How to Convert Color Photo to Black And White in Adobe Photoshop?

Converting color photos or images to black and white digitally gives you so much of advantages such as you can change the nature of the black and white conversion just by placing a colored filter on the lens, darkening a blue sky according to wish, and many more. You can use DSLR cameras to convert color photos to black and white.

You will find tools which enable you various photo editors such as the latest one called as adobe creative cloud. You can find both destructive and non-destructive black and white conversion techniques. Destructive method is one which cannot be re-adjusted once you make the conversion unless you use undo option. Alternatively, non-destructive methods use Photoshop’s adjustment layers and the changes that you make to your photo are stored in the form of layer thereby keeping the original photo unchanged. Users are suggested to go for on-destructive photo editing as this technique is always better than destructive editing.

Convert to Greyscale (Destructive)

This is the simplest black and white conversion method which converts the color images to grayscale by discarding all the color information in the photo.

For example: In Photoshop CS 3

  • Go to Image -> click on “Mode” option -> tap “Grayscale”-> Click on ‘Discard’ option
  • Next, go to Photoshop Elements and…
  • Tap “Image”- > click on “Mode”- > select “Grayscale” option-> click ‘OK’ button

Though this is an easy technique, you will lose control on conversion of the photos completely.

Use the Hue/Saturation Tool (Non-destructive)

This method gives exactly the same result as converting to grayscale but with little bit of enhancement and that is, it is availed as an adjustment layer, and hence can be used as part of a non-destructive editing process.

E.g., Photoshop CS 3 and Photoshop Elements 6:

  • Go to Layer -> click on New Adjustment Layer -> select Hue/Saturation

After that, click on ‘OK’ button and move the saturation slider all the way to the left and press ‘OK’ again.

This technique is as quick and easy as Converting to Greyscale and it can be applied as an adjustment layer in both Photoshop CS 3 and Elements 6. Here also, you will not have control over the conversion process.

Gradient Map (Non-destructive)

The gradient map tool maps a black and white gradient to the brightness values of your photo thereby making the dark areas black or dark grey and highlights as white or light grey.

E.g., Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements:

You can press ‘D’ from keyboard to reset the foreground and background color to black and white.

Then go to Layer -> click on New Adjustment Layer -> select Gradient Map

After that click on ‘OK’ button, and your task is done.

Channel Mixer (Non-destructive)

The Channel mixer is considered as the first black and white conversion tool that use the full potential of information contained in the color photo. Color photos usually have three color channels such as red, green and blue which combine to make the millions of colors in your photo. The Channel mixer conversion method adjusts the ratios between the red, green and blue channels thereby lightening the colors that are close to it on the color wheel and darkening the colors that are opposite to it.

For example: Photoshop CS

Go to “Layer”- > tap “New Adjustment Layer” > select “Channel Mixer”

Tick the selection box and then move the Red, Green and Blue sliders to the left and right to lighten and darken different tones in the photo. The total of the three sliders should be 100% at all times.

Finally, click on ‘OK’ button and you are done with your task.