Why I Don’t Use Black and White Presets

Below are three images.  The first is the original,the second is the same picture but with a black and white preset on it.  The third is the same picture in black and white, but not using a preset.  I want to share with you guys why I don’t choose to use the preset.



I know presets are nice because they are fast, right?  All you have to do is click once and your editing is done!  But I say, “No thanks”.  I did a post here about why I don’t use presets to edit my images.  As I said in that post, “every image is different.”  Your lighting is totally different in one image, so the preset doesn’t really look good…..go ahead and read it before you continue ;). 

Now with black and white……the reason I don’t use presets is because it doesn’t give it the vibrant look I’m going for.  The image looks flat and dark.  Now in some, I will drop my shadows a bit to bring a dark feel out, but I want to keep everything else at a certain level so that the image still pops.

Let’s look at a portrait.

Again, first image is with presets and second is edited manually. Do you notice how he pops in the second picture? Everything is brighter and more vibrant.  I don’t know another way to describe the first picture other than saying it’s flat…if that makes any sense to you.

So how do you do it?  That’s easy! I am going to take you through a step by step process on how I like to do it.  Now this is done to my personal liking.  Maybe you like it brighter or darker.  For this, I am using an app called SnapSeed.  I like SnapSeed because everything is right there.  In PicMonkey, it seems as though you have to bounce back and forth to get to your brightness and warmth, but SnapSeed has it all in one spot.

So here is our picture that we are going to edit in black and white.


So the first thing I do is take my exposure and drop it all the way down to -100.

The next thing I do is take my warmth and pull it all the way up to +100.  You can’t really see a difference in this image, but in others, before you do this step, the image looks very blue and cold.  Moving on.

As you can see, I pulled my brightness up.  I don’t always do it to +60.  Again, you bring it up as high as you like it.  Sometimes I have to do it even higher and sometimes lower.

Contrast.  This brings out a lot in a photograph! It’s one of those things that help your image not to look so flat.

Ambiance- I just raise this a little bit.

Editing the highlights in this image didn’t really do anything to it.  If there were clouds or a more profound background, it would have effected it differently.  You just be careful when working with highlights though.

And then the shadows.  Things get fun here!  You can tell it added a darkness to the image and also brought some things out!  Again, editing shadows is one of the keys to not having a “flat” picture.

Now once I finished editing the shadows, I realized that my contrast was a little too high, so I went back and fixed that.

And you’re finished!  Now let’s compare the one that I just edited compared to just adding a quick preset on the original image.  The first is without preset and the second one is with the preset.

I hope you enjoyed this post on why I don’t like using black and white presets. If you have any questions don’t be shy! I’d love to help you out!

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