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Black And White Street Portrait Photography.

Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a manner that comes from the traditional darkroom and is usually used to burn in or darken highlights and hold back (brighten) shadows. Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools allow a level of control that film photographers can only aspiration of because you could target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you may use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to brighten up them to grow local contrast. It’s a good idiosyncrasy of giving a sense of superior sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you can set the opacity of the tools, you may build up their effect gradually so the impact is subtle and there are no hard edges.

Take Control. Although coloured filters should still be used to manipulate contrast when shooting digital black and white images, it’s more common to save this work until the processing stage. Until a some years ago Photoshop’s Channel Mixer was the preferred means of turning colour images monochrome, but now Adobe Camera Raw has more strong tools (in the HSL/Grayscale tab) that allow you to adjust the brightness of eight individual colours that make up the image. It’s possible to adjust one of these colours to make it anything from white to black with the sliding control. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the whole image when adjusting a particular colour as subtle gradations should become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or pink shirt with the red sliding control, for moment , will have an impact on the model’s skin, especially the lips. The Levels and Curves controls can also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create demarcation between objects of the same brightness but with varied colours.

Shoot RAW + JPEG. The best monochrome conversions are run against by editing raw files which have the full colour information, but if you shoot raw and JPEG files simultaneously and set the camera to its monochrome photograph Style/Picture Control/Film Simulation mode you get an indication of how the image will look in black and white. As many photographers struggle to visualise a scene in black and white, these monochrome modes are an invaluable tool that will help with composition and scene assessment. numerous cameras are also capable of producing decent in-camera monochrome images these days and it’s worth experimenting with image parameters (usually contrast, sharpness, filter effects and toning) to find a look that you like. Because compact attribute cameras and compact cameras show the scene seen by the sensor with camera settings applied, users of these cameras are able to preview the monochrome image in the electronic viewfinder or on rear screen before taking the shot. DSLR users could also do this if they kick in her camera’s live view pathway , but the usually slower responses mean that most will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.

Look for Contrast, Shape and Texture. The complimentary and opposing colours that bring a colour image to life are all decreased to black and white or shades of grey in a monochrome image and you have to look for tonal contrast to make a shot stand out. In colour photography, for example, your eye would right away be drawn to a red object on a green background, but in monochrome photography these two areas are likely to have the same brightness, so the image looks flat and colorless straight from the camera. fortunately , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours separately to introduce some contrast. However, a good starting point is to look for scenes with tonal contrast. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule look for scenes that contain some forceful blacks and whites. This should be achieved by the light or by the brightness (or tone) of the objects in the scene as well as the exposure settings that you use. The brightness of the bark of a silver birch tree for example, should inject some contrast (and interest) in to a woodland scene. Setting the exposure for these brighter areas also makes the shadows darker, so the highlights stand out even more. Look for shapes, patterns and textures in a scene and move around to find the most excellent composition.

Use Filters. Graduated neutral density (AKA ND grad) and polarizing filters are just as useful in monochrome photography as they are in colour. In fact, because they manipulate image contrast they are arguably more advantageous . An ND grad is collaborative when you require to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter could be used to decrease reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, think of taking two or more shots with diverse exposures to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite. Don’t be anxious to use a ND grad with a standard neural density filter if the sky is brighter than the foreground in a long exposure shot. Coloured filters, which are an essential tool for monochrome film photographers, should also be useful for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of their opposite colour while lightening objects of his own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green one will lighten foliage.

Try Long Exposure. Long exposure shots may work really well in monochrome photography, especially where there’s moving water or clouds. During the exposure the highlights of the water, for example, are recorded across a wider place than they would with a short exposure and this may help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If necessary , use a neutral density filter such as Lee Filters’ Big Stopper or Little Stopper to decrease exposure and extend shutter speed (by 10 and 4 stops respectively). naturally , when exposures extend beyond in respect of 1/60 sec a tripod is wanted to keep the camera still and avoid blurring. It’s also advisable to use a remote release and mirror lock-up to minimise vibration and produce super-sharp images.

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Street photography is one of the hardest and most fast-paced genres, leaving little to no time for the composition. While studio photographers can often take all the time they want to create their image very carefully, street photographers have to react on the street very quickly.

This can be very difficult, and the composition doesn’t always come out like the street photographer had envision. Often, you observe a nice scene that really catches your interest, but you also face the problem of distracting objects in the background. Especially colorful objects can distract the viewer and sidetrack the attention.

Later on for me, the noise wasn’t an annoyance anymore but instead became an aesthetic choice. It is a lot easier to emulate old pushed Tri-X film than the ever popular Kodachrome. Color has to factor in a lot more variables which make it near impossible to emulate them perfectly.

In contrast, street photographers never quite made the full transition and therefore beginners are more likely to try their luck with monochrome images first, following their idols.

About the author: Sebastian Jacobitz is a street photographer from Berlin, Germany, capturing the everyday life in the city. The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author. To see more of his work, visit his website, The Street Photography Hub, or give him a follow on Facebook and Instagram.

In the same vein, silhouette images work very well as monochrome versions. The picture becomes very minimalistic, but when done right can encourage the viewer’s imagination.

Often times it is more interesting for the viewer when not everything is revealed, but there is still room for imagination. This kind of image works very well in B&W. Increasing the contrast also adds to this effect. Colors often would be too distracting and take away from the mysterious atmosphere.

Nonetheless, there is a huge amount of B&W released on the Internet very day. Standing out from the masses is very difficult when you can only show distinctions of gray. It is easy to get lost in the mass of mediocre monochrome images. Therefore, you have to develop a unique picture style that is distinctive from the rest.

Documentary photography is one of the oldest genres, and a lot of street photographers try to replicate the look of classic photographers like Robert Capa or Henri-Cartier Bresson. Even until the late 70s, most icons didn’t make the transition but continued to shoot in B&W. Exceptions such as Joel Meyerowitz or Saul Leiter were pioneers with their beautiful color work, but they also had to fight a lot of criticism.

Either way, try sticking with a style for more than only a few images and not switching back and forth. B&W might be a classic that will never run out of fashion, but with color street photography you could set the next highlight in your unique style.

When I started my journey into photography, I didn’t want to invest too much money in a camera. A consequence was that ISO noise became very apparent, especially in low light situations. In color work, this can become very distracting and lowers the overall quality of the image. For B&W, some noise can actually work very well, because it resembles the old analog look. You don’t need a Fujifilm X100F to begin with. A Ricoh GR works wonders, even in low light situations when embracing the film look.

Tags: b&w, blackandwhite, oped, opinion, sebastianjacobitz, streetphotography, thoughts

Black-and-white still remains the photographer’s favorite for street photographers, and with very good reason. Where in other genres monochrome has become a niche look, street photography is different. Why does B&W remain the favorite choice of street photographers, and are there logical reasons to go for it?Black-and-white was naturally the first choice for photographers of old due to technical restrictions. Film wasn’t able to showcase color, and it took a long time until more and more street photographers explored new opportunities for color work. Nonetheless, it seems most modern street photography photos are still in B&W.

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To restore the original focus of the image, it can be helpful to display the picture in B&W. This way, the content becomes king and the look becomes less important. Since street photography often tries to show a story or the interaction of people, B&W can help to emphasize the content, by fading out distracting colors.

Modern technology is now more than able to capture colors of the real world. If necessary, editing makes it possible to change the look of colors in any direction you can imagine. And additional complexity like white balance becomes easier to deal with thanks to digital cameras offering RAW files that give photographers more flexibility to adjust the look afterward.

Just as light and darkness can become subjects on their own, colors play an important part in color images. Whenever the photographer decides to stay away from monochrome versions, the colors shouldn’t just be there randomly. In a way, they should make sense and really add something to the scene as if the photographer painted the scene himself. Otherwise, why should you include them?

In general, I’d advise you to think about which style you chose before you go out and shoot. Both variations are unique and aren’t interchangeable with a simple click in the post production. You have to observe the world very differently. With B&W, you will focus more on the light and shadows, while color requires you to have a look at every possible combination of annoying colors that could break your image.

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For interested photographers in the modern age looking to make their way into street photography, it is much more likely to discover the work of Vivian Maier, Robert Capa, or Bruce Gilden, who almost exclusively shot in B&W. Quite interestingly, Vivian Maier also had a collection of color images that have mostly remained unpopular.

Because of that, B&W is often the “easier” choice by reducing the complexity and difficulty of an image.

While beauty itself often isn’t the sole subject, the contrast of light and darkness is a frequently used subject. A lot of street photographs revolve around subjects being in the spotlight while a lot of the scene is hidden in the dark.

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There are also a few characteristics that make black and white advantageous in comparison to color.

This led to the development of free film presets like the Silver Efex package. So for the classic film look, monochrome has a lot more to offer and is much easier to replicate, than his colorful alternative.

For landscape or portrait photographers, there are icons like Sebastiao Salgado or Helmut Newton who put out impressive black and white images. But looking back, the past decades have been dominated by color work.

One often misused misconception is converting a bad colorful picture into monochrome and hoping that it turns out better. I agree that B&W makes it easier to conceal mistakes, but a bad photo stays bad and doesn’t profit from monochrome. A picture that doesn’t work in color, because it lacks the depth of story or is badly framed, won’t be better in B&W.

Therefore, I feel that colors should match in some way. This could be that one color is very present in the image, or that different colors create either a very harmonic picture or tension. But including color just for the sake of not doing B&W doesn’t work most of the time. Color is too complicated, especially in uncontrollable situations like street photography.

But the following are some of the possible reasons why B&W is still popular among street shooters.

The $1,300 Fujifilm X100F (left) and the $659 Ricoh GR II (right).

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