6 Quick Tips For Shooting Stunning Black and White Photographs
Black and white photos have a “timeless” feel to them. They can evoke emotion and tell a story without all of the distractions of different colors in an image.
Shadows, highlights, and lighting are more dominant because other than the different shades of gray, that’s all of the technical details the viewer sees. This allows photographers to put emphasis on the raw emotion of the moment they are capturing.
Here are some tips for creating beautiful timeless black and white photos.
1. Your Gear:
A well executed black and white photo requires gear that can greatly capture highlights, shadows, and contrast. So you want to be sure to use a camera and lens that has these capabilities. The sharper and more detailed the images, the better.
You might want to also look into a good set of colored filters or gels. While it may seem counter-intuitive, having a set of colored filter are great for monochrome photography as they can be used to manipulate contrast in black & white images.
One of the key elements of a great black and white photo is the lighting. If the lighting is too bright, it can cause you to lose a lot of detail in the highlights due to them getting washed out. If you are working with natural light, avoid shooting during the brightest time of the day.
Of course, a good time to shoot is during the golden hour. The golden hour is always a great time to shoot color photos, and your black & white images will only benefit from it.
3. What To Shoot:
Not all images are suitable for black and white. A beautiful field of red tulips just wouldn’t be the same without color, nor would an image of a warm setting sun.
Try to incorporate things into your image that have texture, patterns, shapes, and details. This will really bring out the contrast and give you a more powerful image.
4. Shoot in RAW:
Shooting in RAW format is always a good idea whether shooting in color or black and white. Shooting in RAW allows you to have all of the data saved on the image when you go to edit it. This will allow you to be able to make any minor or major changes needed to correct the image.
In fact, many great black and white images you see today are shot in color and then transformed to black and white via post-processing. Having a RAW file to work with gives you more control of changing the important elements of a black and white photo, such as highlights, shadows, and contrast.
5. Shoot Things With Color:
This may sound backwards because one may think that the less colors in the scene, the better it will look in black and white.
It’s actually the opposite. Shooting a black and white object with no other colors will leave you with a pretty bland image in most cases. Having colors in the scene will give you a larger variety of gray tones in the final result. Which means you will have more details and texture.
6. Practice and Patience:
Learning to create well executed black and white images doesn’t happen overnight. While you do still need to put the basic technical principles to use (proper exposure, composition, etc.) as you would with a color image, you have to train yourself to be able to visualize your subjects in black and white.
Concentrate on highlights, shadows, tones, the lighting, textures, and patterns when preparing your shot. Anything black will be black, anything white will be white, and other colors will give different shades of gray. Try to see them that way in your mind.
Practice every chance you get. The more you shoot, the better you will be able to think in black and white. Study images from the past shot with film cameras. Follow highly skilled black and white photographers and take note of how they compose their images and take note of the details and different tones.
Be patient as you dive into the world of black and white photography. Take your time mastering the craft and before long you will be creating timeless breathtaking images!