One Way to Convert Color Images to Black & White in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2

Whether you’re just starting to convert color to black and white or you’ve just never been satisfied with how your previous attempts have turned out, this short tutorial by Hong Kong street photographer Gary Tyson will come in very handy.

The tutorial will show you how to take a RAW file, prep it in Lightroom, convert it to black and white in Silver Efex Pro 2, and then finish it up back in Lightroom. And although it’s meant specifically for images shot with the Fuji X-T1, it’ll give anybody who wants that grainy, filmic black and white look — which is particularly well suited for street photography — a great place to start.

The great thing about this technique is that, after the first time, you have your presets set up and each subsequent conversion takes no longer than about 30 seconds or maybe a minute if you need to play with the settings a bit to suit each individual image. Here’s a screenshot that shows how the conversions turn out:

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 12.26.43 PM

If this kind of look isn’t what you’re going for in your black and white photography, or you have (or know of) a workflow that you feel yields better results, be sure to drop us a link the comments.

To see more of Tyson’s work, or if you’re interested in learning more from him, head over to his Facebook page or check out the F8 Photography website.

(via Eric Kim Street Photography)

  • Jack McKechnie

    Personally I would rather use Alien Skin Exposure 4 !

  • Adam Cross

    so… do people not pay attention to shadow and highlight clipping anymore? :S also… someone please tell him how to say “monochrome”

  • Felipe

    Not everyone has to follow your preconceived notions.. Sometimes photography rules are meant to be broken, otherwise we’d never get anything new.

  • Adam Cross

    I’m assuming you don’t print photos? it’s not about breaking rules, if you have clipped shadows and highlights there’s literally no information there for the printer.

  • Omar Salgado

    In colour, it is a must not to burn highlights. In black and white, there’s room in either extreme.

    It is a case of aesthetics, but I may agree with you if what you want is to give volume to the shapes. What one must watch in B&W is the subtle gradation of values.

    I rather prefer channel mixing than using presets; working in Lab is another option.

  • Davor Pavlic

    Depends… I use silver efex also. I don’t realy care if black is too black, especially if there is so little information there anyway from the begining. Ofcourse, it shouldn’t just always be a solid black color, but sometimes I really don’t mind as I don’t see the point of it.

  • Kater

    This guy knows nothing about post production. Preset here, preset there. Klick. S**t out. Good enough.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    I think people are simply not educated in the subject and just goes for what looks “good” on their (non-calibrated) monitors.

  • barefeetphotog

    Why not just do all processing in Lightroom?

  • scatterbrained.

    So to sum up the tutorial: click on preset A, then select preset B, then add preset C. Done. got it.

  • Dave Luttmann

    It appears you are food at missing the point. There seems to be an obsession with making sure there is detail in every shadow and every highlight. If you look at the masters of street photography over the last century, you’ll find they dont seem to agree with your position….and they printed without issue. The point is, you need to broaden your horizons instead of coming back with sarcasm to support a one sided opinion of what you think to be the only way to do something.

  • Adam Cross

    they printed without the issue I’m talking about because printing with film is not the same as printing from digital files.

  • Adam Cross

    apparently Silver Efex renders fake noise for film emulation better than Lightroom – personally I don’t see a huge difference, but people who generally work with black and white 24/7 seem to prefer Silver Efex

  • Dave Luttmann

    Actually…it is. Looks like you have more to learn than you thought. I print from both without issue…inluding blocked shadows if that is what I desire. But thanks for proving my point….it appears you just want to be right.

  • slyman

    the way he says monochrome sounds right to me. sounds like he says mahnochrome… monochrome

  • Harry

    Shut the f*ck up, fool.