You’re new to Lightroom or editing in general and you want to convert your color photo into a black and white masterpiece. You start off with good intentions but due to a lack of know how or fear of doing too much or too little, you simply add a black and white treatment to the image and consider your work done, wrong! The reason this is a bad idea is that usually, this will only leave you with an image that lacks contrast and really is more like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ versus a true black and white image.
The key words in black and white are the words black and white. A photo of this type should cover every aspect of black to white including shades of gray in between (as shown in this grayscale bar). Ansel Adams, famously known for his black and white landscape work of the American West, formulated the Zone System for this very reason. If your image lacks the two most important components you can hardly classify it as a black and white image. This is simply the basics.
Example: Before and After
We did nothing other than to click the black and white treatment option in Lightroom as shown here. The results are a muddy, greyscaled version of this image which leaves more to be desired.
We made a few additional modifications to the image in an effort to create a more realistic representation of black and white. We think you would agree that the after version is way nicer than the before version. Watch this week’s Friday Quickie to see what we did.