B & W in Lightroom.

Many of my friends did not believe the below Black & white photograph is worked and out from Lightroom. So thought of sharing the entire workflow pertains to this photograph and how I made this final photograph. My friends thought I had used Silver Efex, as I use to do it for some of my Black & White photographs. But in this case, I have entirely worked and exported the file from Lightroom alone.

Black & White in Lr

This is the final processed version of the photograph.

Let’s look at the “As shot” version of this very photograph.


The Original RAW file, as it appears, less contrast and colours are not so favourable. If we convert it into Black & White, we can straight away add value to the image as the colours are not adding any value to the image.

I remember reading as Scott kelby said “Black & white Photograph is desaturating all the colours and boosting the contrast” and exactly that is what I have did here. How simple is the explanation which speaks at the best level of communication as far as B&W photograph is concerned.

B & W As shot

Histogram – As shot Image.

The histogram of the original image is self-explaining, less contrast (bell curve), bit underexposed too as the histogram is aligned towards the left hand side.

The first step to convert an image to Black & White in Lightroom is; From the Basic panel next to treatment, click Black & white as this converts the image into Black & White. Alternatively you can press “V” from Develop module which results the same. Now let’s fix the Exposure; for this image I have boosted it to 9/10th of 1 EV, in other words 0.90 EV. I seriously do not like to confuse people by using the exposure jargons, but here excuse me. Next boost the contrast to 100%. To boost the contrast, I have brought back the Highlights and shadows towards the negative side. I have also brought down the clarity to give the mood.

B & W Basic panel

The screenshot of the Lightroom Basic panel.

I have not made any manual corrections in the tone curve panel, except pushing the highlights and shadows towards its maximum range and selected strong contrast.

Tone curve panel

Screenshot of Tone curve panel.

Next in the B&W adjustment panel, to further boost the contrast, I have brought down the Green and red colour towards negative side by having a look at the Histogram. Just press “J” to enable the highlight and shadow clipping notification, so that the clipped portions (if) will be coloured in Blue and Red respectively. Kindly note that I did not clicked the Auto from the Black & White panel, it is fully manual process.

B & W

Screenshot of Black & White adjustment panel.

The next in Detail panel, I have made some little sharpening just to bring out the edges of the trees and noise correction been applied heavily to bring the mood as we did it in clarity slider. Detail slider purposely brought to the lowest as this photograph does not call for any details.

Balck & White in Lightroom.

Screenshot of Detail panel.

In the Lens correction panel, usual Lens profile corrections and chromatic aberration corrections are applied. Let’s look at the “After” Histogram.

Black & White in Lightroom

Screenshot of the Histogram “after” the conversion process.

As the Histogram shows, the tones are spread all over the range and a bit underexposed, the contrast is less too. It’s been kept particularly because “Expose to the Right” is not necessary for this photograph, as this nature of the photograph calls for a bit of underexpose and less contrast.

Trust this article helps you to make more beautiful Black & White photographs.


Ebook review – Essential guide to B & W Photography

If you are a person who wants to make wonderful Black and White Photographs and many of your attempts proved to be futile, this book is a must for you. Of course – who does not wish to make great Black and white photographs? This book starts with a clear understanding about Black and White images.

As Scott Kelby once said – “The simplest black and white conversion is to remove saturation and boost contrast”. Yes, he said it is the simplest way. However, not all the conversion is going to be good at its first attempt. You may not aware what is happening to the colours. Possibilities are there you will end up making a dull, normal black and white photograph!

The book’s author David J. Nightingale, an experienced photographer, nailed down all the fundamentals of photography from Tonal ranges to Contrast, RAW files to ETTR, EV to Metering.

After the fundamental sections namely – The Aesthetics of Black & White photography, Equipment and shooting Black & White, David states about the conversion methods, why you should not use the default conversion method given in the software and what it does exactly to your image while converting. The software just takes the brightness level of a given pixel and converts it to a gray scale equivalent. In the next chapter, David explains about few other ways of making black and white photographs in Photoshop Channel mixing, Calculation method and Blending methods. In the end of this section, he talks about different plugins available for Black and white conversion from Silver Efex pro, Topaz and DxO lab in detail from its interface and what one offers. Also the author mentioned his personal favourite methods as well.

In the next section – Adjusting tonal range, Balance and Contrast, he explains about the single most powerful tool in Photoshop “Curves”. Adjusting the tonal range means shifting the original tonal range to what you desire via the curve tool. With the curves tool in place, you can adjust all the tonal ranges to its extreme without losing detail aka clipping. He further explains about the Basic S-curves, the baseline, altering the mid tones and how to do selective adjustments to a particular portion of the image using “Selective adjustments using Curves and Masks”.

Later, he explained about Creative vignettes aka Selective Vignettes – Vignettes been explained in detail here, starting from how it affects the viewer’s perception and the way it leads the eye and ends with how to make specific vignettes according to your photograph.

David made a separate section to cover Black and White Portraiture – Whoa; it is an interesting decision to add one dedicated section for portraiture alone. A section you would most probably love very much, since who does not want to make a striking portrait! David starts with the difference and importance between colour and B & W portraits, what kind of portraits would work with B & W and what won’t?

He clearly classifies the difference between different methods of converting one image into B & W and its drawbacks. For instance, why applying of red filter generically to all images will not work, or with Channel mixer or with Black and White conversion tool for that matter. He also clearly mentioned on how to bring out the details of the face and to brighten the eyes in the portrait. Why eyes are important in a portrait? He mentioned “Not only are the eyes the window to the soul, they can also be key to a successful portrait, but unless they are well lit they can often detract from an otherwise successful image – normally because they appear too dark in relation to the rest of the person’s features.”

The final section – “Monochromatic toning techniques” where David explains about the different methods of adding tone to your B & W images. He starts from the Black and White tool, Hue/Saturation tool, using Photo filters; using Selective colour tool, using Curves tool, and using Gradient Map tool. All of them explained in detail so that you can precisely tone your image as you might have envisaged to either your Whites alone or Blacks alone or to the mid tones alone or to the whole of your image. The important question is why you want to apply a tone to your beautiful striking B & W photograph. It is only to further enhance your image, as the sepia can bring a nostalgic feel about that image, a light blue tone will bring out a warm and industrial feel and so on.

The conclusion part is so striking and interesting that David made all the facts clear, I agree with all of his words. Hope you too will find this e-book helpful, in not only making striking Black and White Photographs, a better photographer as too.

This e-book is filled up all the way with necessary screenshots, interesting tips and tricks in a toned box, which will save you many time and energy. And more importantly this e-book comes with a separate recipe book which explains 10 different type of photographs and how exactly David converted it into a powerful Black and white photograph with all necessary illustrations and screenshots. He added both the original image and the final image after all the processing steps executed.

A word of caution – If you are using Photoshop as your primary editing software, you would love this book, but if you have recently switched to Lightroom as your primary editing software, this book helps you a little. Just thought of reminding you, but nevertheless there are some fundamentals about the filters, plugins, curves which I found very worthy. I hope that you might also feel the same, who knows. Grab one here and don’t forget to comment below how did you feel after reading the book.

Cheers and Happy Photographing.