In my last post on photography-based publishing projects, I promised a quick tutorial on converting color digital photos into black and white. It’s really simple- you could even teach your students to do it.
There are many options out there for photo editing, from pricey software packages to free online websites. I find that I usually turn to Picmonkey– a website offering many free editing options. (And the black and white conversion is part of the free service.)
Here’s how to turn a color photo into beautiful black and white.
1) Go to www.picmonkey.com and select “Upload a photo.” It will open a menu and you will select the photo file you want to upload from your computer’s hard drive.
2) Your photo will show up on the “work desk.” To the left you will see the editing menu. Each icon opens up a separate set of editing functions. To convert to black and white, click on the icon that looks like a scientific beaker. That will open up the “Effects” menu.
3) Scroll down within the effects menu and select “Black and White.” Voila! You will have a black and white image. If you want to play with the shades/tones within the image, click around in the color box and see which “filter” looks best. Select “Apply” to save what you’ve done so far.
4) Is your picture too dark? Too light? If you want to adjust it further, click on the icon to the left that looks like an atom. That will take you to the “Basic Edits” menu.
5) Select “Exposure” and you will see sliding adjustment bars for “Brightness,” “Highlights,” “Shadows,” and “Contrast.” Play around by sliding the dots across each bar until you are satisfied. (FYI- If you “mess up” and the photo gets too muddy, click “cancel” and then start the process again.)
6) Once you are satisfied with your photo, click “Save” in the menu bar on top of your photo.
7) A side bar will appear that will give you the opportunity to rename your photo and also change the size if you desire. The images in my blog have a maximum width of 600 megapixels. If you are using your images in a digital format, that usually does the trick. However, if you plan to enlarge/ print them, you will want to leave them at a larger size. When in doubt, leave the size as is.
8) Next, a box will pop open asking you to confirm that the image is being saved to the proper spot. Once you are certain you are saving to the correct folder or drive, click “Save.” And it’s done!
It takes some time to edit your photos in this manner, but the results are worth it. Also remember that this is the kind of thing a parent volunteer could do from home if you provide the images on an external “stick” drive. They could save them to the “stick drive” and send you back a batch of freshly edited images.
BONUS “Special Effects” Edit:
Want to have some fun with photo editing? There are so many cool things to try in Picmonkey! I encourage you to explore all the different editing actions and see what you get.
Here is one easy way to punch up your black and white photos with a burst of color:
1) When you are in the “Black and White” edit from Step #3 above, you can click on the little paintbrush icon. A small window will open that says “Paint.” Select the box that says “Original” and use your mouse to “paint” areas of your photo. What is really does is uncover the original colors in your image. Very cool!
Note: If you want to create this effect, make sure you do it before you leave the “Black and White” Effects editing page.
Have fun trying Picmonkey and let me know if you do any cool projects with your students!