Performing black magic

I love black and white photos. Sure, I’m big on color too, but there is just something about black and white photos that can change the entire look of the photo. And it can save your photos too. You’ll often find me converting to black and white to save a photo that is too noisy, whose coloring isn’t just right, slightly blurry, or a little off focus. How about a few examples:

This is one of my favorite saves. The photo was shot at a friend’s wedding while they were lining up to enter the reception. The hall was dark except for the light coming in from the door behind them. The photo was almost completly dark when I first opened it. I bumped the brightness all the way up, but ew, ugly (that’s on the left). So in a last ditch effort, I converted to black and white. Suddenly, it had drama, and I loved it!

For some reason, I just wasn’t digging the blue cast I was getting above their heads in this photos. It was sort of funky, and no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get it the way I wanted. So black and white it went, and this is another one of my favorites! Notice how that “light” above their heads just completely disappears?

If you take a look around my website and have a good eye, I bet you can spot lots more black and whites that I’ve saved. Like this one. Can you see the noise? Well it looked ten times worse in color!

Want to try it yourself now. Most cameras have built in editors that will convert the photo before you upload, but that tends to leave you without a color copy, which you may want. I suggest waiting until after you upload them to your camera to convert them. Plus, it’s hard to spot problems on those little LCD screens anyways.

There are a few ways you can do this. Both Picasa and Picnik are free editors that can convert your photos to black and white in one click. In both cases, play with things like the contrast, brightness, and color hues after you convert it to give the photo more depth and drama.

If you are using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, they also have built in black and white converters. In Elements it’s located under the enhance drop down menu, or you can select the smart brush tool (brush with the gear wheel, keyboard shortcut F) and then choose black and white from the presets menu. My personal favorite way to convert is with the splendor black and white action from CoffeeShop.  There are probably other, more sophisticated ways to convert, but these are the only ways I know and are probably the easiest, most straight forward ways to do them.

So give it a shot (pun not intended… okay fine maybe it was)! Grab a photo that you aren’t digging in color and convert it! Be sure to send me a link when your done! And as always, I’m happy to offer help or answer questions!

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