If you haven’t spent much time in a photo editor you may be thinking there is only one way to convert your photos to black & white. In the past many people would just turn the saturation down to zero and be done with the conversion. This works but you can actually get a photo with more impact by using the existing color in the photo to convert it to black & white.
Let’s take the following photo for a reference.
Now let’s see what the photo looks like if we just take the saturation of it down to zero.
As you can see the whole image starts to blend together and just the players pants really stand out. Using the black & white adjustment layer tool in Photoshop you can adjust how the color of the photo effects the gray levels. If you wanted your blue sky to have a very dark look to it, you could drag the blue sliders to the left. If you wanted to brighten it up, slide them to the right. Now let’s take a look at what we can do with our photo.
Below is the result we get by using the above settings.
You can now see that we were able to darken the background a bit and give much more contrast on the player.
Luckily you don’t actually need to own a copy of Photoshop to take advantage of this technique. Some of the free solutions are including basic functionality. Below is a shot of the original photo with the Red Black & White filter applied to it in Windows Live Photo Gallery.
The next time you want to convert your photos into black & white I highly recommend looking into using some of these features.