How to create dramatic black and white landscpaes

In order to sync up with the tutorials on my blog I'm reposting this here, since it's a useful tool to know, when you have that one bland image that just doesn't work in color. 

I want you to try this with a landscape image of yours, and edit it into black and white. You can post your results on your blog and give us the link in the comments below. Would love to see what you make of this!

This is so easy, but yet very effective. I'll cover RAW and JPEG editing, so anyone can do it. I will be using Adobe Photoshop CS6 again, but the filters applied can be found in almost any image-editing software.

This is what we'll be creating
(You can click on all of the following screenshots to make them bigger)

As you can see, this dramatic looking black and white photo actually enhanced certain features in the color image. It was taken during my journey back from the mountains (click here to view this series of images).

First two Steps are for RAW Editing in Photoshop's Camera Raw. If you are using a JPEG image then skip to Step 3.

Step 1: Open your RAW File in Camera Raw

Step 2: Edit your RAW file
In the screenshot below you can see my settings for the black and white transfer. Of course you'll need to bring the Saturation slider on the bottom completely down. I also played with the highlights and shadows, overall exposure and contrast. There is no precise way, you just have to move the sliders and see what fits your image. Tip: If you don't like it click cancel, and open the RAW file again, and start over.

Once you are done, click "Open Image" and move on to Step 6!

Step 3: Editing a JPEG image
Open up your image in Photoshop. File > Open.

Step 4: Apply Black and White Filter: Image > Adjustments > Black & White

Step 5: Adjust the settings
As far es the settings for a dramatic effect go, you'll always want to have the Cyans and Blues darker. So slide those somewhat to the black end of the spectrum. But as with the RAW method, you'll have to play around with the sliders to see what fits your image. Once you're done click OK and move on to Step 6.

Step 6: Enhance the Drama!
Landscapes that are shot in a wide angle tend to have planes in the background that are less visible. Now when you make them visible you can actually create some drama in the image, because the contrast will be bigger. Click on the Elliptical Marquee Tool  (or just press the letter M on your keyboard), and make sure the Feather is set to a higher number like 200 (you can adjust this in the top of the screen).

Step 7: Darken the background
With the part of your image selected, click on Image > Adjustments > Curves. In the settings darken the overall area by moving the central point down, then the bottom point even lower and the high point higher. Again, play around, until the background becomes visable and contrasted. Click OK once you're done.

Step 8:  Save your image by clicking File > Save As.

You are done! This is the final image that I have created:

I hope you liked this second tutorial. You can find all of my tutorials so far by clicking here. 


  1. Awesome Mersad. So many don't know that all black and white conversions are not the same! You need to play around with each image to see the best option!

  2. Yes, as you said, it's not just a matter of applying the black and white filter or toning the saturation down.

  3. Enjoyed the tutorial. This week will play around a bit. Thanks


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