Simple Tricks to Improve Your Photos

Do you like to convert some of your photos to black and white? Maybe you need a particular photo for a layout and the colors in the photo don’t match nicely with your kit. Maybe you want a black and white photo for a yearbook submission, advertisement, or to place in a picture frame. Whatever your reasons, black and white is a nice option.

There are a couple of easy black and white conversions you can use. In Photoshop Elements you can try one of the following:
1. Go to Image>Mode>Grayscale. It’ll remove the color from your photo. You can play with the lighting levels, brightness and contrast until you like it.
2. Create a new adjustment level in your Layers Palette. This will create a new layer over top of your photo that gives it a crisp black and white look.

First I used the grayscale mode. Go to the top menu bar and select Image, choose Mode and click on Grayscale.

This will remove the color. Here is a before and after sample.

I’m not terribly fond of the gray tones, so I played with the lighting a little until I liked it more.

If you like the result, you’re done. If you’re like me, I like a little crisper black and white and almost always use option #2, the Gradient Map. To do so, go to your Layers Palette. At the bottom you’ll find a little circle that is half dark and half light.

Click on Gradient Map in the pull-down menu. It creates a layer on top of your photo. (It might go to the default setting which is black, so you’ll need to go one more step and select the black and white map.)

This is what the before and after look like.

If you like the results, merge the layers and save your photo with a new name (so that you don’t lose your original). I usually use a suffix of BW.

Finally, one more comparison for you. Here is the difference between grayscale (which was adjusted a little) and the gradient map option.

Play around and see what you like!