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Convert Color Photos to Black and White

By Russell Preston Brown

When you describe an issue as “black and white,” it usually means that it’s clear-cut. Black and white photography certainly sounds simple—it’s just two colors. Except what we call "black and white" photography is actually many shades of gray, and you can manipulate those shades in endless ways. It turns out that black and white gives you a world of pictorial possibilities. Here’s how to explore that world using the Adobe Lightroom Mobile app.

I love the freedom of mobile photography. I captured the original color version of this photo with an iPhone 6 Plus, and as soon as the shoot was over, I processed the photos in Adobe Lightroom Mobile. (It’s a free app that runs on Android and iOS.)

I began with Lightroom Mobile’s black and white presets. Sometimes those presets are all you need; they can also be great starting points. But I decided to convert this photo manually. In the video below, I explain how I got the final effect. My steps include adjusting the color values with intuitive sliders (yes, there are color values in grayscale photos) and careful application of Dehaze. I also show you how to copy settings and apply them to other photos, a handy timesaver.

Watch how Russell Brown converts a color photo to black and white in Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Click the image above to watch the video tutorial.

The surfer in this photo is Shawn Tracht. You can find his photos and writing on the Surf Wanderer website.