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The Black and White Digital Darkroom - part 1 of 1 2 3 4 5 6

by Paul Gallagher Published 01/02/2016

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It is without doubt that black and white photography has a strong place in the world of image making today and I suspect this will always be the case. If we consider the photography magazine market, which is a very competitive environment, there remain several titles throughout the world that are entirely dedicated to the celebration of black and white photography. When we take a look at social media, or conduct a web search on the subject, we are inundated with societies, forums and groups who are in constant conversation about a subject that was 'apparently' superseded in the early seventies. Lastly, the giants in the photographic industry have not left black and white behind at all; virtually all cameras and capture devices have some form of monochrome setting to enable the photographer to peer into the wonderful world of black and white, allowing them to see what they had seen in full colour only moments before, represented in a series of tones of grey. Almost all image manipulation software dedicated to the post-capture segment of the photography market has attributed time and money in ensuring that photographers have access to exploring their photographs without colour. Many printers also have dedicated monochrome drivers sometimes using different combinations of their ink set.

Converting to Black and White One of the most important parts of the black and white photography process is converting your image to black and white using your computer. There are many ways in which to do this but I will cover the basic methods here so that we keep things as straightforward as possible. In Adobe Lightroom the first port of call is in the Develop Module and if you then look down this menu you will see the dialogue box HSL/Color/ B&W. If you then click on the B&W you will see your image turn black and white and you will see a list of different colour sliders available to you. These sliders relate to the colour in the original colour Raw file and it is here that you can explore various colours rendered in tones of grey (See image right).


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If you are using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) when you first open your camera Raw file it will automatically open in ACR. When you have done this you will see a menu bar positioned below the histogram in the upper right-hand side of your screen. As with Lightroom, if you then click on HSL/Greyscale, and then click on the 'Convert to Greyscale' box you will see that your image will turn black and white. Once again you will have the same set of colour sliders as in Lightroom (See image left).


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1st Published 01/02/2016
last update 18/05/2017 12:36:28

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Updated 18/05/2017 12:36:28 Last Modified: Thursday, 18 May 2017