This still takes about 2 weeks or longer. I’m there regularly for printing anyway so it’s not too much of a problem.
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.
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.
Along with our best black and white photography tips, we’ll reveal how to get creative with high-contrast graphic compositions and create moody landscapes, and show you how dramatic high- and low-key effects can be used to transform your still life photography and portrait photography.
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.
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.
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.
That’s also one of the advantages of the poor dynamic range. The contrast on neutral colours is boosted.
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Here’s a run-down of the most common elements that you should look for when identifying a suitable subject for the black-and-white treatment. Remember that these elements can be used individually, or even combined to produce marvellous mono images with clout.
Look beyond colors, and try to visualise how shapes, textures and tones will be recorded
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.
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.
Once you understand how the film reacts to the light, you can use it as a creative tool in your photography.
In our expert guide, we’ll show you how to see in mono, choose your subjects, set up your camera and then explore how simple but effective adjustments in Photoshop or Lightroom can make your images really stand out.
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.
How To How to master black and white photography How to master black and white photography
Black and white images need strong compositions to really work. Keep an eye out for strong lines or features in your scene that can be used as leading lines, or positioned diagonally across the frame to create dynamic images.
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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.
If the scene you’re shooting relies on color for mood or impact, chances are you’ll be better off keeping the image in color, as in our mushroom image above. Sunrise or sunset shots are another good example; you should always ask yourself whether the image loses some impact without the subtle hues.
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!
When it comes to black-and-white imagery, being able to ‘see’ how your final shot will look is a key skill. It’s important to understand how the color image you see through your camera’s viewfinder or on the rear screen will translate into a striking monochrome image. To get the best results, you have to look beyond the colours, and instead try to visualise how a shot’s shapes, textures and tones will be recorded.
Fine detail, or strong textures such as weather-beaten stone, foliage or clouds, can help to give your black-and-white shots depth and interest. Strong side lighting is perfect for bringing out the texture in any subject. You can use strong natural light, or get creative with flash to create side-lighting on the subject.
While it’s now simpler than ever to convert your images to black and white, especially now with the host of smartphone apps like Instagram that offer an array of filters, for truly impressive results it pays to think about how and what you shoot, and then know how to use your photo editing software’s powerful tools to get the most from your shots.
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.
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The answer is simple – there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
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.
One of my favourite things about shooting on film is how good skin looks.
Recognising potential shots when out in the field can take practice, so why not try converting some of your existing images to black and white to get a better feel for what will work.
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.
It’s easy to think that because you don’t need bright colors you can shoot black and white photography in any light or in any weather.
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!
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.
Black and white photos actually include a whole range of greys, which add subtlety to your images. Normally, you look for subjects that will translate into a range of tones from black to white, but you can also get great results where the subject is mostly light (high-key) or dark (low-key).
There’s no absolute right or wrong when it comes to choosing a subject for black and white photography, but you’ll come across subjects and scenes that rely on colour for their impact, and also lighting conditions that don’t work well in monochrome.
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.
It’s certainly true that with some skilful conversion and adjustment in Photoshop post-shoot you can add drama , but the sturdier the building blocks the better your finished image will be.
So, unless you’re trying to create a minimalist image it’s worth taking the time to capture maximum detail in the best lighting conditions possible.
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.
When you use photo-editing software to remove the color from an image you instantly lose one element that the viewer relies on to interpret the scene. So other elements become even more important for successful black and white images.
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.
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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.
The timeless quality of black and white photography makes it a must-try subject for any photographer to try.
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 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.
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Here are some examples of what to avoid when looking for suitable subjects for black and white photography.
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.
It’s tempting to think that white balance doesn’t matter if you’re going to remove the color, but because the success of any conversion relies on successfully translating colors into attractive tones, it’s important to capture an image without any colour casts.
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Subjects that rely on contrasting colors – such as a purple crocus against a green lawn – generally don’t work well in black and white. This is because the two colors will end up looking similar in tone when converted.
The success of your black-and-white shots relies on several different factors, but the main thing to look out for is a main subject that will appear in a significantly different shade of grey to the background. Then look out for subtleties of tone and texture that will add depth to your images.
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That is my favourite reason for shooting on black and white film. You’re forced to hone your skills much faster.
One of the fundamental aspects of black and white photography is that your whole composition relies on contrast (for on composing images, see our 10 rules of photo composition – and why they work). For this reason, look out for subjects that feature simple, strong lines and shapes. It’s often the shadows that define shape and form, so pay attention to areas of darkness, as well as light.
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I particularly like how the light shining on the back of the subject’s head is emphasised by the dark figure behind him.