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Tips & Tricks

Photoshop Trick Using the BW Adjustment Layer To Brilliantly Alter Color

By Kishore Sawh on April 16th 2015


One of the most frustrating aspects of Photoshop is that its abilities are so far reaching, that to master it (if it’s possible to do such a thing), requires a tremendous amount of time and dedication. Strangely, that is also one of the wonderful things about Photoshop because in all likelihood even if you’re used to doing something one way, there’s a way to do it better. Few are better at highlighting this than Jimmy McIntyre.

Earlier in the year, we shared a video of Jimmy’s where in 7 minutes, he illustrates with prodigious fluency and potency, just how powerful Photoshop blend modes are, and how fast they can be manipulated for effect. In the video herein, he takes 3 minutes to highlight a way to adjust your images, in particular, the brightness of colors, for a similarly impressive effect.


This may not be new to some of you, but for those that it is, you’ll surely appreciate it. While doing something seemingly simple in Photoshop can often seem like you need to create loads of layers, and that it’s almost impossible to get anywhere in a straight line, all that’s involved in this case is the creation of a black-and-white adjustment layer; then changing the blend mode to Luminosity, and finally using the intuitive sliders to make the desired alterations.

That’s it.



The wonderful thing about this method, aside from how simple it is to apply, is that you’re working with a very narrow range of colors, so the changes can be subtle if you want, and tend not to ‘bleed.’ Also, even though the change is global, it’s easy to mask and brush in or out as you like.

[REWIND: How To Use Blend Modes To Totally Revamp Your Photography | Brilliant Work From Jimmy McIntyre]

If this is anything to go by, do take the time to check out what Jimmy has to offer on his site, as it’s sure also to be worth your time and impress. You can find him on his site for workshops and tutorials here and on 500px.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Havernamed Havernamed

    upto I looked at the receipt which said $4708 , I did not believe that my brother was like they say really taking home money part-time on there computar. . there sisters neighbour haz done this 4 only sixteen months and by now took care of the morgage on there condo and bourt a great new Lotus Elise .
    website link………….w­­w­­w.J­­o­­bsy­­e­­l­­p.c­­o­­m

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  2. Tim Buerck

    I have just started doing something similar to this a few months ago. I edit my photos in black and white in Lightroom. This way I don’t get distracted on color and just concentrate on the tone of the image. When I switch back to color it is amazing how natural and wonderful it looks.

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  3. Jake Stifler

    awesome trick…..photoshop isjust awesome….

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  4. Shai Bachar

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but this can be done in Lightroom by using the HLS and the Luminance bar even in an easier way?

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    • Jeff Soto

      Even if you could, the HSL sliders can’t be adjusted to a specific area, I don’t believe. I’m pretty sure those sliders effect the entire image and can’t be ‘masked’ out.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      Yeah, its the same thing without masking.

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  5. Ed Rhodes

    thanks for the tip!

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  6. Mark Romine

    Use sparingly, this can easily cause banding and pixel damage if radical moves are made with the sliders. View image at 100% when making your adjustments to see what is really happening with your image.

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    • Richard Olender

      I noticed that as well…To much adjustment seems to bring out more noise….Great tip nonetheless

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  7. Rafael Steffen

    This is such an awesome tutorial. THanks for sharing!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Rafael, jimmy has his own products which you should definitely check out. It’s always good if you find someone who brings across the material in a way you like. Otherwise there’s the Phlearn Photoshop 101 and 201 which are good building from the ground up

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  8. Graham Curran

    Photoshop is like Excel, there’s just so much that can be done with both of them and most people only scratch the surface; tips like this are eye-openers.

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  9. Mathieu F

    Thanks Kishore, Photoshop tricks are always welcome !

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