Black And White Portrait Photography Tips


Home  »  Black And White Photography ColumnBlogger   »   Black And White Portrait Photography Tips

A guide to black and white portraits fstoppers

Black And White Portrait Photography Tips

. Category : Black And White Photography ColumnBlogger Tags : , , , . Viewed : 33 Visitor, File Size : Unknown Size, File Type : . Resolution : x Pixel.

Black And White Portrait Photography Tips.


Move beyond Lightroom by using a plug-in like Silver Efex Pro 2 to create black and white conversions that aren’t possible in Lightroom alone. Plug-ins often have features that Lightroom lacks.

Black and white tests your ability as a photographer. You can no longer rely on color to carry the photo if the composition is not as strong as it could be. The two most important elements of a black and white portrait are tonal contrast and texture.

Black and white is a powerful and expressive medium for portraiture. The absence of color seems to allow us to see deeper into the soul and reveals the model’s character. Black and white portraits often have a timeless quality that adds to the expressiveness of the portrait. But working in black and white is challenging because you have to learn to see in what’s essentially a new medium.

Portrait photography is a genre where black and white images can really shine. Like any technique, there are considerations that you should regard that can help to make sure your images have the most impact.

About dPS Write for dPS Advertise on dPS Affiliate Program Privacy Policy

For many photographers, black and white is more than a creative choice at the post-production stage; it’s a mindset. If you can start the creation of an image knowing that you intend it to be black and white, you can take steps to ensure that all of the elements of a good monochrome image are in place before you press the shutter. Things like contrast in tonality, contrast in lighting, and appropriate expressions from your subjects are all elements that are difficult, if not impossible, to fix after an image is taken.

Black and white images often need higher contrast to work than color images. Don’t be afraid to push the Lightroom sliders around to see what works best. See what happens when I convert this color portrait to black and white.

If you’re going to create high contrast black and white photos, the best advice is to add it with light, not in Photoshop. Small global adjustments are okay and won’t hurt your images, but definitely do not crank the contrast slider to 100. Try to limit it between +15/-15. For local adjustments, use a dodging and burning technique of your choice. The key point in this, and all post-production, is subtlety.

If your camera has an electronic viewfinder (like a mirrorless camera) it will display the scene in black and white before you even take the image, making it even easier to see if the composition is working.

If you’re working on an image that you feel isn’t up to scratch and you ask yourself if it will work in black and white, the answer is probably no. A black and white treatment will often emphasize the flaws that made you question the image in the first place, and a bad photo is a bad photo regardless of its color scheme or lack thereof.

If you have trouble imagining how an image may look in black and white, try setting your camera to a monochrome setting. While it isn’t recommended to do this for a final image, as long as you shoot in RAW file format, then all of your image’s color data will still be present in the file, and Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw will reset the photo back to color once it’s imported. Doing this will allow you to have an idea of how an image will work in black and white, while still providing the highest amount of versatility in post-production.

Tonal contrast is the difference in brightness between the different areas of the photo.

Sign up to the weekly DPS NEWSLETTER Subscribe Guaranteed for 2 full months Pay by PayPal or Credit Card Instant Digital Download

I set Clarity to +65 on the portrait below. This brought out the beautiful textures in the model’s beard and shirt. It emphasized the texture in his skin as well, but you can often get away with this in black and white portraits of men.

You can use Topaz Black & White Effects 2 to emulate old processes like cyanotypes or van dyke brown. You can use Alien Skin Exposure X2 for a range of film-like effects. Yet another option for Mac users is Macphun Tonality.

Black and white is a form of simplification because it removes color from the scene. Keep the theme of simplicity going when it comes to composition and lighting.

This can be a difficult concept to understand without seeing it, so I have included an example of a color version of one the images above. Ask yourself: How did your perception of the photos change? What did you notice first in each of the images? Do you feel differently or think differently of it when you view it in color than in black and white?

Keep backgrounds as uncluttered as possible. Don’t be afraid to move in close and use a wide aperture to throw the background out of focus. Simplifying the composition removes distractions, emphasizing your model.

In this recent article by dPS author Yacine you get some tips from his perspective and style: How to Create Good Black and White Portraits. Here are 5 more tips for you to continue learning. Once you understand the following five key concepts and you’ll be well on your way to creating beautiful monochrome portraits.

You need to ignore colors and see the scene in terms of highlights and shadows. An easy way to do this is to switch your camera to shoot in monochrome mode. Make sure you have image quality set to RAW in case you ever decide to develop a color version of the portrait (RAW files retain the color information).

Why would you choose to create black and white photographs in the era of digital cameras that are capable of accurately capturing millions upon millions of colors? Black and white photography seems to be a constant in the history of the medium, with color technology only propagating itself into wide use around halfway between Nicéphore Niépce’s first heliograph and today.

The most important part of the majority of portraits are the eyes. They are usually the focal point that the rest of your image is built around. This is especially true with black and white. With the omission of color, a black and white image often breaks down into graphic forms and shapes. Eyes are shapes that everyone recognizes and they draw immediate focus from your viewers. Make sure that your subject’s eyes are well lit, and focus is critical.

Increasing Clarity brings out more texture in the image. The problem with portraits is that too much Clarity can make skin tones look overly textured. This is more of an issue with portraits of women, who will often expect you to use some kind of skin smoothing to make them look beautiful. You have far more freedom when developing portraits of men because you can use Clarity to bring out the texture.

© 2006 – 2018 Digital Photography School, All Rights Reserved / Disclaimer

Keeping your approach to composition and lighting simple gives you time to talk to and build rapport with your model. This is very important because ultimately it matters little if your composition and lighting are brilliant but your model seems bored or disinterested. It helps if you are genuinely interested in your model’s life. Ask her questions about what she does, what her hobbies are, and so on. Once you get going you will find interesting things to talk about.

This portrait uses tonal contrast by placing a model with fair skin against a dark background.

Certain subjects scream out to be shot in black and white. Other subjects may not be so obvious. Bright, punchy colors obviously make for vivid color photos, but by removing the color element you can completely change how a subject or scene is perceived. When you want to ensure your viewer is focused on a particular element, color as a graphic element, can become a distraction. Try removing it.

When it comes to lighting a black and white portrait image, there are no hard and fast rules. If you like high contrast images with hard gradations in tone, then choose a harder source of light. If you like soft tones and subtler images, then you want a softer light source.

Sign up to the weekly DPS NEWSLETTER Subscribe All our best articles for the week Fun photographic challenges Special offers and discounts

5 Simple Ways to Create Expressive Photos in Black and White Tips for Black and White Wildlife Photography Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

In monochrome mode, a digital SLR displays your photos in black and white when you view them on the camera’s LCD screen. This will help you see whether the composition is working in black and white, and how the colors in the scene translate to gray tones.

Don’t forget that you can apply Clarity as a local adjustment. In the next portrait, I used the Adjustment Brush with the Soften Skin preset (Clarity -34, Sharpness +9) to smooth out the texture in the model’s skin. The screenshot on the left shows the area covered by the mask.

It’s all about personal preference here. If you’re not sure what yours is, try finding the first ten black and white portraits that stand out to you the most and see if you can deconstruct them in terms of lighting.

There’s a lot of debate on both sides of the argument, but for me and many others it’s a simple matter of aesthetics. A good black and white treatment has a way of stripping unneeded information from an image, helping you to emphasize specific elements to your viewer without the distractions color can provide.

If you’re new to black and white photography, do remember that these are guides and not rules. If you need to stray from them to get the result you’re after, do so without hesitation.

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook Subscribe Guaranteed for 2 full months Pay by PayPal or Credit Card Instant Digital Download GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook Subscribe Guaranteed for 2 full months Pay by PayPal or Credit Card Instant Digital Download GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook Subscribe Guaranteed for 2 full months Pay by PayPal or Credit Card Instant Digital Download GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE Subscribe Guaranteed for 2 full months Pay by PayPal or Credit Card Instant Digital Download GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE Subscribe Guaranteed for 2 full months Pay by PayPal or Credit Card Instant Digital Download GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE Subscribe Guaranteed for 2 full months Pay by PayPal or Credit Card Instant Digital Download GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Hopefully, you can see that even though bold colors can make for vivid imagery, their absence can as well.

But while you are doing so, pay attention to her expressions. What subjects make her eyes light up with enthusiasm? How does her expression change when you talk about different topics? What unconscious gestures does she make while talking about things she likes? Pay attention and try to capture those intimate moments that reveal character.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about processing black and white photos please check out my ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book Three – Black & White.

Like the eyes, other facial features become more prominent in a black and white portrait. You can use this to your advantage by conveying emotion in your images. Even tiny changes in your subject’s expression can make a difference. Things like a raised eyebrow, a twitch at the corner of a mouth, and smile lines under the eyes can all be used to great effect.

The best black and white portraits are created in two stages – first when you take the photo and secondly when you develop them in Lightroom. Follow the simple principles in this article and build a good rapport with your model and you’ll be rewarded with timeless, powerful black and white portraits.

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of articles this week featuring black and white photography tips. Look for earlier ones below and more daily over the next week.

Here is an exercise you can do with your portrait subjects to get a mixture of great expressions. Prepare a list of words or phrases and ask them to react to how they feel to each one. The words you choose can be simple descriptors of emotion like: love, sad, joy, angry and melancholy. For more diverse expressions try more abstract words, or funny ones like: cheeseburger, politics, Teletubbies or Hulk smash. As a bonus, this sometimes works extremely well to lighten the mood when you have a subject who’s tense or nervous during a sitting.

This portrait captures a moment of contact between the model and her horse. The expression came near the end of the shoot, after a conversation about her horses.

All of the photos you see in this article were taken in natural light, sometimes with the assistance of a reflector. The more complex your lighting, the more your attention will be diverted from your model.

Increasing contrast makes the portrait stronger. A subtle touch is often best. See the result below:

5. Use a plug-in like Silver Efex Pro 2 to take your portraits further

Sign up to the weekly DPS NEWSLETTER Subscribe All our best articles for the week Fun photographic challenges Special offers and discounts Your email is safe with us. We won’t share it with anyone

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with:  1. new photography tutorials and tips 2. latest photography assignments 3. photo competitions and prizes Enter your email below to subscribe.

Texture is also important when shooting in black and white. If your model has smooth skin, you might like to place her against a rough background to emphasize the difference in texture. You should also pay attention to the textures in your model’s clothing.

Landscape Photography Tips Portrait Photography Tips Photo Composition Tips Beginner Photography Tips Photo Post Processing Tips Get Started with Cameras and Gear

In the portrait below, the model’s smooth skin contrasts with the rough texture of the concrete wall she is leaning against.

Tips for Culling Your Photos – How to Throw Away the Worst and Concentrate on the Winners

For example, you can use Silver Efex Pro 2 (a great plug-in to start with because it’s now free as part of the Nik Collection) to add a frame, emulate film or the look of a portrait taken with a 5×4 camera.

I kept the composition of this portrait simple by using a short telephoto lens (85mm) and a wide aperture to blur the background (f/1.8). I also darkened the background in Lightroom to focus attention on the model.

Finally, if you try black and white and you like it: welcome to the addiction!

Once you have made the portrait then you need to reveal its full potential in post-processing. There are lots of techniques that you can use in Lightroom, but I’d like to concentrate on two main areas.



Advanced Ideas These advanced suggestions are that can assist you look previous all the essential ideas which cover most elements of photography. The digicam gear, tools and accessories are issues that make it easier to take better photographs. The following tips are there to help you gain deeper knowledge , looking at a possible message, expertise or emotion you want to portray. This article helps the place and when to use issues resembling micro-contrast. Also find out how to successfully use and place the blackest areas of the photograph in relation to the mid-tone grey areas. Your photographs will profit immensely.

How To Make an Image Black and White in Photoshop & Lightroom All cameras, apart from the Leica M Monochrom, take pictures in colour. If you need a black and white picture , then you might want to convert the colour to a monochrome state. There are a lot of strategies you are able to do this, however only a few will provide you with the very best high quality and tonal range. Learn our article here on tips on how to make an image black and white, with out shedding quality , element or other essential factors.

Put up -Processing Black and White Pictures All digital editing software program for Mac, PC, smartphone or Android gives a conversion from colour to black and white. Until you took a color photograph , converted it into black and white in a non- harmful manner , you can`t revert it. The data is no longer there. There are many ways to transform to black and white, some of which are non- harmful ( means that you can return to colour in case you like) but only some ways where you`ll be able to convert the image properly. This text tells you what you need to or shouldn’t be doing to get essentially the most out of your photographs.

Tips on how to Edit Pictures on Cellular Now that we have seemed primarily at DSLRs, let’s turn our attention in direction of cellular photography. Capturing with your mobile is fast and easy , and now changing and processing your images into black and whites isn`t any extra difficult. This text reveals you the way to utilize an app to show those pictures into something really dramatic.

How to Manage Photos in Post - Production Working with black and white photos will not be the same as working with colour – each have totally different focuses and want totally different areas of attention. The Black and White photographs can benefit from colours. Adding yellow into the image using a colour mixer can affect the element within the sky. This brings out characteristics in an otherwise overexposed phase of the image. Additionally , tweaking of contrasts and highlights can have very dramatic results in a Black and White photograph.

Things to Think about When Enhancing Black and White Images When it comes right down to the editing of your images , the hardware might be simply as important as the software program you use. Your laptop monitor will have a colour administration system that will present your pictures otherwise to the colour management of the printing. Also , the place you edit the pictures is also important , creating color casts that change the way you see our images. You might think that black and white photos is not going to be affected, but they nonetheless use colour info within the grey , mid-tone areas of your work. Whatever you will be doing with your images as a final product, be it a e-book or an exhibition, all of them want completely different treatments.

The way to Use Tonal Contrast with Photography The tonal vary in black and white photography is without doubt one of the most necessary things to focus on. The range is mainly the degree of how brilliant or how dark parts of your picture are. The bigger the tonal vary , meaning the more dark and lightweight areas there are, the more impressive the image. Though distinction works well in both colour and black and white, the latter needs it extra to stand out and make a long-lasting impression.

10 Tips for Using Luminosity Masks in Digital Blending Luminosity masks are a function in Photoshop that helps you isolate areas of a excessive gentle depth within the photograph ’s pixels. With these picks , you may choose areas of the photograph and only work on particular tones, not the entire image. These are nice to help increase the focus and look of a specific object in your frame. This article provides you an ideal rundown, from creating the masks to the completed image.

The way to Transition From Taking to Making the Photograph Ansel Adams said , “You don’t take a photograph , you make it”. This information takes you thru many ideas. Looking at the basic elements , what makes a fantastic photograph and the right way to make it into a final , polished print. Specializing in the fundamental ideas and persevering with to establish , isolate and management the elements will assist your photographic confidence.

The right way to Edit Black And White Images in Lightroom Lightroom is without doubt one of the finest instruments on the market that will help you get the most effective out of your photography. It is straightforward and fast to choose -up and may also help together with your workflow. Presets are a good way to get very impressive images. They are also fast and easy to use and are created by photographic lovers or Adobe itself. On this article, you may get an thought of what you should be looking at in terms of editing your work and how you can obtain dramatic results.

Processing Pictures in Photoshop In comparison with the convenience of processing photos in Lightroom, Photoshop is a bit more sophisticated and requires more learning time. This text lets you get the best out of your black and white picture by working with colour layers, filters and blending options.

IMAGE COLLECTIONS : Black And White Portrait Photography Tips

A guide to black and white portraits fstoppersBlack and white portrait photography tipsBw portraitsBlack and white portrait tips 30887 tips for black and white portrait photographyTips to making black and white portraitsJohn schell tova black and whitePortrait photography tips and ideas78Black and white portrait tips 3191