Transform your color photos into black and white images with presets, and fine-tune the look further with easy-to-use adjustment sliders in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic.

Dramatic black and white photograph of lifeguard tower on the beach shows sky appearing stormy.

What you'll need

These sample files are Adobe Stock assets you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample files beyond this tutorial, you can purchase licenses on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.

Choose a photo to convert to black and white

Select a color photo in the Library module grid. Click Develop in the Module Picker at the top of the screen, or press the D key, to open the selected photo in the Develop module.

Note: If you’re using the sample file provided with this tutorial, first import the sample file into your Lightroom Classic catalog.

Vibrant colorful photograph of lifeguard tower on the beach with bright blue water and clear, sunny sky with wispy clouds.

Apply a black and white preset

We’ll use a preset for the initial conversion to black and white, and then we’ll explore how to customize the black and white treatment. Open the Presets panel by clicking its title bar on the left side of the Develop module. Click the B&W section in the Presets panel to display a list of black and white presets.

Mouse over different presets in the B&W section to preview how each would look on your photo. Click one of the presets in this section to apply it to the photo. For this example, we chose B&W High Contrast. If you change your mind, you can apply another preset on top of this one, or press the Reset button to return to the original photo and then apply a different preset.

A black and white preset is applied to the lifeguard tower photograph.

Open the Basic panel

With a preset black and white effect applied, now it’s time to see how the effect can be customized for a particular image. Open the Basic adjustment panel on the right side of the Develop module. You can see that the preset we used applied a black and white profile and adjusted the Whites and Blacks sliders to boost the contrast.

Contrast is adjusted in the Basic adjustment panel to customize the black and white image.

Customize with manual adjustments

This image still seems a bit bright. Drag the Exposure slider in the Basic panel to about -0.60 to slightly darken the photo. Drag the Clarity slider to about +25 to give the photo more punch by boosting contrast in the midtones.

Exposure is reduced to darken the overall image, and Clarity is increased to show more detail in the midtones.

Adjust the black & white mix

Open the Black & White panel to reveal the sliders that control how the colors in the original photo are translated to black and white.

Note: In Lightroom Classic, the Black & White panel will be visible only if a photo has been converted to black and white.

This panel allows you to determine the level of grayscale brightness for different colors in the original image. Drag the Blue slider to about -20 to darken blues in the sky and the sea. Try dragging the Red slider, which will darken or lighten the dark stripes on the lifeguard tower.

The blues are darked in the Black & White panel, creating a stormy effect in the sky.

Experiment with other black and white presets and manual adjustments to get exactly the black and white look you want.

Learn more about Adobe's photo editing software.

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