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Chapter 7. Beyond Black and White >  Converting Color to Black and White

Converting Color to Black and White

Photoshop makes it very, very easy to convert a good color photo into a bad black-and-white image. All you need to do is select Image > Mode > Grayscale from the menu bar, and, presto change-o, your color image has been converted to an inaccurate black-and-white rendition. Or, perhaps, you decide to use Image > Adjustments > Desaturate, which does much the same thing, but only operates on a particular layer or selection.

Of course, images converted this way always seem to have low contrast. So, your next step would probably be to use Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast to boost the contrast a bit. In a process that took only a few seconds, you’ve managed to convert a good color image into an excessively contrasty black-and-white photo that doesn’t necessarily offer a good representation of the original. What happened? You’ve fallen for the same trap that has snared photographers for decades. It has long been common to increase contrast when making a black-and-white print from a color negative, and the practice has become standard operating procedure in the digital world, too.


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