I was sitting in Photoshop World Las Vegas when I heard a comment that really resonated with me. Gregory Heisler, a famous portrait photographer, was responding to a question on whether he preferred to shoot in color versus black or white. Gregory intimated that while he preferred color these days, he really enjoyed making black and white images as the black and white image offered an opportunity to look at “…the bones of an image.”
Black and white photography can make for very powerful imagery. Because our cameras all shoot in color, there are many times where we lose sight of the fact that there are so many different ways to process a black and white image. The specific treatment of colors in a black and white image can make a profound statement. You can even add tiny bit of color and give the black and white a little bit of an extra touch.
The Default Black and White Experience
In earlier versions of Photoshop, conversions into black and white were simply done by going into Image > Mode > Grayscale (see Figure 1). This stripped the color of the image pretty evenly. The problem with this method of creating a black and white was that the user did not have much control over what the resulting black and white image would look like. This resulted in black and white images that were very drab, lacking the contrast that was needed to create something more memorable (see Figures 2 and 3).
Figure 1 The Grayscale Image mode
Figure 2 Before black and white adjustment
Figure 3 After black and white adjustment