How to change photos from colour to black and white in iPhoto for iOS

Leah Yamshon
18 June, 2012
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While iPhoto for iOS has a lot of editing features for colour photo enhancement, there’s charm to spare in a simple black and white photo. This classic effect in iPhoto for iOS can add a touch of timelessness to your photos or you can use it to show off dramatic shadows and colour contrasts.

iPhoto for iOS has several options for turning photos black and white – some are obvious, while others are a little less so.

Easiest way: use the Effects tool

The most straightforward way to get the black and white effect is to use iPhoto’s Effects tool. The Effects icon offers a series of tools that can make great enhancements to your photos. Tap the icon (the last in a series of editing icons) and then select Black & White from the available reels.

From there, you’ll see three circular bubbles that indicate different black and white effects: a cream coloured sepia button, a grain button and a vignette button.

A soft vignette has been added.

Let’s start with sepia, pictured above. Hit the cream-coloured button to bathe your photo in a sepia tint. If you look at the mini photo-reel at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see six smaller versions of your photo and a blue vertical line. Drag the vertical line from left to right with your finger and the black, white and sepia contrast will change.

The middle bubble is for adjusting black and white contrast and grain. Again, move the blue vertical bar from left to right to see the changes. Use this tool to sharpen the photo, emphasize shadows and increase contrast.

The vignette bubble places a vignette around the image, with heavier shadows in each corner of the photo to draw focus to the subject in the centre. Just like the other bubbles, you can slide the blue vertical bar to see the border corners adjust.

Desaturation methods

Patches of green still remain in this mostly black and white photo. This was achieved through the Desaturate brush.

You can add a black and white effect to your photos with a couple of other iPhoto features, too. The first is with the Desaturate brush, which you can find by tapping the Brushes icon (the trio of paintbrushes). The Destaturate brush is the greyscale brush of the group and is clearly labelled. Use it to drain colour from the entire image or just from parts of the image in order to apply a black and white effect. Tap the Gear icon and drag the desaturate level to the far right to make your photo truly black and white. You can also paint on a black and white effect with this brush using your finger in order to leave some parts of the image in colour and change other parts to black and white. This effect is great for showing off vibrant colours in one part of your photo.

Now, exit out of Brushes and tap the colour pallet icon right next to it. Check out the rainbow box. This adjusts the overall colour of the whole photo. Slide the silver knob all the way to the left and watch the colour fade from your photo and make it a soft black and white.

Change the photo to black and white, and then edit the photo's exposure.

The Exposure tool (camera aperture icon) can change the look of your black and white image once its been transformed with one of the other tools. Changing the exposure will change the shadow emphasis, definition and quality of the black and white contrast to give your image some extra pop. Use this tool last to polish the photo to your liking.

Whatever adjustment technique you decide on, experiment with each tool first to find the one best suited to make your photo shine. Each will have its own strengths and weaknesses depending on the original photo.


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