lightroom tip – controlled black & white conversion


A couple of weeks ago, we drove down to Kipuka Puaulu, also known as the Bird Park, just past Volcano. It was a beautiful day and very peaceful. It’s only a short walk – we took our time and stretched it out to about an hour – but very pleasant indeed. You could certainly hear the birds in the kipuka but it was quite difficult to see them. 

As I started taking pictures I realised that I would be doing black & white conversions. The trees are so silvery and grey and really stood out in the early afternoon sun against the beautiful blue sky. And just that fact was the thing that I knew would help in the B&W conversion when I got the images in Lightroom.

B&W conversion in LR2 really offers you a lot of control. Below the Tone Curve panel is a panel which gives you control over colours – their hues, luminance and saturation. In that same panel, is the greyscale control. 

bw-conversionJust click on the word “Grayscale” and LR2 will do a conversion to B&W. However, LR2 still knows where the colours were in the image, and because of this you can be creative with your B&W conversions. Each of the sliders allows you to (effectively) control the brightness or luminance of the corresponding colour. So, for example, you can choose to make any vegetation in your image brighter or darker by sliding the green and yellow sliders up and down.

In the examples here, I wanted to make the background sky dark against the silvery grey of the tree bark. So I just pulled the blue slider down until I got the effect I was looking for – which was a kind of Ansel Adams look (see this image of Mt McKinley as an example).

The control that these sliders give to your B&W conversions allows you to be more creative with your images than you’d imagine. There have been many images that I’ve “saved” by converting to B&W because I’ve thought that the colour original was lacking something.


Finally, in the example below I used the greyscale controls to increase the brightness of the sky, by cranking the Blue slider up, to give the contrast against the interesting, fractal patterns of the branches, which I think work well in B&W.



5 thoughts on “lightroom tip – controlled black & white conversion”

  1. Nothing much to do with the B&W conversion tips, but if you continue up the road past Kipuka Puaulu you’ll eventually drive through an outstanding koa forest. I don’t have any pictures of it online, but it’s fantastic for photography. Just koa, deep green grass, and the road.


  2. You’re right. We did actually do that – drove along the road for about a mile or two. It is quite wonderful. Do you know if there are any trails or hikes around there?


    1. As far as I know there’s only a trailhead at the very end of the road, about 13 miles past Bird Park, that leads to the summit of Mauna Loa.


    2. Yes I know it. I was wondering if there were any smaller trails around and within the forest. Kipuka Ki is just up that road, and we thought there might be something around there. We didn’t stop to look around as we had to get back to Hilo.


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