Five Vital Black & White Photography Tips

Editor’s note:
This is a guest contribution by Juan Shaban. Juan runs a design blog dudye.com. Follow Juan on Twitter.

Monochrome photographs are timeless, especially black and white photographs. They enhance emotional substance and have a disposition of making photos look more artistic.

black white photography
Credit: Jana by LudovicMazet

They can be used on many different scenes as it’s not required to think about all the colors that should look good together and match the amount of light available. And for those who love to play with color, black and white photography doesn’t necessarily need to be boring as there are so many different shades to choose from.

Gray scale is a spectrum of black and white which evolves into shades and different depths of gray. So when we speak of gray scale we speak of how we measure tones of gray. Here are five tips you might need to know when it comes to Black & White Photography.

1. Use RAW

If you have the opportunity to use RAW, do it! It will open up many new possibilities and give you more control of the image’s appearance.

The negative aspect of RAW files is that it needs to be processed later. If you use RAW files, your computer, rather than your camera will process the records and generate a picture file from it. You can for instance use Adobe Photoshop to process the images.

If you don’t have that function on your camera, then don’t worry, carry on reading and you’ll see that there are plenty of other ways to get great black and white photographs.

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2. Pattern and Texture

Rich textures and detailed sceneries will help your photograph become comprehensible and exciting.

Patterns are lucky in black and white photographs as colors aren’t taking the attention from them. So if you want to take a shoot where you’d like to emphasize on the patterns, then choose black and white tones instead of color.

Diamond Pattern Satin Fabric Texture

3. Contrast

With the help of light you can get great contrast. Contrast will bring the tonal differences in your photography as you can’t use color. With side lighting, for instance, you’ll get longer shadows.

Contrast is important because when there is a distinct contrast, with dark shades and bright light, you’ll be able to see things you didn’t see before.

Superman by Kevin Katinas

4. ISO

In photography, an ISO number is an indication of the sensitivity of the image sensor, where a higher number indicates higher sensitivity. The higher the ISO is the more are the possibilities to take pictures in low light, without the usage of flash.

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 the “grain” in film, where the film doesn’t become as smooth as you’d wish. The higher your ISO is, the more unpleasant dots will show in your photo. Therefore shady and dim days are actually great for black and white photographs.

dark contact

5. Subjects

Black and white photography can basically look good in most occasions and circumstances.

  • Monochrome photographs are good at bringing a sensitive experience and story into a shoot, they tend to bring depth and give us the chance to explore an object or person more strictly due to the graphic elements that it conveys (especially thanks to a good contrast). Therefore it’s also well-matched for abstract photos.
  • When taking pictures of large spaces, like landscapes or foliages; make sure that the same tone isn’t flowing through all the elements in your photography as this will give it a rather boring and dead look. Most black and white images are supposed to be dramatic and leave a striking impact on the viewer.
    One way of doing this is by finding a movement, like an unsteady wave in a sea or a moving sky. Something that isn’t really all that dramatic in real life can become much more intense when a glimpse of it is caught on camera.
  • One single subject is the most popular choice for black and white photography. This goes mostly for portraits, here you can really emphasize on the affect that the gray scale will bring to the person’s expression.

dark eyes

Author:

This post is published by a Hongkiat.com staff (editors, interns, sometimes Hongkiat Lim himself) or a guest contributor.

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