Burning in the edges of your pictures is a great way to enhance the composition because it improves the picture’s overall contrast and helps you concentrate attention on the picture’s focal point.

The point is that converting your pictures to black and white is just the start, and ‘digital’ techniques like channel mixing are useful but not enough on your own. What you really need for black and white is good old-fashioned dodging and burning. And that’s where Nik (Google) Silver Efex Pro 2 is so effective.

Silver Efex Pro Burn Edges

I’ll start with this colour picture taken in Venice and see if I can turn it into a much more evocative black and white shot.

01 Browse Silver Efex Pro 2’s presets

Silver Efex Pro Burn Edges

This is often the best starting point because it’s hard to predict the best treatment for a picture until you can actually see the alternatives. The main window shows the default conversion, but I like the look of the ‘Yellowed 2’ preset on the left.

02 Finishing Adjustments

Silver Efex Pro Burn Edges

Now that’s selected, I want to make a few changes to the picture, though, and all the adjustments I need are in the Finishing Adjustments panel on the right.

03 Remove the frame

Silver Efex Pro Burn Edges

I don’t really want the ragged frame that’s part of the preset, but that’s easy to fix. There’s an Image Borders section in the Finishing Adjustments panel, and I need to open the pop-up ‘Type’ menu and choose ‘Off’, right at the top of the menu.