You’ve probably heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” In Photoshop, that saying translates to, “The quickest method ain’t always the best!” In other words, some techniques just take a little extra time, and converting a color image to black and white is one of ’em—but it’s well worth the effort.
To drive that point home, open a colorful image—you can download Dragon.jpg from this book’s Missing CD page at www.missingmanuals.com/cds if you want to follow along—and then choose Image→Adjustments→Desaturate. (Desaturating means draining all color from an image.) Photoshop converts your image to black and white all right, but the results are less than inspiring (see Figure 9-1, top). You can also glance through your channels (Chapter 6), pick the one with the highest contrast, and then choose Image→Mode→Grayscale. Photoshop keeps the currently active channel, tosses the rest, and you’re left with a black-and-white image…that nobody is going to write home about. As you’re about to find out, Photoshop has several ways to produce beautiful black-and-white conversions, not including the two methods mentioned above.
Figure 9-1. Top: Sure, the Desaturate command lets you convert photos to black and white in one step, but as you can see, this method produces a very lame dragon. Bottom: A Black & White Adjustment layer lets you introduce all kinds of contrast, making it a ...