Category Archives: How-to

How-to articles offer practical advice, tips or step by step instructions on creating black and white digital images.

Parliament Hill – Example

There may be times when you want to apply different conversion methods to different parts of the image. Here’s how.

UPDATE: This tutorial uses some obsolete methods such as the hue/saturation method. I created this example about ten years ago, before Photoshop CS3 introduced black and white filters. If I were to redo this today I would use different conversion methods. However this tutorial, along with Selective Color, is a good example of how to use color selection during black and white processing. – DK


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Lab Color Mode

Lab color mode is a mode in Photoshop. Lab is different from RGB color mode in that it separates the luminosity information into it’s own channel. Lab mode has three channels: L, a and b.

The L Channel contains the image’s luminosity information. This allows you to manipulate the image’s luminosity without affecting it’s colors. The L channel is similar to black and white film in that it only records the image’s luminosity.
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Grayscale Mode

Grayscale mode is a color mode in Photoshop. In grayscale mode, images are represented using only shades of gray rather than the full pallet of colors.

In RGB mode, the color of each pixel is stored as three numbers, or channels (nnn, nnn, nnn). If all three channels have the same value then the resulting color is a shade of gray.

Black (0,0,0)
Gray (80, 80, 80)
Gray (160, 160, 160)
White (255, 255, 255)

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Selective Color

Hand-coloring has been used by photographers for over a century to add color to black and white photographs. This was done by hand painting the photograph with oil or watercolor paints. Unlike toning, which applies the same color to the entire image, selective coloring applies one or more colors to specific parts of the image.

The usual way to apply selective color is to use a mask and a solid color layer to apply color to specific parts of the image. However, by using Color Range selection and curves, you can create a more subtle look.

Selective Color

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Black and White Digital Photos

Balancing Rock

There used to be only two ways to create black and white digital photos: either set your camera to black and white and take a picture, or use expensive photo editing software. Both methods left something to be desired, either in terms of poor quality or high cost.

Today there are more options for creating great looking black and white digital photos.

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