If you’d like to create the most professional black and white conversion, be sure to head over to Adobe Photoshop.  True black and white image in film are heavily influenced by the colors present in the original image (and are not just a desaturated photo).

The Black & White adjustment in Photoshop is easiest to use as an adjustment layer. The interactive controls and On Image tool make it much easier to create a custom black and white conversion.

  1. Open your photo file with Photoshop (File > Open).
  2. To get the maximum dynamic range, try using the free Perfect Exposure plugin.
  3. Click in the Adjustments panel and apply the Black & White effect as an adjustment layer, Photoshop applies the default grayscale conversion.
  4. To jumpstart the effect, click the Auto button.
  5. The Auto mix often produces excellent results and can serve as the starting point for tweaking gray values using the color sliders.
  6. Click the upward pointing finger in the Adjustments Panel to select the On Image Tool.
  7. With the On Image tool click inside an image and drag. The mouse pointer changes to an eyedropper if you move it over the image. Just click and hold on an image area to highlight the strongest color for that location.
  8. Photoshop automatically selects the most influential color slider for that part of the image. Drag to adjust the emphasis of that tonal value.
  9. Add a Gradient Map from the Adjust Layers panel to finish the image. Don’t worry if things look weird for a second.
  10. From the flyout list try the Photographic Toning presets.
  11. Audition different looks by clicking on them.  Remember you can lower the opacity of the layer to refine the effect.

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