April 25, 2013

The Importance Of Black-and-White Photography

What comes to your mind when you see a photo in black-and-white tone? Do you think it’s too archaic to think of? Well, think again! Black-and-white photography has started attracting many natty photographers from around the world. And here are the two solid reasons why many people still prefer monotones to full saturated colours:

1. A photo in black-and-white tone allows you to focus on lights, shadows, textures and lines, which are obviously difficult to discern in case of a full coloured tone!

2. Black-and-white tones are evocative to cheerful memories of the past.  For example – A wedding photograph in black-and-white tone will be more poignant to look at, than just a plain coloured one.

black and white wedding photography

Well, this post is not to teach on how to shoot in black-and-white, instead, how to convert a coloured photograph into black-and-white tone in Photoshop!

It’s always a better choice to convert your coloured photos into black-and-white using post-processing techniques, than to directly shoot in black-and-white at the first place. There’s a good reason for that – A photo shot in black-and-white tone is very difficult and time consuming to colourize using Photoshop and, on the other-hand, a coloured photo can be very easily converted into a black-and-white one! So, in this way you have an option to preserve both the tones :)

How To Convert A Coloured Photo Into Black-And-White In Photoshop?

Before you start the conversion process, please note that - not just every photo looks great in b/w tone. You have to identify the types of photos first…

Here are some of the photo themes that look wonderful in b/w tone:

Child PhotographyWedding PhotographyPortrait Photography and Wildlife Photography (For rest, you can always experiment)

Step1. Open up your image in Photoshop and navigate to Image –> Adjustments –> Black & White (70% of the task is completed here itself!). A pop-up window will appear soon after that. You don’t have to change any colour value there. Just click OK!

black and white selection

Step 2. Navigate to Image –> Adjustments –> Levels.

levels in photoshop

Tweaking with levels gives you a wide range of control over the shadows and lights of your black-and-white image. Tweaking the ‘input levels’ make your shadow areas more darker and the light areas more lighter while tweaking the ‘output levels’ does the opposite. So, adjust the sliders a little bit in accordance to your editing taste and till you get the desired results!

If the photo gets a little bit over-exposed, move the lighter slider in the ‘output levels’ a little bit to the left and if it gets under-exposed, move the shadow slider in the ‘output levels’ a little bit to the right.

Here are the slider values for the photo that I’m converting (that’s just for an example, your slider values might completely differ in accordance with the tone of your photo)

level slider values

After all that, just click OK! and save your photo. Here are my results…

original colored photo

converted bw photo

Can you feel the magic of the above monotone? While the coloured one appeared just plain and distractible, the converted one brings the main subject into focus. The tone is calm and soothing to the eyes!

So what’s your preferred tone? Coloured OR Monotone. I look forward to hear your thoughts in the comments below :)