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Changing a Photo to Black and White in Photoshop Elements

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Changing a Photo to Black and White in Photoshop Elements

There are many reasons you might want to change your photo to black and white for a digital scrapbooking layout. Perhaps you have the perfect page kit for your event, but the colors in the photo don’t match. Perhaps you want to have an old-fashioned look to your photo. In my example, I wanted the added drama a B&W photo can provide.

Note: I am using PSE11 on a Mac, so my menus may look different from other versions.

Step 1 – Duplicate Your Photo Layer

It is a good practice to always duplicate your photo before you work with it. Then, if you need to start over, it is right there, ready to go. Duplicate your layer by right-clicking on the photo layer and choosing Duplicate Layer from the menu. Hide your original photo and work with your duplicated photo.

screen shot of PSE duplicate function


Now I am going to show you two ways that you can convert your photograph to black and white.

Step 2A – Convert to Black and White

Photoshop Elements makes it easy for you to convert your photo. In the menu line, choose Enhance>Convert to Black and White.

Screenshot showing Convert command in PSE

You have lots of choices for your style–play with them and see which one you like best. For this photo, I liked Vivid Landscapes best for the strong sea and clouds. After choosing your style, you can adjust the intensity and change the contrast. I wanted a lot of contrast to show off the waves. Click OK, and you now have converted your photo to black and white.

Screen shot showing Conversion menu in PSE

Step 2B – Quick Edit

Newer versions of Photoshop Elements have a Quick Edit function that can be used to enhance your photographs. By using this function, you will have more options for your black and white photo. Photoshop Elements combines advanced steps for you, making it easy to make changes. Start with just your photo layer. Click on the Quick tab at the top of your PSE screen. The Quick menu shows up on the right hand side. Choose Color. This will give you a pop-out menu of color options. You can simply click on one of the auto functions or adjust saturation, hue and vibrance manually.

Screen shot of Quick Edit mode in PSE

 At this point, with either of these steps, you could have what you want and be ready to complete your layout. I want a little more drama. For a more advanced tutorial and more enhancement ideas, go to the Using Adjustment Layers to Enhance your Photo tutorial.

If you have questions about this tutorial or would like to request a tutorial, please visit and post to the Tutorial Help & Request Forum!

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