How to Create HDR Images in Photoshop
How to Create HDR Images in Photomatix Pro
Translating Your Digital Image Camera Raw Files to Use on Your Computer

Convert Tone Mapped HDR to Black and White

There are a number of methods to convert a color, tone mapped high dynamic range (HDR) image to black and white after the HDR process. Use your favorite image editor (such as Photoshop Elements or Photoshop).

Converting an image to grayscale is a very simple procedure. That’s the upside. The downside is that you have no control over the process. Contrary to what you may think, there is no appreciable difference between the total number of shades of gray in a grayscale image and one converted to black and white using other methods, as long as you’re comparing images at 8 bits per channel.

If you convert a 16-bit image to grayscale, the total number of shades rises to 32,768. (As an aside, grayscale is the technically correct term for black and white photography. The photos and images are made up of shades of gray. A true black-and-white image has only two colors — black and white.)

In Photoshop Elements, choose Image→Mode→Grayscale. When prompted to throw the image’s color information away, click OK.


Another simple technique to get a fast black-and-white image is by desaturation. You can accomplish this in Elements by choosing Enhance→Adjust Color→Adjust Hue/Saturation and then reducing Saturation to 0 in the dialog box, as shown in this figure.


Photoshop Elements has three editing modes: Full, Quick, and Guided:

  • Full: Give you the most control. This is the method used in these figures.

  • Quick: Includes a saturation control you can use to desaturate the image.

  • Guided Edit: Has two options you might want to try: Enhance Colors (leads to desaturation) and Old Fashioned Photo (guides you through converting a photo to black and white, and then colorizing it).

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