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November 27, 2017
My free Lightroom Preset is available at the bottom of this post. But first, learn when and how to PROPERLY convert black and white images, and avoid some crucial errors.
We wedding photographers often don’t have control over the lighting of a space as much as studio photographers do. Candle lit church with sunlight streaming in anyone? It looks beautiful to the naked eye, but our cameras get confused. If you white balance for the candles, you get blue light through the windows. If you balance for the window light, everyone looks like they spent too much time at the tanning salon.
I encourage you to try to learn how to properly white balance, but in a pinch, black and white is your best friend.
And then, of course, you may choose to convert them simply because you love the way it looks. This is an artistic, stylistic choice that you are fully entitled to make.
Your camera has a massive of colour gamut. “Wut?” This basically means it sees and records a ton of colours of when taking a photo. These colours help you create many different looks and feels when you covert to black and white in Lightroom.
You can use the “B&W” panel within Lightroom to brighten and darken certain colours.
In the photo below, you see the original on the left, and two B&W conversions. For the one in the middle, I’ve darkened the greens to create moodiness, and darkened the skin tones (orange). In the one on the right, I created a lighter mood by brightening the yellows and greens.
This is why converting to black and white is very different than simply desaturation your photo.
If you change your camera settings to shoot in black and white, you won’t have those options because the camera never recorded colour in the first place.
A lot of black and white presets make the shadows way too dark, and the highlights way to bright. Although I’m a fan of contrast, I like to maintain the details in my photos by not only brightening the shadows, but adjusting the overall exposure.
Your clients have spent a lot of time, effort and MONEY designing their wedding beautifully. The colours they’ve chosen are a big part of it, so they should be allowed to shine bright and colourfully in the images.
Grain, otherwise known as “noise” is the perfect breeding ground for beautiful black and whites. It has such a lovely, classic aesthetic. Plus, it can make a poor lighting situation look artsy 😉
I’m not saying it’ll solve ALL your problems. But hey, you never know.
I use this preset for basically all of my black and white conversions. I like to keep it contrasty, and have bright skin tones.
This is a great general preset, but feel fully free to tweak any of the settings to fit different lighting, times of year, etc.
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