Convert images into black and white using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Explore different ways to create black-and-white photos and learn to highlight texture and composition in grayscale.

Colour photo of mountain scenery next to black-and-white version.

Start the process with a stunning colour image.

Black and white can add drama, mood and so much more to a simple subject. But you don’t need a fancy, vintage camera to capture a beautiful black-and-white image. While colour photography is the standard default for modern cameras and phones, with Lightroom you can convert your image into grayscale and then edit to perfection. Make sure to start with a high-quality original image with strong composition, good exposure and distinct midtones and highlights.

 

When converting your image to black and white with Lightroom, remember that all edits you make are non-destructive and completely reversible. If you want to go back and edit a photo a year from now, all the changes you make today can be undone, redone or tweaked. So you can experiment with different ways to convert your images into black and white without fear of losing your original images.

 

Three ways to create black-and-white images.

 

1. Go monochrome in a click.

A simple way to convert your image into grayscale is using the B&W button and B&W Mix controls in the Lightroom panel. In one click, you can transform a photo into grayscale. But this click doesn’t just desaturate your image. It also brightens the warm tones, darkens the cooler tones and increases the contrast of your image. These subtle changes keep your image from feeling flat. Consider a landscape photo you’re converting into black and white. The blues of the sky will look darker and more dramatic, while the light colours of the flowers will be brighter.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom B&W Mix control interface transposed over photo of lighthouse

2. Harness the power of black-and-white presets.

Another way to create a black-and-white effect is with B&W presets in Lightroom. There are ten presets in black and white that are automatically available for you to explore. Each one has different exposure, contrast and brightness settings, so see how your image looks with different presets. If you don’t like the preset you’ve selected, just apply a new one over the top or click Reset and apply a new one.

 

If you find a black-and-white preset you like that feels near perfect, you can always tweak the settings and save it as a customised preset to use later. Use the B&W Mixer panel to edit the levels of your photo, including brightness, exposure and shadows. Increase the contrast and clarity to bring out the midtones of your black-and-white image to keep it from feeling flat. But you’re not limited to automatic or customised presets. You can also download free presets, purchase presets online or try out presets available in Lightroom discovery files. As always, every preset is editable.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom B&W preset interface transposed over photo of shack on the beach

3. Explore grayscale profiles in Lightroom.

Give your images a good foundation for photo editing by using profiles. Profiles change the way your screen translates and displays the raw data captured in your digital camera. It’s an easy way to convert your image into black and white. In Lightroom, you can adjust the strength of the profile with sliders, then experiment with adjusting Light and Effects controls and apply presets over the top. By layering profiles and presets, you can stretch your creativity and transform your colour photos into something new.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom grayscale profile interface transposed over photo of bansai tree

Get inspired and create your own grayscale images.

With these three techniques in hand, it’s time to channel your creativity and see how powerful black-and-white photography can be in these tutorials.
 

Once you’ve got the hang of these techniques for creating monochrome images, you can discover many other ways to enhance your photography. Get started with Lightroom and explore the world of black-and-white photography today.

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