High Contrast Portraits Black And White Photography

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Creating High Contrast Black and White Photos With Your Smartphone

The look is beautiful and unlike the HDR fad, it’s much tougher to screw it up.

Relic of Icarus by ADesign - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

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

Jake-1003 by darrensbell - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

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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.

To be honest, the shooting process is very straight forward due to modern editing’s abilities. Any photo can be turned into a high contrast black and white but the best ones start with details in the highlights. What that means is that you need to typically underexpose a scene.

Shades of Winter by ceridjones - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

So why did it make such a comeback? Perhaps it’s because depth of field effects aren’t really simple to get with a phone. The other option is to do it via the editing process.

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.

If your editor allows you to adjust the blacks, whites, shadows or highlights then try to make them deeper. The major points here are your clarity and contrast–and they’ll vary based on the image you’ve shot and what you like in terms of contrast levels. Typically though you’ll be cranking the contrast up quite a bit.

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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?

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“This is such a well spotted image.  It’s a scene that is made for monochrome.  Perhaps a slightly wider lens choice if possible.” – Kevin Mullins

“This image speaks to me from an emotional point of view.  The natural light falling on the face is perfect and the exposure across the whole image is spot on.  Even though this might be more of a candid shot than a portrait its beautifully executed and lovely monochromatic finish.” – Kevin Mullins

“I really love this image and want to find out where the child is going.  He’s having fun, or rushing somewhere?  The exposure is excellent in challenging conditions.  It’s a well seen and well executed image.  The Black and White conversion is perfect and detail is lost in the shadows but only to enhance the image.” – Kevin Mullins

Congratulations Runner Up “black and white” by CliftonTicehurst

Pelican Scratch (BW) by AlanC - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

MuseCam: One of the most powerful editors on the phone, this app has one of the best interfaces on top of loads of presets.

Congratulations Runner Up “Old Style Workmanship – Queen Victoria Building, Sydney” by philipjohnson

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Eye 2 Eye - Elk by JimCumming - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

Edited in RNI Films

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.

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.

“Wedding photographer in Lake Como and Lake District, Italy.” by alessandroavenali

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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.


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.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Travel Photography with your phone (3 of 8)ISO 2001-20 sec at f - 2.2

Silky Water by MarvinEvasco17 - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

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.

Thank you to all the photographers that shared their best high contrast B&W shots in this photo contest with chances to win your prize choice. A special thanks to friend and professional photographer Kevin Mullins for his collaboration as a guest judge. Kevin is a multi-award winning wedding photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Wiltshire, England. He shoots wedding in a “pure” documentary style meaning he doesn’t intervene, or contrive any image throughout the day. As well as shooting weddings, Kevin is a recognized speaker in the field of wedding photography and the business of wedding photography.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pine Reflections by kensilagy - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lomography LCA 120 black and white images (10 of 11)

Love on the Rocks by Marshal - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

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.

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

The really high contrast black and white look comes from film. Kodak Tri-X for example, is pretty high contrast but it’s possible to go even more high contrast. My personal favorite is Ilford Delta–which really makes the blacks oily and the whites milky. Additionally, it’s also very sharp and when combined with good lenses (or certain on-lens filters), can render even sharper photos.

High contrast black and white photos have been used by street photographers for years, then color came into being and then there has been a yearning for that nice, classic look that some of the great masters used.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer MuseCam product photo (1 of 1)ISO 4001-15 sec at f - 2.8

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RNI Films: Like the look of film? Just add something like Tri-X or Ilford Delta to an image and edit away to your heart’s content.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine by StevenWMartinPhotography - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

“Another epically wonderful image. I really want to study the image and look through its layers.  This image would look wonderful nice and large and framed on a wall.  I love looking at it.” – Kevin Mullins

Creatic: Like MuseCam, Creatic is also a very powerful editor and adds with it its own social network.

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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.

Over the top by rokovar - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest

Why are you doing this? Modern cameras (even the JPEGs that phones shoot) have so much detail in the shadows that it really won’t matter.

Congratulations Grand Jury Winner “Miroir d’Eau Pt. II – Sprint” by Vemsteroo

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.

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Adobe Lightroom: Lightroom is an incredible editor that lets you edit your RAW file images that your phone can shoot. Additionally, it has a load of editing options. One of the best features is the syncing it can do to your computer.

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Congratulations Amateur Winner “Silky Water” by MarvinEvasco17

Congratulations People’s Choice “Love on the Rocks” by Marshal

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So what do you need to know about editing? First off, what you should know is that you’ll constantly be adjusting your exposure settings. Choose a black and white filter that is either already high contrast or pretty neutral. Then adjust the clarity, contrast, and if you can add grain then do it. Then adjust the exposure to your liking last.

Old Style Workmanship - Queen Victoria Building, Sydney by philipjohnson - High Contrast In Black and White Photo Contest


One of the most popular looks that many photographers showcase on the web is the high contrast black and white look.The growing popularity has to do with the fact that it obscures everything else in a scene to a certain point and forces people to focus on the most simple parts of the scene that they really want you to pay attention to.

Black and white strips out of the color to make people really focus on the important details. Of course, it wasn’t always this way–but it’s seen a major resurgence in the digital photography world.

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.

Superior Suggestions These superior suggestions are that can assist you look past all the fundamental concepts which cover most elements of photography. The camera gear, tools and accessories are issues that assist you to take higher photographs. The following pointers are there that can assist you acquire deeper knowledge , taking a look at a potential message, experience or emotion you wish to portray. This article helps the place and when to use issues resembling micro-contrast. Additionally the way to effectively use and place the blackest areas of the photograph in relation to the mid-tone gray areas. Your images will benefit immensely.

How To Make an Picture Black and White in Photoshop & Lightroom All cameras, aside from the Leica M Monochrom, take pictures in colour. If you need a black and white picture , then it`s essential to convert the colour to a monochrome state. There are various methods you are able to do this, but only a few gives you the absolute best high quality and tonal range. Learn our article here on methods to make an image black and white, without shedding high quality , element or different necessary factors.

Submit -Processing Black and White Pictures All digital enhancing software program for Mac, PC, smartphone or Android offers a conversion from color to black and white. Except you took a color photograph , transformed it into black and white in a non- damaging method , you can`t revert it. The knowledge is now not there. There are many ways to convert to black and white, some of which are non- damaging ( allows you to return to color for those who like) but just a few methods where you may convert the image properly. This text tells you what you must or shouldn’t be doing to get essentially the most out of your photographs.

How you can Edit Pictures on Cellular Now that we now have regarded primarily at DSLRs, let’s flip our attention in the direction of cellular photography. Taking pictures together with your cell is fast and straightforward , and now converting and processing your images into black and whites is no extra difficult. This article reveals you how to utilize an app to turn these photos into something actually dramatic.

Find out how to Manage Images in Submit - Manufacturing Working with black and white images is just not the same as working with colour – both have totally different focuses and need different areas of attention. The Black and White images can benefit from colours. Including yellow into the picture utilizing a color mixer can have an effect on the element in the sky. This brings out traits in an in any other case overexposed section of the image. Also , tweaking of contrasts and highlights can have very dramatic leads to a Black and White photograph.

Issues to Think about When Editing Black and White Pictures When it comes right down to the enhancing of your photographs , the hardware may be just as essential because the software program you use. Your laptop monitor can have a color administration system that may show your photographs otherwise to the colour administration of the printing. Additionally , where you edit the photographs is also important , creating colour casts that change how you see our images. You would possibly think that black and white photographs won`t be affected, but they nonetheless use colour information within the grey , mid-tone areas of your work. Whatever you may be doing with your images as a remaining product, be it a guide or an exhibition, they all want totally different treatments.

Find out how to Use Tonal Contrast with Photography The tonal range in black and white photography is without doubt one of the most vital issues to focus on. The range is principally the degree of how bright or how dark components of your picture are. The bigger the tonal range , that means the extra darkish and light areas there are, the extra spectacular the image. Although distinction works properly in both colour and black and white, the latter needs it extra to face out and make a lasting impression.

10 Tips for Utilizing Luminosity Masks in Digital Mixing Luminosity masks are a feature in Photoshop that helps you isolate areas of a high mild intensity within the photograph ’s pixels. With these selections , you`ll be able to choose areas of the photograph and solely work on specific tones, not the entire image. These are great to assist boost the main target and look of a particular object in your frame. This article offers you an amazing rundown, from creating the masks to the finished image.

How to Transition From Taking to Making the Photograph Ansel Adams said , “You don’t take a photograph , you make it”. This guide takes you through many ideas. Trying at the basic parts , what makes a great photograph and the right way to make it into a remaining , polished print. Specializing in the fundamental ideas and persevering with to identify , isolate and control the weather will help your photographic confidence.

Tips on how to Edit Black And White Photos in Lightroom Lightroom is among the best tools on the market that will help you get the perfect from your photography. It`s simple and quick to select -up and may also help along with your workflow. Presets are an effective way to get very impressive images. They`re additionally fast and simple to make use of and are created by photographic lovers or Adobe itself. On this article, you will get an concept of what you need to be looking at in terms of modifying your work and find out how to obtain dramatic results.

Processing Photos in Photoshop In comparison with the ease of processing images in Lightroom, Photoshop is a little more difficult and requires more learning time. This article lets you get one of the best out of your black and white image by working with color layers, filters and blending options.

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