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Chapter 4. Editing Photos > Making Photos Black-and-White

Making Photos Black-and-White

Although almost all cameras take photos in color by default, some photos are improved by conversion to black-and-white. That’s often true of portraits of people, since switching to black-and-white smooths out skin coloration blemishes. Some landscapes also benefit tremendously from conversion to black-and-white, since eliminating color helps the viewer focus on the composition and lighting. Think Ansel Adams.

To make a photo black-and-white:

  • In edit mode, click the B & W button in the edit pane or the image-editing window’s toolbar, or -click and choose B & W from the contextual menu.

    iPhoto displays a progress dialog while it converts the image, and then displays it in black-and-white.


  • To decide whether you like the color or black-and-white version of a photo better, press and release a few times to toggle instantly between the “before” (Figure 4.22) and “after” (Figure 4.23) views of your photo. If you don’t like the change, choose Undo Convert to B &W () from the Edit menu.

    Figure 4.22. To convert a photo to black-and-white, switch to edit mode and click the B & W button. Here I’m converting a picture of an old barn to make the bleached wood look more like bones and to emphasize the starkness of the leafless trees.

    Figure 4.23. I like it better in black-and-white (and it was also improved by Enhance before I converted it).

  • Another way to compare color and black-and-white versions of the same photo is to duplicate the photo, convert one copy to black-and-white, and then look at them side-by-side in organize mode or in separate editing windows.

Get the Electronic Edition!

Note that it’s impossible to see the difference between these two screen shots in a black-and-white book. To find out how to get the full-color PDF version, send email to get-iphoto2-vqs@tidbits.com. The PDF version is also easier to take with you when you travel with your camera and laptop, but don’t want to carry the book.

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