A lot of folks have often asked me how to achieve a dynamic black and white result from a color photo. The problem is that when you just strip a color photograph of its RGB (red/green/blue) elements, the resulting photo is often boring — but there’s so much more potential for it. One of the greatest black and white conversion techniques takes a lot of practice but gives you a lot of control over your black and white photo (as if you’d think this wasn’t possible) and was created by a friend of mine, Daniel Diaz. Please see Daniel’s gallery for some of his amazing photos that utilize this technique.
With permission, I have provided the “Daniel Diaz BW Technique,” a tutorial on how to complete this conversion (below). I would love to see how you use it.
The Daniel Diaz Black and White Conversion Technique (Requires Photoshop CS2 or similar)
Here we start with a color photo in PSCS2. It’s my wife’s eye, just for fun.
The next step we do is choose Image>Adjustments>Channel Mixer…
When the Channel mixer table opens, click the monochrome box. The default setting is below.
You can adjust these three sliders to your liking, but try to make the total amount equal to 100%.
Click OK when you’re finished.
Now we go to selective color mode by choosing Image>Adjustments>Selective Color…
Now change the color to black and adjust the black level to your liking. Repeat the process with the white and neutral colors.
If you don’t want the “coarse” version, you can finish this off with some contrast, otherwise proceed. [STOP here if you are happy!]
Here we duplicate the layer by right clicking the background layer and choosing Duplicate Layer.
Now go to Filter>Other>High Pass…
Slide the radius slider to a level that suits your liking.
Now change the background layer mode to either Hard Light or Overlay (I personally like Hard Light better).
Now reduce the Opacity of this layer to an acceptable level, I chose 35% here.
Go to Layer>Merge Visible.
Here’s a little unknown secret, go to Filter>Other>Custom.
Don’t touch anything but OK.
Now go to Edit>Fade Custom, I chose 15%, see below picture.
Now we finish off with a Contrast adjustment Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast.
Slide the Contrast to your liking.
Thanks Daniel for this awesome technique!
To see some of Daniel’s photos that utilize this technique, please visit his photo gallery.