How to Use Photoshop to Edit Black and White Images – Zen in Stone | Photoshop Tutorial

How to Use Photoshop to Edit Black and White Images

Have you ever tried to stack stones like this? Have you ever tried to do it while its windy? It’s super fun (It actually is!). I took this image in the south of Ireland somewhere on a seemingly random beach – most stones on that beach had just the perfect shape. So, here is how I processed this image in Photoshop. Remember, if you like the video, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for moaaar weekly Photoshop and photography stuff and things!

This was the final version coming out of Photoshop:

Zen in Stone

And here is the original straight out of Photomatix (an HDR software):

how to use photoshop zen in stone beginner tutorial

Part one – Desaturating

Before I can start on how to use photoshop for bw images, we have to start with getting rid of colors. Therefore, I started out by desaturating the image (0:50 min). There are several ways how to desaturate an image, some easy some more complicated, some with greater control than others. Here I just selected the layer and hit CMD shift u, which just takes all the saturation out.

Part two – Darkening the darks

Then I used level adjustments to change the amount of blacks and whites (1:10 min). This step depends on your image, so just play around with it! In my case, I didn’t want to have the effect visible in the foreground. So, after creating the effect, I pressed W on my keyboard (quick selection tool) and selected the stones and the beach. Then, using alt backspace, I filled in the effect where I wanted it. That may sound confusing, but it’ll be clearer once you had a look at the video.

Part three – Increase the contrast

After the darks, I took care of the contrast (4:05 min). This was quickly done by creating a brightness/saturation adjustment layer and increasing the contrast as high as possible.

Part four – Blurring parts of the image

Sometimes, not all the image has to be sharp. To blur some parts of the image, I first created a stamp visible (CMD alt shift e). This creates a new layer where all that is visible is copied onto. Then I went to Filter-Blur-Gaussian Blur and chose an amount which seemed appropriate. Once I was happy, I used a layer mask (little Japanese flag symbol at the bottom right) in conjunction with the brush to place the effect where I wanted it.

Part five – Making the clouds move

The clouds were a little static, so I wanted to create the impression of them moving just a bit (9:20 min). So, first I created another stamp visible (CMD alt shift e) and then I went to filter-blur-radial blur. There I selected zoom as the method and pressed enter. I used a layer mask to brush the effect into the clouds.

Part six – Sharpening parts of the image

I used a high-pass sharpening (11:20 min). How that works? Create a stamp visible (CMD alt shift e) and change the blending mode to soft light. Then go to filter-other-highpass and select something below 5px. Hit enter. Every time you duplicate the layer, the image will become sharper. In this case, I copied the layer 5 times and grouped them together by selecting them all and pressing CMD g. Then I put a layer mask on that group and masked in the effect. Sharp!!

Part seven – Cleaning the edges

This was an HDR image created by Photomatix. Sometimes, images have to be aligned, which can create a white edge where the image didn’t match completely. If this edge is small, you can get rid of it with the spot healing brush tool (14:45 min, J on the keyboard).

Remember, using keyboard shortcuts will make you faster in your daily processing! This is what I used in this video.

CMD alt shift e to create a stamp visible
J to get the spot healing brush tool
C to crop
CMD shift U to desaturate
B to get the brush
W to get the quick selection tool

If you like my images, make sure to check out my complete portfolio! All the good stuff is there 😉

Don’t forget to get out there and take some pictures yourself! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to use photoshop.

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