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Black and White Conversion

The ability to easily convert from color to black and white is one of my favorite things about digital photography. Most of the time when I used to shoot film it would be black and white. Part of this was because it was less expensive. I also just liked it better.

Using photoshop, I was never really happy with just converting to grayscale to make an image black and white. It always looked flat to me. Back about photoshop 3 or 4, I discovered that you could use the "Channels" of the color image to pull a black and white image from the color and get better results. I especially liked the red channel which had a tendency to look a lot like infrared.

These days I use a channel mixer adjustment layer to do my conversions. After setting the channel mixer to "Monochrome" by marking the checkbox at the bottom, I set the following :

This makes a balance of the skin tones that I like a lot.

If the specific image has a lot of green or blue in it you might have to tweak it some, but it's a good base level to start with.

The last thing I do is make a curves adjustment layer and bring up the midtones just a little. Say something like an Input of "75" and and output of "85" to add just a little more punch to it. If you haven't played with the channel mixer before to do black and white conversions, give it a try.