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Black and White Part 3: Editing Using the B&W Mixer in Camera Raw

This is Part 3 of my four part black and white series. This post will cover what most higher end post editing software packages include.

There are many colors than can look quite similar when you show a photo in black and white. The tip today is designed so you can show off the colors and get a better understanding of how brightening or darkening specific colors in your photos can make a huge difference.

Note: I will be showing Camera Raw, which you can navigate to through Adobe Bridge. Camera Raw will work with .JPG and any RAW files. It is packaged with Adobe Creative Cloud Suites which include, Photoshop and Illustrator. I do basically 95% of all my editing in Camera Raw.

I edited this photo of some colorful Lorikeets in the basic editor in Camera Raw.

Here is the same photo this time in black and white. You will also nice I’ve included the editing right sidebars so you can get an idea what the basic editing sliders look like.

First, I selected a black and white template from the “Presets” mode. wrote about this in last week’s Part 2 post.

Then I switched to the Basic editing mode in Camera Raw You can see the sliders I have changed to make the photo more appealing in black and white.

Here is a close up of the menu bar in Camera Raw. You will notice on that there is a far right sidebar and the first icon is selected. Hover over that icon and it will say “Edit”. Then click and you will get the editing tools you see just to the left of the menu bar.

To close the Basic sliders, click on the arrow next to the word “Basic”.

Now, to open the “B&W Mixer” click on the arrow.

You will have sliders listing eight different colors.

You can click on the auto button and you will see the sliders move. That is what your camera thinks works best for the photo. I rarely hit the auto button, I will play with the sliders myself.

You can slide the colors and see what happens with your black and white photos. You can get some dramatic changes depending how much a color is in your photo.

NOTE: A lot of different softwares have options like this. You may want to google your specific software and find the your software deals with changing the Mixers or Coloring in black and white.

Now I’m going to be showing a series of photos, showing how dramatically your photos can change, as you use your sliders. I’m going to use the orange, green, blue and yellow sliders. I over exaggerated the color options just so you can see the difference.

Here is what the photo looks like in color again.

You wouldn’t want to use these photos a they are, but you will get an idea of how dramatically the color can change.

The below photo is how I would edit the B&W Mixer. I hope you like it. This is also where your own eye can come into play. Be as artistic as you want to be. Have fun discovering what your software is capable of doing. There are no right or wrong ways of balancing the color. It is what appeals to you.

Why take photos in color?

Here is a photo I saved as a .jpg and in black and white. In Camera Raw, you will notice that the B&W Mixer is now called “Color Mixer”. That is because it doesn’t see the photo as a black and white, it just sees it as a .jpg and is full of color. That is what you are doing when you change your camera to take .jpg photos in black and white. Since there are no colors, you can adjust all the sliders you want and it still remain black and white since there is only gray scaled colors in your photo.

This first photo shows the sliders with no change all colors are in the neutral zone.

This next photo shows that I changed the color sliders all over the place. And the photo remained the same.

In next week’s final lesson, I will show you how Camera Raw deals with selective color. Until then, happy shooting.

Other Black and White Posts

Black and White Part 1: Easy Techniques To Try

Black and White Part 2: Post Editing Basics

I’ve gathered a list of challenges and their hosts.  So if you know a challenge host, please direct them to my blog.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I hope everyone will be able to use my lists.

Qi (energy) hugs


6 replies »

  1. Sue will not be surprised to hear me say that this is well above my pay-grade. It does look interesting, but I don’t have a technical bone in my body, so this just makes me in awe of those of you who do!


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