Watch Me Edit: How to Convert an Image to Black and White

Watch Me Edit: How to Convert an Image to Black and White

I’m going to start a new blog post series called watch me edit! And it is what it sounds, I’m going to be posting videos of me editing images. I don’t know about you, but I learned a lot by watching someone else edit. That’s how I learned 90% of my editing process.

If you’re curious about reasons why you would want to convert an image to black and white, read my blog post about it! I give you 5 Reasons to Convert an Image to Black and White and they’re gooooooodddddd reasons, just sayin’! Let’s dive in! But first….

If you haven’t already learned about manual mode, it’s essential! Especially when photographing in tricky light! I have a new class –  LEARN MANUAL: how to take control of your camera (by clicking on this link and signing up, you’ll get updates on anything new to this course). It’s not complete yet, but by signing up for updates you’ll be the first to know when it is ready! Plus some early bird pricing (yes, please!).

check out my A Beginner’s Guide to Shooting in Black and White post

Watch Me Edit: How to Convert an Image to Black and White in Lightroom

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

what editing program I use and why

I love love love to use Lightroom to edit my images. On occasion, I do pull my images into Photoshop to either clone or add a little more pop. But, the majority of the time I use Lightroom for everything. I love it so much! I love how easy it is to use and I love the edits I’m able to produce in seconds.

a good SOOC (straight out of camera) is important

Before we get started, I wanted to dive into just how important it is to have a good SOOC. Light and exposure IN camera are so so important. Don’t take pictures thinking, ‘Oh, I can fix this in post!’. You should be taking pictures to make post processing easy. Even if you love editing, you don’t want to make it hard on yourself by taking a really crappy SOOC! This is true for any post processing, and not just black and white edits!

I’m a constant under exposure, and for that reason, my style is a little darker. If you have a brighter style, where your whites are really white, make sure you are not blowing any highlights. Highlights are not as easily fixed. If anything, make sure you have proper exposure SOOC and then brighten your photo in post to get the style you love. Be smart with how you expose your images!

Now that I’ve blabbed about the importance of SOOC, on to the video!

In case I went to fast in the video, here are the settings I tweaked to make this a nice deep black and white.


  • Exposure: -0.36
  • Contrast: +29
  • Highlights: -17
  • Shadows: -35
  • Whites: +9
  • Blacks: -38
  • Clarity: +15
  • Dehaze: +7

If you have any questions about how I convert my images to black and white, do not hesitate to ask! I am happy to help!


Watch Me Edit: How to Convert an Image to Black and White in Lightroom

After B&W Conversion_ALY8190

As always, thank you so much for swinging by!


A Boy and His Naptime

A Boy and His Naptime

I’m going to be 100% transparent with you for just a second. I’m a horrible mother. No really, I am. And here’s why: I don’t do anything by the ‘books’. But you know what? My son seems to be happy to me, so I’m happy! He’s almost 8 months (oh my, where did the time go?!) and I still haven’t started him on solids and I also am terrible at putting him down for naps.

But you know what? I have cherished every single snuggle I’ve gotten over the past 8 months. And he definitely gives me snuggles. I’m one of those moms who doesn’t like the idea of ‘cry it out’. If you use that method and it works for you, then good for you! But it just hasn’t worked for me and my son. For most of my sons life, he’s been held when he sleeps. And it’s totally my fault. My favorite thing is to hold a sleeping baby. And it’s of course my favorite thing as a mom. I love holding him when he’s asleep. I don’t regret holding him. Not one bit. But I am starting to find a method that works for me.

This past month I have been actively trying to put him down after he’s asleep. And it’s been working! That’s a win for me. To hold him while he falls asleep and then put him down if I need to. I usually put him on the couch, since that’s normally where I am. (He’s on my bed in the pictures, I was hanging out in my room cleaning while he slept). He’s even asleep right now as I type this!

why this works for me…

  • I really do hate hearing him cry, especially when I know it’s because he wants me. I will never do the cry it out method.
  • It’s actually allowing me to be less stressed. I’m able to put him down when he sleeps, as opposed to stressing about letting him cry it out.
  • I still get my snuggles in, which I crave.
  • He gets better sleep.

He’s still pretty young, so I’m not extremely worried about teaching him how to fall asleep on his own, although I know that it’s fast approaching. I’m actually getting more things done now that I’ve tackled this method of naptime. And believe it or not, I’m less stressed!

I still have a goal of getting him to sleep in the crib. But for now, this works and this makes me happy. And I think that’s really all that matters! If you do use the cry it out method and love it, I’d love to know why in the comments. I probably will never use it, but it’s always interesting to read why it works for someone else. All babies are different and they need different things. And for my son, he needs comfort. And I’m totally OK with giving it to him…

Aly Dawn Photography Naptime




Aly Dawn Photography Naptime

How to Take Better Photos for Your Blog

How to Take Better Photos for Your Blog

So you started a blog. One thing you might start to realize fast is how important photography is to a good blog. Sure, you could use photos you find off the web (I don’t recommend this), but you want your blog to reflect you. So, you want your photos to be yours. In order to do that, you need your words to be 100 percent you and you need your photos to be 100% you. People will come back to your blog again and again for how honest it is. But, first! You need to learn how to take better photos. Why? Having better photos on your blog will invite more people to read your blog. I know I do this when I’m scrolling through Pinterest, I look for beautiful pictures before I click through to a blog.

check out my 5 Reasons to Convert an Image to B&W post


This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

practice, practice, practice!

Keep in mind that the number one thing you can do to better your photography is practice. Ever heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect”? Yep. Practice, practice, practice! It’s the only way to truly improve. I could walk you through all types of photography techniques, but if you never practice those techniques, they will never develop and turn into skills. So, please practice! And share what you practice!

how to take better blog photos

I want you to take a little break from reading this and go visit Pinterest. Look at images that make you want to click through to a blog. What about those images do you like? It’s probably good light, interesting subjects, and composition (they way an image is arranged). Am I right? Maybe it’s something else. Write down what you like about the images you see. I want you to strive to get the same results in your images. But, first…

1. learn manual mode

Manual mode is so important to improving your photography. When I switched to manual mode, my images got SO much better. Like night and day, from just learning how to use my camera properly! I didn’t upgrade my equipment at all. It was all me.

I’ve been thinking about possibly doing a manual mode class. If you’re interested in taking a manual mode class from me, comment below! If I get enough interested I will definitely create it.

2. learn everything light

And I mean everything! Light is so important to improving your overall photography. One rule of thumb while you’re starting out…focus on natural light. What is ‘natural’ light? Well, you guessed it, it’s basically any type of light that comes from the sun. Once you master natural light, then you can move on to other forms of light such as artificial.

If you’re looking for some nice reading on the topic, I recommend Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting. But remember, after reading anything, practice what you read!

3. learn how to edit

I highly recommend learning Lightroom. It’s easy to learn basic edits and it definitely gets the job done. Editing your photos takes your images to the next level. Editing your images gives them a professional polish. There’s no reason to overdo it, though. Over edited images look unprofessional, so keep that in mind. I will also recommend staying away from presets and filters. You don’t need them. And blue images are old news. Check out my LR shortcuts for faster editing.

I also really love my copy of Lightroom: Classroom in a Book. It has taught me so much regarding Lightroom. And it’s fun to go through.

4. equipment

I’m a firm believer that a good camera won’t make you an amazing photographer. Only practice will do that. But getting good equipment will make your life easier. I recommend a beginner’s camera, such as the one I started out with, the Nikon D5100. Or if you’re in the market for a more professional camera, I recommend the Nikon D610. Although, if I’m going to be 100% honest with you, I would love to have the Nikon D750!

A good computer is a must. One that has plenty of space, lots of ram, and some speed to run your editing software of choice.

I recommend getting a prime lens. I love prime lenses. A prime lens has a set focal length. I love the Nikon 50mm 1.8 as a starter lens (and bonus! It’s the cheapest lens out there that is also good quality).


5. make sure your images relate to your posts

I feel like this goes without saying. Make sure your images match (somewhat) to what you’re saying. Don’t write a post about cats and then have pictures of food…your audience will be very confused!

I hope these tips have helped you in taking better photos for your blog. As I mentioned before, it’s very important to practice everything you learn.

Comment below something you are struggling with. What about photography do you struggle with?

A Beginner’s Guide to Shooting in Black and White

A Beginner’s Guide to Shooting in Black and White

Black and white is a great tool to use in your photography. It can impact and really take your images to the next level. That being said, there are times when you should convert your images to b&w, and there are times when you should not. Have you ever converted an image to b&w and it just didn’t look the way you wanted it to? Chances are, that image just wasn’t a good candidate. So, let’s dive into what makes an image a good candidate to black and white photography.

check out my 5 Reasons to Convert an Image to B&W post


This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

what makes a good black and white

Let’s really dive into what makes a good b&w. Because, believe it or not, not every image makes for a good black and white. I have 4 reasons images will make a good b&w.

  1. Light – if the light is good, the b&w will most likely be good
  2. Contrast – whether you have high contrast lighting, or your subject is dark against your background, contrast creates a good quality for b&w images
  3. Texture – converting a image to b&w that has awesome texture is a win!
  4. Color – when color isn’t an important part of the story, black and white it is!

reasons to not convert your image to black and white

I believe there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t convert an image to black and white. Not all of these are solid rules, they’re just general guidelines I like to follow in my own black and white.

  1. Flat light – I feel like sometimes we convert our images to black and white because the light isn’t interesting. This is not a good reason. It will leave your black and white looking very flat
  2. Distractions in the background – don’t take an image with distractions in the background, and convert to black and white to try and ‘cover’ up those distractions. You should be removing distractions before you ever press that shutter speed – this is important in any setting
  3. Color – when the color IS important to the story, don’t convert!

a beginner’s guide to shooting in black and white

I want you to consciously think about an image in b&w. Shoot for b&w. Think about ways an image will work if it’s in b&w. You can even turn your camera to a certain setting that actually only shoots in black and white. I’m so nervous to do this, but if you have the guts, do it! It will definitely improve your b&w images! When you shoot with black and white in mind, your images will turn out better.

1. when the light is pretty

I think we sometimes convert our images when the light isn’t beautiful. It should be the other way around! If you have beautiful light in your image, you can bet that the image will look good in b&w. When you are out shooting for b&w, aim to have gorgeous light.

That said, when there isn’t beautiful light, other factors and contribute to a beautiful black and white image that has dull light.

2. contrast

Think about it. You want your black and white images to have contrast. Below, the two images are edited exactly the same way, except for the left has all contrast removed, and none added! Which one looks better to you? Most likely the right one, right? Why is that? It’s because of the contrast! It makes your black and whites look deeper and richer, which is definitely what you want. That being said, if your color edits tend to have a more matte look, then your black and whites should as well. The key here is to stay consistent in your editing.

Black and White Photography Tips and Tricks

3. texture

Images with a lot of texture tend to look good in b&w. Texture could be so much as water droplets on your flowers or even a fluffy rug. Why is texture important in black and white? It helps create a sense of feeling to your viewer. When we incorporate textures into out images, it helps the viewer feel like they are there with us.

4. color

Like I have previously stated, when color doesn’t play an important part, convert to black and white. When would color play an important part? You can use color to compose your images. If you had a blue wall and a girl in pink with a pink balloon, that image wouldn’t look good in b&w, it would look washed out. You need the color to add pop and interest. However, if you have a bunch of brown in your image, like the image below, then converting to b&w can make your image pop more than what it was in color.

A Beginner's Guide to Shooting in Black and White

black and white conversion

Why do you think an image will turn out good in b&w? Please comment below!

Last thing I wanted to say is, if you’re not sure if an image will look good in black and white or not…just convert it and see! I’d love to see your creations, #alydawn_blackandwhite so that I can see and comment on your creations! Happy shooting!