High-Contrast B&W in Photoshop Elements

Hw to create a groovy "Old School" darkroom special effect without smelling like fixer.

I loved high-contrast printing using Agfa #6 high-contrast paper. This legendary paper’s characteristics were that it produced practically no midtones. It reduced images to blacks and whites and little else.

Bookmark and Share
In the 1990s Agfa discontinued #6 paper, and it wasn’t until the advent of digital photography that high-contrast printing was possible again.

Here’s how to get that Agfa #6 look, digitally:

Original color shot of a possibly familiar subject. I shot Lady Liberty from her Jersey side--Liberty State Park--using an Olympus SP-570 UZ camera.

First, take out the color. Go to Enhance > Remove Color to turn into Black-and-white if your original isn’t already monochrome.

Now go to Adjust Lighting > Brightness/Contrast. Move the Contrast slider to around 70-90%. There should be just a touch of gray but you should see mostly blacks and whites. I chose 85% for this shot so you could get a hint of sky. (In the darkroom, varying the dilution of the paper developer could fine-tune contrast in a similar manner, but it was a lot messier and took a long time!)

Too far? Just right? It's your choice! #6 paper could give you results close to this at 100% contrast, but more advanced photographers used lithographic paper to get this pure black and white effect.


Share this: 
Related Articles: 

Discussion Box

Subscribe to our email updates

Subscribe to Comments for "High-Contrast B&W in Photoshop Elements"
Adorama.com is top rated for customer serviceHACKER SAFE certified sites prevent over 99.9% of hacker crime.Bizrate Circle of Excellence - See Adorama Reviews at Bizrate.com