Convert to B&W

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Convert to B&W

Post  Sheilsoft on Fri May 11, 2012 1:34 pm


As one of our monthly assignments is 'Monochrome', I thought it might be of interest to discuss the 'best' method for converting colour images to Black & White.

There are a few methods to achieve this, but as always there is a preferred method based on quality of output.

One of the most common methods, purely because in the early days of digital manipulation it was the only method, is converting to 'Greyscale'. This technique... a tool or button available in most graphic applications ( including Paintshop Pro), re-maps all the colours in your image and converts them to a range (scale) of greys, from black through to white. Simple enough you might think, but this range of greys 'downgrades' the number of colours (greys) in the image from 16 million in a full colour original, to just 256 colours! You are left with a monochrome image, but a broad band of colours have been grouped together to sit within single shades of grey.

My preferred method is simply to de-saturate all the colour out of your 16 million colour original, leaving you with a monochrome version, with a possible 16 million shades of grey.

You do this using the Adjust / Hue Saturation & Lightness tool in Paintshop Pro...

Open your image in PSP, then from the top menu select Adjust/Hue & Saturation/Hue, Saturation, Lightness...

A dialog box will appear...

Keep the Hue & Lightness sliders at zero, then slide the Saturation slider down to -100 (minus 100).

That's pretty much it! You have created a monochrome version of your full colour image. This does not mean that it will always look 100% perfect as a monochrome image... that's up to the original image, it's colour balance & contrast. It's always worthwhile after conversion, playing around with contrast settings, and also tweaks using histogram adjustments.

You'll soon find out that creating a good monochrome image is not just simply taking a colour one and converting to B&W! What works in colour images sometimes does not look as good without colour. In black and white photography the viewer's interest has to be held by the subject matter and the quality of the light & composition... No easy task!

Good luck!

Howard Very Happy

Nikon D7100, Windows 7 64bit, Lightroom 5.2, Paint Shop Pro X5/X6

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