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How to Create Optimized Color-to-B&W Conversions in Photoshop

There’s an adage among artists that goes, “If you can’t make it good, make it big. And if you can’t make it big, make it red.” There’s an awful lot of truth behind that statement, which I won’t get into right now, but whenever I see photographs with big eye-grabbing pops of color, that pearl of wisdom always comes to mind.

The same cannot be said about black-and-white photography. Color elements do not exist in B&W photographs. In their place are infinite shades of gray, book-ended by whatever measures of pure black and pure white exist within the scene. Red is reduced to a shade of gray in a black-and-white photograph. It no longer screams out at you as its former color self once did. If you want to lighten or darken the tonality of the red channel of the image, you can filter it, and this is where converting color images to B&W starts getting interesting.

Photographs © Allan Weitz 2020

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