Black and white is the essence of photography. Someone famous may have said that, but actually I think we just made that up. Black-and-white photography is loved by nearly everyone because it can be so stark and powerful, but most people who use their phones to take photos just naturally stick with the default — color.
But not Pixlr users. They like to edit. While our users often add lots of effects and overlays, we still see a lot of people who tag their photos #pixlr and share some absolutely gorgeous black-and-white images. Some of them use vintage effects to achieve their looks, but some simply knock out all the color. This week, we want you to knock the color out and share a compelling #pixlrbw photo with us. We ran a challenge like this last Spring, and we still remember all the great photos people shared. We’re ready to do it again. We’ve got a few tips and ideas for you that are based on last year’s #pixlrbw challenge standouts….
Grunge-y, tortured, and vintage are nearly always a good idea
Sometimes the look of an old, battered, found-on-the-ground photo is just the right style. @hendrikruiter shared this in our last challenge, and we love the way this photo looks like it came from the result of grainy, high-speed, black-and-white film. You can get this look using by using some of the more gritty borders in Default, Grunge, and Ink border packs. Or, check the Effects > Vintage options.
Autocontrast — or multiple Autocontrast — can add HDR-like qualities
The well-composed photo on the left by @fryhwerk has a great balance of tones, but what really makes it stand out are the fractal-ly details in the broccoflower. You can achieve this kind of effect by using the Sharpen or Autocontrast options to add a faux High Dynamic Range look. You can go too far with these tools, but sometimes these really help a black-and-white photo display an even starker look. The photo of these roses on the right by @milzography_bw goes up to the edge of over-sharpening and stops at just the right time. It’s a really fabulous look.
Black-and-white as a non-obvious solution
Who would have thought to turn a double exposure image into a black-and-white photo? Not many people, but the train on the left by @mini_frappe looks wonderful. And the multiple-multiple exposure by one of our favorite Pixlr users, @jaevbr, is as spooky and powerful as an x-ray. This kind of creativity goes beyond what we expect — and we love to see it.
How to knock out the color in Pixlr
Getting rid of color can be as simple as heading to Adjustments and dragging the Saturation slider to zero. In the past, the many options for basic editing like Exposure, Saturation, Vibrance, etc., were spread around in different menus. The recent Pixlr 3.0 update consolidated all that into one big Adjustments menu. Now, you can adjust 10 different options at once (while seeing your edits live) and then hit the apply button. The easiest way to turn your photo black and white is to just turn the Saturation all the way down. Color begone. But also consider adjusting the contrast to balance your tones; or Temperature if you want a sepia-tinged look; or Shadows/Highlights if one of those need a bump.
Tag your photo #pixlrbw on Instagram, and we’ll feature the best all week, with a whole lot of feel-good actions from both us and the Pixlr community: crazy emojis, thumbs ups, congratulations, and thousands of Likes.