Converting a photograph to black and white, is one of the easiest tasks today. You can hit the B&W button that is available in every app, you can apply a monochrome preset or simply reduce all colors to zero (de-saturate them). You may leave one color that is dominant and mute all other colors, in order to create an artistic result.
As you may see, we have all the tools to process our photos as we want, but it is our duty –as photographers- to preserve the feeling in them. This is the reason why I prefer to apply a film simulation instead of converting an image to black and white. Film simulations make a photograph warm and atmospheric, as if it was shot using film. They remove that digital and cold feeling. The film simulations of my choice are Kodak 400TX and Tri-X, while I really love Fujifilm Neopan 400 and Neopan 100 Acros. All of them simulate original b&w films.
However, there are some cases where I want to have control over the black and white conversion. I need to choose which areas of the photo will be black and which will be white. In these cases, this is the workflow that I follow:
The app that I choose for the selective conversion, is Lightroom for mobile. It comes free and both iOS and android versions are almost identical.
First, I open the photo that I want to convert and select “Color” from the tools palette.
Then, I press B&W and the image is instantly converted to monochrome, using Lightroom’s artificial intelligence. If I am not satisfied with the result, I choose “MIX” that brings the Luminance adjustment for each color separately.
You may see in the examples below, that adjusting each color separately, makes a dramatic change to the image.
I go back to the original color image and see which color is dominant to the area that I want to darken or lighten. Then, I choose this color in the “GRAY MIX” in order to adjust the Luminance in that area.
It’s that easy!
Feel free to ask any quastion and suggest your own black and white workflow, in the comments below.