Black & White vs. Color

Many of the photographs in The NOTA Project were shot in color but converted to black & white. You may want to consider converting some of your color images to black and white in the following circumstances:

To emphasize the lighting (Photo credit: Deanna)

deanna_darren_color   deanna_furia_1

To eliminate distracting colors and create a cohesive color scheme (Photo credit: Ms. Lawson)

IMG_0603   isiah_photography3

To unify a series of photos (Photo credit: Katie)

katie_murrer_1   katie_murrer_3

When should you leave the color in a photo? When the photograph has a harmonious color scheme that would be lost in a conversion to gray scale:

Photo Credit: Serena

Photo Credit: Serena

Photo Credit: Jenny

Photo Credit: Jenny


How to convert your image to black & white:

Image -> Mode -> Gray scale

Image -> Adjustments -> Levels

Look at the image that pops up. If your image has sufficient contrast, the “mountain range” will extend to the edge of the window.
If your image looks similar to this, you do not need to adjust the levels, and can close out of the window:


If your “mountain range” of values does not extend to the edges of the window (such as the example below), you will click on the left cursor and drag it to the beginning of the left side of the mountain.
You will then click on the right cursor and drag it to the beginning of the right side of the mountain.
You will be able to preview what you are doing as long as the “preview” box is checked.


When you have adjusted your levels, click ok.

How to create a composite image:

Sometimes part of an image will already be sufficiently exposed (is bright enough), while part of the image is too dark. In this case, you would want to lighten selective areas of your photo with a technique called compositing. Here is how you composite a photo:

  1. Go to the “paths” window. Click the “new path” button. new_path_icon
  2. Go to the toolbar on the left side of the screen. Select the pen tool. pen_tool Outline shape you want to lighten.
  3. Once you have closed your shape by clicking on the first point, go back to the paths window. Right click on the path you have created, and click “make selection.” Feather the selection by 1pixel (this will soften the edges of your selection).
  4. Control + click to copy your selection. Control + click to paste your selection.
  5. Go back to the “layers” window. Click the new layer you have created that contains only the shape you want to edit. Edit the levels on this layer only.
  6. Repeat the steps above to individually adjust the levels on each part of your photo that contains unique lighting.

Today we will:

  • continue editing our photos
  • create a new blog post featuring the before and after of each edited photo

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