One of the most common questions I get from budding photographers is something along the lines of, “How come my black and white portraits don't look so good?” After a little bit of discussion, I usually come to one of two conclusions: Either the black and white conversion was done in-camera or the photographer used Photoshop, but simply didn't know how to get the most out of it, so the end result lacked the impact they were hoping for.
It's actually quite easy to harness the power of Photoshop to convert any color image to black and white and adjust it in ways that go far beyond the limitations of in-camera conversion software. Once you know the basics, you can let your own creative muse handle the rest and start to turn out B&W portraits you'll be proud to show off. What's more, you can do it non-destructively – in other words, the original image is preserved and your adjustments can be tweaked after you've made them.
The “secret” lies in learning how easy it is to use Adjustment Layers and Blending modes. Most intermediate Photoshop users have at least a basic idea of what both of these are, but not how incredibly simple they actually are. For instance, did you know that you can automatically adjust a color range or luminosity range just by dragging over the area on the image?
(Success Tip #2:The secret to selling more photography with less effort)
Fortunately, I don't need to turn this into a full-scale tutorial, because the folks at Phlearn have already created an incredibly informative video that walks you through the entire conversion process and gives you some invaluable tips along the way. Do yourself a favor and check this one out. You'll never worry about how to do an awesome black and white portrait conversion again!