Creating Black-and-White Pictures Fabulous

Black-and-white photos are awesome. They’re dramatic, timeless, and everyone wants at least one in their living room. They also can be a little tricky to make. In this tutorial I will be showing you wonderful people how to make your b&w’s, for lack of a less typical word, “pop”.

As you can see I have two images here. One that is epic and one that did not have its white balance adjusted for outside lighting. I will show you how to get from lame to awesome.



1. First open you image up. If you have Photoshop, the image will first open in a window like this.

At this point I’m sure you wondering “Cameron black-and-whites aren’t so hard, can’t you just lower the saturation and vibrance?” Alright, let’s try that.



Uh-oh, not as awesome. This black and white image doesn’t look the same as the finished product. This is because creating b&w photos is more complicated than just lowering saturation. Remember that black-and-whites are not just concerned with removing color from the image, but highlighting the lights and darks that are present in the image. So lowering these elements won’t make it look the way you want. Before continuing, return your image to its original state

You won’t actually be making your image b&w in this window. Our goal right now is to exaggerate all the information given to us so that our b&w will pop.

2. So, to do this you’re gonna have to play with things like saturation, vibrance, exposure, blacks, and contrast. Hiking up these variables will give your black and white more information to work with. It’s very clear that I overexposed the hell out of my final piece and if it were in color it would look something like this.

This bright blue overexposed image is, in the art world, what we would refer to as a “hot mess,” which is about what your image should look like. Everything should go far above what it looks like in real life, because life is not black and white. Black and white pictures need a lot of information.

Side note- When editing any photo always watch out for noise. Noise occurs when your ISO setting on your camera is too high. Increasing exposure may bring this distortion to light (puns).

3. Now that you image looks like a circus ad, open it up.

4. Easy part, click the black and white adjustment button.

Doesn’t that look better than just lowering the saturation?

From here, adjust until you are satisfied. I’m not going to go through all of the adjustments done in this photo, because it took me a week of tweaking to finish.

Remember saturation and exposure are you friends!

Good luck,

Cameryn Taylor

~ by ourladyofperpetualsarcasm on September 24, 2012.

One Response to “Creating Black-and-White Pictures Fabulous”

  1. Cameryn Taylor,

    Your blog post is very helpful because it provides demonstrations of what the photo at each step would look like. Almost every step has a picture of what that step should look like in photoshop. Also, since you are speaking from personal experience it makes the blog more interesting to read. By you saying how long it took you to get to your finished product it puts the editing technique into perspective. It shows the reader that this is a more open ended project and there is no “correct” way of doing it.

    The only thing that was difficult to understand was each of the steps. Maybe next time you could try to give the steps in order. Your post became hard to follow because you told the reader to do a certain thing and then went back and told them to get rid of it after your first step.

    Also, your photos did not follow your steps directly and there was no pattern or arrow to show what specific picture that you are referring to in each step. One of your photo’s overlapped your writing and made it almost impossible to read. So you should be more careful on where you place your images. On your next blog post try improving on these couple of things and it will look like perfection.

    Thanks for your helpful post,
    Jaci Fisher

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