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 now 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. providentially , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours discretely to introduce some contrast. However, a great 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 powerful 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, may 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 best composition.
Shoot RAW + JPEG. The best monochrome conversions are got up to 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. most 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 road 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 may also do this if they kick in their camera’s live postulation idiosyncrasy , but the usually slower responses mean that most will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.
Try Long Exposure. Long exposure shots could 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 should help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If required , 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). typically , when exposures extend beyond about 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.
Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a lane 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 could only thought of taking a degree of because you should target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you should use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to perk up them to grow local contrast. It’s a good track of giving a sense of greater sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you could 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 can 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 a couple 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 single 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 crafty gradations can become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or rosy shirt with the red sliding control, for instance , will have an impact on the model’s skin, especially the lips. The Levels and Curves controls may also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create separation between objects of the same brightness but with unique colours.
Use Filters. Graduated neutral density (AKA ND grad) and polarizing filters are purely as advantageous in monochrome photography as they are in colour. In fact, because they manipulate image contrast they are arguably more advantageous . An ND grad is cooperative when you want to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter could be used to reduce reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, hold taking two or more shots with different 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, can also be useful for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of his opposite colour while lightening objects of his own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green single will lighten foliage.
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Also when you are shooting, this is not an ironclad rule, but it’s better to have your shadows clipped rather than your highlights. Meaning, it’s better to underexpose rather than overexpose, because overexposure doesn’t look to good in black and white. But that is, of course, up to you and your intent. If you want to overexpose for a reason, that’s up to you! Depending on the image, like the one below, you might want the highlights blown out.
The image on the left is a straight black and from the RAW file. On the right all I did was darken the blue tones using the blue slider.
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Once you are done with the black and white mix, bump up the clarity and contrast sliders. Again, these do not magically make the image from thin air, but if you composed well, you’ll probably get great results. Here’s the final image:
This is where black and white photos can really come alive. I will explain why I recommend shooting in color (or raw) first. You see, if you shot in black and white first, you would be stuck with the shades of gray that the camera captures. But if you shoot in color beforehand, you have a lot of more wiggle room to play around with tones later in post-processing. Have a look below:
The one strip of color above produced the three different strips below in black and white (gray tones). In a previous article, I said that photography is plastic, this is one way it is so. The black and white tones you get are plastic. See how the red patch can give you three different shades of gray?
Black and white is usually treated as an afterthought. If your image doesn’t look so hot, convert it to black and white and have a great image. But it doesn’t work that way. If an image looks good in black and white it’s because the building blocks were already there at the start. In any case, intentional black and white photos will always be superior to ones where black and white was used as a rescue device.
Look for contrasts in light (light versus dark), but also contrast in color (irony again!). Once more these rules are not set in stone. But if you are just starting out, it’s better to understand the rules first and then break them.
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Let’s get started. There is only one requirement for doing black and white photos and that is to shoot in raw. If you can’t do raw, shoot color JPGs. Ironic, I know, but I’ll get to why in a little bit.
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In Lightroom, go to the develop module, scroll down and click on B&W (in the HSL/Color/B&W panel on the right). All of the color sliders are there for you to play with. Take the first slider. Sliding the red one to the left will make every red tone in your image darker. It is the same for every other color slider; orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, purple and magenta.
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But here’s a cool thing, you can operate directly on the image. See that weird little circle on the top left? If you click it, then when you hover over any part of the image, click and drag up, down, left or right, it will automatically pick up that color and allow you to edit the black and white mix from there. You’ll see the corresponding sliders move, and all similar colors (tones) in your image will be adjusted.
In black and white photos, things are stripped down to their essence and there is no color to take attention away from the shapes. Meaning, your composition needs to be strong, because the building blocks of the photo are more easily seen. Kinda kills the argument that black and white is easy, no? Let’s look at another example using the colors above.
Find the most beautiful black and white stock photos on this page ranging from photos of people to landscape, city and skyline photography. Scroll down and discover amazing black and white images that can also be used as desktop wallpapers. You are free to download all of these free stock photos. All photos are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
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The blue rabbit stands out more here than the darker orange one due to color contrast.
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Have you ever wanted to know how to create nice black and white photos? Well there’s good and bad news. First of all, shooting in black and white is still photography. That means if the image is not good, no amount of black and white wizardry can save it, that’s just a fact. But the good news is, there are particulars to doing black and white photos that allow a lot of creative control in post-processing. Here are three to help you out.
When you shoot in color, you can essentially say, “red color get very dark and blue color become very light.” You can also do the opposite where you say, “blue become very dark and red get very light.” Now can you see why shooting color is important? You lose these options when you shoot in black and white.
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When you shoot for black and white, there two things to specially look out for, contrast and shapes.
Black and White Landscapes: Weekly Photogrpahy Challenge 7 years ago
Most cameras nowadays can shoot in pure RAW and still have the screen display the image in black and white. If yours can, do that! When you shoot, your image will be closer to your end results which is to be desired.
On the color wheel, tones that are close together will tend to look flat when put next to each other (like the two orange tones above). While colors that are far away from each other, like at the opposite ends of the wheel, will look more contrasty (like blue and orange).
As you can see, just like every other image, great black and white photos are based on the basics of what makes a good image. But for the rest, that specifically “black and white” aspect, it’s really about knowing how color translates to monochrome. A good exercise is to pass your color images and play around with the conversions until you have a gut understanding of it. Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting.