Convert to black and white with Photoshop’s RAW 4.1

Learn how to optimise a RAW file’s colours and tones to create a mono shot with a strong tonal range

It’s easy enough to convert a colour photo to black and white, but much trickier to get a monochrome image with a healthy sweep of tones from black shadows through to grey midtones and white highlights.

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1. Colour and contrast

Our colour shot (ConvertToMono_2.CR2) will look better as a mono shot. To create a black and white image with a strong range of tones you need to tweak colour and contrast to give the Convert to Black and White command more information to work with.

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2. White balance

An incorrect white balance setting can cause white areas to look orange or blue. These tinted areas can end up looking grey when the shot’s converted to mono. Click the White Balance Eyedropper Tool on an area that should look white. It will render the highlights true white.

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3. Exposure, Recovery and Fill Light

Press [O] to activate the highlight clipping warning – red indicates that pixels are clipped. Drag the Recovery slider to a value of 40 to increase cloud detail. To claw back more highlights drag the Exposure slider left to -0.25. Push the Fill Light slider to 35 to brighten midtones.

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4. Better blacks

The Black slider enhances the strength of the shadows. Hold [Alt] while dragging to see which shadow pixels will clip. A value of 20 gives a stronger tonal range, which will give more information to work with, enabling you to create a more dramatic mono print.