A light black and white photo of a coast

Instant B&W

Instant B&W is a free Lightroom preset that instantly transforms your digital photos to nostalgic black and white. Its monochrome look recreates the style of instant films. Photos get bright high-contrast grays and radiant skin tones.

Collection: Black and White Presets
Best for: Bright Images, Outdoors, Detailed Images, Portraits
Style: Crisp, Bright, Matte, Moody

This analog look is versatile for any type of photography but works best on photos taken under diffused natural light. If you want to showcase more of the tones, try this preset on images with a lot of elements and texture. Even without color, Instant B&W also looks great on social media photos. Use it as an Instagram filter if you want to give your feed a classic feel.

Amplifies Light and Contrast

A woman sitting on a log

Bright and Vibrant. The preset initially switches processing to black and white mode. It then sets the primary adjustments in light and tone. It increases both exposure and contrast at varying levels to add light and widen the range of tonal intensity.

Let us examine the result on the photo above. The After black and white image looks bright and reveals a wide spectrum of grays. The preset refines these even further with tweaks in light and tone.

Moderates the Intensity of Tones

A black and white detailed mountain landscape

Rich Grays. As you can see in the mountain landscape above, Instant B&W preset does a great job at moderating light. It produces fine grays, crisp blacks, and soft highlights. It achieves this look by deepening blacks and lightening some shadows. It also mutes highlights as much as possible to preserve detail on the bright areas of the image. These are all finely set in the tone curve as well.

Note how Instant B&W handles the tones of the sky above. The clouds remain well-defined. You can notice much depth on the mountain landscape itself. Because of the lightened shadows, too, you can now see more detail on the dark area at the lower-left.

Produces Radiant Skin Tones

A monochrome portrait of a couple with their foreheads touching

Brilliant Portraits. The preset moderately increases the luminance of purple in the black and white mix channel. This particularly affects skin tones. The preset adds more light to it when converting to monochrome, consequently illuminating portraits.

You can see how this adjustment affects the couple’s photo above. See how much brighter their faces are; not only does the preset remove unwanted shadows but also illuminate the subjects’ expressions.

Deepens and Darkens Select Tones

An outdoor portrait of a woman in black and white

Darkened Hues. The preset further optimizes its black and white conversion by applying more thorough adjustments in the mix channel. It processes colors individually at varying levels to add depth and contrast. It particularly lowers the luminance of orange, yellow, green, aqua, and red tones.

These subdued colors are mostly found in nature. In the portrait above, for example, you can see how the preset darkens the green leaves behind the girl. See how this also helps emphasize her face.

Improves and Refines Texture

People swimming at the beach next to a cliff

Detailed Monochrome. To complete the old film look, Instant B&W sharpens textures in the image. You can see how much it boosts the details, especially on landscapes. In the After photo above, for example, the rough rocks and the gritty sand look much more palpable.

As a finishing touch, notice how the preset also adds moderate vignetting. This effect is, after all, common in analog cameras and is essential to the retro motif.

Instant B&W is for Lightroom Mobile, Desktop and…

Like all our presets, you can absolutely use Instant B&W as is, right out of the box. With any preset, you might need to make adjustments to accommodate your specific camera, settings, lighting and subject matter.

  • Entirely Adjustable
  • Compatible with Lightroom 4, 5, 6 and CC
  • Performs with both PC, Mac, and Mobile
  • Applicable to both RAW and JPG images
  • 100% Free

Free Lightroom Preset by Forrest Lane

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