Wedding Couple in Drama Poses
Ever wondered how the professional photographers get those dreamy black and white or sepia toned images? Wonder why yours come out looking dull and flat looking? I’m going to give you 3 tips to help you do better black and white conversions using Adobe Lightroom, and solve that problem!
Today’s cameras are pretty smart, and many of them offer a black and white setting or shooting mode. I recommend using those to start, especially if you’ve never done any black and white (B&W) or if you are not currently doing any post processing or image editing on your files. BUT, if you have some experience with b/w photography, and you are processing your images, I recommend doing the conversion yourself as you have more control over the look of the final image. I’m going to show you a few ways of converting them into B&W using Lightroom.
Note: for the most part these tips will work in Photoshop as well, using the Adobe Camera Raw features and sliders.
In Lightroom and ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) in Photoshop you have the same tools at your disposal! So without the use of filters, you can adjust how the scene is rendered in B&W. That brings me to the first tip.
Tip #1 – use the B&W mix to do your conversions
In Lightroom’s Develop module (and ACR) there are a few ways that you can convert your images into B&W. You can just pull the saturation slider all the way to left to -100. You can also do similar with the Vibrance slider, but it may not give you a 100% B&W image, depending on the image. Both of those options will give you a black & white result. However, they give you no control over how the colours render into the various shades of grey. A better choice, in my opinion, is to use the B&W mix, located on the third panel down on the right in Develop
Tip #2 – don’t just stop there, add some punch
Sometimes even using the B&W mix sliders the resulting image still looks a bit flat and dull looking. Take it up a notch by adding some punch to your image. I do the following to most of my B&W images:
increase the clarity: if it’s a scenic I’ll push it quite far like +60 or higher, if it’s a person I keep it under +30 or they start to look a bit crunchy and overly wrinkled (especially if the photo is of your mom or your spouse, they tend not to be too happy about that)
lower the black slider, until it looks good. Highly scientific, yes! Here’s a little trick for you as well using the Blacks slider: if you click and hold the Opt/Alt button while you slide it, you will get to see exactly where your blacks are clipping (meaning going off the chart on the histogram and having no detail). You can use that information to make sure you have just enough blacks, but make sure you keep all the detail in important areas.
increase the contrast either using the Contrast slider or Curves
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