This usually means composing the photos differently to how you would in colour. The photo of the stairs below is not composed in my usual style but this composition showed the changes in tone and shades well in black and white.
The world looks differently in black and white. When you learn to ‘see’ in black and white you’ll easily pick out the situations that are perfect for black and white photography. Try to envision how a shot will look in black and white before you take the shot. Seeing black and white requires practice. It isn’t too easy, but there are several things that may help you.
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There is also a place for green filters, which can bring out more detail in green subjects like leafy forests. Those four coloured filters (red, orange, yellow and green) have made their way onto most digital cameras as black and white settings.
Black and white is a beautiful medium to work in, one which you will appreciate the more you practice. In the meantime – have fun and enjoy yourself. You are following a path trodden by some of the most famous names in photography. And of course, if you have any questions about working in black and white, please let us know in the comments.
Any image with strong textures but weak colour is best seen in black and white; the differences in the greyscale is much more noticeable.
The difficulty is deciding which one takes precedence in a photo—colour vs. black and white—and how you capture it.
Black and white however is reminiscent of old film photography which was quite grainy, so it fits in better. A high ISO also adds the texture that your photo is lacking—something black and white does very well.
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Most camera’s have a black and white preset that lets you take photos directly in black and white. Don’t use it. This might sound a bit weird, but you can better shoot your black and white images in color. A good black and white image will require post processing and the standard in-camera black and white conversion isn’t have as good as your own black and white conversion.
Colour is very powerful, and tends to dominate the photo so much that it’s difficult to see other elements like tonal contrast, texture, shape, form and quality of light. Experienced photographers instinctively see these things, regardless of whether they work predominantly in colour or black and white. But if you’re just starting out, you may need some assistance to do so, and working in black and white photography will help you.
When you adjust the contrast of a photo, the dark areas become darker and the light areas become lighter. This is particularly important in black and white as the difference is much more noticeable.
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If you’ve never tried black and white photography before, you may be wondering what the appeal is. After all, isn’t it a little like black and white television or silent movies – an anachronism in our modern, high-tech age?
Most modern cameras let you change the aspect ratio. The reasons why you might want to do that are a little complex, but the main one is that it lets you shoot in the square format, something you may already be used to if you use an app like Instagram on your smartphone. If your camera has an electronic viewfinder, it will display a square image for you, making composition much easier.
With the absence of color, structure becomes more important. Use (or create) the light to bring out the structure. Structure can be found in many subjects, like hair, sand, skin or wood.
Just as importantly, working in black and white can help you become a better photographer. How? It’s all to do with composition.
Black and white photography shy’s away from accurate reproduction, focusing on other visual effects such as tone, texture and shape.
This scene works quite well in black and white, but it’s not nearly as dramatic as it could be.
Usually at this point I advise you to use the Raw format. In the long run it’s easier than using JPEG, and gives you better image quality. But I appreciate that if you’re new to photography you may still be working exclusively in JPEG. The rest of this article works on this basis.
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Black and white takes the emphasis from the colour in a photo, shifting it to details; texture plays a big part here.
A Guest post by Elja Trum from Photo Facts. You might be one of those photographers who decide to convert a photo to black and white in post production. Trying if it ‘works’ for a photo you took without thinking about black and white at the time. Nothing wrong with that, but have you ever tried to go out and shoot specifically with a black and white photo in mind? It’s worth doing so and I’d like to give you some tips for when you do.
When it comes to processing the images, manipulating these colours in different ways allows you to create different effects: boosting the red filter has the effect of a darker, more dramatic sky; the blue filter increases the atmospheric haze; and the green filter darkens skin tones.
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Black And White Photography – What Subjects … 12 years ago
Colour photography is the strongest when trying to accurately reproduce a scene because it captures the full spectrum of colour present.
Photos like this, with such small differences in colour, should be in black and white to help force the emphasis onto the shape, form, and texture of the photo.
The model was standing in the shade when I took this photo. The light lacks contrast, and the black and white photo is flat.
UPDATE: Learn more about Black and White Photography with our new Essential Guide to Black and White Photography.
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I know the grainy film look is popular in black and white photography, but I’d recommend on using the lowest possible ISO setting when taking your shots. Just like the black and white conversion itself, the grainy look is best added in post production. In the fill days photographers often used high ISO films to get the grainy look. Shooting in high ISO will give you enough noise, but the digital noise isn’t as sweet as the analog.
Black and white emphasizes the textures of the rocks and sea in this landscape photo.
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Believe it or not, the photo below is actually a colour photo; the nature of the lighting that evening makes it appear darker—black and white.
Black and white is nothing new when it comes to art; it’s existed since the beginning of time.
Cameras with electronic viewfinders automatically display the image in black and white, helping you see how the image will look, before you press the shutter. If you have a digital SLR you will get the same effect in Live View. This may be useful if you are working with your camera on a tripod (for instance, taking a landscape photo).
The answer is no, definitely not. In the photography world, black and white is considered an art form. Some would even say only the best photographers work in monochrome. It’s a medium with a rich history, (look at the work of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston or Henri Cartier-Bresson for examples) and a bright future.
Too much contrast in a color photo often results in harsh and confusing images. Remove the color and harsh contrast becomes a great way to attract attention to your subject.
If you take a photo in flat light (for example, a portrait of somebody standing in the shade) the photo may look flat (two dimensional). So, you need to compensate by increasing the contrast. You can either do this in Photoshop or Lightroom after the photo has been taken, or you can do it in-camera with the contrast setting.
My ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book Three – Black & White goes into the topic of black and white in depth. It explains everything you need to know to make dramatic and beautiful monochrome conversions in Lightroom, including how to use the most popular black and white plug-ins. Click the link to visit my website and learn more.
You know those dull gray winter days when you feel like staying in bed for the day? Pick up your camera and go for a black and white shoot! Those grey days are perfect for black and white photography. The soft light will give you silky smooth transitions in your subjects. And, when needed, you can always add some extra contrast in post.
A high ISO produces a lot of grain in an image which looks especially bad in brown area of colour photos.
Have a look at the contrast in texture between the night sky, the sweeping waves and the jagged stones below. Black to white is much more noticeable than blue to green.
Once in monochrome mode you will see some extra options. They help you set your camera up to produce the best results. Again, check your manual if you are not sure where to find them.
Composition is more important in black and white because the difference between shades and tones is greater accentuated; you may need to frame your shot to best capture this.
Naturally, there are certain subjects that tend to work better than others in black and white; two in particular are landscapes and portraits. If this is your first time shooting in black and white, then these are great subjects to try out.
Before digital photography the only way to work in black and white was to use black and white film. Thankfully, now it’s much easier to work in black and white, just by switching your camera to Monochrome Mode (check your camera’s manual if you are unsure how to do so, look for Picture Styles settings).
Even though the majority of photography is done automatically on digital cameras, black and white photography lives on, remaining a very powerful technique.
Applying the Red filter setting makes the blue sky go much darker, creating a much more dramatic version of the same scene.
There is an exception to this rule; if you shoot in your cameras RAW format, you can use the black and white preset on your camera. When your shooting in RAW, your camera shows you its poor black and white conversion on your display, but the color information is still available. If your camera supports a RAW format, I’d recommend on using it. It will give you more control over the end result. The black and white preview on your camera display can help you to get a idea of how a black and white version might look.
Be careful not to get unwanted movement in your shots when going for the lowest ISO setting. With modern cameras you can go up quite a lot before the noise kicks in. It’s better to get a sharp shot with some noise instead of a noiseless shot where your subject is a blur.
Look for shapes. Shapes cast shadows that bring out the shape of a subject. If the light you use is hard, the shadows will show it. Beautiful shapes might disappear in an abundance of color. Black and white helps you to bring out the shape again.
These are just a few things that change. I recommend learning by doing; have a play around with some of your own photos.
Cropping to the square format emphasizes the shapes of the three pots.
Art photography is similar in that it started out in black and white due to technical limitations—well before the dawn of colour film.
Black and white portraits emphasize expression and quality of light.
Photos with very small changes in colour should be shot in black and white, as in the photo below.
Have a look at the photo below. It was shot in colour with the blue channel boosted and the contrast, black point and brightness all turned up. Combined, these make for a much stronger image.
Finally, you may have the option to tone your images. To be honest, unless your camera lets you apply toning affects subtly, I wouldn’t bother with these, as the effect is usually too strong.
So, how often do you shoot black and white? It’s worth trying and I’m looking forward to see your results!
Shooting in colour allows you to capture the light in three different channels: red, blue, and green.
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The colour filter settings are left over from the days of film photography. Photographers would buy coloured filters, and use them to alter the tones in black and white photos. For example, if your scene includes a blue sky, then using a yellow filter will make the sky a little darker, an orange filter makes it even darker, and a red filter darker still.
I find post processing in black and white more fun as, in colour, I usually try to accurately reproduce the scene but in black and white, that doesn’t really matter.