How to make great Black and White photos!

7:05 AM Katie Evans 37 Comments

I have some really great friends. Really great. You know the kind that you feel like you could talk to all day long. Or the kind that you actually plan play dates with them and their kids not just so your kids will have people to play with but because YOU want to talk with their moms?

Well, that is what I have. And the cherry on top is that my fun, happy energetic friends have equally fun, happy energetic kids the exact same ages as my kids! Match made in heaven, right?

We all have girls who all started kindergarden this year so now all of our boys get together at least once a week to play. Today we went to the pool. The boys played for 3 hours and we talked for 3 hours. It was a nice way to beat this still-way-too-hot-to-do anything Texas heat.

Black and White Lyndon

B&W Photography Tutorial Harry

Black White Photography Owen

***Photography Tip***

Turning a picture into a good black and white is fairly simple but there are a few basic rules you need to follow. First and foremost is to make the blacks very black and the whites very white. I like to see a lot of contrast in black and whites. That's when they really seem to pop. 

Let's take it step by step (in Lightroom) using sweet Stella who was also as the pool today:
This is the shot I took straight out of my camera. She looks slightly greenish because she was sitting under a green umbrella. (good time to turn it black and white, right? :) )

B&W Photography 2

Next, simply convert your image to black and white using the black and white converter in whatever editing software you are using.

Black and White Photography

Almost all basic black and white conversions in will give you a very basic black and white but I like to call it grey and greyer. So that means you need to bring in some contrast. Instead of just increasing the "Contrast" slider I like to first increase the brightness. (Here I increased it to +63 but it will vary depending on your image.)

And finally, just increase your blacks. That will make your details and features pop. (Here I increased the black to 38)
And there you have it... a stunning black and white.

I have some really great friends. Really great. You know the kind that you feel like you could talk to all day long. Or the kind that you ac...


Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing these tips. I am going to try it out on some of my photos.

Oh how beautiful! Thank you so so much for sharing this tutorial!

Christian said...

Stunning photos. Love how the eyes really pop out. Thanks for the tips.

dana said...

oohhh!!! those photos are DARLING. I love them all! and that last photo of Stella just melts your heart. Seriously. She is adorable. Great tips! And yes, I love pawning Owen off on the boys too so we can all talk. It's very convenient :)

oooh great tips. i don't use lightroom. i wonder if i could get the same effect with picnic. they were wonderful.

Erica M. said...

Great advice! I normally don't like B&W photos but after playing around with these tips, I am starting to re-think B&W. Thanks!

Wag Doll said...

Thank you for your tips, the B&W conversion really focuses on the children's eyes which just sparkle!

Altax said...

Great shots and nice tips!!!
Lesson Plans

I've been referring to your book constantly since I won it during a give away. And I can see an improvement in not only my shooting, but moreso in processing in LR. Thank you so much for these tips. Love them. Use them!

Stathis Five said...

love the great tips.

Saw your tips on Dana and I really need to subscribe to stay connected .) So simple and I love lightroom.

kcernick said...

do you have any tips for doing this in elements? i can't find a way to increase blacks... thanks! :)

Hi Kcernick!

Good question...the only way to increase or decrease blacks in elements is to do adjust it in the CAMERA RAW setting. But to my knowledge the only way to use camera raw setting is to have RAW files. I always prefer using jpegs as opposed to RAW but it might be worth it to have the ability to adjust blacks.

Jenn Martin said...

What's a good way to increase blacks in Paintshop Photo Pro X3?

Hi Jenn!

Unfortunately, I don't have any experience with Paintshop Photo Pro X3. You may just have to google that one!

Julie said...

Holy cow, what a difference! Many times I feel like my B&Ws are blah... I'm going to try to figure out how to do this in Photoshop!

Denisek said...

thanks for the great tip. How do you take the black and white and add a pop of color to selected items?

Denisek said...

Thanks for the great tip. How do you add a pop of color to certain objects in a B&W photo?

so simple, thanks!

chiwei said...

Thanks for the quick tips. I'll have to see if I can get the same effects in Gimp!

LaceeDiann said...

Hi there! love your tips on B and w. I am having hard time getting good results with this using my photoshop elements... and I don't want to mess with RAW. What do you use to edit photos?

Andrea said...

So easy! Can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing. :)

Hi LaceeDiann!

I do all my editing in Adobe Lightroom.

LOVE this! thank you!! I do not like normal black & white (as you say gray and grayer). This I am in love with and will def try.

JenCozz said...

This is great! Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and talent with us!

KatyL said...

Can you do this in Photoshop CS? If so where do you go to change the blacks?

Carol Browne said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I used it on some work pals for their linkedin profiles and cannot believe I made this portrait for her -

You made me look very good today. Thanks again!

Deepika said...

Hi Katie, I recently found your blog and I am in awe of your skills. I just tried the B&W technique in this post but can't figure out how to make the blacks blacker. I am using Photoshop CS3.

Hi Katie,

Thank you so much for sharing your technique. I was able to covert some lovely pictures of my 8 month old baby into stunning black and white images. I love your blog and your work. Thank you for being so generous and sharing your tips with us. Much appreciated!

myrtle said...

Great! Absolutely awesome. =D

Suzy Frame said...

WOW! I really love all these photos! They really have some of the best photo ideas I have seen in a long time! I have really become interested in pictures lately and I think these will really help open my eyes to new things! Thanks for sharing!

myrtle said...

WoW! That photos so amazing. Love it.=D

What lens did you use for these photographs?

myrtle said...

Amazing! So wonderful
click here

thanks 4 sharing this nice tips.
Love it, i'm gonna try on my pic soon :)

Thanks for sharing! Love the pictures.

brittany said...

How can I do this working with Photoshop cs6? I am unable to use lightroom and I have searched everywhere for a tutorial such a this and I just can't seem to get my photos to look this beautiful! My black and white photos always look dirty? Please help!!