I have this picture I took, and I've never really done black and white photography before but I thought with the rocks and the clouds in the sky, it might look nice in black and white.

I'm happy with how the sky turned out, and I'm pretty happy with how the rocks turned out. But I can't seem to get the trees on the bottom-right from mashing together (I kind of like the trees on the top left).

Is there something I can do to fix the trees? Or are they just kind of stuck that way because that's how they were photographed?

Here is the photograph and the original in color. Sorry about the quality, these copies have been linked through facebook.

Garden of the Gods in black and white

Garden of the Gods in color

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried using "Black & White" adjustment layer in Photoshop? \$\endgroup\$
    – Iliah Borg
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IliahBorg I was trying it in Lightroom. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ What settings did you use? \$\endgroup\$
    – JenSCDC
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 23:04

2 Answers 2


If your editor allows tweaking individual amount of colors that come to the mix, try changing amount of green and yellow. This will allow you to brighten or darken parts of the trees and bring more separation there. Different editors allow different amount of manipulation. In the worst case, you could make the color image more yellow or green before converting to b&w and use trial & error method to get the best look.

Another techniques would be:

  • Selecting the trees (or greens) and adding Clarity or USM with large radius to those areas
  • Drawing local corrections of brightness or contrast to the green areas by mouse

... and probably many others that would work...

  • \$\begingroup\$ Photoshop has a Black and White adjustment layer which you can adjust by colour. Like Mirek has suggested above. (I don't know if this is in Photoshop Elements) \$\endgroup\$
    – MarkP
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ For those new to post-processing: Adobe Lightroom offers "tweaking individual amount of colors" (in the Develop module). \$\endgroup\$
    – Max
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 5:18

You can use

  • layers of the same image with different brightness/contrast setting and masking to create a composite,
  • adaptive/local contrast enhancement,
  • adaptive image equalization with masking or
  • manual contrast curve manipulation to expose the details in the dark (raise black point a bit and make the ramp more steep so that even almost black pixels get a value quickly).

Any action you do, be prepared to have noise in those black areas after enhancement, so you will have to do some touch-up work. ("Some" might be an understatement...).

As always, use your RAW original, and use the highest available bit-representation for this kind of work, otherwise you will get color banding rather quickly.

Nice capture by the way! :-)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer - Your answer is essentially what I do in these situations. \$\endgroup\$
    – B Shaw
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 10:28

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