Photoshop Tutorial: How to Enhance Black and White Photos

Enhance Black and White

What many people do not know is that there is a huge difference when it comes to retouching black and whites photos and colored photos. In this tutorial, you will learn how to retouch black and white photos like professionals do. The tools we will be focusing on in the Photoshop tutorial are the Dodge Tool and the Burn tool. Both are located on the free floating, vertical menu bar, normally located on the right side of the Photoshop program. The dodge tool and the burn tool are located on the right column on the seventh row down. The main use of the dodge tool is to lighten areas while the burn tools are to darken areas.
To start with, you will need to choose a black and white image to work with. You can choose your image to work with or one from sxc.hu. If you are going to use one of your own images, you can use a black and white one or a color one. If you choose to work with a color one, you will need to convert it to black and white. To do this you will need to open up the picture in a Photoshop canvas and go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. The contrast might be off, but you will learn how to fix this later in the tutorial.

Now that you have an image to work with, open it up in Photoshop if you have not already. Make sure the picture is saved as is and that the layers are all flattened (Layer > Flatten).

1) When you use the burn tool, use the Shadows Range with an exposure of somewhere between 10% and 20%. Try different exposures to see what fits your photo. If you are a beginning Photoshop user, you will not be able to tell what kind of exposure to use just yet.

2) Now drag an appropriately sized brush which can be found on the brush drop-down menu on the top horizontal menu bar. Choose a size that will be easy to work with, but will not take forever to go over the area of the photo you want to work on. Once you have chosen your brush, go over the areas you want to make darker. You can change the exposure when ever you like to see different darkening effects that the burn tool provides.

3) Next, click on the Dodge tool and use the Highlights Range and choose a similar exposure like you did with the Dodge Tool, between 10% and 20%. Use the same technique to go over areas of your photo that you would like to lighten. Also, try creative ways to enhance the photo by changing the exposure or even the range.

Then you are done and you now know how to enhance your black and white photos using these two easy tools in Adobe Photoshop.

Continue Reading