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Manual Black and White Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4

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In the following steps, Martin Evening shows how he was able to improve upon the default Auto B&W panel setting and thereby maximize the contrast in a photograph.
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Manually dragging the B&W panel sliders gives you almost unlimited freedom to create any number of different black-and-white adjustments. This is where the real fun begins, because you have complete control over how light or dark certain colors are rendered in the black-and-white conversion. The following steps show how I was able to improve upon the default Auto B&W panel setting and thereby maximize the contrast in the sky and the clouds. Notice that I gave the Green, Aqua, and Blue sliders negative values because I wanted these colors to render darker. You can adjust the B&W sliders by dragging them, but you may well find it easier to use the Target Adjustment tool mentioned in Step 3 to edit the image directly. Remember, the black-and-white outcome is again influenced by the white balance setting, so it is often useful to experiment with different white balance adjustments as you search for the best combination, as shown here.

If you want to create dramatic black-and-white conversions, try moving the sliders farther apart. In this example, I moved the Orange and Yellow sliders to the right and moved the Green, Aqua, and Blues sliders to the left. This helped create the most dramatic tonal contrast between the Stonehenge monument and cloudy blue sky.

  1. In this first step the colors and tones were optimized using the Basic panel controls. This screenshot shows the color original.
  2. This shows a black-and-white version that was produced using the Auto B&W setting.
  3. The default black-and-white conversion was nowhere near as dramatic as I would have liked, so I made some custom edits using the B&W sliders. I clicked the Target Adjustment tool button, moved the mouse over the stones, and dragged upward to lighten them.
  4. I then moved the mouse over the sky and dragged downward to darken it.
  5. I adjusted the White Balance Temp slider to make the white balance setting cooler and the Tint slider to make it more magenta. This in turn also made the black-and-white adjusted version look even more contrasty. Finally, I fine-tuned the Basic panel tone controls and added the split tone effect seen here.
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