Three Methods to Convert Photos to Black and White in Lightroom

Black and white images are the little black dresses of the photo world: they're always in style. Creating one is about more than just clicking a single button, though. This helpful tutorial will show you how to take complete control and make your black and white conversions in Lightroom as best as possible.

Coming to you from Nathaniel Dodson of tutvid, this video gives some very practical tips for using Lightroom to convert images to black and white. When you convert an image from color, Lightroom maps the corresponding color and luminance values to grayscale and does its best to decide how much to darken or lighten certain hues from their pure luminance conversions. While it typically does an acceptable job, black and white images are their own art and shouldn't necessarily have the same luminance mapping as their color counterparts, so it's a good idea to take manual control of the process. Dodson also shows how to add grain to an image to give it a classic film look should you so desire. And as always, try to work with raw files when making these adjustments; you'll find the luminance transitions to be much smoother than if you had shot in JPEG.

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3 Comments

Nathaniel provided some great tips for conversion. But what I was doing was converting B&W C-41 photos to traditional B&W films, like TMAX or Tri-X. Kodak BW400CN was my standard B&W C-41 film until Kodak discontinued the product. Scanned images from BW400CN have a sepia tint to the images. With Ilford XP2, the scanned images tend towards cyan.
I found that decreasing the saturation of the B&W C-41 images shifted the photo to traditional silver-based B&W images.

Oh boy, is he on the run? I had to stop watching because it drives me crazy!