How to make low-contrast black-and-white from digital color photos

First, download this image. This is so you can see the same effect I see when you’re editing.

In Photoshop, go Image – Adjustments – Channel Mixer. I’m using Photoshop 7 so don’t worry, this feature has been around a long time!

Tick Monochrome.

Set the Red to 0.

Now drag each slider to +100 and back to 0, to see which one has the least contrast. In my tungsten-ful shots, it’s always Green. So I leave the Green at +120.

Then, drag Blue down to negative and you will see the highlights fade into grey. I left it at -35.

At this point, you may want to bring the Green up to say +150 (so that the shirt is in the middle) while bringing the Blue down to -70. Adjust as you like.

Finally, add as much Red as you like.

I won’t show you how the final picture ended up, so you can tweak it as you like! The numbers will be different for every picture so please don’t go “oh I need to set this slider to this number and this slider…

You will notice that boosting channels will increase noise. Big deal, it’s black-and-white, it looks better! 😀

This is how I processed the pictures in Netto From The Ghetto, Live From Section Five.

3 thoughts on “How to make low-contrast black-and-white from digital color photos

  1. John Post author

    yo albert.. where to get a cheap hot shoe? just need to let me use a pc connector

    btw, to trigger the flash.. just need to trip the +/- of the pc connector right? thanks!

  2. Albert Ng Post author

    John: Anywhere, look for the optical slave triggers, they should have a PC Sync Connector on them.

    Will: Try it! The clothes rise to the mids better while the skin does not overexpose and blow.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *