Landscape images are another ideal candidate for converting into black and white. You create some dark skies with clouds that almost pop out of the image, like in this stunning creation by Dash participant Alice Mayer-heaton.
Almost any portrait photo will be enhanced by converting to black and white. I’ll show you why on Day 2, as well as explaining the best types of portraits to convert. For example, see this wonderful image and black and white conversion from Dash participant Kelly Pearce. With the black and white image, the boy’s hair and freckles are highlighted and we no longer see the tartan print on his clothes as a distraction.
Because of the absence of color, lighting, texture and particularly shadow are much more important elements of your composition. In Day 3, I’ll show you what to look for when composing your black and white image, how to recognize (and highlight) great textures, and how to nail down the perfect shadows.
From an artistic viewpoint; color depicts reality. Black and white is an interpretation of reality.
Black and white photos are excellent for highlighting the texture in your images. Because there is no color, our eyes are naturally drawn to the detail of the texture. Notice how your eye concentrates on the wood grain in this magnificent violin image by Dash participant Beate Sexton:
And I’ll give you plenty of examples and challenges to excite your creative juices.
But that’s just one of the black and white images I could create from the color version. How about this one? This time the frame is a light gray, rather than black:
My photographs have improved dramatically since your dash. No more flat or dull photos, now I have eye popping photos on which I never thought I could accomplish until the dash. I am excited on David’s future dashes, I do only have one problem though, it’s addicting and to much fun!!!!! 🙂 Thank you David for all you have taught me.
There are actually thousands of ways to convert your color image into black and white. The conversion inside your camera (or image editor) usually won’t produce a snazzy photo.
Below is a sample where color was the best option. There would have been no way to convey the warmth and the feeling of the image through a black and white. It’s dynamic without being monochromatic.
These are some of my favorite dynamic black and whites. What are some of yours?
This might seem like an odd question. To demonstrate, I have a few samples of scenes that are too bright, too dark or too varied in the lighting.
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This image is too dark for a black and white conversion. I would need to brighten up areas of her face so that the viewer would know what they are looking at.
But we won’t stop there. I’ll explain what types of photos are best converted to black and white; why tone, shadow and texture are so important when taking a black and white photo; and why black and white abstract images work so well.
The image below is a technical disaster. Even so, converting to black and white doesn’t “save” the photo (as we will touch upon later in this post), but it captures the emotion, the feeling and the mood I was looking for. I can only say I “felt” this image. The technical aspect of it meant nothing to me. That is what evoking emotion is all about.
I like to add a little bit of matting and some darker shadows to my images, but’s all up to the photographer in this part. Click on the curves layer and open the panel.
The Art of Black and White Photography (30 Striking Examples)
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Next, I pull up a few menu items to get the conversion on its way. I start with two new layers: the black and white adjustment layer and a curves layer. You can also add grain for a filmy look, but we will wait to do that last. We’ll walk through each step below.
Does this image evoke an emotion that is better translated without color?
A question I often get asked is “All today’s cameras shoot in color. What is the best way to convert a color into a black and white photo?”. It’s a great question. Most cameras give you one ‘convert to black and white’ option, which works well on some images, but falls short on most photos you want to convert.
Your black and white adjustment layer is up first. Double click on the little half-and-half icon on your black and white layer and the dialog box will pop up.
Here’s what we’ll be covering during the Black and White stream:
feel the Dash is the perfect way to learn how to use your [camera] – I was a complete novice with my newly acquired SLR and had only used auto on my point and shoot before I joined the Dash. The way the challenges are set up makes you have a go and share your attempts with the community, good or bad, who offer advice on how you can improve your shots or just offer praise, which is always greatly appreciated. I feel I have a family of like-minded friends in the community even though I have never met them personally – it is a lovely idea and works amazingly well – thank you David and helpers for all your support along the way!
Subscribe Now Or learn more about the Dash Black and White Portraits
If you are not familiar with the Photography Dash, it’s a photography course designed to help you take much better photos with your existing camera. Twice a week, I’ll send you new course material with a fun photographic assignment that helps you ‘lock in’ the knowledge in the course.
We’ll start by covering the quickest way to convert your image to black and white, and I’ll give you some tricks so you can start to ‘see in mono’ – see your scene as it will look in black and white before photographing it.
There is even a preset menu you can choose from. I used the “High Contrast Blue filter” here. It happens to be one of my favorites.
During the rest of the month, I’ll show you why abstract images work particularly well in black and white and give you exercises so you start to see the world as graphical elements (like cubes, spheres and lines) which will help your black and white composition skills.
Classy right? The black of the playground equipment forms an elegant frame around the landscape.
Whether it’s capturing the texture of an object or seeing the form, shading, pattern or tone, black and white photography will give you a greater appreciation for life’s little details. By taking away color, you’ll see an object without distractions.
Black and white doesn’t have to mean boring — a dynamic black and white photo has impact and force.
This image demonstrates why dappled light does not usually make for a very good black and white conversion. This just has too much going on — the eye has no clue where to go.
If you’re interested in refining your black and photography skills, check out articles like The Top 5 Black & White Photography Tips, Key Ingredients for Black and White Images, or 5 Black and White Photography Tips.
My final image is to my liking, but there are some areas I could readjust, such as the brightness of the reds in the black and white filter. But playing around and finding what you like is part of the fun of Photoshop!
At first, you might think this is a really ridiculous question, but it’s not. If you are converting for the sake of converting or to hide flaws, then it’s best to put that image to the side. A dynamic black and white photo is screaming to be seen. It’s not just there for the sake of being there.
In fact, you can come up with completely new ways to look at your image! By using this technique, you can change the mood of your image, or highlight just one part of the photo.
The Dash will only take 30 minutes to 1 hour twice a week for a month; and is a bargain at only $25 (or even less if you register for more than one content stream).
Just three of the hundreds of glowing testimonials I have received for the Dash:
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The conversion is not complicated, and can be done in seconds with any popular image editor.
Or emphasize beams of sunlight as in this image by Dash participant Cynthia Jarrell:
The last thing we can do is add grain. This is a simple filter, which you can find in the menu under Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Play with the settings to get your desired look. Be sure to do this on either a flattened image or a duplicate of your background.
Play with the sliders. This will determine how bright or dark the areas of your image are.
If you like, you can share your image with the hundreds of other Dash participants in our Dash community website – all participating at the same time as you – and receive feedback that will further help you improve your photography.
What I mean by this is whether the image’s message is lost in a sea of color and would be better translated in black and white. How can you tell? Look at your image and decide whether you notice the color or the feeling first.
Black and White is stream 1 of the Photography Dash during July.
My nephew is taking photography in college. When I sat down with him not too long ago to compare notes, I was surprised to hear he knew nothing of ISO, Exposure Triangle or Depth of Field. It saddened me that my brother is paying thousands of dollars, and I have learned so much more in just a few months of dashing for just pennies! The lessons are simply written, easily applied and produce astounding results. Not only my photography, but also my love for photography have grown tremendously thanks to David’s invaluable lessons.
The key to creating powerful black and white portraits is knowing when to convert. While any image can be converted to a black and white, it doesn’t mean all images should be black and white. When picking which images to make a black and white, I like to ask myself these three essential questions first to determine if it’s dynamic or not.
I dropped the shadows down quite a bit and brought up the blacks.
In Day 2, I’ll show you the tricks for creating stunning black and white portrait photos. I’ll tell you what settings to use with your camera to ensure your portrait will look the best in black and white, as well as how to know ahead of time if you’ll have any distracting elements taking away from your main subject.
During the July Photography Dash, we’re devoting the whole month to black and white photography. I’ll show you how to create these different conversions above, and tell you which ones are better for your viewer (and why).
Photography Blog The Foolproof Method for Shooting and Editing Dynamic Black and White Portraits
To start, I do a basic portrait edit, cloning out flaws to get the image where I want it. Here is the already finished image.
If we want to, we can choose to highlight the left or the right side:
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The dead trees look more forlorn without the bright blue sky or water. Image by Dash Participant Sue Fenton
As all photography was originally monochrome, or black and white, it’s easy to feel a sense of nostalgia over them. Today, many modern day photographers choose to shoot or post-process in black and white, creating striking photos like you’ll see in this post.
The Photography Dash starts on 1st July. Register for the Black and White Stream, or the concurrent “Color Photography” or “Lightind De-Mystified” streams (or all!).
Here the landscape doesn’t stand out as much because the playground equipment has a lighter shade. Same photo. Just a different conversion.
Try and describe the feelings black and white photography evokes and you’ll come up with words like classic, bold, raw, and natural. Then ask the person next to you and he or she might say something completely different. The beauty of black and white photography is that it can take on whole new different meanings depending on what it is your shooting or who it is you ask.
This image is not only too bright, but it also has no depth. It worked better as a color image. Even trying to darken some of the areas of detail would have proven futile. The image is just too bright.