Black and White Photo Series – Gradient Map

Black and White Photo Series – Gradient Map
by Jenifer Juris

Use a gradient map adjustment layer to easily turn your photo into black and white.

Step One: Open a Photo

  • Open a photo (File > Open) that you wish to use.
  • Press the letter D to reset the Color Chips.

Why did I chose this photo?

  • The subject is already black and white.
  • The photo already has high contrast.

 


The Gradient Map Method

Pros
Using the gradient map method is a fairly quick and simple way to convert an image to black and white.
Cons
This method doesn’t give as much control over how colors convert.

 

Step Two: Add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer

  • In the Layers panel, click on the Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon and choose Gradient Map.

 

 

  • In the Gradient Map (Properties) panel, evaluate your photo.

Stop here if:

  • The dark areas are black or almost black and the white areas are white or almost white.
  • The photo has good contrast, meaning it’s bright and doesn’t look dull.

Keep going if:

  • The dark areas are too dark.
  • The light areas are too dull or grayish.

With this photo:

  • His black hair is just a bit too dark and I’m losing some of the details in the photo because of it.
  • The light areas are too gray, so some further adjustments are needed.

 

Step Three: Make Adjustments

To restore details to the black areas, do the following:

  • In the Gradient Map (Properties) panel, click on the gradient preview to open the Gradient Editor.
  • In the dialog box, click on the bottom left Black Color Stop to activate it. See the preview below.
  • Click directly on a black area of the Color Chip to open the Color Picker.

  • In the Color Picker, click and drag the picker slightly up the left side of the preview window until you notice more details in the blacks of your image. (I’m using Hex #181818.) Click OK to close the Color Picker.

 

 

That’s looking better but some of the details are still missing. In order to keep the contrast and not create a hazy looking photo, here’s the next thing you can do:

  • In the Gradient Editor, click once to create a third color stop between the bottom Black Color Stop and White Color Stop. See the preview below.
  • Set the Location to 50%.
  • Click directly on a black area of the Color Chip to open the Color Picker.
  • In the Color Picker, click and drag the picker up the left side of the preview window until you notice more contrast. (I’m using Hex #a1a1a1.) Click OK to close the Color Picker.
  • In the Gradient Editor, click OK

 

 

 

Step Four: Add Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer

If your image still feels too dark, try brightening it up. To do that:

  • In the Layers panel, click on the Add New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon and choose Brightness/Contrast.
  • In the Brightness/Contrast (Properties) panel, increase the Brightness until your image look brighter. (I used a Brightness of 20.)

 

 

Here’s a side by side of the photo before and after the extra adjustments:

 

 

Step Five: Save the Photo

  • Save the photo (File > Save As) as a high quality JPEG file with a unique name.
  • Close the working copy without saving.

Here’s a page I made using this photo:

Credits:
Page & Photo: Jenifer Juris
Tutorial: Black and White Photo Series – Gradient Map by Jenifer Juris

Kit: Memory Keeper by Paislee Press

Fonts: Josefin Sans, Didonesque

After posting your results online,
return here and include the link in the comments.

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Jenifer JurisAuthor: Jenifer Juris | Contact Us
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