Dramatic Black and White Tutorial

We’ll show you how to add a bit of mystery and intrigue to your photos through our dramatic black and white tutorial.

What You’ll Need

- Adobe Photoshop
- Portrait of an Elder by Theen Moy from flickr

Before Editing

Dramatic Black and White Tutorial

Portrait of an Elder by Theen Moy

Final Result

Dramatic Black and White Tutorial

Dramatic Black and White Tutorial

I’ve been looking at a lot of street photography lately and I really wanted to mimic the effect that the photographers were using. I thought these street photographers just had god-like ability and senses that allowed them to capture these surreal moments wherever they went.

But through some research and experimentation I quickly found out that there are some post production effects added to make them more dramatic and striking. The video will take you through most of the dramatic black and white tutorial, but I will highlight some key points in this article.

It’s All About Contrast

The dramatic effect of these black and white photos comes from the contrast between the different parts of the image. Notice how the black jacket creates a strong contrast against the much whiter wall, this looks appealing and striking at the same time. Our eyes seem to gravitate towards these areas of high contrast, which is natural.

Use this knowledge to your advantage when judging where and how to convert your images to black and white.


As with any design or photo, you want to have a focal point. The mask is the focal point of our photo so you want to create a lot of high contrast areas around the mask. Manipulating the image with burn and dodge allows you to “paint” in the focal point of your image.

Range of Tone

When you convert a photo you have taken to black and white with the standard filters you lack the depth and range of tone available with this technique. This results in low contrast and an overall uninspiring image.

If you take a look at a lot of street photography and black and white photos, you’ll notice they aren’t afraid to go right down to the darkest blacks and don’t shy away from bright whites either. When you learn how to use the two in conjunction with each other you will be able to produce some great results.


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