shoot in Black and White?
Monochrome photographs are
timeless, especially black and white ones. They have
emotional properties of making the subject look more
artistic. If you want black and white shots, but don't want
to compromise your colour shots, you can always shoot in
colour and then experiment with the photo in your editing
I am going to assume two things: that you have access to
Photoshop, Photo Impact, Photo Studio or some other image
editing software and that you either can't or don't want to
shoot in RAW format.
Any of these will do a better job at converting your colour
image to black and white digital photography than your
Some cameras include a black and white mode, but you’ll get
better results by forgoing a special mode and actually
taking the shot in colour.
Raw is the most powerful file format for digital cameras
(which saves photos in uncompressed format, unlike the
smaller JPG format) , but raw files are very large and tend
to require special software to edit. If you are comfortable
with it, raw offers much more versatility and control over
your photography, including the ability to shoot in black
and white but retain all the colour information in the file.
Shoot in raw to capture maximum tonal and detail
information. The raw file will include more data than a
JPEG, and will give you complete control over sharpening,
contrast and white balance adjustments etc.
However, most users shoot in JPEG format, which is more
For black and white photography, use the lowest ISO. When
you use high ISO the noise will become more obvious. Noise
in photography is like “grain” seen in conventional film.
The higher your ISO is, the more unpleasant dots will show
in your final image.
Converting an image into black and white is pretty simple,
but if you want truly impressive results it pays to think
about how and what you shoot, and learn how to use your
editing software’s powerful tools to get the most from your
shots. One of the fundamental aspects of black and white
photography is that your whole composition relies on
contrast. 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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How to shoot in Black
and White: continued.
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).
Black and white also works nicely for portrait photography. Skin
tones, in black and white, are mellowed; blotches, blemishes, and
uneven shading is less easily noticed than it is in colour photos.
Our eyes are very critical of facial skin tones in colour but, when
we examine black and white, we cannot evaluate the tones with the
same critical eye.
Setting-up your Shot
With your lighting and camera settings adjusted, the hard work is
done. The same rules that apply to colour photography will guide you
toward great black and white shots. That said, you can optimize for
black and white by paying attention to a few specific details in the
frame. Here are some of the key things to look for when you’re
setting up for a black and white photo.
Shadows and Lines. 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 your subject. 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 lead-in lines, or
positioned diagonally across the frame to create dynamic images.
Smoke and Clouds. Whether big and puffy or light and wispy, clouds
always look fantastic in black and white. Smoke from a fire or
chimney stack, looks equally striking.
Water. The ripples and waves of any body of water turn a typical
seascape into something almost abstract.
People. Black and white adds interest and subtlety to a face, with
wrinkles and scars taking on a measure of drama and poetry. Subjects
with less-weathered visages come across as even more striking and
A final thought, shooting your pictures in B&W will not only produce
beautiful images; it is also a relaxing way to spend your time!
We hope you found our guide useful - Good luck.
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