each color relates to the hues in the original capture. If you want the blues in the original image to appear darker, move the blue slider to the left. If you want the reds in the original image to appear lighter, move the red slider to the right. It’s wonderfully simple. I suggest you make a duplicate version of the original color capture to reference the colors. You can also turn the layer eyeball off to temporarily revert back to the color rendition.
To really make your task easy, use the “scrubby slider” tool at the top left of the Properties panel. Click on the icon of the pointing finger and move it over the image. The eyedropper tool will appear. Click and hold the mouse and simply drag it to the right to make the original colors lighter or drag it to the left to make them darker. The corresponding slider in the Properties panel will move commensurate with the Scrubby slider.
In the final image that shows more contrast and life, I darkened the blues and cyans to make the sky blacker and lightened the reds and yellows to brighten the rock formations. I then made the Background layer active by clicking on it and used the BURN tool to selectively darken parts of the storm cloud in addition to other small areas in the photo.
At the top left, there’s also a “Tint” check box you can enable. Click on it and you can add a sepia hue to the image. Click on the color swatch and the color picker will appear. From that point, you can choose from an infinite number of colors and saturation values. Furthermore, click on the Auto button to see what Photoshop thinks is a good match for the image. Enjoy using the B&W Adjustment Layer in Photoshop and make some great B&W images to hang on your walls.
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