A Guide To Black And White Photography

If you’re new to black and white photography, you may be wondering what the appeal is. Isn’t it anachronism in this modern age, like those black and white TVs and silent movies. Well, no. In fact, black and white photography is considered a form of art, and some say that the best photographers work in monochrome.

Even more interesting black and white photography can actually help you become a better photographer. This has to do with composition. Since color is so powerful, it tends to dominate a photograph so much that it can be difficult to see some of the other vital elements like texture, tonal contrast, quality of light, shape, and form.

Experienced photographers can instinctively notice all these elements, regardless of whether the image is in color or black and white. If you’re just starting out, you might require some assistance to do so, and working in black and white can be of great help. Naturally, certain subjects tend to work better in black and white than others, particularly portraits and landscapes. So, if you are just starting out with black and white photography, these are the ideal subjects to test out.

Monochrome Mode on your Camera

Prior to the digital photography age, the only way one would work in monochrome was using a black and white film. Fortunately, it’s much easier now, as all you need to do is switch your camera to Monochrome Mode.

Cameras that feature viewfinders will automatically display the image in black and white, so you’ll have an idea of how the image will look before you press the shutter. A digital SLR will produce the same effect in live view, and this can be particularly useful when working on a tripod. For best results, it’s best to use the RAW format, since it gives you a much better image quality, and is easier to use than JPEG.

1) Working in Monochrome

Color Filters: color filter settings are a left-over feature from the old days of film photography. Back then, photographers would buy colored filters and work with them to alter tones in the monochrome pictures. For instance, if a scene had a blue sky, a yellow filter would cause the sky to look a little dark, while an orange filter would make it much darker. A red filter would make it even more darker.

Green filters would be used to bring out more details if the subject was green, such as leafy forests. The four colored filters (green, yellow, orange, and red) have made it into the modern digital cameras, and are used as the black and white settings.

2) Contrast

Photos taken in flat light typically look flat. But you can compensate by improving the contrast levels. This can either be done through Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom once the photo has been taken, or you can us the contrast settings on your camera.

3) Aspect Ratio

With most modern digital cameras, you can change the aspect ratio of the images you have taken. You might want to do this for a number of reasons, but the main one is that it allows you to choose the square format. This is something that you have probably become used to especially if you use apps like Instagram. If your camera has an electronic viewfinder, the square image is displayed, and this makes the composition much easier.

4) Toning

You also have the option to tone your images as you like. But honestly, unless your camera only has some subtle toning effects, avoid using these, since the effects are too strong in most cases.

The more you practice with black and white photography, you will realize how beautiful the monochrome medium is to work on. You are ideally entering a path that has been trodden by some of the renown names in photography, so have fun and enjoy yourself.