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March 11, 2011 / arthill

Black and white

I shoot almost everything in color.  But there’s something about a nice black and white photo that often seems just right.  My oldest daughter loves black and white pictures.  They are all over her house. (See her blog  I’ve shot some of them in black and white and she has converted color pictures to black and white.

In today’s post I want to show you some different ways to produce black and white photographs.  My favorite way is to set my camera to monochrome; that way I can see what I’m getting as I shoot.  On most cameras switching to monochrome or black and white also lets you set a black and white filter. Each of these produces a slightly different look.  (Remember that if you’re shooting in black and white, as long as you’re set to RAW + JPEG, the camera is keeping the color information for you too. RAW + JPEG.)  Of course lots of times I’ve shot in color but would at least like to see what a black and white version would look like.

Here’s a color version of an old truck I spotted in Julian California

I would crop this to eliminate the blue car but I’m leaving it here so you can see how both the truck and the car show up in black and white.

Here’s the standard no filter monochrome shot

IMG_7375 mono reg

Using the yellow filter

IMG_7375 mono yellow

And the orange filter

IMG_7375 mono orange

The green filter

IMG_7375 mono green

And…get ready for this, the red filter

IMG_7375 mono red

Jus take a look at the difference between the green filter and the red filter. Finally I applied a sepia tone to the green filter version

IMG_7375 green filter sepia

adjusted the exposure a little bit and cropped it to my liking

IMG_7375 green filter sepia cropped

I did all of these from the Digital Photo Professional program that shipped with my Canon camera (starting with the RAW file of course).

But the fastest way to see how your photo might look in a black and white version is to bring it up in Windows Live Photo Gallery (see my introduction to it introduction-to-windows-live-photo-gallery). It has a nifty tool at the top – just hover over one of those buttons and instantly see what your color photo would look like in black and white or sepia.

wlpg bw red Capture

If you’re using only Picasa you can try out a few different looks on the effects tab

encinita picasa bw IMG_7118

If you’re using Photoshop Elements there are several ways you can go.  Choose Guided Edit and then Urban Landscape

encinita pse urban landscape IMG_7118

or Vivid Landscape

encinita pse vivid landscape guided IMG_7118

Here’s the color version of the photo.  I chose it for this illustration because it has many colors, a lot of sky and a light colored building.

encinita sooc IMG_7118


Leave a Comment
  1. Maryann Goldman / Mar 11 2011 8:47 am

    I’m afraid being a girl that likes vivid color that I have to work hard to appreciate B&W in my own photos. Every once in a while. I like it just fine when others do it…always seems so appropriate for them yet some not for my own shots. My favorite thing to do it the Picasa Tint feature. I just like the contrast better then a straight B&W conversion I guess. I also love the filters from The Coffee Shop blog. Her Green Tea and Raspberry are similar to the green and red tones you showed above. Never hurts to take a color shot and at least see how it looks in B&W or some variation of it. Might be ‘the one’!

  2. Dianne Ward / Mar 11 2011 9:47 am

    Great article Art!

    That last photo is fantastic in b&w!

  3. Howard / Mar 11 2011 1:42 pm

    Thanks Art. Don’t always take the time to respond but I really appreciate your expertise and experience and your willingness to share with everyone. Thanks again!

  4. Billie King / Mar 11 2011 11:28 pm

    Thank you so much for all your postings Art. It just so happens that I just posted a black & white photo for tomorrows post. I came back downstairs to do one thing and ended up at this! I usually use the adjustable threshold tool in Picnik. I spend a lot of time trying colored filters and a most of the time the threshold look is the one I like the most.
    Keep the lessons coming Art, I’m learning so much! Thanks, Billie

  5. Ed Spadoni / Mar 12 2011 6:49 am

    Thanks for showing us the many ways to acheive a B&W image. I have also (in Picasa or Paint Shop) used the Saturation tool to de-saturate to the point of no color or just a tad… creates some interesting, almost B&W shots. Thanks again Art.

  6. Indigo / Mar 12 2011 10:24 am

    Art, I am enjoying your BLOG. Thanks!

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