Photography Tutorial Black and White Conversion

Hi, Laurie here with a handy tutorial for a great phooto enhance, a B&W conversion. I am using Photoshop Elements 12 for this tutorial.

Most photo editing programs have a number of ways to convert photos to black and white, including Photoshop Elements 12. The conversion tool provided in Photoshop Elements 12 only provides a small preview of the conversion. (Which is irritating to me…) So, I’m going to walk you through a short and simple black and white conversion which will provide you with a full screen preview of the conversion as you work.

I am using a photo of our little dog Missy and her best friend, a cat. (And for obvious reasons, we named the cat Friend.)

Step 1: With your image open, duplicate the background layer. You do this by displaying the “Layers Palette” and choosing the layer of your photo, right-clicking on the background layer and choosing “Duplicate Layer.” Then hit “Ok.”


Step Two: Now select the top layer and choose “Enhance,” “Adjust Color,” and “Remove Color.” This converts the image to a black and white image.


Step Three: With the top layer selected (the black and white duplicate layer), go to the “Blend Mode” drop down list in your “Layers Palette,” select the “Hue Blend Mode.” This step allows the top layer’s hue/color to show through, but uses the layer below to provide the lightness and saturation from the image. PHoto3

Step Four: This step will allow us to adjust the bottom layer (change the black and white image).   So, select the bottom layer in your “Layers Palette” and select “Enhance,” “Adjust Color,” “Adjust Hue/Saturation.” This opens the Hue/Saturation/Lightness dialog. Select any of the sliders and drag them in either direction and note how the black and white image changes.

  • Adjusting Lightness and Adjusting Saturation will adjust the lightness and darkness of the image.
  • Use the Hue slider to change the colors in the underlying image. (Which will result in different colors being light and others being dark.) Play with the sliders to get a feel for the results.


Step Five: The final step is to adjust the the contrast in the image. Select the bottom layer and select “Enhance,” “Adjust Lighting,” “Shadows and Highlights” and adjust the sliders to change the tone of the image. (As in darkening the lighter areas, lightening the shadows and adding contrast to the midtones.)

BW Conversion BeforeBW Conversion After

I hope this adds another fun little edit in your photo editing arsenal that you can try. Please feel free to share how yours turned out with us.

~ Laurie

One thought on “Photography Tutorial Black and White Conversion

  1. This is so cool! There are so many ways to convert to blk/wht, but this gives the most control than any I have seen. I really appreciate this, it’s a saver!

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