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How to Make an Image Black and White in Lightroom
Think of black and white images, and you immediately think of the timeless appeal they hold. What is it about these monochrome photographs that have such a classic resonance? The answer lies in the depth of black and white photos that evokes a sense of mystery and drama all at once. And as a photographer, you can opt to create stellar black and white images both during the production phase as well as the post-production stage. If you choose to do the latter, this blog is for you! In this Lightroom tutorial, we will talk about the many ways you can make images black and white. So let’s get started!

How to Make an Image Black and White Using Lightroom?

Infographic stating work on RAW image files to allow smoother black-and-white conversions

Listed below are the different ways to convert an image into monochrome using Adobe Lightroom:

  1. Go to the Basic panel and set Treatment to Black & White.
  2. Select Adobe Monochrome in the Profile Browser in the Basic panel.
  3. Use Lightroom Presets.
  4. In the Color/HSL/B&W panel, click on the B&W tab.

Tip: For smoother black and white conversions, work on the RAW image file. The available depth will provide you more information and, therefore, more freedom and ease to work on Lightroom.

Now that you’ve got a basic idea on how to proceed to get those stunning black and white images, let’s dive deeper into the process and help you learn more about the ways to achieve these monochrome conversions smoothly.

1. Set the Treatment Option to Black & White

Setting the Treatment option to Black & White in Lightroom
Image Courtesy: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto

This is one of the easiest ways to process a black and white conversion using Lightroom. To use this option, go to the Develop module (you can also do the same by clicking on the hotkey ‘D’), and then click on the Basic panel. From the drop-down menu of the Basic panel, go to the Treatment option and select Black & White. The Treatment tab displays two options – Color and Black & White, and allows you to convert the image to grayscale with just one click.

Suggested Read: Black And White Wedding Photos: Why They Are Timeless

2. Select Adobe Monochrome in the Profile Browser

Another way to make an image black and white in Lightroom is by using the Profile Browser. To apply this method, again, go to the Develop module and select the Basic panel. At the top of the Basic panel, you will see the Treatment option (mentioned in the first option), just below that, you will find Profile – it is the second option in the Basic panel. In the Profile tab, you will see that the default setting displays Adobe Color. When you click on the profile options, a drop-down menu will appear, displaying multiple profile options. Scroll down and select the Adobe Monochrome profile.

Now, to access the Profile Browser, click on the Profile Browser icon, the four-rectangle-shaped icon present at the right side of the profile-name tab. Now select the B&W tab. This will display thumbnail previews of different black and white profiles. You can simply go through each one of them and choose whichever works best for you by clicking on the thumbnail. To view the preview applied to your image, all you have to do is just hover your mouse over the desired thumbnail. To increase or decrease the strength of the selected profile, use the Amount slider (to increase the strength, move the slider towards 100 and vice versa). If you wish to view the thumbnail of all the profiles, you can click on All. Similarly, to see color profiles, click on Color.

3. Using Lightroom Presets

Using Lightroom presets
Image Courtesy: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto

Using default Lightroom presets is another easy way to apply the black and white effect to any image in Lightroom. To access this setting, once again, we need to go to the Develop module. Now, shift your focus to the left side of the screen under the Navigator window. Go to the Presets panel and select B&W. Once you do that, a drop-down menu will appear displaying various black and white default presets. All of the settings vary, with each intended to achieve a different look and feel. You can choose whichever you want as per your preference. To sneak a preview of any particular preset, just hover the mouse over the preset name.

Suggested Read: Importing Lightroom Presets

4. Select B&W in the Color/HSL/B&W Panel

Lastly, you can also opt to make an image black and white in Lightroom by activating the B&W tab in the Color/HSL/B&W panel and then modify your image using the Black & White Mix settings. To access this setting, go to the Develop module, and follow through with the second method to apply the Adobe Monochrome profile. Once it is applied, you will observe that the Color/HSL panel changes to the B&W panel. Click on the B&W panel to access the Black & White Mix drop-down menu. You will have eight color sliders at your disposal to darken or lighten any particular color in the image as per your preference.

Understanding the Black & White Mix Feature

Using the Black & White Mix feature
Image Courtesy: ShootDotEdit Customer @looyengaphoto

There are many ways to work on black and white conversions in Lightroom. However, using the Black & White Mix gives you immense control and freedom over selectively altering the tonality based on the color information stored in Lightroom. In simpler words, you might not remember the colors in your image after activating the B&W tab in the Color/HSL/B&W panel, or by applying a preset, a profile, or using the Treatment tab, but Lightroom does. Therefore, with each of these sliders – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Aqua, Blue, Purple, and Magenta – you can conduct specific color adjustments and change the brightness accordingly. Enhance a certain color tone in your monochrome image or cancel out other tones – the choice is entirely yours.

You will also find an Auto option listed at the bottom-right side of the panel. What it does is analyze the image and its current settings and apply a setting that as per the software is the most appropriate for the scene. You can try this feature; you might or might not like the suggested changes. Either way, you’ll get a fair idea of what exactly you are looking for. In addition, you can simplify your workflow by just clicking on the circle present at the top-left side of the panel. This will incorporate the click and drag feature, thus, allowing you to operate the settings of the sliders by simply dragging your mouse up, down, left, and right.

Further Read: Lightroom Shortcuts Library: Keyboard Keys For Windows And Mac

You could try out these methods to make an image black and white in Lightroom and analyze your results. You might find that some options work better for you than others, and the only way to find that out is to give it a try and perfect what you like. The world, in this case Lightroom, is your canvas! We hope you found this blog helpful. Reach out to us in the comment section if you have any queries and questions.

At ShootDotEdit, we look forward to helping you grow as a professional wedding photographer. And if editing is taking a lot of your time, time that you would rather spend doing what you love, we are here to help with our photo editing services. Learn more about how we can help here.


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