In our previous post, we talked about ways to capture black and white images. Here, we’re going to continue our discussion of black and white images.
Although many images can work as black and white, certain types of scenes and subjects lend themselves more naturally to and are often more striking in monotone. Here are some ideas:
Consider contrast. The color in color images is often what allows the viewer to distinguish between objects. But black and white photos obviously don’t have that as an option. For that reason, when creating a monotone image, it’s important to have a feature that sets the parts of your image apart.
For that reason, it’s important to have contrast, areas of light as well as dark, in your black and white images.
Images that include areas of high contrast, bright whites against deep black tones, are often exciting and dramatic. Images with more balanced levels of contrast, with tones ranging from black to medium gray to soft white tend to create images that have a more photo-realistic feel.
Avoid scenes that are low contrast, with most of the tones in the mid-range because the resulting black and white images will often be overly gray, dull and uninteresting.
Look for texture and patterns. Keep an eye out for subtle patterns and textures. Sometimes these types of details that you may normally not notice can make a striking black and white image because understated features can become more prominent and expressive in monotone.
Shoot for shapes, shadows and lines. Without color, strong shapes, shadows and lines can become particularly important compositional features when you are working in the realm of black and white because these features can create interest in your images.
When shooting black and white, looks for a variety of shapes and types of lines and curves and pay particular attention to the shadows that these subjects create. Strong shapes and lines, and their shadows can be used to lead your viewer into your photograph and create dynamic images, especially when positioned diagonally across the scene.
Showcase emotion. Events and occasions that are deeply emotional—weddings, christenings, one-time childhood moments—lend themselves to black and white because it gives these images a classic, old-time feel.
As strange as it may seem, color matters in black and white. It may see odd, but the colors of your scene actually matter when you’re considering taking it in black and white.
Scenes that you naturally find interesting because of their color impact aren’t good candidates for black and white because, if the most appealing part of the image is it’s color, that appeal won’t translate well into black and white. A scene needs more than color to make a striking black and white image.
And, as appealing as contrasting colors can be in a color image, you’ll want to avoid them when you’re going monotone. That’s because contrasting colors—Purple or red juxtaposed against a green background for example — often have little contrast in their grayscale values and therefore become indistinguishable in black and white.
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f you are just getting started in photography, exposure is one of the first things you need learn.
But even beyond that, getting a good handle on exposure and how the different components of exposure work together is essential if you want to take control of your photography and the images that you are creating.