You need to be really careful about this. You’ll find that even landscape shots don’t come out properly, let alone photos of people indoors.
In my post on film photography, I talk in detail about how shooting on film helps to hone your skill. You think a lot more about what you’re doing before taking each photo, rather than wasting a piece of 35mm film.
The light is harder to control but, when you expose a photo correctly with the light in the right places, the results can be much more dramatic.
The answer is simple – there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
This added pressure of wasting money on the film and development means that you become a much more careful photographer. You consider how else each photo could be taken before actually taking it.
Had I shot the photo above on colour film, you’d be able to see the subject with no problem. When shooting on black and white film, it’s important to determine where the light illuminates the subject and work around that.
Photography started in black and white—so why, with digital cameras and the general advancement of equipment, does it feel so difficult to capture a great black and white landscape photographs with even a fraction of the greatness that Ansel Adams or other great black and white photographers achieved with film? Great black and white photographs aren’t just the results of great black and white conversions. To really capture stand-out black and white photography landscape shots, the photographer needs to see in shades of gray—or imagine how the photo will look in monochrome. That’s the key because fancy black and white editing tricks won’t get you there if the shot’s not right in the first place. That’s the art form of black and white photography.
Of course, contrast can also be created through different colors, but that’s tougher than it seems. Red and green, when converted to black and white, appear very similar. A field of red wildflowers isn’t going to make a great black and white landscape, because the reds and greens of the flower will blend together. Instead of looking at color, look at shades. A mint green will have a lot of contrast next to a hunter green.
While polarizing filters are traditionally used for enhancing or eliminating reflections, they can also play up the contrast in a black and white landscape shot. Polarizing filters can be used in color photography to play up a blue sky—when those color photos are converted to black and white, that extra blue boost in the sky results in a greater contrast. By twisting the front piece of the filter, you can fine-tune the contrast between different colors in the shots for better black and white conversions later on.
While black and white photography plays homage to traditional black and white film, it’s actually trickier to capture, because without color, the image relies heavily on great composition and contrast. Learn how to recognize great black and white photos by shooting in RAW with the image styles set to monochrome, so you capture it in color but see it in black and white as you shoot. Look for light, contrast, texture shapes and patterns to use to your advantage. Foreground elements also work well in black and white. Adding a polarizing filter will also lead to better black and white conversions later by enhancing the contrast in a shot. Capturing the best black and white images isn’t an easy task, but when done right, the results are well worth the effort.
Viewing a color scene and imagining it as a black and white photograph is a difficult task to master and one that only comes with practice. But, you can grasp the black and white vision a bit earlier by setting your camera style to monochrome, which will allow you to view the photos on the LCD screen in black and white. (Nikon calls this Picture Control, Canon refers to it as Picture Style.) If you have an electronic viewfinder, you can view the scene in black and white as you shoot by setting the style in camera.
We have a great post on how to digitize film photos you should check out. Or how about trying our black and photography challenge to keep improving your work!
Black and white film in particular makes the skin look great. The natural grain adds texture and detail, while the lack of colour emphasises the tone of the skin.
Without color to draw the eye, a lot of black and white photos simply look flat. That’s because great black and white images need a lot of contrast. The kind of contrast created in Photoshop isn’t as great as contrast that already exists in the scene. The easiest way to find great contrast is to look for light. While an overcast day may be great for color shots, sunny days and a blue sky mean more contrast, which is great for black and white. Look for patches of light streaming through the clouds, or areas with both light and shadows. Interesting lighting plays make for the best black and white photos.
You don’t have this option when shooting on film. So you really have to pay attention to what it is that you want to capture and how it’s going to look in black and white.
Along with texture, black and white photography is an excellent example of a way to emphasize shape and pattern. Without the color to distract, patterns become much more obvious. Something as simple as three trees in a row creates a pattern. Use patterns and shape as a compositional tool for black and white landscape photography, and you’ll find your black & white photography shots are much more interesting.
Once you understand how the film reacts to the light, you can use it as a creative tool in your photography.
5 Black and White Landscape Photography Tips for Better Photos July 13, 2018
Mistakes can get pretty expensive if you’re not sure what you’re doing with your film camera. This forces you to quickly learn what you’re doing wrong.
Texture looks amazing in black and white photography. In fact, monochrome brings out textures that aren’t as noticeable in color. Look for objects with a lot of texture as you consider what to include in your photo and what to leave out. Shooting black and white landscapes is a great way to uncover textures in unusual places. A cloudless sky just becomes a gray mass, but cloudy skies instantly add texture to landscapes in black and white. Rocks, tree bark, clouds—the sky is the limit (pun intended). This can also be applied to other forms of photography such as portrait photography.
I have noticed over the past 2 years that development is getting more expensive. It’s also taking longer to do and film is becoming harder to find. If we take that as a sign of things to come, it doesn’t look too good.
I particularly like how the light shining on the back of the subject’s head is emphasised by the dark figure behind him.
One of my favourite things about shooting on film is how good skin looks.
That’s also one of the advantages of the poor dynamic range. The contrast on neutral colours is boosted.
One more thing—make sure you are using RAW format. While the picture mode will show you how the photo could look in black and white, using RAW format file will capture color images and give you the most control over converting the image to black and white. So why use picture controls if you get a color photo anyways? It’s a great teaching tool to help learn how to view the scene in black and white. With enough practice, you can view a subject and know right away whether it will make a great black and white shot or not.
Black and white film photography is all of this and more. Normally, when I take black and white photos, I shoot in colour first and convert it afterwards. This gives me more options in post production.
That is my favourite reason for shooting on black and white film. You’re forced to hone your skills much faster.
Some scenes don’t always lend themselves to great shapes or patterns. Another way to add interest to a black and white landscape photo is to include a foreground element. Adding a prominent object in the front of the image instantly creates a sort of leading line effect, even if that object isn’t actually a line. Rocks and foliage can work well, but there are certainly many more options. The best photographers (think National Geographic) often use the foreground as an opportunity for creating something special.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography’s Photographer-In-Chief: Thank you for reading… CLICK HERE if you want to capture breathtaking images, without the frustration of a complicated camera. It’s my training video that will walk you how to use your camera’s functions in just 10 minutes – for free! I also offer video courses and ebooks covering the following subjects: Beginner – Intermediate Photography eBook Beginner – Intermediate Photography Video Course Landscape Photography eBook Landscape Photography Video Course Photography Blogging (Service) You could be just a few days away from finally understanding how to use your camera to take great photos! Thanks again for reading our articles!
Take the photo below for example. I knew when I shot it that the left-hand side of the photo was going to be underexposed and that the right would be overexposed. This actually worked out really well.
35mm film and development is becoming increasingly scarce. This is because some of the major developers are getting rid of their wet labs, only doing digital printing.
The first thing you’ll notice when you get a roll of black and white film developed (particularly with the brand of film that I use: Ilford HP5 Plus) is that the dynamic range is a lot worse than what you’re used to with digital and colour film.
You rely much more on composition, texture, shape and form to create a good photo, so you have to look for this before you shoot, not after.
This still takes about 2 weeks or longer. I’m there regularly for printing anyway so it’s not too much of a problem.
Landscapes make great black and white photographs–but only if you shoot them right in the first place. Here’s are some black and white photography tips because great monochrome shots are a fine art that start well before the Photoshop conversion or any other post-processing.
1. Learn how to view scenes in shades of gray by setting the image styles to monochrome
That being said, there are still places around that do it at a reasonable price to a good standard. But black and white is a lot harder to get done.
The effects produced and the parameters you have to work within are very different from any other type of photography. This can produce some very interesting results – results that you may associate with a much older style of photography.
My nearest lab that will actually develop it in-house is about 25 miles away. This isn’t really a lot of use as the development process itself takes a while. Instead, I take mine to my nearest major lab, who send off for it.
I’ve written about film photography and I’ve written about black and white photography. You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about black and white film photography.
I urge everyone to start shooting on film as soon as possible. There’s a good chance you won’t be able to experience it in the future.
This really bothered me the first time I got my film back because I didn’t know about it before I shot. I hadn’t adjusted my shooting style to match it.