The magic of black and white photography is timeless and today more than ever, nostalgia and film cameras are playing a big role in photography.
Photography artists such as Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus have paved the path to black and white photography, even if at that time, it was the only way to capture photographs.
However, you do not need to have a film camera in order to capture black and white images. Images can nowadays be transformed from color to black and white – but not the other way around.
Photographing in color and then adjusting the tones, gives you more space to modify the grayscale in the image.
Whether you’re shooting black and white portrait photography or black and white landscape, these tips will help you create stunning images.
Bring high contrast into your image. Think of a portrait set against a shaded background or dark hills against a bright sky. Creating a contrast between light and dark areas, you will be able to direct the viewers eye in the photograph.
Texture plays a huge role when not showing colors. Look for textural complexity and visual patterns of shadow and light. Shadows and reflections can be particularly striking in black and white photography, so juxtaposing rough textures and angular shapes with reflective water or windows can create an eye-catching contrast.
Look for light sources in your surroundings. Lighting plays a huge factor in black and white tone, because it raises and lowers the brightness values of the original colors in the scene. Headlights, street lamps, neon signs, and of course the sun – these are all potential visual effects that will bleed into your final image. Use these light sources to capture a spectrum of different shades of gray.
Focus on low aperture and as small of an ISO as possible. Black and white portrait photography comes out best with sharp, consistent focus and minimal digital noise. A small aperture and a low ISO will help you to leave out the grain and preserve the details throughout the image.
Use the rule of thirds. Whether you’re shooting black and white or color images, use the rule of thirds to steer your viewer’s eye to the important elements of the photo. Find a grid of three horizontal lines and three vertical lines, visible through your viewfinder or your camera’s LCD screen. The points where the lines meet, are the points of interest, so place the subject on one of those points, off-center toward either the left third or right third of the frame.
Look at your camera’s histograms. After taking your image, your digital camera can display a histogram, which is a graphical representation of the tonal value of your shot. The histogram of a well-composed photograph will indicate that the majority of pixels are away from the shot’s most extreme blacks and extreme whites. If your shot mostly contains extremes, you will need to adjust your exposure to preserve detail in your final black and white image. This way you will be able to balance the blacks and whites so that the image comes out with beautiful tones.
Is monochrome same as black and white?
A black and white image is a monochrome photo. However, you could have a monochrome photo that isn’t a black and white photo.
In black and white photography – film or digital – a colored scene is being converted to tones of gray. With film, that conversion occurs in the camera. With digital, it occurs in the post-processing phase.
A black and white photograph is an image where all color has been removed (either in the digital process or through the choice of film). It consists of shades of gray tone that generally go from dark (black) to light (white). A monochrome image also has the colour removed.
But it may not display shades of gray, which is a requirement to be a black and white image. A monochrome image could be shades of yellow/red (also known as a sepia) or blue. A monochrome image consists of tones (shades) of something (red, yellow, green, blue, etc.) – not necessarily gray.
If you shoot in monochrome, you are allowing your camera to do the conversion for you, which will leave you very little room for editing. Shooting first in colour and then converting your photo to black and white in post-processing allows you much more freedom to edit and create a beautiful black and white image.
What is the disadvantage of black and white photography?
At times, black and white images lack emotions; a human aspect that a colored photograph has in by defect. Black and white photography medium is very tricky and not every photographer is skilled enough in taking high quality black and white photographs.
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